Lutheran Social Services Work Team Visits Semillas de Amor

Date: 2009-06-15

By Nancy

Mid May we had our first big work team. Our team came from Lutheran Social Services. What an exciting few days to have this group with us. They worked so hard and generously paid for all the supplies and left us with beautiful fences, for our garden and beautifully painted rooms in the children’s home and the kindness and support we need to continue to move forward. I have asked Carol Hakala to put in her own words the experience of the work team.

In February 2009, 2 staff members of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin began to explore the feasability of a short term mission experience in partnership withSemillas de Amor. Our agency has been involved in the placement of children from Semillas de Amor since 2004 and some of our families still await placement. Visits to child caring facilities are touching experiences, but the time seemed right for more than a visit.

In March and April Nancy Bailey and Carol Hakala began discussing projects that Semillas needed done – ones that would not take a lot of technical abilities and that could be accomplished in a short visit.
Meanwhile late in March, one initial e-mail generated by Meg Groves, Vice President of Programs, inviting interested staff members of LSS to join this effort. It is a tribute to the culture of LSS that within a
week there were 20 people who were ready to join the Team and make a personal contribution of time and talent to Semillas de Amor. Staff who work in human services volunteered their time by using vacation, and
paying for their own expenses to join in this experience.

May 14 through May 19, nineteen volunteers from Wisconsin made their way to Semillas de Amor. Our first day “on the job” at Semillas was one that each of us waited for and no one quite knew what to expect. After an orientation to Semillas, a tour, and a few greetings by many of the children, each of us were eager to get at the tasks at hand. We had identified interior painting and for an outdoor project there was a
fence that needed building.

I think that all of us were amazed at what 20 people from the Midwest (with the help of a few hard working Guatemalan kids and one GuatemalanCrew Boss – Juan Jose) could accomplish in three work days. By Monday -the fence was nearly complete – or as far as we could get with it -hallways, bedrooms, and the dining room were fresh with new coats ofpaint, and there were a few bonus jobs done that no one had really anticipated time for.

It brought us together in a way that no other experience had done up to that time, and each of the team members were proud of what was accomplished. Needless to say we all loved being at Semillas. The team
played nearly as hard as it worked, soaking up every minute possible in our free time. Somehow we managed to fill suitcases with souvenirs fromthe market and shops in Antigua. Our memory of the children and Semillas de Amor is however the highlight of our short trip.

Only one thought remains – when can we return?

Participants: Carol & Ted Hakala, Rita and Mike Wiersma, Liz & Alan
Gifford, Steve McCarthy, Lori Copsey, Becky Soderna, Kerry Wiese, Julie
Kons, Lisa Severson, Mo Eckstein, Becca Simon, Kim Westfahl, Ira
Illinich, Emilee Mooney, Meg Groves, Denise Pilz, & special participants
from Wisconsin already in Guatemala: Rich & Pam Garman

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