OLD TOWN — A father and daughter from Old Town recently returned from the trip of a lifetime to Guatemala, and although they are still readjusting to their daily routines, both will tell you a piece of their hearts will always remain with those they met and helped in Central America.
Chris Kelley and his daughter, Meaghan, of Old Town recently traveled to the Guatemalan village of Chipolem Raxnam and the outskirts of the city of Coban on an outreach trip with the Church of the Nazarene in Bangor.
“The people of [Chipolem Raxnam] were incredible. From our perspective, they had nothing and yet they were the most joyous people,” said Chris. “They worked and worked with joy. They were so grateful we were there and it was such a blessing to learn from them what’s truly important and what’s not.”
Chris and his daughter, Meaghan, went to Guatemala on a two week “Work and Witness” trip with six others from the church. The group teamed up with several other Maine church volunteers and collectively flew out of Boston in March, bound for Guatemala. Their goal was to help build a church, provide much-needed dental hygiene supplies and clothing to the residents in Central America, and to share their religious faith.
“I met Mino the first day I got there. He and his little brother spent a lot of time playing around concrete and wheel barrels and had no care in the world,” said Meaghan, a 17-year-old junior at Old Town High School. “[Another child], Ora, spent a lot of time with me because I would braid her hair.”
While in Guatemala, Meaghan helped remove cement rubble, rocks, and debris in and around where the Maine volunteers were building the church. She also spent time with the children singing, playing games, and sharing stories from the Bible just like the Vacation Bible Schools held in Maine during the summer. Meanwhile, her father worked on construction and the electrical needs inside the church. The Maine team of volunteers all stayed in dormitories at the Bible college located next to the work site. When they finished the church three days early, they were asked to help a widow in need on the outskirts of Coban.
“The widow’s house was 15 minutes away from where we were staying. It had a dirt floor and a concrete floor on the upper floor. We helped build new walls, a roof and installed a window,” Meaghan said. “The grandma, mother and kids all lived there and were not used to having windows that you open and shut to keep things out. When we put it in, the kids were so excited they kept sticking their heads in and out of it. Now she has a model home compared to her neighbors.”
“This widow we helped had little to nothing and yet she would hand-make tortillas for us,” Chris added. “There were times that [the entire experience] was all overwhelming to me, but I kept thanking the Lord for opening my eyes to the ways he is working in our lives.”
Members of the Bangor Church of the Nazarene are already planning a future trip to Guatemala in February 2019 to help build the pastor’s parsonage. Both Chris and Meaghan would like to return to help work on that project as well.
“I don’t get to do much with my dad. He’s always doing boy scouts with my brothers. So it was nice to have him to myself and have these moments that we both witnessed that I know he doesn’t have with anyone else,” Meaghan said.