All About Now Is the Time for Missions
We believe the Bible verse above pretty much sums up why we believe now is the time for missions. We have met some dear Brothers and Sisters in need in Guatemala, and we've figured out some really effective and safe ways to help them. So…we go and try to do that. We invite others to come help us, mostly through Shawn's concerts and speaking events. Many of our Volunteers also come as a result of being recommended by our former Crew Members.
We've been organizing and hosting these missions as volunteers since 2006, and have been blessed to host over 1,600 missionaries from the U.S., and serve thousands of children and their families living in extreme poverty in Guatemala. We partner with local, Christian, non-government organizations to serve children and their families living in extreme poverty.
Our goal is not to save anyone, or to fix their situation. Our goal is to share the love and hope of Jesus, through Bible school for children, and thru effective, high-impact humanitarian aid and education projects. Our hope is to give children an opportunity to go to school, if they wish, in hopes of breaking the cycle of extreme poverty in many of communities that we serve.
We personally spend an average of 3 months per year in Guatemala to prep projects on-the-ground, and lead our mission teams in June and July. We don't get paid to do this. In fact, we raise our own support for the privilege to serve as Mission Directors, just like all of our mission Crew Members. We do this to keep our mission overhead expenses low, and to keep us focussed on serving the children, not our own financial needs. It's hard work, but worth it.
(We need to raise about $7,000/yr to serve as volunteer Mission Directors. If you'd like to support us, please visit our DONATE page and click on "Support Shawn and Damaris". Every donation, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated.)
Maybe now is the time for missions for you too? If there's one thing we've learned in the ten years of leading mission trips it's this: Now is the time for missions…because there's never a good time to go.
We'd love for you to join us either in prayer, in support, or in-person in Guatemala. Join us! We could really use your help. Below you should find all about what we do, and how you can help us. Thanks for your support!
Dios te Bendiga, Shawn and Damaris
The purpose of this mission is to share the love and hope of Jesus by loving and serving children and their families living in extreme poverty in indigenous communities and orphanages in Guatemala. We do this by partnering with effective, trustworthy, and licensed Non-Government-Organizations (NGOs- churches, schools, orphanages, community groups, humanitarian aid organizations) in Guatemala, and in the United States, and serving them through a variety of mission crews (see Mission Crews and Mission Sites above). We also plan to extend this mission beyond our summer mission by sharing these stories and experiences with others in the U.S. upon our return, and continuing our financial support through child sponsorship programs, and the collection of donations.
Guiding Scripture for our Mission is the verse above, and the following:
“Be doers of the word, not merely hearers” ~ James 1:22
All of our mission registration information, deadlines, and Registration Forms can be found on our Registration Page.
Crew Member Mission Cost
All costs for airfare, food, lodging, ground transportation, supplies for work projects, plus medical, accident, and liability insurance for the duration of the mission are included in these estimates:
$1,800/person for one week
$2,400/person for two weeks
Total cost/person may vary depending on airfare prices at the time of purchase. Crew members are encouraged to raise more than the estimated mission cost to allow for potential higher airfares, and/or to pay for additional work projects, or to leave a financial gift to host mission sites. All additional funds will be used to fund our work projects in Guatemala. You may incur other expenses preparing for the trip, depending on your situation. See FAQ for a list of other potential expenses.
1. The $500 registration fee is non-refundable.
2. The $900 due by Wed, April 25th, will be used toward your airfare. Once your flight is purchased, however, it is non-refundable, and non-transferable to another person. Once your airline ticket is issued, you will be at the mercy of the airline’s policy for change-of-ticket (generally $200 change fee + any change of fare fee from when the flight was purchased. Balance of cancelled flights can generally be applied to other tickets on the same airline up to 1 yr of when the flight was purchased. See specific airlines for their policies).
3. The final balance can be refunded, less the $500 non-refundable deposit, and less the cost of your flight, if it was purchased. Or, your balance could be designated to be used for mission project costs, or transferred to another crew member. Travel Trip Interruption Insurance may be purchased from travel organizations to protect against unforeseen trip interruption or cancellation (see FAQ page).
