In 2016, the 410 Bridge started partnering with communities in beautiful Guatemala. We currently serve the communities of Rancho Viejo, Vista Hermosa, El Pajal, El Triunfo, and others in San Martin and Western Highlands.
Because of our unique community development model, communities are empowered and projects become sustainable, they are not fully dependent on Western short term missions teams to complete or maintain. This allows each team time and energy to pursue relationships as they work alongside community members on projects and through visits in their homes and churches.
Each trip provides an unique opportunity to engage and interact with members of a 410 Bridge community. Teams start to see ‘our neighbors’ have the same hopes and dreams that we do. We see teams encounter life changing experiences, and inspired to continue using their gifts to serve the Kingdom.
Around 10,000 B.C., it is believed that groups began to farm and form villages. Some of them became the Maya who dominated Guatemalan history from 250 A.D. to 900 A.D. In the 16th century, Spain invaded Guatemala and fought the largest remaining indigenous group, the Quiché. In 1821, Guatemala claimed independence from Spain. Within 50 years of gaining independence, Guatemala’s economy was booming, thanks to coffee exports at the cost of indigenous people.
Guatemala has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections, though it continues to struggle with high rates of poverty. Today, one-third of the population still lives in cool highland villages. Maya women continue to weave brightly colored cloth and fashion the same traje, or suit, that their ancestors wore. More than half of the population is indigenous.
Language & Etiquette
Spanish is the official language with 40% of the population speaking Amerindian languages. There are 23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca. Guatemalans have a reputation of being some of the most civil, polite people in Latin America and are quite formal in social situations. It is a male-dominated culture and women are treated differently than men. Women are expected to do all of the housework and cooking.
Introductions should be made with a polite greeting of “buenos días/tardes” (good morning / afternoon or evening). If you’re introduced to someone, a gentle handshake and a “con mucho gusto” (“pleased to meet you”) is appropriate. It’s also considered polite to stand when greeting someone.
Guatemala’s climate is tropical, hot and humid in the lowlands, and cooler in the highlands. The coastal plains and lowlands have a distinctly tropical climate and temperatures range from highs of 100 Fahrenheit and lows of 70 Fahrenheit at night. Most of Guatemala, however, is rural and mountainous. Nighttime temperatures in the mountains are cold and on occasion, nighttime temperatures can fall below freezing. Daytime temperatures average around 70 Fahrenheit.