Guatemala ’ 13
 
FAQs  - Frequently  Asked  Questions

Listed below are Frequently Asked Questions about Now Is the Time - Mission to Guatemala 2013.  Please scroll down to each section for answers to the following questions.


Registration

How do I register for the mission?  Where are the forms?

How do you make an E-CHECK Registration Payment with Intuit PaymentNetwork?

Why is an E-CHECK Payment better than a paper check?  How do you do it?

Why can I not make a PayPal payment for my Registration Deposits?

Why is Registration and the website launch so late this year?

Why are registration spots taken already?  Why are some weeks closed, when it just opened?

If I do not have all of my forms ready by May 1st, should I wait to email all forms together?

What if I receive my passport after May 1st?

What if my parents are divorced, do I need a Parent Permission form signed by both parents?

When Will Your Flight Be Booked?

What if my Middle Name is not listed on my airline ticket to Guatemala?


General Mission Information

What is the purpose of the mission?  Who do you work with?

Who is your sponsor organization, Santa Clara Foursquare Church?  Are they a 501(c) Non-Profit?


Mission Costs and Fundraising

What is the cost of the trip, and how do we pay (in full, in part, when is final payment due)?

Other than the mission fee, what other expenses may we have?

Are there luggage fees?

Can we pay you extra funds, so you can pay for our extra $100 in luggage fees?

Are there any vaccinations required?  If so, what is the cost?

Should we buy Traveller’s Insurance in case of medical emergencies?

Other than the above, what other money should we anticipate spending?

If we fundraise, can we get a tax-deductible receipt?

If, per chance, one of our supporters have gone on the mission website and chosen to “sponsor a volunteer” and listed one of our names to donate to, how will be notified of this?


Air Travel and Booking

Can you tell me about how the transportation works?  Do I need to book airfare to someplace, or do you arrange it for us to fly out of our area?  

Do we need visas?  Passports?

If the dates of the trip are July 15-22, does that include transport?  Or should we plan on traveling on the 14th and 23rd?

Can mission team members book their own flights?

Can mission team members use mileage tickets or points for their mission flight?  If so, what would be the remaining balance of their registration cost if they are using a mileage ticket? 


Safety and Health

Is Guatemala really safe to travel to?  Is it really safe to bring children and teens?

What are the safety risks?  (robberies, protests, rebels, gangs)  Have there been past “incidents”? 

I know that no-one can predict a natural disaster, but I would like to know if the mission is in an earthquake prone area or near an active volcano.

What are the health risks? (diseases, plants, animals) Have there been “incidents” in the past? 

Are there medical and emergency services available?

Can team members contact home in cases of emergency, or vice versa? 

Are there mission “rules” (i.e. no walking alone, no leaving the hotel after dark, no alcohol, etc.)

Why are adults required to sign a covenant?

Why is no consumption of alcohol part of the covenant for adults?  Is there any time that is appropriate for adults to drink alcohol while in Guatemala?


Food, Lodging, Electronics, Hair Dryers, and Leisure

What type of food/beverages are there?

Any food safety concerns?

Where do we stay and what are our living and eating conditions like?

What type of bedding would we need to bring, if any?

What type of clothing will we need?  Is there anything we can’t bring?

How much ‘free-time’ or ‘leisure time’ will we have?

Can Crew Members bring electrical items (hair dryers, etc.)?  If so, do they need converters?

Can Crew Members bring electronic items?  (i.e. iPods, iPads, cell phones, laptops, etc.)


Mission Crews

Who are are the team members?  Who can come?  How old do you have to be?

Where are we working?  What will we be doing?

Who are the greater organizations you work with?

What kind of work projects will we be doing, and how are they determined?

How many hours will we work each day, and what will we do during our free time?

Will we stay as a group for travel and work purposes, or would we be potentially split between villages/sites?


Translators

What are the role of translators?  What skills do you need to have to be a translator?


Eyeglasses Crew

How can I help?

How can I donate non-prescription sunglasses?

I’m traveling to Guatemala with Now is the Time Mission 2013 and I’d like to learn more about working in the eye glass mission….

How can I learn more about Kendall Optometry Ministry?

How can I learn more about Lions Clubs International Foundation?


Medical Crew

What will the doctors and nurses be doing medically?

What types of problems do you treat?

What is the system for treating patients?

Where do you get the medicine we use in the pharmacy?

What medicines can we bring or not bring?

What setting will patients be seen?  Do you have a clinic or is it in part of a hospital? 

Do you treat any wounds that need stitches?

Are there ever any deliveries of babies?





Registration

How do I register for the mission?  Where are the forms?

Our Regisration Process and all necessary forms are located hereRegistration will officially open on Wed, March 13th.  There you will see our Registration Form with Registration instructions.  Basically to register, you will need to pay a $300 non-refundable Registration Fee online with an E-CHECK payment via Intuit PaymentNetwork, and fill out a 5 min online Registration Form with your information (i.e. passport, address, email address, etc.) and indicate which week you are coming, which crews you’d prefer, etc.


How do you make an E-CHECK Registration Payment with Intuit PaymentNetwork?

Go to our donate page, follow the instructions at the top, then click the blue Sponsor A Volunteer Intuit PaymentNetwork donate button, and follow the instructions.  (see donate page and Regisration Process Pages for instructions).  Also be sure to check the “PERSONAL MESSAGE” box on the 2nd page of the payment process , and put the name of the volunteer you wish to make a payment for.


Why is an E-CHECK Payment better than a paper check?  How do you do it?

It‘s more secure - Your bank account information is safe and never shared with us, or anyone else.

It’s fast - Payments clear in 1-3 days.  No mail delay.

It’s efficient - No need for our volunteers to open, record, and deposit hundreds of checks.

