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.

Guatemala Connection Informational Meeting

Welcome from the women of UPAVIMA delegation from our church will visit the women of UPAVIM in Guatemala City from July 6th through the 14th. This is a different kind of mission trip where we offer ourselves and our friendship rather than our building skills and material wealth. During our time in Guatemala, we will spend a few days living in the homes of some of the women, discovering the delights of their culture and the hardships of living on the margins of society. We will witness their courage, strength and faith in God and we will be changed! In the past few years, we have begun to share how we can work together to build a better world and we are working on a joint project to help the women reopen their medical laboratory at the clinic within UPAVIM.

Ray and Ina Osborn, who participated in the 2008 delegation and will be going again this year, will lead an informational meeting on Sunday, March 6. Under-18s need to be accompanied by a parent and we already have a family considering this; you do not need to know Spanish as a translator is provided. Most of the cost of the trip is covered by fundraising that we’ve already done, but participants will be asked to fund their own airfare and some expenses, which will amount to around $550. Anyone who might be interested in join in this mission or just wants to find out more is invited to attend.

Room 213
Sunday, March 6, 2011 - 12:00pm

UPAVIM's First Newsletter

UPAVIM Newsletter

The women of UPAVIM in Guatemala City have given us a great new way to keep in touch with them! You can read their first newsletter online with details of their current projects, including the construction of a new floor that will help them set up a new program for the elderly, exciting news of their first college graduate, and new photos.

Guatemala Connection

UPAVIMasDuring Advent last year, many of you stopped by our table in the Parlor to look at and purchase some of the beautiful handmade crafts made by the women of UPAVIM. It was also a wonderful opportunity for those of us selling the crafts to share our experiences of our visits to Guatemala City and our relationship with these women. Some of you were able to purchase something made by one of the women you’d met when they visited us in November 2009. I hope that you and your friends who received these gifts are enjoying using them knowing that they have made a difference in the lives of the people of La Esperanza, a slum on the outskirts of Guatemala City where UPAVIM runs its cooperative. For many of the women, the income from the craft making is the only support for their families.

Thank you for your support in raising $2,500 toward our mission.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Saying goodbye was so difficult: after just four days, we felt as though we were lifelong friends. Certainly, we had shared a great deal in a short time. We spent the morning talking with the UPAVIM Board about our purpose, vision and mission statements, and deepened our understanding of what our relationship means for each of us, and how it might develop in the future into practical outworkings that "promote quality and dignity of life: in BOTH our communities".

Friday to Monday, July 4-7, 2008

We have very little internet time today, but wanted to let you know that we're all well, and that the weekend has been a moving and extraordinary experience for us, both in our host families in La Esperanza, and in the time we have spent learning about the various projects and activities of UPAVIM.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

After a night in the Las Palmas Hotel, where we failed to dry any of our clothes that were drenched in the previous evening's shower, we set off for ADIVIMA to learn of the tragic history of this region. We met Juan de Dios Garcia, who described with remarkable calmness the terrible massacres that took place in villages around Rabinal, including Rio Negro, where 107 children and 70 women were killed in one day in 1982. The resistance of the indigenous population to losing their land to a hydroelectric project was ruthlessly suppressed by the army.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

During the first two days of the trip, we are being given a glimpse of Guatemala's troubled history with the help of some remarkable people who have been risking their lives to promote human rights and justice in a country still struggling to emerge from a 36-year civil war. In 1996, a peace agreement was signed between the government and the guerrillas, with promises of social justice for all Guatemalans, including the indigenous Mayan population. However, it takes a long time to transform a country that has been so damaged by violence.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We're here! After a very early start, and a change at Houston, the mission team to Guatemala landed in Guatemala City at around 11am local time (one hour behind Chicago). The welcome was as warm as we had been led to expect; and, for those who came last year and for new delegates alike, it was very welcome after the strains of travel.


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