First United Methodist Church has sent medical and construction missions to Guatemala in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2014. Our mission journeys support Salud y Paz, a faith based organization that provides desperately needed medical and dental care to persons in poverty, particularly in rural areas. Our teams provide medical examinations, dental care and have helped build three of the five medical clinics that Salud y Paz operates. A new effort in the 2014 trip was an after school program for the youth of the villages where our medical and dental team works. More important than our task, our purpose is to share God’s love, build and restore relationships and see the world with new vision. It is a faith journey more than a physical journey.
Multiple Faiths with a Common Vision
Our team is regional and ecumenical. Members of the team are from various parts of Utah and Colorado representing multiple faiths – Methodist, Jewish, LDS, Roman Catholic and Lutheran. David Pascoe of Centenary UMC led our 2014 team as our spiritual leader and guided us on our vision journey finding common ground in our respective faiths and helping us see the world with new eyes, as God sees the world.
Our Task – Share God’s Love with Actions
Our task is to share God’s love with actions as instructed in 1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” We provide medical examinations in villages within a short bus ride from the Salud y Paz clinics. We look for chronic and serious medical issues and make referrals to the clinics for follow up care. Due to lack of fluoride in the water and lack of dental hygiene our dentist only does corrective care – pulling teeth. But we provide tooth brushes, tooth paste and instruction for dental care. Our youth will engage the youth of the villages in an after school program of activities, games, music and dialogue.
Although our task is important, our purpose is to build and restore relationships with the people of Guatemala, with each other, with ourselves and with God. We confront our own spiritual brokenness. God works in our hearts as we engage the faithful people of Guatemala. Our faith journey is the real purpose behind the physical journey.
Invited to Join God’s Effort
One of many exciting aspects is this is God’s effort, not ours. God does not wait for us but is already active in Guatemala. When we first went there in 2005, Salud y Paz had two clinics. Today they operate five clinics staffed mostly with Guatemalan medical and dental persons. It is not our program but theirs and God’s. We are invited to join God’s effort already in progress. We have worked in all corners of Guatemala and have helped build and expand the various clinics. Visit the Salud y Paz Website to learn more: http://saludypaz.org/
Help with Prayers, Donations and Scholarships
Our next trip is planned for 2016. You can help in various ways, mostly by praying for us and for the people of Guatemala whom we will serve. You can donate medical supplies and hygiene kits. A few members need financial support, so please also consider providing scholarships for them – just indicate in the memo “Scholarship for Guatemala,” make the check out to FUMC send to FUMC 203 S 200 E SLC, UT 84111.