It’s simple - Easy two-step process, takes 3 min’s.

You can pay the way you want - Make partial payments or schedule payments for a future date.

No sign up required - Pay right away, or create an account to save your payment info and track multiple payments.

Go green - Eliminate writing paper checks and easily manage your payables online.

It’s FREE for you, and only costs us $.50/transaction!  


If you are not comfortable with the E-CHECK method, you can mail us a check, but please understand that this will take much more time to process, and much more time and energy of our volunteers to open, process, and deposit your checks.  Instructions for how to use the E-CHECK payment option, and mailing instructions for paper checks, are found on our donate page and Regisration Process Pages.  We apologize for any inconvenience with this new online payment process.  We are all volunteers just trying to maximize our time and treasure.  We want as many of your dollars as possible to go directly to our mission projects, not to pay staff or unnecessary fees with alternate payment methods.  Thank you for your help and understanding.


Why can I not make a PayPal payment for my Registration Deposits?

PayPal is now charging 2.9% for all transactions - even E-CHECK transactions.  We cannot justify the $5,000 in extra fees that PayPal will charge us in Registration Payment fees alone.  (that’s enough for 50 stoves for 50 families!).  If for some reason you cannot make an E-CHECK payment via Intuit, or cannot mail us a check for your Registration Deposits, but would prefer to pay via PayPal, or with a credit or debit card via PayPal, PLUS pay us the additional 2.9% in fees, please contact Shawn here.


Why is Registration and the website launch so late this year?

Although we have been planning and preparing for team arrivals in Guatemala for nearly a year now, and preparations on the ground are ahead of schedule, we had some big changes this year, and some unforeseen technical difficulties in publishing our new website and finalizing our Registration Process for 2013.   Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.  Also, it’s helpful to remember, that we are all volunteers, including our mission directors, Shawn and Damaris Smith, who spend 3 months per year on-the-ground in Guatemala preparing and leading this mission, as well as raising all of their own financial support.  There are many reasons why we prefer to work as volunteers, but mainly so we can keep our missions expenses low and affordable so more people, and especially families, can join us.  Most overseas mission opportunities who provide all of the services that we do, charge much more than we do (many times double), in order to pay for full-time staff to organize and manage these kinds of projects.  (i.e. missions with airfare included, luxurious lodgings in a safe hotel, quality food, and ground transport; and quality, life-changing projects that serve those living in extreme poverty). We hope and pray that you will grant us an extra measure of patience and understanding this year with our lateness in working through these issues, in order to provide you with a quality mission opportunity.


Why are registration spots taken already?  Why are some weeks closed, when it just opened?

This year, in order to offer a more organized and better quality mission, we decided to limit our registration to 50 participants per week.  This will allow us to focus our efforts at one location per week, and open the mission up so more people can join us.  Because we had so many groups that started fundraising long before registration began, several of the weeks have became booked before registration officially opened.  We decided to honor our commitment to these groups who have been in contact with us prior to registration, and consider them “pre-registered”.  Pre-registered groups have until Wed, March 13th to confirm their place with their registration form and deposit.  After that, they will forfeit their spot, and we will open up registration to others waiting.  Our apologies for any inconvenience.  Our deep and sincerest apologies to anyone who was planning to join us, and can’t due to registration being closed the week they were planning to come.  Our hope is that you can come for one of the weeks we still have slots open for, or can join us next summer.  Or, if you cannot join us this summer, we hope you will consider making a donation to our mission.  This year, because of a new stove design, we will have the time to install nearly double the amount of stoves as last year.  However, to do this, we need more funding for stoves.  To make a donation towards a stove, or other mission project, please visit our donate page.


If I do not have all of my forms ready by May 1st, should I wait to email all forms together?

Yes.  As per our instructions on the Registration Page of our website, please only send one email per Crew Member with all Registration documents attached, even if it is late.  Please make every effort to meet our deadlines with your forms and payments.  We have over 700 documents to process and nearly 200 plane tickets to purchase this year, with minimal volunteer help; we appreciate your consideration and effort to meet our deadlines.


What if I receive my passport after May 1st?

I'm sure you're aware, but just to be clear:  If your passports do not arrive by the day of your flight, you will not be able to fly out of the USA, and will be subject to the airline's cancellation policy (generally $200-$300/tkt change fee).  


What if my parents are divorced, do I need a Parent Permission form signed by both parents?

Yes.  A relatively new Homeland Security rule states that both parents must give permission for minors to fly out of the USA - even in the case of divorce.  If Parent Permission forms for minors (younger than 18 yrs old at the time of travel) are not signed by both parents (even in the case of divorce), you will not be able to fly, and will be subject to the airline's cancellation policy (generally $200-$300/tkt change fee).  Again, not to scare you, but we just want everyone to be clear.  This is one of many reasons we have requested forms be submitted before flights are purchased; to avoid this problem.


When Will Your Flight Be Booked?

Velocitytours.com will be contact Crew Members via email and/or phone - please check your email DAILY between when you make your $800 payment, and until they confirm your flight.  Please also respond to Velocity Tours with a confirmation email within 24 hrs, as they cannot hold your flights longer than that.


What if my Middle Name is not listed on my airline ticket to Guatemala?

If your Middle Name is printed on your passport, please provide your Middle Name to Velocity Tours AFTER they contact you to confirm your flight information.   Your full name on your ticket MUST match your full name on your passport.  My apologies for not requesting your middle name upon registration.  This is a new Homeland Security requirement we were not aware of.  Consider it your first of many mission updates!






General Mission Information

What is the purpose of the mission?  Who do you work with?

