Chontalá is a small rural village in the mountainous western region of Quiche, Guatemala. FSU Wesley partners with an organization called Volunteers in Mission, which operates through the United Methodist Church and sends groups on mission trips all over the world. VIM Guatemala assists with planning all the logistics of each trip, provides us with an unbeatable team of local cooks, bus drivers, foremen, and translators, and helps us asses the needs of the village in order to best serve them. Our days are formed around some type of construction project during the day, a VBS-type program in the afternoons, and activities with the children and families in the evenings; however, community building is at the heart of our time in Chontalá. The trips focus on establishing and furthering relationships formed with the families there. This year marks the 10th year that FSU Wesley will send groups to Chontalá, and the long-standing relationship between FSU Wesley and the village is what truly makes this trip special. The people of Chontalá welcome each team as family, and go out of their way to show genuine hospitality and love to our groups throughout the week.
The trips also serve as a great way to get immersed in Central American history and culture. The people are of Mayan heritage, and Mayan culture and attitudes are still extremely present in the village. The ancient dialect of K’iche’ is still primarily spoken, but most people in the village speak Spanish as well. A good portion of each trip focuses on the historical and cultural background of the village, which is vibrant, intense, and inspiring. The village of Chontalá was detrimentally affected by the Guatemalan Civil War, and that impact can still be seen and felt in the village today. We believe it is important and necessary to shed light on some of the happenings of the civil war that occurred, in order to give students a more holistic understanding of the people and what they have overcome. The people have a rich and relatively unknown history, and these trips allow the opportunity to share in that history and become even a small part of their story, and they are kind enough to joyfully allow us that opportunity.
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