Guatemala Missions

In June of 2023, Thomasville First Methodist Church embarked on an exciting new mission. We sent a team of twenty-seven people for the inaugural mission trip to Guatemala, partnering with Hope of Life and sponsoring the village of Tasharte. The team was able to visit the village and work in the various ministries on the Hope Of Life campus in Zacapa. 

In 1987, Carlos Vargas was called by God in a life-altering moment that led him to the mission of saving lives. Hope of Life was born out of that calling and, for almost 40 years, has served over 25,000 children. It now encompasses a 3,000-acre mountain campus. Learn more about Hope of Life’s story and how to partner with them at www.hopeoflifeintl.org

The Hope of Life campus has several ministries that assist the surrounding communities. Oasis De Eden is a home that offers care to elderly and mentally disabled individuals in the later stages of life. A recently established sponsorship program for these exceptional individuals ensures that each person’s physical, medical, and spiritual needs are met. Kelly’s House and Ryan’s House offer 24-hour care for mentally and physically disabled children. Homes of Hope provides housing for families impacted by hurricanes Eta and Iota in 2020. A vocational school is nearby where trades such as culinary arts, tailoring, and jewelry design can be learned. There is also a motor pool repair shop where residents can learn the skills to be auto mechanics. Behind the homes, there is a basketball court that was donated by the creator of the video game Fortnite. A youth camp donated by The Rawlings Foundation (www.rawlingsfoundation.com) is available to students from the villages who are brought in two weekends a month to participate in a spiritual camp. The hope is that these students will grow to be the spiritual leaders in their villages. The Village of Transformation provides orphans with a quaint neighborhood with individual homes, a school building, a chapel, and a beautiful playground with a soccer/basketball court. This incredible project unites up to eight orphaned children with a loving family living together in the same home. House parents offer inexhaustible encouragement and care—sharing laughter, tears, and the vital life lessons only a parent can teach. One hundred children are living in the village, ranging in age from 2 to 15 years old. These children may have been orphaned or removed from their homes and come from all over the country. A moratorium on adoptions means children may not be adopted from Guatemala. St. Luke’s Hospital started Baby Rescue to assist severely malnourished babies. In 2022, malnutrition rates tripled in Eastern Guatemala. When a child is identified in the remote villages, HOL sends the Baby Rescue Team to transfer the baby to the hospital, where they will receive life-saving care. The Smile Train program also uses the hospital to perform Cleft palate repair surgeries. There are plans to expand St. Luke’s with an outpatient wing to offer additional services, including gynecology, dental, ultrasound, X-ray, and laboratory. A campus food packing facility stores staple items such as rice, beans, porridge, and other nutrient-filled products. A bag filled with each of these items costs $35 and can feed a family of 4 for a month. One of the nearby villages has a church where HOL and members of the surrounding communities can come together on Sundays for a time of worship. 

A few miles from the HOL campus is a Basurero (landfill), where many families live in makeshift shacks. As trucks pull into the dump to offload trash, the people, many of them small children, use sticks to dig through the trash to find food to eat. They also walk on broken glass and rusty metal. Shoes are a huge need to help protect their feet.

TFMC sponsors the village of Tasharte, which is about 15 miles from the HOL campus. Despite its proximity, it takes an hour and a half to travel there due to the road conditions. A bus makes the first half of the trip up the mountain to the last village on the paved road. From there, “cattle trucks,” or pickup trucks with rails installed in the bed, transport the team for the remainder of the trip up the mountain on a dirt road. While an unusual way to travel, the cool breeze, the vistas, and friendly neighbors make it an enjoyable ride. Locals have said nobody, including politicians, has bothered to help the people of Tasharte. We are the only church working to enrich the lives of the people in this village. The village has 146 families living in primitive mud wall huts with dirt floors and metal or thatched roofs. Most use indoor cookfires for cooking, carry water from mountain streams in buckets, and share the home with their livestock. Few have electricity, and they sleep in hammocks. All were very proud to welcome visitors into their homes.

Tasharte has 150 elementary school (ages 6-10) students and 40 preschool and kindergarten students. The elementary students are housed in a four-classroom building at the entrance to the village. Pre-K and kindergarten are in a stand-alone classroom at a separate site. The TFMC team participated in the dedication of a new school classroom named “Hamp’s School” in memory of Hamp Nicholson, complete with brand new desks and a whiteboard. It will house an additional 25 students, ages 11 and 12. Formerly, these students were housed in a wood and sheet metal shack that was destroyed by a storm. A classroom building costs around $15,000, and the government provides teachers as classrooms are added. Advent Revolution funds were used to add bathroom facilities and a brand-new playground next to the building. This is the only playground in the village. 

The most critical needs to be addressed first are a clean water system and child sponsorship. The children in Tasharte need sponsorship to help them attend school and have the necessary supplies. A clean water system, piping water from a spring at the top of the mountain, would greatly help the people and improve their overall health. 

Thomasville First Methodist Church will send a second mission team of 28 people to serve for a week in Guatemala in June 2024. Of the 55 children needing sponsorship, 26 still wish to be sponsored. The Advent Revolution campaign raised $30,000 to provide a clean water system for the village of Tasharte. In addition to water, all 146 families in the village will be provided with a month’s food supply. Our team will also visit the Hope of Life campus ministries and the Basurero, a local landfill where many reside, to deliver shoes and food. There are still many needs that can be met. The teachers expressed needs such as new desks (most of them are splintered and falling apart), individual whiteboards and markers because paper is scarce, textbooks, composition notebooks, and other teaching supplies. Basic hygiene and medical supplies are also in desperate need.  We have an Amazon wish list so you can directly meet the village’s specific material needs. If you feel called to donate towards this mission, click Give and select Guatemala Missions.