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 (NGO's- churches, schools, orphanages, community groups, humanitarian aid organizations) in Guatemala, and in the United States, and serving them through a variety of mission crews.  We also plan to extend this mission beyond the Summer of 2013 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 needed donations.  Guiding Scripture Verses for our Mission::


"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

~ I John 3:16 - 18


“Be doers of the word, not merely hearers”  ~ James 1:22


Other guiding scriptures are: Mat 25:31-46; Mark 8:35; Mat 18:3-5; Mat 5: 1-14; Mat 6; and James 1:27.


Who is your sponsor organization, Santa Clara Foursquare Church?  Are they a 501(c) Non-Profit?

Santa Clara Foursquare Church (also known as Valley Life Center) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and the Foursquare Christian Church that meets in the heart of the Silicon Valley in Santa Clara, CA.  The people of VLC have committed to the simplicity of knowing, loving and

serving Jesus. Through their love and relationships, they have planted churches, Christian schools, (including their own, Santa Clara Christian School) , and provided discipleship and training for over 20 years. They have a passion for missions both locally and world-wide, having served in Asia, India, Europe, and Central America. They have been partners and supporters with Now Is the Time Mission trips to Guatemala since 2007.  For more about them, please visit:  www.valleylife.org 




Mission Costs and Fundraising

What is the cost of the trip, and how do we pay (in full, in part, when is final payment due)?

Approximately $1,600/wk or $2,100/2wks. This includes roundtrip airfare from the US to Guatemala City, all food & lodgings in a comfortable, safe hotel in Antigua, plus ground transport, travel Medical and Accident insurance, and all mission projects expenses.  There may be other expenses for you, depending on your situation.  (see below)


Other than the mission fee, what other expenses may we have?

The following extra expenses may be incurred as a result of participating in our mission, depending on your situation.  We strongly recommend everyone raise more funds than they need, in case they may incur some of these extra costs.  Most of the information of where to obtain these services are listed in our General Information form on our forms page..  Possible extra expenses for this mission may include:


$100   - potential extra luggage charges ($50 for 2, 50 lb bags now, but this may change)

$135   - US Passport Fee (allow 6-8 wks, $135-new adult, $120-new youth or renewal)

$60+   - potential Rush Service for US Passport Fee (2-4 weeks processing time)

$100   - original, stamped copy of your birth certificate (needed to apply for a new passport)

$60     - General Physical with your doctor

$25     - Extra trip interruption insurance, in addition to our included insurance (see below)

$100   - optional Hepatitis A & B, typhoid, and tetanus vaccinations as recommended by CDC

$100   - potential hotel expense and/or ground transport in the U.S. (in the rare case that we cannot fly you from your preferred airport due to cost, we may ask you to fly from a more distant airport


Are there luggage fees?

In 2009, due to fuel prices doubling, the airlines all imposed luggage fees to Latin America.  Last year, nearly all airlines listed $50/2nd bag.  However, this may change.  We will keep you updated, but we encourage everyone to raise extra funds in case these fees are reimposed.  We are not able to pay for these fees in advance.


Can we pay you extra funds, so you can pay for our extra $100 in luggage fees?

No.  Unfortunately, we are not able to pay the airlines directly for luggage fees, otherwise we would include it in our Registration Fee.  Crew Members must pay for Luggage Fees at the time they check in for their flight to Guatemala.  Also, $100/person in extra luggage fees is an estimate. 


Current Extra Baggage Fees (05.1.5.13) to Guatemala on Delta, United, and American Airlines:

First Bag = Free

2nd Bag  = $40/one way


As you know, we are expecting and planning for all Crew Members to bring 2 Checked bags, 50 lbs each, filled with much-needed and highly-anticipated donations.  (A prioritized list of donations is found on our Forms Page.)  These donations are a HUGE part of our mission aid to the communities that we serve.  


There are several creative ways to reduce or waive your 2nd bag baggage charges:

A)  Leave a 2nd Bag in Guatemala (only $40/2nd bag to Guatemala, no return charges)

B)  Bring a 2nd bag that is collapsable (to put in your 1st bag upon your return to the U.S.)

C)  Fly With an Elite Frequent Flier Member - who MAY be able to get your fees waived

D)  You can ask for 2nd Bag Fees to be waived for Non-Profit Humanitarian Aid Work (25% success)

E) BEWARE:  You CANNOT get your 2nd Bag Fee waived to Guatemala by using an Airline Partner Credit Card

F)  If Flying Delta, you can Apply for their Free AmEx Gold Skymiles Card, and TRY to Get 2nd Bag Fees Waived - some have had success with this, but it is up to the airport ticket agent


Details for each of these points are outlined in the 05.15.13 Mission Crew Update 3 Letter



Are there any vaccinations required?  If so, what is the cost?

No vaccinations are required.  However, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta suggests Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, and a current Tetanus.  We have never had any incidents of these diseases, but recommend them.  Travel clinics or local health centers generally have the best prices and availability of these meds.


Should we buy Traveller’s Insurance in case of medical emergencies?

Short answer:  No.  This year, we will be including basic Travel Medical and Accident insurance for all participants as part of their registration (See our insurance policy coverage called, “Included Medical and Travel Insurance Coverage” on our forms page).  Team members do not need to do anything to apply for this coverage - we will fill out all necessary paperwork, and pay for this insurance coverage.  This insurance plan is supplemental, or secondary, to the team member’s primary health insurance.  (i.e. whatever is not covered by your primary insurance, this policy will cover up to the listed limits).  This is excellent coverage designed specifically for missionaries.


However, if you have any concerns that this coverage is not sufficient, we recommend the additional policy of our travel agency (see below). 


