Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Who’s Going to Guatemala with Me and How You Can Join Us

Tomorrow, I leave for five days to join 19 other people on a vision trip to Guatemala. Although I can’t take you all with me, I’d still like you to be part of the experience (if you want).

Our team will be traveling to Antigua, where we’ll spend a few days visiting various ministries that Adventures in Missions works with. But that’s not why we’re going — not exactly.

Why are we going?

We’re going, because we’re not satisfied. Because we believe there’s something more to life. And that something isn’t “me.” We have a hunch, an inkling, that the best way to live is not for ourselves, but others.

We know we can’t find this life on our own. We need an experience; we need to be wrecked.

For five days, we’ll have an opportunity to step outside our comfort zones and catch a vision of what a more meaningful life might look like. The trip is relatively short, but the point is what happens after, when we all go home.

I explore these concepts in my book, but it’s one thing to write about something and quite another to live it. Each person on the trip (including me) is looking to take the next step in living a more generous, sacrificial life. I’m excited and at the same time nervous, not sure what to expect.

A few of us are bringing our laptops to share the experience with you. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute, but for now let’s see who’s going to Guatemala with me…

Who’s going

Even though you’re not going with us — this time — I thought it might be fun for you to “meet” the team. We have people from all over the world participating; here’s who’s going:

How you can “join” us

If you want to follow along, here are three ways you can do that:

  1. Read the stories. Make sure you’re on my email list to get free trip updates. I won’t be blogging about anything else but this trip for the next few days. You’re welcome to sign up now and unsubscribe later, if you want. You can also follow along on Twitter (we’re using the hash tag #wreckguate) and Facebook.
  2. Pray for the trip. If you’re the praying type, we’d certainly appreciate your thoughts and prayers, especially as we travel on Saturday and Wednesday. During the trip we’ll be visiting a hospital and some local ministries.
  3. Give a donation. Any money given to the trip will cover additional expenses and on-the-ground ministry (travel and lodging is covered by participants). Make a tax-free donation here.

Have you ever traveled to another country? What advice would you give to someone who’s a first-time traveler? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Praying for all of you, Jeff! Excited to hear about the trip and will be following along.

  • I am so excited to go! I cannot wait! 

  • Will be praying for you Brother. It is a blessing to reach the world in the name of Christ. Allow God to move and direct you and the team. Also allow Him to open your eyes to what He wants you to see.
    Be blessed friend

  • Jenna Benton

    Looking forward to your updates! I will be praying. And if there’s one item I would recommend, it’s BABY WIPES. Lots of them. They are a life saver. Just trust me.

  • Thanks for putting this together Jeff. I’m ready to be wrecked, yet again! Ready to step out of this comfortable. See you manana — that might be the only Spanish I know.

  • Jill Nauta

    Starbucks VIA a must! Stickers , balloons, plastic rings  in your pocket for the kids. Praying for all. 

  • You guys have my prayers! I’m excited to see that Katie Axelson is going, too! She’s a great gal. 🙂 Dan and I are with you all in spirit and can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  • I went to Guatemala in ’09. It’s beautiful country; the people, the landscape, the community is fantastic. My advice for travelling to Guatemala: Smile, be friendly because the people are so kind and they deserve kindness. You’ll be in my prayers!

  • Alchemyoftravel

    You’re absolutely right about the power of travel to transform us. It is one of the best things we can do to crack open our stubborn shell of resistance and open up to others. I’ve been living nomadically, moving around the world for the last 14 years. What I’ve learned through others – especially in impoverished countries – have been the most powerful lessons of my life. The key, however, is to be a traveler and not a tourist: to engage with the locals and give back as you honor their beliefs and customs. I’m so passionate about this topic that I started my business around it: The Alchemy of Travel (http://alchemyoftravel.com/). For any would-be travelers, there’s a list of awesome travel resources, a blog, and examples of adventures.
    Wishing you all luck, blessings, and transformation!

  • Jeff, so proud and excited for you and your companions! Jealous too!
    God be with all of you. I will be praying and look for you updates!
    Imodium could be a life saver. Dont eat fruit from which you cannot peal the skin, like grapes and tomatoes…letters for that matter too. Be careful of local water.

    We visited many times Mexico. The turists places but off beat spots as well. In the jungles of Chichen Itsa we met wonderful people, proud and happy with their natural way of life. The only things they would accept from  us was school supplies…notebooks, pencils, crayons.
    We sent a couple of care packages when we returned home.

    God bless you all for what you are doing!

