On a mission in Guatemala

Reginal Towery, Pastor Edgar Bamboa, Heather Bumgarner, Jimmie Carol Harris and Julie Hill were in Guatemala on a mission trip sponsored by First Baptist Church, to discuss donations to a school Bamboa is building.
Staff Writer

Members of First Baptist Church went to Guatemala on a mission trip recently and left the region Friday, June 1, just two days before the volcanic eruption in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 3.

"We had discussed staying a little longer," Julie Hill, a member of the missions group, said. "This was my fifth trip to Guatemala and I had heard the rumblings from the volcano before, so I didn't think there would be an eruption. But I needed to get back home to help Thea Kay with Vacation Bible School. We left Friday, I knew another woman from Starkville who left Saturday, but some of her group were still there Sunday and were unable to leave."

Hill said the group plans to go back to Guatemala in November to bring Pastor Edgar Bamboa supplies for a school that is being built.

"Pastor Bamboa has access to social media and let us know no one in his church had been hurt in the eruption," Hill said. "But one of the families in his church lost ten members of their family that Sunday."

The volcanic eruption has impacted many families in the poor country of Guatemala. "We at First Baptist are already partners with Loving Arms School in Guatemala," Hill said. "It is a non-denominational school. They are working to have children begin school at kindergarten age like we do here. Most of the children don't start school until they are around nine years old and go to work at 15 or 16 to help provide for their families."

First Baptist Church sponsors approximately ten children in Guatemala so they can afford to attend Loving Arms School.

"Our family sponsors five children," Hill said. "We just forgo eating out a couple of nights a month and use the money we save for those children. We have so much in this country. The people we consider poor here are rich by Guatemalan standards."

Thea Kay Tribble, director of Children's Ministries in First Baptist, said $3,086.24 was given as an offering by the children attending VBS this week.

"They donated change and bills during Vacation Bible School," Tribble said. "Friday was our last day and the children gave $1,400 that one day. They made it a competition between the boys and girls for who could contribute the most."

This is where the $600 each for a boy and girl in Guatemala to go to school comes from, according to Tribble. With the money, the children receive food bags each month for their families, have uniforms to wear to school and receive the school supplies they need and cannot afford on their own.

"We raised enough to sponsor those children," Tribble said. "The $1,400 they brought Friday will go toward a long house in Malaysia for a large family. What is left over will go to Pastor Bamboa's school in November when another trip is scheduled."

Tribble said parents told her they were searching in couch cushions, under the seats in cars and everywhere they could find loose change to give the children for the offering during VBS.
"We had people in the church who donated for children and grandchildren," Tribble said. "They just designated it for the girls or for the boys. It is amazing how much can be accomplished with spare change."

Tribble said the money was weighed and the girl's offering weighed 86 pounds and the boy's weighed 71 pounds.

"It made the kids happy to know they were helping other children far away," Tribble said. "We also made a donation of beach towels, sunscreen and swim shoes for children living at the Palmer Home in Columbus. We want them to know the joy of giving not only abroad, but here at home, as well."