If you would prefer to secure your own additional Travel Insurance, which might include Trip Interruption, Missed Connection, Travel Delay, and Baggage Delay coverage, we recommend contacting our Travel Agency, Velocity Tours.  They can provide you with an additional primary policy for $25-$35.  For more information:

Contact Trent by email, or call (877) 608-3704

www.velocitytours.com


If you prefer to secure additional travel insurance, feel free.  Other Travel Insurance Agencies are:

www.statravel.com

www.travelguard.com

www.globaltravelshield.com

https://www.travelex-insurance.com



Other than the above, what other money should we anticipate spending?

As part of the mission, we will only have 1 day for tourism on our Sabbath, on Saturday.  We will arrange some day trips (i.e. climbing active volcano Pacaya, visiting a Macademia nut farm, coffee farm, etc.), but these activities cost less than $30 each.  You can have a special meal on the town, and buy some nice souvenirs for less than $50.  We recommend that you will need less than $150 total for any tourism, and we recommend you bring less than $50 in US Dollars, and bring an ATM card  so you can withdraw local Guatemalan Quetzales for your tourism purchases.  (PLEASE CONTACT YOUR BANK before you come to Guatemala to activate your ATM card abroad).  Most formal restaurants in Antigua also accept Visa and Visa Debit cards, but some do NOT accept MasterCard or American Express.


If we fundraise, can we get a tax-deductible receipt?

Yes, all contributions for the mission are tax-deductible by US law.  For donations of more than $250, sponsors and donors may receive a tax-deductible receipt from Santa Clara Foursquare Church (a.k.a. Valley Life Center), our sponsor organization, who is a licensed 501(c)3 non-profit organization. These tax letters will be generated at the end of the year and automatically mailed or emailed to all donors of more than $250 who contributed by check, or via Intuit PaymentNetwork, or PayPal.  Please email Connie at Valley Life Center if you have more questions about tax-receipts.



If, per chance, one of our supporters have gone on the mission website and chosen to “sponsor a volunteer” and listed one of our names to donate to, how will be notified of this?

For every online donation, we will forward an email of the Intuit receipt to the Crew Member's email address that the donation was given for.  This will allow you to monitor and tally all of the donations made in your name, that we have received online.  If the donation is from the Crew Member, and for the Crew Member themselves (i.e. the Intuit Receipt donor is the Crew Member and/or from their email address), an email response is automatically generated to that email address by Intuit to confirm your donation. This has been done from the first donations of the year already, so if you have not received any emails of these Intuit receipts, there have not been any online donations made in your name as of today.  If the donation is made via a paper check and mailed to our sponsor organization in CA, you will need to email Connie Darnell at Valley Life Center (Santa Clara Foursquare Church), and request an updated summary of your donations.  This is one of many reasons that we highly discourage paper check donations; it is very time-consuming for our volunteers, and makes it difficult for Crew Members to monitor their donations.




Air Travel and Booking

Can you tell me about how the transportation works?  Do I need to book airfare to someplace, or do you arrange it for us to fly out of our area?  

Upon receipt of your Registration Form and $800/person (due no later than Wed, May 1st), our travel agency will book your flight.  Flights will be booked out of your closest airport as you indicated on your form, unless it is cost-prohibitive for our budget, then we may request that you fly out of a different airport to stay within our budget.  Confirmation of your full name, date, and flight information will be made with you individually by our travel agency directly, or with your group leader if you are flying out as part of a group, prior to issuing the non-refundable tickets.  To contact our travel agency:

Velocity Tours

Contact Trent by email, or call (877) 608-3704

www.velocitytours.com.


Do we need visas?  Passports?

Visas:  No.  Passports:  YES.  Please apply for your passport RIGHT AWAY.  Also, if you already have a passport, PLEASE CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATE, to make sure it will not expire before you return from Guatemala.  You can apply for a U.S. Passport at any US Post Office.  Rush delivery is available.


If the dates of the trip are July 14-21, does that include transport?  Or should we plan on traveling on the 14th and 23rd?

All mission flights will be on Sunday for the mission, with exception to our friends in CA who may travel on different dates due to their inability to arrive on Sun am/aftn.  So travel dates in this example would be July 14th and 21st.


Can mission team members book their own flights?

Other than mileage tickets or flights booked with points (see below), we do not permit team members to purchase their flights.  Because of our arrangements for ground transport, food, hotel, training, team-building, etc, we cannot have people fly in on Sat, or Sun evening, or other times which may be more convenient (or inexpensive) for team members.  Also, if flights are cancelled or changed, we have one person to contact (our travel agent), who is an expert flying groups to/from Central America, and is accessible 24 hrs/day in case of an emergency.  Our travel agency also has special pricing to Central America which always matches and often beats website fares.  Finally, because we can average our costs over 100+ flights, we can keep our average flight costs low.  (some tickets are $900, but others are $300 depending on the market, so our average flight costs are generally lower overall). All extra funds that we save by booking flights, which can be thousands, we use to do more projects...build more stoves, more concrete floors, buy more medicine, etc.


Can mission team members use mileage tickets or points for their mission flight?  If so, what would be the remaining balance of their registration cost if they are using a mileage ticket? 

Yes, we can have people use miles or points for their flights, however, we must insist that they arrive and depart on the same days, at the same times as the rest of our crews' flights (i.e. Sun am or early aftn arrival and departure times in Guatemala).  Because of our arrangements for ground transport, food, hotel, training, team-building, etc., we cannot have people fly in on Sat, or Sun evening, or other times, which may be more convenient (or less points/miles) for the team member.  (this is one of several reasons we book all of the team flights through our travel agency).  We will also need their flight info, so we can track them, and in case of any flight cancellations, etc.  That said...We budget $750/ticket.  So, if a team member is using a mileage ticket, they can subtract $750 from their mission fee, and that will be the remaining balance due for their mission registration.  (i.e. 1 wk - $850 due, 2 wk - $1350 due, etc.)c




Safety and Health

Is Guatemala really safe to travel to?  Is it really safe to bring children and teens?

