Mission to Guatemala

UPAVIM Delegation in 2011

UPAVIMWhat are the lives of our neighbors like that share the same hemisphere? What do we have in common? How are we different? In an effort to understand the lives of the Guatemalan people, and they of ours, DGFUMC has sent several teams to live with members of the Unidas Para Viver Mejor (UPAVIM) Christian community in the impoverished outskirts of Guatemala City. We have also hosted two teams of women from UPAVIM in our homes in Downers Grove. UPAVIM is a cooperative association of about 88 women from marginalized areas. Some are widows, some were abandoned by their husbands, and some are dealing with alcoholism in their families. Many are sole providers of economic support for their families. They began helping themselves and their community in 1988 with a Healthy Baby program, then decided to create products to sell to generate funds. With those funds they have built a facility which houses a medical clinic with a pharmacy and laboratory, a daycare, a school from K-6th grade, a library, soy milk production, a bakery and rooms for the manufacture and shipping of their handicrafts. They are now working in a number of ways to achieve better housing, clean water, better education and health care for the thousands of people in their community.


We travel not to build buildings, but to build a long-term relationship. As Christians, we are charged with reaching out in understanding. In the Beatitudes we are told to put ourselves in "the other person’s shoes." Because our world is so diverse, we need greater understanding of cultural traditions, religious practices, trade, sharing resources, reducing pollution, and peaceful ways of resolving conflict. And, as Christians, we need to stand in solidarity alongside one another in the problems we face.

First week at UPAVIM

Hello from Guatemala City!

The weather is great up here on the techo ("roof," actually the 4th floor of the UPAVIM building), and I have a nice view of the La Esperanza neighborhood. I am sharing the volunteer living space with Elena (who works in the clinic and the Montessori classrooms), Matt (one of the English teachers), and their two sons, Sam and Michele (who attend 1st and 3rd grade at the UPAVIM school). They gave me a warm welcome on Monday and they've taught me many useful skills, like how to wash my clothes by hand, how to take the bus to the market, and where to buy the best bread and fruit. I've also met three of the four young women that teach English, but they live in a house nearby, not on the roof.

Claire arrived safely in Guatemala

Hello DGFUMC family!

I just wanted to let you know that I arrived safely in Guatemala City yesterday. I have a cute little room on the top floor of the UPAVIM building. The other volunteers are very friendly and helpful. Today I took a tour of the UPAVIM building and met many of the UPAVIM members and their children (some of whom I met last July, since I was part of the North-to-South delegation). I also started helping with the Reforzamiento tutoring program. Tomorrow morning I will start working in the clinic as well.

Favorite Moments from the Delegation to Guatemala, July 13-21, 2015

This July we sent our fifth delegation to visit the women of UPAVIM, a women’s cooperative in La Esperanza, our hermanamiento in Guatemala City, with whom we have a nine-year relationship. UPAVIM is an organization that provides employment to over 80 women in one of the poorest communities in Guatemala City, making the beautiful crafts that you have seen on sale in the parlor. This work has allowed them to fund and build a community center that includes a school, bakery, soy milk production and a medical clinic, pharmacy and laboratory. 

During the trip, our representatives spent a few days living in the homes of some of the women of UPAVIM, sharing meals with their families and learning about the community of La Esperanza and the work of UPAVIM.

Below Michelle Loconte, Sam Snyder and Claire Pitstick, three of our delegation members, share their favorite moments from their experience.

Guatemala - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Last night, many of the delegates had a very meaningful conversation with Armando, who works as a security guard during the day and stays at the Sister Parish Center at night. He is originally from a small village in Quiché, one of the 22 departamentos (states) of Guatemala. Although many of the people in his village speak Spanish, they are of Mayan origin and speak the Ixil language.

Guatemala - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Day 2 was another successful day full of laughs  and adventure!  The members of the delegation and the  UPAVIM women waited out the rain with a few icebreaker games inside. We sat in a big circle and went around saying a word to make a story. It was a little challenging with the different languages but by the end of the game everyone was laughing away the delicious Campechanas. (Campechanas are sweet bread that the women make.

