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Snapshot of Guatemala –The Quetzaltenango Guatemala Mission is home to the second largest city in Guatemala. More commonly known as the ‘Xela” mission, this area is rich in Mayan culture and history. Guatemalans are very closely related to the lineage of Lehi. There are still many areas of pure bloodlines meaning they haven’t mixed as much with European bloodlines. The LDS church is continually growing in Quetzaltenango and the missionaries are a welcome part of any community.
Guatemala’s official language is Spanish, though it does have a significant Native American population, with each tribe having its own language or dialect as its primary language. K’iche’, Kaqchikel, and Q’eqchi’ are among the most-spoken indigenous languages in the country. Much of Guatemala’s population still lives in rural areas. Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion of Guatemala, though many people incorporate traditional practices into their Catholic worship. About 40% of the population belongs to some type of Protestant church. The marimba is the national musical instrument of Guatemala and is played throughout the country, though salsa, merengue, hip hop, and reggaeton are more representative of modern popular musical styles. Brightly-colored, traditional clothing is still worn in many areas (generally a shirt and long skirt for women), and most villages have their own unique patterns. Guatemalan cuisine is heavily influenced by Maya culture. Corn, chilis, and beans are all staples of the Guatemalan diet. Tamales are also extremely popular, and there are many different types available throughout the country, using different ingredients for the dough and different fillings. They are generally served wrapped in banana or plantain leaves.
**Did you serve in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission? If so we could love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at email@example.com**
The Church is constantly growing in Guatemala. The people of Quetzaltenango are extremely humble and faith oriented. They have a strong and wholesome faith that is based from a powerful testimony. At times, member referrals and assistance can be difficult to acquire. However, your ability to work with and encourage members to aid in missionary work will come from your ability to focus on the testimony and love they have for the Gospel.
Guatemalan food consistently includes rice and beans along with many types of things with a corn base such as tortillas. Fruits and vegetables can be found all throughout the year. Some of the most common dishes include black beans, caldo (which is a lighter soup including chicken or beef and an assortment of vegetables) and tamales. But remember, don’t eat the outer layer of tamales! For those times when you are just craving a burger, you will sometimes be able to find some fast food that you remember. Some American restaurants that you will recognize include McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King.
Missionaries in this mission do A LOT of walking. So, it is important that you have really good shoes that will last through a lot of wear and tear. There are several mini buses that have a specific route which can be taken to facilitate travel to certain appointments; however, this is not something you will want to do too often.
Due to the location and lifestyle in Guatemala, theft and car jacking are the most common problems experienced by foreigners. Missionaries that refrain from carrying large amounts of money and wearing flashy jewelry rarely run into problems while out in the field.
Drink lots of water and stay away from eating food off the streets until your body has acclimated.
Just as you will see throughout the scriptures with families in the Bible and the family of Lehi, following ‘the tradition of your fathers’ is a big deal. This will be something you will notice in the way the people of Guatemala act, speak, dress, believe, and live. The better you are able to appeal to these beliefs, the quicker you will help them realize that following Jesus Christ by living His gospel is a long-time tradition that they need to follow.
Suit coats are rarely if never worn during your mission. Typically suit coats are only worn on Sundays and Zone Conference.
Wear quality shoes. You will be walking everywhere. Your shoes should also be able to endure flooding during typhoon season.
Umbrellas are optional. It depends on your preference. Many missionaries just brave the rain along with the locals. Females usually use umbrellas. Umbrellas can be purchased at the local “mercado” (open market).
Most silk ties shrivel up in the humidity. Use ties with fabric blends.
Light weight sheets and a pillow case is all you will need for bedding. Bring sheets that are good quality but are also very cool to sleep in.
Small hand sanitizer bottles are essential to pack and use constantly. You can find these at local drugstores in the mission.
Bring a small, lightweight proselyting bag. While proselyting, you will only be bringing small Books of Mormon and a few other items. A “fanny pack” style bag that has a shoulder strap and a waist strap is a very good option.
The best way to send letters is through the postal service. Once a missionary arrives in the field, pouch mail (Dear Elder) can take several months to arrive. However, in the MTC pouch mail is the best option.
Typically the best way to send packages is through a fixed-rate box. Packages can take a few weeks to a couple months (so send Holiday packages very early in advance).
Rumor has it that boxes with religious stickers placed on the outside often pass untouched through customs.
5A Calle 14-35, Zona 3
Straight from the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Pretty much you can get everything nowadays. Back there McDonalds was something new.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Tortilla with beans and eggs, soups and chicken.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“I was never fed with anything that I could not handle.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“There was drunk people everywhere. Moms will nurse their kids and show their breasts without contemplation. People will feed you before they feed their own family…it’s simply amazing!!”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission?
“Even though it is Central America…carry a sweater. There are some cold areas where temperature can drop down to 0 celsius or even below that.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“That is gets cold.”
“Is definitely the place to serve. Great experiences will await anyone who heads down to Xela.”
**Did you serve in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**