Guatemala is a developing country, and overall, more dangerous than most places in the U.S.  This is the main reason we have established a rather extensive covenant, or agreement of rules, for our safety, health and security.  (please review the Mission Covenant found on the forms page.)  Safety and Health is our #1 priority as mission leaders, and we have spent extensive time developing a safe mission experience for crew members of all ages.  However, we ask everyone to be responsible for their own safety, and to follow the covenant to ensure the safest possible experience.  We don’t go out of the hotels after dark.  We never go anywhere alone.  We never go anywhere without a leader’s knowledge.  We don’t take expensive electronics or jewelry to attract thieves.  We make it clear we are Christian volunteers working on behalf of the poor in the community. We only use reputable ground transport and lodging facilities who work with American travelers regularly without incident.  We travel routes that are safe, and only work at sites that are safe for us to visit and work at.  We have local leaders work with us and guide us within their communities.  We stay in Antigua, which is the most popular and safe tourist destination in Guatemala with extra security and tourist police.  These are only a few arrangements.  These rules are products of many years of experience of our ground transport companies, hotel and lodging hosts, U.S. State Dept guidelines, and our leaders, to make the mission as safe as possible for American volunteers.  If crew members follow these guidelines, it will be very safe...for adults, youth, and children alike.  If they do not, Guatemala can be a very dangerous place, if one goes looking for trouble.  We cannot make any guarantees for anyone’s safety, but we can assure crew members and their families that if they follow the Mission Covenant, and our leaders’ instructions for safety, their risk for incident will be very low.


What are the safety risks?  (robberies, protests, rebels, gangs)  Have there been past “incidents”? 

Praise God, we have not had any major crew safety or health incidents over the past 7 years, and over 600 volunteers on our missions.  We have had 2 incidents of minor theft in the market of Antigua, but this was mainly because these team members did not follow our guidelines to not bring many credit cards and cash in a wallet and to not put them in their back pocket, or carry a large backpack or purse through the market where thieves will occasionally cut bags for their contents.  No one was hurt, but even these 2 incidents could have been avoided if crew members followed our guidelines and covenant.  Protest and gang activity is generally found in areas of Guatemala City,  which we avoid.


I know that no-one can predict a natural disaster, but I would like to know if the mission is in an earthquake prone area or near an active volcano.

I completely understand your concerns, and I don't want to pretend that there are not some risks to traveling to this area.  Guatemala has over 20 volcanos, and IS in an active earthquake area, on the same fault line as the San Andreas Fault in CA.  They have minor earthquakes often, and have had a history of some dramatic earthquakes in the past, the most dramatic being in 1776 which destroyed Antigua and caused the capital to move to Guatemala City, and the last being in 1976, which destroyed much of Guatemala City.  For this reason, their buildings now, including the ones we will be staying and working in, are very sturdily constructed, with high earthquake standards.  The Guatemalan homes we are working in are not sturdy, but they are very small, and very close to open, outdoor areas, with little-to-no 2 story buildings, electric poles, or other tall structures that may be prone to collapsing during an earthquake.  The Guatemalans all know earthquake safety procedures, and we go through these during our staff training.  We have never had more than a tremor in all the 6 yrs of missions, and I have been through 3 mild to strong earthquakes myself over the past several years on my personal trips, and was amazed at the quality of construction...absolutely no damage to buildings, or people.


All of our work is within a 30 minute drive of Antigua, Guatemala.  Antigua, where we are staying, is within 9 miles of 3 beautiful volcanos...1 active called Volcan de Fuego (puffs of smoke often, and occasionally some mild lava flow), and 2 dormant volcanoes - Volcan de Agua (with a giant lake in the crater), and Acatenango.  None of these have erupted beyond the mild, continuous lava flow of Fuego in the 500 yrs they have been keeping records, nor do experts have concerns about them anytime soon.


I assure you that I would not put my family in danger, nor yours, if I believed there was an eminent danger to our safety from earthquakes or volcano eruptions.  Of course, anything can happen, and like all of the safety and security concerns traveling to a developing country, there are inherit risks that we are not exposed to in the U.S.  However, there are dozens of other mission teams like ours from the U.S. that bless Guatemala with their Christian and humanitarian aid mission work each summer.  I believe that we be safe, and will remain as safe as possible provided team members follow our training, follow our Mission Covenant (on the forms page) , and use common sense.



What are the health risks? (diseases, plants, animals) Have there been “incidents” in the past? 

No, we’ve never had an incident other than the occasional “traveller’s diarrhea”.  We have had a handful of team members get sick with stomach flu-like symptoms most likely from eating food or drinking non-purified water accidentally, or from street venders, which we discourage for these reasons.  We have had one or two people get the flu without any known cause, but suspect some people are more susceptible than others to diseases, and that sometimes, people just get sick.  We work hard at preparing clean food, and providing purified water at all times, and have had great success with the health of our team members overall.  There are many dogs in the streets, that we discourage petting for health reasons, but plants and animals in general do not pose a problem.


Are there medical and emergency services available?

Yes, most of our sites have local EMS services, and if they are not available, we have access to our own mission vans and drivers all day while we are onsite.  Antigua has several reputable hospitals within a 30 min drive of our worksites, and we always have an emergency action plan, in case of an accident.  Our Mission and Site directors have access to all team member’s Medical Documents and insurance information at all times, and all crew leaders carry a Guatemalan cell phone, and have an established action plan in case an accident occurs.  Guatemala City, the nation’s capital and most modern city of 4.5 million people, is also within an hour’s drive of all worksites, where they have Medi-Vac services, and full modern hospital facilities.


Can team members contact home in cases of emergency, or vice versa? 