Although responsible for the mission fees, team members and families are not expected to pay for this trip themselves. Each team member will be strongly encouraged to raise funds individually, and invite church members, co-workers, friends, families and everyone they know, to support this mission both financially, and through prayer. By inviting others to support this mission, team members intentionally extend this mission beyond the crew, and beyond the summer. This year, web pages and online donation buttons have been created for sponsors to donate directly to our mission with an Intuit E-CHECK bank transfer via Intuit to sponsor a team member, or specific project (i.e. Water Filter, Stove, etc.). These links and buttons can be emailed, posted on blogs, Facebook, or texted to potential donors. For more about donating online, see our DONATE page. If team members fundraise in excess of their program cost, the overage will go directly toward the cost of materials for the work projects or other materials needed for this mission. For more, see FUNDRAISING KIT on the FORMS page.
Condensed print versions of this website, along with a variety of tri-fold brochures for promotion, fundraising, and child sponsorship purposes can be found on our FORMS page.
Vaccinations & Health Insurance
We require each team member to secure a physical from their doctor, and have them sign our HEALTH FORMS. (see our FORMS page). All crew members will be required to have proof of health insurance in case of emergencies, and will be encouraged to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B, and Tetanus, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. Anti-malarial medication is NOT necessary due to the altitude of all project sites.
Basic Accident and Medical Travel Insurance is included as part of the registration this year for each participant. Our mission Travel Insurance policy can be found on our FORMS page. Additional coverage can be purchased separately. See the FAQ page for more information.
A valid, signed passport is required for entry into Guatemala for all U.S. citizens. You can go to http://travel.state.gov/passport for specific passport information. Visas are not required. If you have a passport, please check the expiration date NOW. Do not wait until the day before your trip to dig your passport out and discover it has expired! If you do not have a passport, you will need to get two passport photos of yourself, a certified, stamped copy of your birth certificate, and a valid form of photo ID (like a driver’s license) to apply for a U.S. Passport. The normal processing fee for an adult is $135. Due to a backlog in some regions of the U.S., the normal processing time now is 6-8 weeks. There are expedited services available both through the government and passport service agencies for a fee.
A .pdf of your passport is required for registration (see our REGISTRATION Page), and team members are asked to bring their photocopied passport with them to Guatemala to keep on their person at all times. We will collect all team member's passports upon arrival at your place of lodging, and lock them in a safe for the duration of the mission. Crew leaders will keep electronic copies of these documents at all times, along with your health forms, in the case of emergency. Birth Certificates will NOT be required this year, since the U.S. Embassy does not require them any more in case a passport is lost or stolen.
All air & ground transportation will be booked and provided by the mission. Flights will be booked from Sun to Sun. All crew members will arrive into Guatemala City between 12-3 pm on Sunday and return from Guatemala City to the US on the following Sunday, unless serving for two weeks, or unless returning later to take in some personal sightseeing. Airfare will be booked through our travel agency from each team member’s closest and/or least expensive airport. Daily shuttle busses and vans will transport crew members to & from their respective mission sites.
Luggage & Donations
All crew members will be encouraged to bring clothes and toiletries for the week in their carry-on luggage, and to fill two 50-lb pieces of checked luggage with donations of shoes, clothes, etc. If you want to personally help collect donations, see the Donations List on the FORMS page. Crew members are encouraged to raise $100 extra in case luggage fees are reimposed for June/July. Luggage fees cannot be purchased by the mission in advance, so Crew Members will need to cover those expenses upon check-in for their flight to Guatemala.
Lodgings for all teams will be comfortable facilities including beds, toilets, hot showers, and staff well-versed in accommodating safe food and lodging needs for Americans. This year all of our teams will be staying at the exquisite Candelaria Antigua Hotel, in Antigua, Guatemala - about a 30 min drive to our mission work sites.
All crews will share a delicious and safe breakfast and dinner of American and Guatemalan-style meals together at Hotel Candelaria. Box-style lunches will be eaten daily at each crew’s project site. Bottled and purified water will be provided at all lodging and work sites.
Each evening, all crews will assemble to reflect on the day’s events, share photos and stories, and worship and sing to God. Following a time of worship led by one of our Mission Crews, cultural exchange opportunities with local speakers, and crew meetings will be provided to prepare for the next day.
Guatemala is a developing country with a higher proportion of crime than most places in the U.S., so many precautions will be taken to insure our safety. To greatly reduce the risk of any safety issues, we ask all Crew Members to agree to and our fairly strict MISSION COVENANT before registering for the mission. We will be lodging in Antigua which is Guatemala’s largest and most popular tourist destination, and very safe. We are lodging at secured locations that will be locked in the evenings for additional safety. We will be traveling to our mission sites aboard professional transportation by licensed, insured, and reputable tour companies and drivers. While we do not anticipate any problems, nor have we had any safety problems in the past 9 years of leading missions, we ask all Crew Members to sign a Liability Waiver on our HEALTH FORMS, acknowledging the risks inherent to traveling to a foreign developing country.