  • I wish I could have gone, and you know the reasons I couldn’t. But will be reading all the updates and praying for all of you. I know you’re going to have an awesome time and grow so much, and others are going to be blessed too.

    • James, you’ll be with us in your heart. thanks for your prayers and support!

      • No problem – my privilege. Hope you have a really blessed time!

  • Will be praying for you guys! Looking forward to reading about it Jeff.

  • Robyn Cobb

    Jeff, I’m excited to be a part of this trip even if it means from here. I will most definitely be following and praying. I went to Kenya a few years ago to work on a water project and while it was hard work it was a blessing  – andI left a part of my heart there. And am looking to go back soon! And while it ‘wrecked’ me as you would put it – I believe it was more than worth it – and I am confident I reaped more blessings than the folks we worked with!

  • Wow, am I jealous! I’m impressed you’ve put this together. Is baby staying home or coming with?

    I keep fantasizing about putting together some kind of epic trip…maybe to visit all the amazing people I’ve met through my blog, who live all over the world. This is poking me to get it together and do it…maybe this summer!

    Safe travel…

    • Love that idea, Carol. Just me this time. 🙂

  • Cheraflu

    I would like to go with you sometime … but this time I’m headed (Sunday) back to Sierra Leone (West Africa) to continue the ‘wreckage’ begun in me a couple trips ago 🙂

  • deairby

    take hand sanitizer and toilet paper but don’t take any expectations…be open to whatever God gives you

  • Trina | BeginnerBeans.com

    The last overseas trip I took was to Mongolia when I was 15. My “advice”: expect the worst. The descriptions I heard of Mongolia were about it being dirty, terrible, poor, etc. And that’s what I expected. Once I got there, I was pleasantly surprised 🙂 Also, prepare for worse culture shock when you return. Coming back to bigger-is-better consumerist America after seeing a people who live life a little smaller and a little simpler–well, THAT was a bigger adjustment than leaving.

    • Mary Ellen

       Amen–coming “home” hurts for a lot longer than I ever imagined.

  • My one and only international trip was to Kenya last spring for a two-week mission trip, working with orphans, girls in sex trafficking, and Maasai tribespeople.  Just be prepared to be uncomfortable sometimes (which is OK), and be flexible–to food, environment, culture–whatever. It will all be new! And be sure to have a “support network” of other folks with similar experiences that can help you process it all when you get back. Like Jeff says, you will be “wrecked!” (Also a good thing.)

  • Erica Rountree

    I’ve been on mission trips to Costa Rica and Kenya. Incredible, transforming experiences. Letting God direct your steps and provide for everything — living in total dependence — is awesome. I guess it’s the way we should always live, but hard to do in our independent, fast culture. You will be a blessing, but also BLESSED. Don’t be overly concerned with what you are accomplishing, just allow Him to use you in whatever way He wants. You will be blown away by what He’ll do. That is my best advice. Oh, and bring hand sanitizer!! You will be holding lots of dirty hands and wiping lots of snotty little noses – glorious!!

  • Mary Ellen

    Be flexible.  Be flexible.  Be flexible.  Did I say, Be flexible?  Remind yourself why you are going and Who you represent.  Go looking for those to serve–may even be on the plane over and other “non-mission” settings.  Prepare to be surprised by His love and the raw pain of realizing how much we Americans take for granted. 
    My prayers will be with you and as another posted, prayer after your return will be just as important if not more so. (lousy sentence but you get it.)  He is already there before you, He will be with you and continue to minister to you and to them long after you’ve gone.  Enjoy being wrecked and changed for life.

  • Carol Malone

    My husband served a mission to Central America although not in Guatamela, and what he learned was priceless. If you love the people, genuinely love them, they will open their hearts to you and accept you as family. I wish you lots of love on your journey. 

  • I will be praying. I pray the Lord moves mightily on everyone’s hearts, on yours, the team and those God puts in all of your paths. Have a safe and blessed trip.

  • I was in Kenya two weeks before the 2007 election crisis.  Our lives were threatened but through it all, God’s hand was upon us and the Gospel was shared with thousands of people who gave their life to Jesus!  When I was at my highest point of fear, God spoke this to me “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand: it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13. I pray for you and your team will “Fear not” for God will be holding your hand and will help you in your time of despair.  There is no better place to be than completely surrendered to God where He is all you need.

    • Mary Ellen

       Being in His will is the safest place on earth no matter what it looks like.

  • Claudia A Santino

    Travel with an open heart and a child’s curiosity.  My experience is that people who have less are often the most generous.  The place you’re visiting may not have all of the conveniences of home but see that as the opportunity to live in another’s shoes, as well as to appreciate the simple things you may take for granted in your daily life.  Most important, be present, listen and make new friends.