Yes, we will post emergency phone numbers prior to the mission, and all of our team leaders have cell phones in case of an emergency.  Other than a quick email or phone call when team members arrive, and just before they depart Guatemala, we discourage contact with home during the mission.


Are there mission “rules” (i.e. no walking alone, no leaving the hotel after dark, no alcohol, etc.)

Yes, we require all team members, adult and youth alike, to sign a comprehensive Mission Covenant which can be found on the forms page.


Why are adults required to sign a covenant?

We feel this Mission Covenant (on the forms page), especially the safety and health part, is applicable to all ages on our missions.  If this was a tourism trip, and we were not working in indigenous communities where there are very conservative cultural mores, we would feel differently.  However, our purpose is not tourism or recreation; it is to serve as respectful guests in these communities, and to impact them as positively as we can with the limited time we have.  Although we have some time built in to the program for tourism, we feel a deep sense of responsibility for the health, safety, and welfare of our crew members while in our care.  The continued success of our mission is dependent upon our team members’ health and safety, and after hosting over 500 team members without any major incident of health or safety, we are convinced our Mission Covenant is effective, and necessary to ensure continued success.  Plus, in our experience, it is adults who pose more of a risk for safety for themselves and their teammates than youth (i.e. wandering off alone, taking large sums of money or jewelry with them to the market, etc.).  If adults or families would like tourism opportunities without the restrictions of our covenant, we encourage them to take personal time for tourism before or after the mission.  Guatemala is a beautiful country with rich history and warm people that we would love to support with our tourism.


Why is no consumption of alcohol part of the covenant for adults?  Is there any time that is appropriate for adults to drink alcohol while in Guatemala?

Please see our Mission Covenant for a complete answer.  Again, if adults or families would like tourism opportunities without the restrictions of our covenant, we encourage them to take personal time for tourism before or after the mission, being mindful that even on their personal time in Guatemala, their presence and personal behavior may reflect on our mission work, due to the high-profile presence of Americans, and that many villagers that we are serving work in Antigua in the service industry.




Food, Lodging, Electronics, Hair Dryers, and Leisure

What type of food/beverages are there?

We always provide safe opportunities to try some of the local traditional food on our first work-day, but in general, our daily meals are excellent food, prepared American style:   Eggs, pancakes, cereal, fruit, juice for breakfast, chicken, turkey, or roast beef sandwich or chicken pasta salad with snacks for lunch, and a formal hot meal for dinner...a variety of fish, chicken, beef with veggies and either a soup or dessert.  Saturday provides and opportunity to try several reputable restaurants in Antigua.  Purified water is always available, both at the hotel and worksites, and sodas and light snacks are available during “down-time” at the hotel.


Any food safety concerns?

From our Mission Covenant:  “We will only drink bottled water and eat food prepared by the mission, or by trusted establishments (i.e. restaurants in Antigua).  Eating “street food”, or food offered by hosts in the villages, is discouraged for health reasons”  If team members follow these guides, they should not have a problem.


Where do we stay and what are our living and eating conditions like?

This summer our plan is for all of us to stay at the Candelaria Hotel Antigua.  It is an exquisitely designed, historically accurate Spanish colonial hotel.  We stay here for many reasons, including the outstanding staff, service, and discounted price they offer us, but mostly because it is very comfortable and safe.  More about the Hotel Candelaria can be found here and at their website.

All crews will eat breakfast and dinner at the hotel in the comfortable formal dining room, and a sack lunch will be prepared by the hotel staff, and eaten at our worksites, in very rustic conditions, often sitting on a concrete or a dirt floor.


What type of bedding would we need to bring, if any?

All bedding will be provided by the hotel.  If you use a washcloth, you will want to bring your own.


What type of clothing will we need?  Is there anything we can’t bring?

Please see a complete list of what to bring, and what not to bring in the Packing List at the bottom of the forms page.


How much ‘free-time’ or ‘leisure time’ will we have?

When in Guatemala, we have very little down time, in order to serve our hosts as best as possible with the very little time and resources that we have in-country.  Each day, team members will have either 1-2 hrs of personal time in the morning before breakfast, or in the afternoon before dinner, depending on if they are on an early or late-bus crew.  All other time is spent planning, prepping, or performing our mission activities.  Although internet access is available at the hotel, crew members are highly discouraged from using it, or from bringing any electronics so as not to distract from our mission activities.  More about this in our Mission Covenant found on the forms page.  Saturday is our Sabbath, and reserved for tourism, leisure, and personal time to see some of the beautiful historical city of Antigua where we will be staying.  No work projects will be done on Saturday.  If team members want more personal time for tourism, they are encouraged to arrive or depart several days before or after our mission time from Sunday to Sunday.


Can Crew Members bring electrical items (hair dryers, etc.)?  If so, do they need converters?

No, please do NOT bring hair dryers and irons.  This can, and has, caused us to lose power at the hotel, and it causes a problem.  If people absolutely MUST bring something, please make sure it is LOW POWER, and SMALL, and that they share with others in their room or in their Group.  The electrical outlets are the same in the U.S., however, their power is less stable.  However, I say again, it is sincerely best if Crew Members do not bring these items...best to bring a hair tie or two.  We will all be pretty dirty and sweaty anyway.  If not, we're not doing our job!


Can Crew Members bring electronic items?  (i.e. iPods, iPads, cell phones, laptops, etc.)

The short answer is, “No, please leave them all at home.”  We have outstanding access to phone, internet, and email at our lodgings, and we will be posting  daily mission blog, photo, and audio podcast updates via this website.  All of our Crew Leaders will 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.


