Walla Walla University’s Center for Humanitarian Engagement (CHE), the Center for Media Ministry, and the Chaplain’s Office supported students on a mission trip to Guatemala during spring break. The trip was in partnership with Loma Linda University (LLU) and Argentina’s Universidad Adventista del Plata.
The group flew into Guatemala City on March 16, then trekked northward to Flores and the Sanatorio Manos Ayudadoras (God’s Helping Hands) medical station. They set up a clinic at the station and, over the course of five days, helped 311 patients with medical and dental issues, and offered behavioral health services.
The project site was established by Elden Lopez, father of David Lopez, who is the director of CHE. Begun in the early 2000s, the station’s goal is to offer medical assistance to the surrounding community.
Realizing the connection, Loma Linda University reached out to Lopez and asked if he would like to join the mission trip. Lopez agreed and coordination efforts began. Ten preprofessional students, two students in charge of videography, three staff members, and Lopez’s son made up the WWU team. Sixteen faculty and students from our sister school, and four students and faculty from Argentina completed the group.
“There was an immediate connection between our groups,” Lopez said. “They worked really well working together, and someone from LLU said at the end of the day, we never would have seen what we saw or done what we did without the undergraduate students from WWU. They brought a really great energy to the project.”
Most of the clinic days were at the project site, with one day being spent in a nearby village. The group also visited Tikal, the largest Mayan ruins in the world.
One of the core themes that the Center for Humanitarian Engagement seeks to foster on the Walla Walla University campus is generosity in service. “Anything that puts time aside to spend with God in service reaches our goal. This was obviously a longer time period and greater commitment than many of our previous engagements.” Lopez said.
Lindsey Gispert, a film, TV, and media junior, continued this theme of service by joining the team as writer, director, and student producer of a documentary series titled “Generosity.” The show focuses on stories of creativity and generosity in service, two themes central to the mission trip. Alongside several team members, Gispert filmed hours of content, and interviews with local people and team members. She is now in the process of editing the content into a new episode of the show.
“It was fun to put to test all my skills I’ve gathered over the past few years,” Gispert said. “This trip helped me discover my voice as an artist.”
Plans for future collaborations between WWU and LLU are in place and the trip to Guatemala is set to become an annual project.
More opportunities to get involved with both short- and long-term missions can also be found at wallawalla.edu/SM.