This trip was designed to include all costs of food, lodging, transportation, etc. Antigua is known for its handicrafts and rich colored fabrics. If you bring some souvenir money, it is not necessary or encouraged to bring a lot of cash (less than $100 is recommended). We will have opportunity to buy handicrafts made in the villages we serve on Saturday, but not beforehand. There are secure ATM machines throughout Antigua where you will be able to access money with a standard Debit Card, VISA, or Mastercard. You get a better exchange rate this way, although many businesses in Antigua will accept American dollars.
Due to the high elevation, it is generally in the mid-70’s year-round in Guatemala. However, we will be in Guatemala during its rainy season. Typically, the mornings are clear and sunny, but by the afternoon, clouds appear and thunderstorms are possible. The highs will probably be somewhere around 82°F and the lows around 60°F. It can get very cool and damp at night. Occasionally mosquitoes are out in the evening, so don’t forget a long-sleeved shirt or jacket and bug spray or lotion with a high DEET concentration. A suggested Packing List is posted on FORMS page.
Communications in Guatemala
We have outstanding access to phone, internet, and email at our lodgings, and we are planning for all team leaders to be equipped with an international cell phone for emergency use. However, after an initial phone call or email home, we are asking all crew members to refrain from contacting home during the mission except for emergencies.
Our policy will be: "No news from us is good news...assume all is well.” This policy is for a variety of reasons: Limited phones & computers onsite, limited bandwidth at the hotel, limited time for making these communications, and these conversations often pull focus from your team's work, and our purpose of the mission. Plus, we hope all will use whatever down time we have to experience some Guatemalan culture, and build relationships with other teammates.
If you'd like to place a quick call or email home when you arrive at your place of lodging, crew leaders will have access to cell phones and a computer to use for a 5 min call home, or to send an email, or post a Facebook entry. We’ll also ask that you give us email addresses of family & friends so we can send email and blog updates throughout the week. (you can email that list to Shawn before you depart for Guatemala, or have family members sign up for our mailing list in the sidebar above). All Crew Members are asked to leave all electronics at home, except for a small digital camera to take photos with.
iPods, Phones, Laptops...
We discourage the use of all electronics during this mission. We are requesting all Crew Members to leave them at home, and enjoy a week "unplugged". These often distract team members from work projects, cultural exchange opportunities, and team building. They also pose a security risk, because the communities we are serving are extremely poor, and we do not wish to tempt some with expensive electronics they may be able to steal and sell.
Electronics also tend to isolate team members, which can cause strain on the community. Most US cell phones will not work in Guatemala, or are very costly to use, and our policy will be to use our Guatemala cell phones only for emergencies (see "Communications" above), and all Wi-Fi networks at lodgings will be password protected and not be made available to Crew Members for security reasons. If you need to bring something to entertain yourself during down-time or travel, we'd recommend something that involves others like cards, or small board games. Other suggestions would be a book, or puzzle books.
We plan to put in very long, very intense work days and nights during this short-term mission. All crew members will be expected to demonstrate a strong work ethic, and positive attitude in whatever project we undertake. However, Saturday all crews and crew leaders will be doing our best to honor the Lord's Sabbath. Not only will we need this time of rest for our mind, body, and spirit, but this is a Biblical command of our Lord, and as with every other aspect of this mission, we will do our best to honor our Lord's commandments and teachings.
Plus, honoring the Sabbath is a powerful testimony of our faith to those we are in community with...youth and adults, hotel staff and drivers, community leaders, and those whom we will serve. We realize the tendency and deep desire to be good stewards of our time in Guatemala, and to put in every minute of work while we are there. We believe God will honor our work, and bless it, and bless others through it, if we honor God and His commandments to us...especially while doing His work. Please do your best to, "Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy", and help your crew leaders to do the same...they will need rest too! Many crew leaders will be in Guatemala for multiple weeks, with Saturday as their only day to re-charge. There will be many activities that you can sign up for as individuals or groups for our Sabbath, and plenty of opportunity for tourism, shopping, soaking up the culture, and catching up on sleep!
Mission Contact Information
Much more information can be found in the downloadable documents found on our FORMS page. More specific information about the mission can be found on our FAQ page, and the Mission Sites and Mission Crews pages accessed from the menus at the top of this page. Finally, one of the best ways to get to know our mission is through our blogs, podcasts, and photo galleries: