Welcome to my fundraising page for my involvement in Bellefield Presbyterian's annual mission to Guatemala. I'm so glad you're here. Perhaps you've clicked on a Facebook link, or maybe we had a conversation about this trip and you were directed here. Maybe you're here by accident. In any case, please continue to read about the the trip below- you'll find topics such as The Background, The Statistics, The Mission, How to Give and Extras!
*** If you would like to contact me directly (and I would LOVE to hear from you!) please feel free to email, call or text at [email protected] & 717. 364. 5327 ***
During my college years at Pitt I was involved with Bellefield Presbyterian through their undergraduate program Cornerstone, run by the CCO. I did multiple mission trips with them, usually over spring break. Chances are, you probably helped me fundraise for one or more of them- and for that I am so grateful. Those trips taught me so much as a new believer about the heart of Jesus, and what it looks like to serve others.
In the almost two years that I've been out of college, I've struggled at times to stay connected to the faith that I found in college. Between working a job where mandatory weekends are a reality, and losing the constant support that is Cornerstone, it became a task to feel like I was truly present in my relationship with Christ.
The last couple of months have been a wakeup call to me- that my journey through life is going to be challenging, that opportunities won't always be placed in my lap, and that I have to work hard for the things that I want to achieve. I've started to volunteer with organizations in Pittsburgh, and to pursue several opportunities that have come my way. This trip is one of those opportunities. I hope you'll continue to read below to learn how you can be an aid in this opportunity not only to me, but to the people we'll be serving.
One of the constants in this time since college has been my interaction with Compassion International.It just so happens that the child I sponsor through Compassion International, Marcos, lives in Guatemala. Completely separate from the mission trip through Bellefield, I'm hoping to go and visit him while I'm in the country. I've been sponsoring Marcos since 2013.
Meet Marcos! He's a sweet 7 year old living in Chiquimulilla, Santa Rosa, Guatemala.
Marcos is receiving Compassion sponsorship because of the conditions in which he and his family live. Current issues in Eastern Guatemala for children like Marcos include malnutrition, a lack of clean water, child labor, and physical & verbal abuse. Sponsorship makes sure that Marcos has access to healthy foods, medical care & checkups, and the support that will be required once he starts school.
To read more about the living conditions for children like Marcos, please follow this link:
Marcos is an easy way for me to connect to poverty that is so widespread, not only in Guatemala, but across the globe. This child lives in conditions that I, as a person of immense privilege, cannot even begin to understand.
If you're reading this post, it's likely that you are also a person of immense privilege- to be in the global top 1% for income you have to make approximately $32,400/year. It's mind-blowing to think that I, and many people that I know make 2-3x that number, and still see themselves as never having enough. I am not here to patronize; daily I am amazed at how often I think that I do not have enough- that I want more. More money, more things. It is true that it would not be a burden for me to pay for this mission trip outright. But here's the thing:
I'm asking for your support in this endeavor, not just for the money, but for the awareness that I feel I can bring to an area of the world that we may not think about. To children and families that we may not think about. To the issues like child labor and poverty that we may not think about. And to a God that is always thinking about these things and wants us to think about them too.
Thank you so, so much for your time in reading this post. I would encourage you to continue reading below to learn more!
P.S. If you're interested in also sponsoring a child through Compassion International, you can do so through their website. >>http://www.compassion.com
Poverty in Guatemala is both widespread and severe.
- Approximately 75% of the population lives below the poverty line (defined as an income that is insufficient to purchase basic goods and services).
- Additionally, 58% live below the extreme poverty line (defined as an income insufficient to purchase basic food products).
- More than 90% of the indigenous population live on an income that is lower than the poverty line.
As an example, where Marcos lives, the usual monthly income for a family is about $100- that's around $3/day to pay for basic needs (food, water, clothing, shelter), as well as school, for Marcos and his brothers & sisters.
Social indicators reflect this widespread poverty:
- Literacy rate for those aged 15yrs and up: 78%
- Gross school enrollment is 77% for primary school, and drops significantly thereafter.
As an agriculturally based society, it is common for fathers to take their sons to work with them when the harvest begins. However, these children rarely return to school once the harvest is over. Recently, the Guatemalan government has begun to offer incentives for families to sed their children to school. While this intervention has improved attendance, many parents continue to keep their children out of school, as the family cannot survive without the chid's contribution to the household income
*statics from The World Bank: Poverty Reduction & Equity & Compassion International
The Vision of ASELSI is to have Bible-equipped, indigenous pastors leading healthy churches that embody in word and deed the good news of Jesus Christ to their culture, compassionately serving the practical, physical and spiritual needs of "the least of these" in their community and beyond.
Bellefield has been sending short term mission groups to Guatemala to aid ASELSI in particular for many years. In recent years the overall concept of short term missions across the globe has been called into question, and for good reason; often times these missions or donations can do more harm than good. However, Bellefield as a church community has truly immersed themselves in supporting ASELSI, and are consistent with both their care and their funds.
At ASELSI, the purpose of all short term missions is to develop relationships between the mission team, ASELSI, and the local Guatemalans. Teams will work side by side with the locals using a variety of gifts, talents and skills, including but not limited to:
- Work with local churches and pastors
- Pray and share the Word at clinics, homes and local hospitals
- Provide medical clinics in the community
- Construction at ASELSI & in the community
I would encourage you to visit ASELSI's website at http://aselsi.org/ to learn more about this organization.
How to Give
When I made the commitment to serve on this trip, my intentions were to pay for it myself. However, after some debate, I've decided to fundraise the money that will be going directly to the mission. Even though it's difficult to ask for money, I truly believe that people want to be involved in opportunities like this. Know that if you choose to donate, whether it's time in prayer, money, or supplies, that they are appreciated and very much needed.
Here are so many ways that you can contribute to this experience:
- The first is prayer. I would ask that you be praying for the mission as a whole, including the all the people traveling to volunteer and the the people that we will be interacting with.
- The second is funds. Donations can be made here on this page, or directly to Bellefield. If you would like to donate to the church directly, please send a check with "Guatemala- E. Hefflefinger" in the memo line to:
Bellefield Presbyterian Church
4001 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
* A note about funds: the money that is donated here or to the church will be put directly towards accommodations & living expenses for the week. We pay for our time at ASELSI as to not burden the organization with the extra expenses of us being there. I will be using my own funds for travel related expenses such as flights*
- The third is supplies. If you are interested in donating goods like medical or school supplies, please email me directly. As a group we haven't established the supplies that we'll be taking down yet, but once we do we would love your assistance!
After committing to this trip, I wanted to get more information about the people I'd be serving. I'm hoping to keep this section updated as I find interesting & informed articles, so please check back!
One of the best & most relatable documentaries that I came across was Living on One Dollar. It shows the journey of four guys as they live on just one dollar a day in a rural village of Guatemala. It's on Netflix and YouTube- a must watch >>http://livingonone.org/livingonone/