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High School, university, church, and community groups often come to visit the San Lucas Mission to volunteer, learn about the efforts in San Lucas, and participate in the cross-cultural experience the mission offers. Groups may spend most of their time working at sites, but the focus of a short-term trip to the mission should be to learn, understand and appreciate the local culture.
Through working alongside Guatemalans, hearing talks from community members, and observing the goings-on of the area, group members can learn about the richness of Maya culture, the work of the mission, and life in Guatemala. Although a week or two may only offer a glimpse into a different world, there is much to be learned about the turbulent and complex history of Guatemala, the Maya people, and the community development efforts of the mission.
Short-term volunteers, after receiving an orientation and a tour of the projects, usually participate in projects associated with construction, gardening, coffee processing & picking, and similar tasks. Groups with several hands offer valuable manual labor for ongoing projects; much of the work is physically tiring but, depending on the time of year and specific need, less demanding work is also available. Groups will be assigned to worksites according to requests and instructions given by local project leaders. We try to honor requests for specific work sites, but we can't always provide all the opportunities and requests and appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
During the months of December, January, and February, groups may take part in the coffee harvest and pick coffee beans. Talks from community members are usually arranged so that the experience of the short-term volunteer is complete and educational. Other cultural opportunities are provided like the "day in the life" class at the Women's Center.
PLEASE NOTE that during the festivities of Holy Week, Christmas / New Year's, and the week of the San Lucas Feast Day (Oct.18), San Lucans do not work. Groups are welcome to visit the Mission, but should be aware that typical site work will not be available.
Groups stay in one of the many hotels in the San Lucas area. We arrange reservations upon your arrival, and all placements are made according to availability. We are unable to honor requests for specific hotels. Meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) are eaten at the mission, with lunch being the biggest meal of the day. All visitors, volunteers and staff members share meals. There are phones in the mission offices to call the States, and wifi is available but is not dependable. There are several internet cafes available in town which usually cost around $1.25/hour.
It is highly recommended that groups bring translators. Visitors are not required to speak Spanish, although being able to converse with Guatemalans – even in simple ways – will greatly enhance the experience, especially at work sites. We cannot guarantee translation services for those groups who do not bring Spanish-speakers.
Visiting groups are asked to contribute a minimum donation of $40/day per person, which covers room and board at the mission and transportation to and from the airport in Guatemala City. Money can be exchanged in the mission office, checks are preferred.
Cultural sensitivity and openness to the local culture is paramount in ensuring that a cross-cultural experience is as fruitful and as mutually dignifying as possible. In facilitating the pre-arrival preparation, it is heavily recommended that groups visit Preperation Materials page to download the package of preparation materials for visiting groups.
It is recommended that short-term visitors come with an open mind and willing to do a variety of activities – needs of the mission vary from season to season and year to year and groups should therefore be flexible. Volunteers should come ready to explore San Lucas and the culture of the area, and be willing to leave behind pre-conceptions. To be humble, without preconceptions, and open to learning will ensure a meaningful stay in San Lucas Tolimán.
Travel Information: Up-to-date information about traveling to and from Guatemala can be found at the Department of State’s Guatemalan Travel Information Page.