Stories - First Amazing and Blessed Trip to Guatemala


First Amazing and Blessed Trip to Guatemala

Robert Dickinson | Jul 19, 2017

For those of you who have been wondering and asking about my recent trip to Guatemala, here goes: It was an amazing couple of days. There were four of us comprising a team that would teach people, burgeoning entrepreneurs, how to launch a business concept that each brought to us.

This is a 3-phase program done through Perimeter Church (Johns Creek, GA), and my team was Phase 2. The program begins in Phase 1 (done in May) with approx. 90 people attending several days in which they hear about the challenges of starting a business, but also how a successful business can lead to new hope and opportunities for families and individuals. At the same time, they are taught Christian principles on how to operate and manage the business – how to treat employees, tithing profits, seeking God’s direction for the company.

Each of us in our group, headed by Matt Perry who was on his 11th mission, worked with 6-8 persons over a four-day period (the 90 had been whittled to 24-28), walking and talking them through spreadsheets to see the financial viability of their business concepts, and helping them find ways to make those concepts more viable or workable. And sometimes, telling them to go back to the drawing board completely. Our hosts Estuardo and Gladice Perez from the Shadows of Grace congregation could not have been more dedicated and loving. They met us (me, Matt, Debbie Dykes, Doug Legg) at the airport, gave us an update on what would take place over the next couple of days and took great care of us every step of the way.

Estuardo helped begin the program 12 years ago, and is the good Lord’s guiding hand in Guatemala program. His son, Javier, is finishing at Kennesaw State (just outside Atlanta) and his daughter, Dulce, is a freshman architecture student at a local college in Guatemala City. There are many, many very poor sections of Guatemala City, but there are areas that are transforming in addition to sections that are prospering ... all the more reason why there is hope for what we are doing in our teaching.

It was incredible to see our students’ faith. Their fierce dedication was evident. They understood how important it is to have a close walk and personal relationship with Christ in order to have the fortitude and faith to move forward and make things better for themselves and their families. Among the business concepts with which I personally counseled were a plastics merchandise sales & distribution business, an accounting firm start-up, a granola-making & sales operation, a beauty supply business and even a sports marketing/fundraising operation for two up-and-coming world class elite athletes who one day hope to make the Olympics.

When the final day concluded, no one wanted to leave. There was such great bonding between our team and our new Guatemalan brothers and sisters. We also had the chance to visit students from past programs who had begun businesses – Mario, the shoemaker; Maria, the sidewalk store owner; Angelino the funeral parlor owner – all grateful for our visit and support as we asked each to update us on how their businesses were going. And for some, there was still a long way to go, but promise. Mornings and end-of-day were spent in our apartment provided by a local ministry, and discussions among us four was very spirited and thought-provoking and at times, very playful (which I guess is how I became known as “Roberto”). One interesting topic addressed the varying ways and philosophies of how to help a homeless person when requesting financial assistance. Suffice it to say with four persons, there were four different approaches, one of which I actually had the chance to play out my first day back in Atlanta while attempting to hop a MARTA train downtown ATL. Want to know how I handled it? Well, you’re going to have to write me to get the whole story. That way I know if you’ve read this entire epistle of my “First Amazing and Blessed Trip to Guatemala”. Cheers ... and God bless!