We discourage the use of all electronics during this mission, with the exception of a small digital camera.  We are requesting all Crew Members to leave electronics at home, and enjoy a week "unplugged".  These often distract Crew 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.  They also tend to isolate Crew 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 Crew Leader’s needs, and emergencies.  Also, all Wi-Fi networks at our 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.  Please review the complete list of what things to bring, and what not to bring, on our Packing List located on the forms page



Mission Crews

Who are are the team members?  Who can come?  How old do you have to be?

Crew members of ages 7-77, from different faith backgrounds and regions of the US , are welcome to come to serve in the name of Christ for 1 or 2 weeks in the summer, by serving on one of seven teams:  Medical, Construction, Eyeglasses , Stoves, Floors, Humanitarian Aid, and Vacation Bible School.  All Mission Crews can be accessed from this page.



Where are we working?  What will we be doing?

Click on the following links for more information about each site and projects.


June 16-23Hogar Miguel Magone Orphanage, and the village of Aguacate

June 23-30        Paso a Paso, and the village of San Antonio Aguas Calientes

July 07-14Village of Santo Domingo Xenacoj

July 14-21Village of Santa Maria de Jesus



Who are the greater organizations you work with?

We partner with effective, trustworthy, and licensed Non-Government-Organizations (NGO's- churches, schools, orphanages, community groups, humanitarian aid organizations) in Guatemala, and in the United States, to provide humanitarian aid and share the love and Good News of Jesus Christ through service.  Details about specific organizations can be found at our individual Mission Sites above.


What kind of work projects will we be doing, and how are they determined?

Please see our Mission Sites and Mission Crews for specifics of work projects this summer.

Our projects are determined by first asking for a prioritized list of needs from the leaders of these communities, generally 9 months before the start of the mission.  After that, we spend several months discussing which projects we might be able to help with, and how, and going through extensive personal discussions and budgeting sessions, often in 3 languages (English, Spanish, and indigenous language of Kaqchiquel).  Shawn and Damaris Smith generally spend a minimum of 3 months per year on the ground in Guatemala meeting with community leaders, personally reviewing projects, and securing construction materials, meds, transport, and making crew lodgings, and ground transport arrangements.  Final decisions of projects cannot be made until Registration Forms from crew members are received.  Both budgeting and projects cannot be finalized until final commitments, and crew members’ abilities and talents is understood.


How many hours will we work each day, and what will we do during our free time?

After our travel day and full day of cultural training and prep, we generally have 4 full work days and work 8 hrs/day - either 7-3 or 9-5, depending on the crew.  We have an evening program of worship, and crew meetings in the evening to plan for the next day, then to bed early to be fully rested for our next day.  There is very little “free time”...generally 1.5- 2 hrs of “down time” for each crew member either in the morning, or after returning from the worksites.  With such a short-term mission, we try to take advantage of every minute, and to honor the months of preparation both team members and Guatemalan hosts have put into the preparation.  Although most of our team members have plenty of fun, this is not a mission of tourism or recreation, nor is it our focus.  Saturday is our Sabbath, and we offer some beautiful day-trips, including a guided hike of an active volcano (Pacaya) and we provide a map of Antigua for crew members to explore before returning to the hotel before dark.



Will we stay as a group for travel and work purposes, or would we be potentially split between villages/sites?

This summer we will only be working at one site per week.  It is possible crews will be working at the same site, but in different parts of the village.  Especially construction teams will be split into smaller teams of 5 people plus a leader, to work in villager’s homes.  If team or family members desire to be on the same crew, they should indicate that on their Registration Form.  Although we generally have success at honor requests, we cannot guarantee we will be able to honor crew and rooming preferences.  We ask people to come with “open hands and hearts” , with a servant’s heart, and be willing to serve where needed. 




Translators

What are the role of translators?  What skills do you need to have to be a translator?

Translators are a vital part of all of our Mission Crews, and make our work so much more efficient and effective, when we are blessed with enough of them.  We never have too many good translators.  Translators will translate from Spanish to English and back again for approximately 6-8 hrs/day in an effort to communicate between our Mission Crews, and those Guatemalans we are working and serving with.  Sometimes translators will communicate with Guatemalan workers, volunteers, mission hosts, Medical Clinic patients, community leaders, or people of the home we are working in.  Translators must not only be literate in Spanish, but more importantly, must be able to verbally communicate to and from Spanish and English.  We need translators on each of our Mission Crews,, however, we especially need more translators for our Medical Crews and EyeGlass Crews.  Translators for the Mission Crews will translate from Spanish to English and back again for approximately 6-8 hrs/day, in an effort to help communicate symptoms, problems, evaluation, and treatment between doctors, nurses, and patients in the Eye Glass and Medical Clinics.  Occasionally, patients speak only an indigenous language, Kaqchiquel.  In these cases, the translator must work with a Kaqchiquel/Spanish translator onsite.  Most patients over age 50 know Spanish as a 2nd language only, and most in these villages do not have a formal education beyond 2nd or 3rd grade, therefore sometimes a great deal of patience is required on the part of both doctors, nurses, and translators, to fully understand symptoms and be able to communicate treatment.  




Eyeglasses Crew

How can I help?

You can donate funds specifically for our Eyeglass Clinic on our donate pageYou can donate by credit card, or by our preferred method of  E-CHECK bank transfer, or by mailing a check to help cover the costs of eyeglasses, optical equipment rental, and surgeries. Again donations can be made by selecting “Eye Glasses” our donate page.  Always donate your used eyeglasses to the Lions Clubs locally.  Donate non-prescription sunglasses to our mission team members.  To learn more about how to help our Eyeglass Clinic, contact our Eyeglass Mission Coordinator at:

Teri Mitchell

Email Teri Mitchell

608-835-5753-Hm


How can I donate non-prescription sunglasses?

