Set in the Highlands of rural Guatemala, Adonai Ministries sits in the midst of the Mayan Quiche Indians, with a small Latin population as well. Although we are here to serve all that are placed in our path, our heart is to reach out primarily to the “least of these in our area” – the indigenous population.
A reserved and humble people in general, most still continue to speak exclusively the Quiche dialect and follow the same cultural practices that their people have been carrying out for thousands of years. Almost all people in our area are farmers, and most indigenous people continue to use the traditional dress (seen in the picture) and follow the traditional diet (beans, rice and corn tortillas).
We live in the rural highlands of Guatemala in the department of Quiche, one of the hardest hit departments during the 20 year civil war that ended with a peace treaty in 1996. Although it has been over ten years now, we continue to daily see profound effects of the war as well as the continual challenges of life in our area: family breakdown, job instability, incredibly high rate of alcoholism, poor medical care due to an unstable system that is unable to maintain necessary equipment and measures to adequately provide for its people, severe malnutrition rates (especially in those under 5 years old), high maternal/fetal mortality rate, and childhood deaths due to highly treatable conditions with the top two pediatric killers being pneumonia and dehydration.
There are two groups of people in our area: the Latins and the Quiche Mayan Indians. There is still a lot of hatred and discrimination among these two groups, and although both are in need of the freedom found through a relationship with Jesus as well as other economic and physical needs, the needs among the Mayan Indians continue to abound. This is due in part to cultural and language barriers, but is spurred on greatly by the discrimination that they still face. A gentle and quiet people who are not afraid to fight for their families and communities, we are blessed to be able to serve and live among them while still praying deeply for the breakdown of the profoundly strong spiritual strongholds that have bound these people for thousands of years.
Our town is primarily a (very populated) farming town which leads to small plots for families and hardships that ensue from “overplanted” land, a dry spell that lasts half the year with little to no options for irrigation, and a very mountainous, often rocky or sandy terrain that forces crops to often be hand planted and cultivated on steep mountain sides. It is still incredible to see men walk between rows of corn planted on hillsides that few of us would even dare to attempt to climb bare. But, corn is life to the people here – both Latin and Indian – and they will do anything to be able to bring in the necessary crop to continue making their corn tortillas, which they will eat upwards of 15 of each meal. Most land is still cultivated, planted and harvested by hand, although our boys do get out in the fields with their tractors, offering their services to the people with flatter pieces of land that allow the tractors in. We also find that in light of the farming hardships in our area, many families have a hard time prioritizing school over help in the house and the fields, especially at harvest time… much like old-school American life.