Mission trip to Guatemala | San Pedro Necta November 2005

This was another landmark trip in the involvement of the Cambridge Vineyard in short term missions to Guatemala.

This time the whole congregation was given an invitation to participate in this trip as early as March 2005. The response was so great that it looked like the whole team of 30 might be filled by Cambridge Vineyarder’s alone.

However, it gradually narrowed down to the following with Len and Debbie Runstedler being aboard as usual with Martin Foster as overall leader. Len and Debbie’s daughter Megen now a medical Doctor (resident) signed up with her husband Luke Brunskill and a late addition was Selah, their daughter born in June 2005.

Other team members:

Nancy Bricker, who had previously gone with the youth team to Nicaragua

Spencer Black, Brad Crawford, Donna Jeffrey, Bill Kenny, Jess Lacoursiere, Genevieve Pylypiw, Doug Smith and Tom Vogel ( as team photographer )

The team of 32, all from South Western Ontario, continued building “el Eden” near San Pedro Necta and we sent out ministry teams into the surrounding mountains to do home visits.

A Vision for the Ministry Team

The ministry team combined with medical team members and ministered together through home visits, mainly be traveling through the mountains on foot and pickup, going house to house. ( I use the term house loosely, but they are definitely homes! )

To do this responsibly, we continued to partner with the indigenous church leadership.

Modus Operandi

  • First and foremost listening to the people we visit and what they have to share.
  • We will be bringing the Good News of the Kingdom by sharing God’s Word and His love and an offer to pray with them.
  • We will assess their needs through revelation, observation and relationship with local leaders.
  • At this point we may be able to offer practical help which may require a return visit or visits.
  • A basic gift would be food which we will carry (staples such as beans, rice, sugar)
  • We assess the families need for clothes ( sizes, number of members etc) — (maybe require a return visit to complete)
  • We would see what their health needs were — ( may require return visit or teaching or even a referral)
  • Assessment of needs for eyeglasses or eye problems within the family — ( may require additional visit)

Additional possibilities

  • We assessed educational needs (need for school sponsorship- again with consultation with local leadership)
  • This could include interviews with prospective children and parents/guardians.
  • We could assess financial needs, We  maybe help improve their daily income by partnering with them to start a business or help enhance a business they already have.
  • Sometimes a business can be started or enhanced for as little as $50 to $100 …

Examples from previous years

  1. Would be a man who lost the use of his right arm that he needed to work the fields — we bought him a bale of use clothes which come from the USA for resale … he then buys another bale with profits from the proceeds etc)
  2. A woman earning $2 a day washing cloths at the river … buy her a cement sink and scrubbing board and she might be able to double her family income)

This team by its nature will not only build relationships (return visits) it will build trust, it will demonstrate to the people that God does miracles ( trying convincing a guy that gets glasses at age 50 so he can read his bible from the front of the church to the whole congregation that it is not a miracle! ) It will build the local church, it will help provide future leaders through education.

As we move around we will ask about others in the area in need so that on our return visits we can also visit them — (snowball effect)

What is different about this team from many is that we are being responsible. We are not providing band-aid solutions. We will have medications, food, many skills etc. but this will not be our focus.

Hopefully we will be expressing God’s love in practical ways that will encourage and build faith amongst the people so that they will trust and give their lives to Jesus .


Ermelinda – a quiet compassionate leader

Ermelinda is a beautiful person in every way. She is a Mam Mayan mother of 6 which includes adopted Victor (6) and her husband Raoul who is an elder in a local Mam church.

We had met Ermelinda the year previously when she had brought her daughter Brenda to our clinic in town. Brenda had been previously diagnosed with a heart condition. We later prayed with the whole family at their house and when she revisited our doctors. They were both reasonably sure at thisp oint there was nothing wrong with her heart at all.

This whole family had also prayed for my knee as it was swollen and sore from all the climbing. It was a great honour to be prayed over in Mam, Spanish and English all at the same time.

As I thought about the encounters with this family during the next year I was convinced they could provide the key to our ministry excursions into the mountains surrounding San Pedro Necta in a future trip.

This actually proved the case. As soon as possible after our return in 2005, I took a small team up the steep hill out of San Pedro to their house. The person I spotted as we approached was Ermelinda’s daughter Brenda ( on the right in the photo) . She quickly ran home to alert them all of our arrival. After the inital greetings we asked Ermelinda if she would help us. She said that she would need to look after the needs of her family first. Coming from her, it was clearly understood that this was a mature person aware of her responsibilities, not someone who was in any way trying to manipulate the situation. So we saw a couple of her kids and then also her 2 grandmother’s and various sisters and sister-in-laws.

Later she brought to her house the more desperate people in the neighbourhood: a mother with 3 children, one who was blind living without a house of her own; another mother came with a mentally handicapped son. She was extremely distressed, suffering from severe migraines and the physical assaults of her eldest step daughter. We also met a mother who was herself deaf. She had 6 kids and didn’t know their ages. She had a lot of pain in her ankles and feet. This seemed hardly surprising as she was so small and her kids were all young and she was carrying one on her back. We were able to provide her with some good running shoes after measuring her feet and returning the next day.

On our third visits to Ermelinda’s house, after she had looked after everyone else including some of the most desperate cases in the neghbourhood, she finally consented to an eye exam for herself as she had mentioned some blurred vision in one eye especially. Our eye doctor then proceeded with a thorough exam as he did with all the people he saw.

Ermelinda is truly a beautiful woman and an inspiration !