Mountain roads to remote Guatemalan Orthodox parishes
September 24, 2021
Greetings and Blessed Feast of St. Thekla the protomartyr and companion of St. Paul,
We are constantly traveling and moving from one community to another here in the mission in Guatemala. For a relatively small country, roughly the size of Ohio, we spend an inordinate amount of time in minibuses, pickup trucks, taxis and very often even repurposed yellow school buses from the United States (called Chiantlquita in Guatemala). The majority of the roads are not well kept, if they are paved at all, and they are almost always in mountainous terrain. What may look like a quick an easy trip by our standards in the United States here in Guatemala turns into a much more complicated endeavor.
Adding to the general transportation problem in the country are two factors. First is simply the distances involved. The mission is spread out over two countries and many hundreds of kilometers. From southern Chiapas, Mexico down to the Guatemalan coast is over twelve hours driving, the two extremes of the mission. Most of the communities are within two distinct areas (Huehuetenango, Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico), but this still requires many hours of travel from one community to the next. Many times to make a parish visit from our seminary center in Aguacate, Guatemala we need to leave the house a 5 or 6 am and drive two or three hours simply to arrive at a community before beginning the Diving Liturgy. There simply is a lot of road to cover.
The second factor complicating the transportation problem is the lack of good, sturdy, reliable vehicles to safely transport the clergy, seminarians and missionaries. The two cars we have with us currently suffice in the short term, but are simply not reaching the demands of the field. The first is a 1993 Toyota Pickup truck with half cabin, and the second car is a 2007 Toyota Hiace minibus (pictures attached in the email). Both have seen too many difficult roads, too many trips around the country and too many trips to the mechanic shop. We are simply in need for newer, more reliable vehicles.
Update on twos day (2/22/22) as we approach Missions Sunday (6 March 2022)
The Manuels report that the Guatemala mission vehicles fundraiser has had great response and they thank all! So far, as of 22 February 2022, the effort has raised about 90% of the cost of the two vehicles and they have purchased the first and most desperately needed vehicle, the 16 passenger van (a new, replacement Toyota Hiace). They are waiting to finish the purchase of the second needed vehicle (a crew cab pickup) sometime in March. There is a delay of supply of new cars due to the pandemic, there in Guatemala just as here in the US. They are still need some funds for the remaining truck purchase, and for vehicle maintenance which includes regular servicing, insurance, parts, etc. Once the fundraiser is fully successful and closed, I’ll post notice to that effect at the top of this page hopefully with photos, but keep the page as history.
New Cars Needed for the Mission
This is where we hope and pray we may call upon our supporters back in the United States to help intervene and make a difference in the daily life of the mission in Guatemala and southern Chiapas. Our hope is to buy two new cars for the mission itself.
1. Toyota Hiliux Pickup (Full Cabin), or equivalent car
2. Toyota Hiace (Minibus)- an updated and more powerful version to ensure we have no problem reaching even the remotest of our communities.
Estimated cost for two new vehicles in Guatemala- $65,000
The estimated cost, and our goal, is to raise $65,000 to purchase these two cars. Therefore, we are asking all our supporters, both individuals and whole communities, to prayerfully consider help us in reach this goal and raise the funds necessary for our transportation necessity.
These cars will be used by the mission in general. They are not personal cars for missionaries. Primarily, our Vicar Fr. Evangelos and the older seminarians will be the drivers, but of course we will all benefit from these cars. They will help us all travel to distant communities to offer the Divine Liturgy and much needed sacraments, they will safely carry us to catechetical retreats both in Guatemala and Chiapas, they will be used to bring down visitors and medical mission teams to support with the mission, and so much more.
If you as an individual or your parish are interested in supporting this vehicle acquisition project, you can get involved in any number of ways. You can support personally, and/or you can get the wider parish and specific ministries of your community actively engaged to learn more about the work of the Orthodox Church in Guatemala and how they can all be a part of that effort.
All funds raised for the vehicle acquisition can be send by check to the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC).
Send to following address:
220 Mason Manatee Way St. Augustine, FL 32086, United States
In the Memo Line write:
“Manuel Vehicle Project Guatemala”
Contact us personally for more information or assistance
If you would like to speak more about this project, or have any specific questions or concerns, you can reach us at our OCMC email: email@example.com and we will of course make ourselves available either by phone or email. We would love to help out in any way possible to make fundraising efforts more engaging and educational for our communities.
We have always been so very thankful for the support and the love you all have shown to us personally, and through us to the mission at large in Guatemala. We are not accustomed to asking for funds for specific needs here in the field, though there are many, and we hope and pray this you all prayerfully consider taking the time and assisting us in this essential project.
With much love in Christ,
Fr. Thomas Manue, Presbytera Elizabeth and Baby Vasili on behalf of the whole mission here in Guatemala.
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)
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