Mission trip to Guatemala cancelled


Courtesy of Megan Hansen

Students usually work in teams to build homes during the mission trip.

Brady Wine, Staff Writer

As coronavirus travel concerns continued, BSM has been forced to cancel its plans for the Guatemala volunteering trip in 2020. School administration came to a decision and those who were scheduled to go on the trip were informed of the cancellation on April 1. 

Mr. Matthew McMerty-Brummer, the BSM Spanish teacher who has led the trip for the past eight years, said there were many factors involved in the decision. “As the State Department has a Level 4 Travel Advisory recommending no international travel due to concerns about the coronavirus, the school canceled the trip,” McMerty-Brummer said. 

Forty-two members of BSM’s community––37 students and 5 faculty chaperones––were set to leave for Guatemala on June 23 for a 10 day trip where they would work with the organization the God’s Child Project

Once in Guatemala, they would’ve worked with families to build much-needed homes. “Students work with local families to build a home, outdoor kitchen and bunk beds. While there is a foreman to guide the technical aspects of the construction, the BSM teams do the bulk of the physical labor. In teams of about seven students and one chaperone, our Red Knights dig the trenches, create a foundation that is three cinder blocks high, put up a wooden frame, poor a cement floor, hang and paint the walls, attach a roof with a gutter system, build bunk beds into the frame and install a hinged-door and window––all by hand without the luxury of power tools,” McMerty-Brummer said.

After the house is revealed to the family, BSM volunteers then give gifts to the family who the house was built for. Last year alone BSM was able to give to the God’s Child Project 100 suitcases weighing 50 pounds each, filled with things such as clothes, linens, shoes and school supplies. With the cancellation of the trip, BSM is now looking ahead to 2021 with its gift collection. “With the loss of the donations that we typically receive at the end of the Treasure Hunt, we will be looking for donations of clothing, shoes and school supplies next year. While I do not know how it will work this year, I hope that we are able to collect donations of school supplies when students clean out their lockers,” McMerty-Brummer said.

With the extremely rare circumstances leading to a cancellation this year, BSM has made a change so the service trip is now an option for seniors next year, the class of 2021, so they can go on the trip along with the usual grades 9-11. This exception has been made so juniors who missed out on their last chance to partake in the trip this year can instead experience it next year. “While seniors may serve on the team in 2021, we will return to accepting students in grades 9-11 in 2022,” McMerty-Brummer said.

BSM’s impact has already been felt through The God’s Child Project, as over the past five years 173 students and 27 chaperones from BSM helped to build 27 homes in Guatemala. This impact extends beyond the families served. “While the impact on these families has been incredible, students consistently say that they gained so much more from the experience than they gave,” McMerty-Brummer said. 

Unfortunately, the lack of the trip this year will be significant to The God’s Child Project and the community served as well. The God’s Child Project will not be able to get the in-person donations that are usually brought along in suitcases, along with laying off many of its workers without the participation fees to cover the salary. Also, they will also not be able to construct as many homes as past years with no volunteers able to travel to Guatemala to serve. However, even without volunteer trips, they will still be able to serve local communities in other ways. “They are continuing to provide other services through their two schools, food bodega, center for malnourished infants and soup kitchen that they operate,” McMerty-Brummer said. 

With the cancellation this year, BSM and trip leader McMerty-Brummer are looking ahead to the trip next summer.  “We are grateful for everyone’s generous support of the mission trip program at BSM, and we look forward to returning to Guatemala next year to continue our partnership with The God’s Child Project. There is no language requirement to serve on the team, and we invite all high school students to join us,” McMerty-Brummer said.