If you are traveling to Guatemala with the Now is the Time Mission 2013, collect donations of nonprescription sunglasses from friends, family, people at work.  Bring them when you come.  If you are not traveling to Guatemala we welcome larger quantities of sunglasses when shipping costs are not prohibitive. Email Teri Mitchell for more information.


I’m traveling to Guatemala with Now is the Time Mission 2013 and I’d like to learn more about working in the eye glass mission….

Each week, we will need at least one eye glass mission leader who will set up the clinic, train the other missionaries, be responsible for the safety of the equipment, operate the auto refractor and generally oversee the operation of the eyeglass mission.  Eye professionals, and those without professional eye training but a desire to learn about eyeglasses and serve others, can also serve on our team.  Those without professional eye training or experience will require some training which can be arranged.  In addition, we will need 2-3 others to help with dispensing readers, adjusting frames and more.  By learning a few Spanish phrases, one can do quite well without a translator – though a translator will be intermittently available as needed.


How can I learn more about Kendall Optometry Ministry?

http://kendall-optometry-ministry.com/kendall-optometry/


How can I learn more about Lions Clubs International Foundation?

http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/lci-foundation 




Medical Crew

What will the doctors and nurses be doing medically?

The primary role of docs and nurses on our Medical Crew will be examining and treating patients primarily with general family practice medicine.  We take vitals, family history, on a standard H&P form, then examine and treat as best as we are able.  We do not have access to hardly any diagnostic equipment (no x-rays, blood or lab testing, etc.), simply stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and best of all, our eyes, ears, and experience and training.  However we can and do occasionally refer patients to hospitals or clinics in nearby Antigua or Guatemala City for extended or follow-up care, and have funds in reserve to pay for these services, within reason.  We often do not have the exact medicine or dosage we would prefer in our small pharmacy of meds, but we usually figure out a way to treat the problems with what we do have.  This is where a positive, flexible, can-do attitude is key to the Medical Crew’s success.  It’s important to remember that almost none of these patients have ever seen a licensed medical doctor, and if they have, it has been for an emergency.  “Shamans” and “Natural Medicine Doctors” are common in these villages both for the less expensive cost, and because of the very poor reputation Guatemalans have of their medical system.  Any help we can provide is much better than what they currently have, so we do what we can, and know that although it may not be what we could provide them if we had facilities and meds we are accustomed to in the US, anything that we do provide is better than what they have had. 


What types of problems do you treat?

Over 90% of the patients are women and children suffering from temporary and treatable illnesses with antibiotics, anti-fungal cremes, and general pharmacy medications.  Many conditions are treated with over-the-counter meds, love, and education about parasites and the value of shoes and purified water.  Some things that may be unique to treatment in these villages are:  Parasites (especially hookworm that enters the body through the foot from dirt floors and dust), and allergy, eye, and upper respiratory distress due to daily open-fire cooking; and malnutrition...generally attributed to parasites from the ground, or drinking non-purified water.  If we have sufficient medicine, we treat nearly all patients for parasites with an anti-parasite dose, and provide as much education as possible about keeping shoes on feet, and drinking purified water. 


Medical Crew members are encouraged to educate themselves on the symptoms of parasites (especially hookworm) before they arrive in Guatemala.  Most of our docs had not seen this combination of symptoms before.


Occasionally, we do encounter broken bones, heart or blood-pressure conditions, chronic or more acute health conditions, and refer patients to the hospital in Antigua for testing and further treatment.  We offer to pay for these services, including transportation, and work out details with local leaders to follow-up with these patients.



What is the system for treating patients?

Patients are pre-selected by communities leaders, and organized and prioritized for us with a numbering system giving priority to the poorest children, then pregnant women, then elderly.  We generally treat 50-150 patients/day, depending on the size and efficiency of our crew.  We generally have an intake station with a translator where vitals and bio information is written down on an H&P form.  Next, we generally have 1-3 exam rooms with a doctor, nurse, and translator in each where the patient is checked out.  Prescription pads in Spanish with pictures are provided for the patient to take to a final pharmacy station where a nurse fulfills the meds and explains the dosage with a translator, unless the doc decides to fill it themselves.  This system varies greatly depending how many staff and translators we have, but this is the basic system.  It is generally very calm and orderly, with many women and children waiting patiently.


Where do you get the medicine we use in the pharmacy?

Prescription medicine will be purchased in Guatemala at an AmeriCare distribution center, and in local pharmacies, and distributed through free clinics at the Mission Sites.  Very high taxes are now being imposed on prescription medicines being brought into Guatemala, and expired meds will be confiscated at the airport, so we discourage it.  Some over-the-counter, non-expired meds and vitamins may be collected and brought in checked luggage.  After registration, a list will be provided to Medical Crew members of what will be needed at your site.


What medicines can we bring or not bring?

Over-the-counter, non-expired meds and vitamins are welcome.  Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Children’s Tylenol, cold and flu medication, Pre-natal vitamins, children’s vitamins, anti-fungal cremes, etc.  Please do NOT bring any prescription meds, or expired medication of any kind.


What setting will patients be seen?  Do you have a clinic or is it in part of a hospital? 

No, we do not work in hospitals or clinics.  We set up a temporary clinic and pharmacy at a secure, but generally very rustic public facility (community center, church, school) generally in the center of the village.  We generally use white bed sheets on tables to provide a more sanitary environment, but it is rustic.  We try to set up temporary exam rooms to offer as much privacy as possible, but often this is not possible.


Do you treat any wounds that need stitches?

Rarely, if ever.  We do have a suture kit or two, if necessary.  Or, we can refer or transport critical patients to the local hospital, but this has not happened yet.


Are there ever any deliveries of babies?

No.  Although we treat many pregnant women, and generally provide pre-natal vitamins and other medicines to them, we do not deliver babies.  We can always refer patients to the local hospital, if necessary.