The Experience: These are not vacation trips but participants have gratifying experiences and have time for fun. On surgical trips we take 1 day for travel, 10 days for work, and 2 days for reclamation.

Culture: We appreciate that cultural and religious customs in Guatemala are different from ours. We go to Guatemala to help them do it their way as much as possible; not our way. We want to be careful not to impose our culture or methods on the Guatemalans. We must be flexible. For example, we Americans tend to be more “time” oriented; for Guatemalans time is not as important. We want to build understanding, relationships and mutual respect. We work in their time frame. Guatemalans are very family oriented. They open to us very well when we are known to them. We recommend the book entitled Ministering Cross-Culturally by Sherwood Lingfelter & Marvin Meyers, 1986 Baker Books to better understand how to relate to people in different cultural settings. You may wish to use this book or another in preparation for this trip.

Helpful personal gifts:

  • Willingness to approach the unknown.
  • Spanish or Mayan language skills are helpful but not necessary.
  • Teaching Skills.
  • Medical and/or surgical skills used in treating adult and pediatric patients.
  • Willingness to decompress and discuss what we are about daily.
  • Willingness to work in a Christian setting.
  • Mercy.
  • Sharing ones Christian love with others.
  • A willingness to learn from another culture and not impose our American way on others.

Money: The Guatemalan unit of currency is the Quetzal. The current rate of exchange is approximately 8.0 Quetzales for 1 US Dollar. Many businesses take the US Dollar with a slightly lower exchange rate. The best exchange rates are thru Guatemalan banks and ATM machines. Travelers Checks are hard to use except in banks. Many hotels and restaurants use credit cards. Many dealers will deal only in cash. When you negotiate prices for goods, use cash. Inform your credit card and ATM carrier that you are going to Guatemala so they do not block transactions.

Phone Calls: The use of a computer for Skype internet phone calls (~2 cents per minute) is the cheapest way to call home (calling from computer to computer is free). You sign up at We have Skype available on a laptop computer early mornings and evenings. You may be able to activate your cell phone for international calling thru arrangements with your cell phone provider. You can also purchase a simm chip for an unlocked GSM cell phone and purchase minutes.

Work Groups: We have active work groups to divide up the work prior to the trip. All participants are expected to help in a work group.

Meetings: We meet periodically for team building, planning, and packing.

Credentials: Medical credentials are forwarded to Guatemala: state license, graduation certificate, specialty certificate, passport, and letter of standing from your hospital/employer.

To Participate: Submit a timely application and money for airline tickets, bus fare, lodging, some meals. Consider personal goals and position on the team.

A valid passport with at least 6 months remaining is required for travel to Guatemala and back. If you do not have a current passport, apply now.

Health: Good health is important.

Insurance: Check your health insurance for coverage in Guatemala. Supplementary insurance is probably available. Consider trip insurance for emergency medical and transportation coverage.

Recommended immunizations/meds:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Tetanus booster if none in last 10 years
  • Typhoid
  • Malaria prevention prescription (only for those who may travel at low elevations; we don’t need it for Antigua)
  • Prescription for antibiotic for traveler’s diarrhea (Cipro and {Imodium or Pepto-Bismol})