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The Greatest Adventure

Fighting Poverty with Diplomas

Adventures aren’t always easy but they can be extremely rewarding. For some, travel to another country is an adventure, and for others graduating from high school is the most epic adventure of their lives. But one thing that makes them easier is when adventurers can walk their paths together. Last October, fifteen intrepid adventurers left Waconia traveling to Guatemala to walk beside kids in Antigua working on the grandest adventures of their young lives.

In partnership with St. Paul-based non-profit Common Hope, Faith Lutheran Church sent a vision team, of members and non-members alike, to Antigua, Guatemala, to learn from, work alongside, and build relationships with the people there. Common Hope’s mission is simple; they fight generational poverty with diplomas. They are fighting all the barriers that poverty places in front of the families of kids trying to graduate; costs, medical needs, housing, and technology gaps.

Three of the intrepid travelers, the Bergstrom brothers, were leaving the United States for the first time. Matthias, a junior at Waconia High School, Abram, a freshman, and Hezekiah, a 7th grader at Waconia Middle School, were all a bit unsure about traveling to a country where they could not speak the language. But having seen pictures and heard stories from their parents’ earlier trips, they insisted they would not be left behind.

The brothers learned to travel, work and navigate this new experience alongside their fellow adventurers. They spent time visiting with Guatemalan students they sponsor. They helped a family build a new home. They learned from locals about how to make chocolate from bean to truffle. They worked alongside Guatemalans towards the same goal, breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

Building a house in Antigua was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved. Matthias learned how to mix cement by hand, as cement trucks and heavy equipment cannot easily get to where the houses are being built. Abram and Hezekiah learned that a roof need not be very thick; it just needs to keep the rain out. They also learned that there is no need for heat, air conditioning, or bug screens, as there are very few mosquitos. Very different from how we build in Minnesota!

One of the most impactful takeaways was how working together elevates us all. The team did not go to serve the people of Antiqua but to serve alongside them as they worked to educate their children. The experience of working alongside a family building their new home and the joy shared when it was finished is something the team and the family treasured together.

Due to its spring-like weather all year round and the suggestion that it possibly has one of the healthiest climates, Guatemala has been given the name, The Land of Eternal Spring. This name is also appropriate for the steps in the journey the brothers took. New relationships, new discoveries, and new lessons learned sprung from their time there, things they took home with them and to in their daily lives.

Interested in adventuring alongside those breaking down poverty? Go to http://www.commonhope.org or contact Mike Rinke at rinkeom@gmail.com about Faith’s next vision trip (non-members welcome!) Vision teams have included members ages 13 to 75, so don’t count yourself out, regardless of your skill level or age. We can overcome even the most difficult obstacles when we adventure alongside one another.

  • Another experience the Bergstroms shared with the people of Antigua was constructing colorful kites to be flown on All Saints Day, November 1st.
  • The Bergstrom family with one of the children they sponsor.
  • Common Hope helps over 14,000 impoverished children and adults improve their lives.