Guatemala - Monday, July 13, 2015

We made it! PTL!

Yesterday we arrived at the Guatemala airport at 6:30pm. We were greeted by several UPAVIM women with posters reading "Bienvenidos!" and Dina waving a giant bouquet of balloons. Then we drove in a bus through Guatemala City to our home-away-from-home for the first half of our trip, being, the Sister Parish Center. Here we were greeted by more UPAVIM women and Sister Parish staff. After introducing ourselves we enjoyed our first Guatemalan meal that the women made for us "with lots of love." By way of broken Spanish/English and translations galore we have began connecting with these women.

Praise God for a safe arrival and the overwhelming welcome and community that the Holy Spirit is so obviously dwelling and working in here in the UPAVIM and Sister Parish family.

Prayer Flags – A Gift for UPAVIM

Sunday, June 21
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Wednesday, June 17
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Express your hopes, prayers and dreams for the people of the world by creating a Prayer Flag. Adults and children of DGFUMC are invited to make a small flag that after flying outside our church, will be delivered as a gift to the women and children of UPAVIM by the DGFUMC delegation visiting Guatemala City in July.

It is believed that prayers on the flags are lifted to God as they flutter in the wind extending happiness, good will and peace to all peoples of the world.

Making a prayer flag is an opportunity for everyone to express through pictures and words their personal sentiments for the world. No artistic skill required. All materials will be furnished. Examples will be on display for inspiration. 

Come to the parlor to make a prayer flag on Sunday June 14 or 21 anytime between 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. or Wednesday evening, June 17 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Children in Messy Church will also make prayer flags on June 14.

Sunday, June 14, 2015 - 9:00am

Lexie Faber: A Volunteer's Experience at UPAVIM

Lexie Faber in La EsperanzaPlease join us for a light brunch after worship on Sunday, December 28 at 11:00 a.m. to learn about Lexie Faber's volunteer experience at UPAVIM, in Guatemala City, this past summer. Information about plans for a delegation to visit UPAVIM in July 2015 will also be shared.

Anyone interested in all aspects of our relationship with UPAVIM and its surrounding community is welcome.

If you think you may attend, please click on "Read More" below and sign up, or contact Ina Osborn or the church office, so that we have an idea of how much food to provide! However, all are welcome without prior registration.

Fellowship Hall
Sunday, December 28, 2014 - 11:00am

Hola from La Esperanza, Guatemala

Hola a todos! I’m here writing from a lovely café I discovered today, it’s only a short transmetro ride away from my Guatemalan residence. While I’ve got stable internet access, I wanted to take the time to give you all an update about what I’ve been doing at UPAVIM for the past month (time has flown by!).

My time with these kids has reinforced every reason I had for coming to Guatemala. With every “Hola Seño Lexie!” I receive while walking down to the taco guy, and each buenos días beso, or even boquet of eucalyptus leaves (I can’t seem to shake this cough/sinus infection), I feel God’s presence in a place where one may not think it could be found.

Generations in Solidarity

Honoring voices of the past, bringing hope for the future

Generations in SolidarityPlease join us on Saturday, April 26 at 7:00 p.m. for a public screening and discussion of Generations in Solidarity – a 45 minute documentary film which explores the governmental and faith-community relationships between North and Central America over the past 25 years.

Filmed on location in Guatemala, El Salvador and North America, Generations in Solidarity tells the story of how Sister Parish, an ecumenical social justice organization, began to link faith-based communities between North and Central America.  Their goals during the darkest days of the civil wars in Central America were to provide hope and stand in solidarity with the people of Central America – who continue to struggle for justice today amid violence, globalization and environmental degradation. The film encourages us to establish long-term relationships and interconnectedness with faith communities in Central America, challenging us to discover how the role of solidarity is as important as charity in providing support. We are asked to reflect on the source and nature of injustice in Central America and the parallels to environmental and social issues being faced in the U.S. today.

Click below to see the trailer and register for this event.

Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 7:00pm


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