  • Nichelle

    Check out this State Dept. update on Guatemala https://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1129.html  Fantastic resource.  You don’t want to get close to the children because of a history of abductions.  In rural areas there is great wariness with foreigners and their kids.  Keep a translation book on you.  You never know when you’ll get lost in translation and need a little help.   Give the American Embassy the heads up that your group will be there. Not to be a downer, just so you’re safe, Guatemala has one of the highest crime rates so you want to enjoy but keep your eyes open and stick together because law enforcement s overworked and grossly underpaid. Try all the food you can.  Visit the fresh food markets to get a feel for all the treats!  Ask everything  you want so you leave with the clearest possible picture of the people you meet.  Let your soul be touched by the beauty and simplicity of the people and place.  They have lots to teach.  Oh and, yeah, the return to the US will be hella depressing. :/  I came back from Costa Rica and cried…literally! 😀

  • So excited to meet the team and to see how the stories we encounter will break our hearts and launch us into action to change the world!

    My advice for the first-timers is to go low-maintenance. This trip is not about how great we look or how perfect our pictures are…it’s about being present in the moment with the people we meet.

  • First Time Traveler Outside of America?  NEVER do anything,  anything at all, without asking someone who has EXPERIENCE  in the activity involved.  i learned that the hard way in Vietnam, and nearly died from it.  Only God’s Goodness and Mercy kept me safe, and it was not at all because i ‘deserved’ it.

  • Try to write a few sentences in a travel journal at the end of each day. Those few sentences will bring back memories many years later. 

  • Oh that picture just made my heart leap.  I spent two summers living in Antigua and working in a medical clinic in a nearby village (Santa Maria de Jesus).  The people there are absolutely amazing.  While there was culture shock when I returned, I also found myself looking at people here in the US in a new light too.  I had fresh eyes to see the soul-poverty that all humans struggle.  I had a renewed desire to love those around me and point them to Jesus who makes us rich in a way that money can never match…

  • Mary Borrello

    My daughter was a missionary in Haiti for several years.  I made many trips there to be with her and to help in the ministry any way I could. One trip I took a bunch of Recorders ( the little flute type instrument that they use in the 4th grade to teach music)  and taught a class of aprox. 30 people of all ages.  It was so much fun and so rewarding.  Could you imagine a big group of American people gathering twice a week to learn to play a Recorder?  But the most rewarding thing was to come back some months later and to hear someone playing the instrument in their little home way out in the bushes and to know that it meant so much to them.  I heard that happening in several homes and then found out that they also used their new talent to play for the Lord in churches.  Haitian people are so extremely poor yet so very generous with the little that they have.  They put us to shame with their generosity and love.
    The friends I made there are always in my thoughts and prayers.  I love them so much and miss them tremendously.

  • Excited for you guys and looking forward to reading all about it!

  • Excited for you guys and looking forward to reading all about it!

  • Hope you each have a beautiful life-changing time!  Looking forward to following along.  My only advice would be to go with a big open heart, with the willingness to be used and to grow anyway He sees fit.  Just be all there. 

  • I’m not familiar with exactly where you’re going but traveling internationally you always have to watch the water! Enjoy and I’ll be praying for the whole team! 

  • Erin

    Best wishes on your journey! I spent a week working at an orphanage in Eastern Guatemala a few years ago. I realized we have a lot to learn about living from the Guatemalans. They are a generous, humorous and friendly. When you land at the airport in Guatemala City, hold on to your bags and be prepared to say no to the many porters who will greet you unless you want them to carry your bags. Brush your teeth with bottled water to be on the safe side. Bring lots of baby wipes. I felt very safe in Antigua so stroll around and enjoy the beautiful city. Be cautious about what you eat but don’t miss out. I ate the fantastic fruit every day and didn’t get sick. Bring a central American Spanish phrase book, not one from Spain. They use different words and expressions. If you have the chance, go to Tikal to see the Mayan Temples. Or visit Asociacion Ak’Tenamit on the Rio Dulce to see how they’re educating the Qechi Maya youth. Enjoy!

  • disqus_1k66FPn85Q

    Hi Jeff, and the other voyagers.
    There is too much to say in this little box. Don’t act like an American. we don’t realize it but we often act arrogantly and proud. Speak quietly, dress very modestly, listen and be humble, no loud colors, be very sensitive to the native culture. Don’t offend them when they offer the native food.  Let  the leaders of the team do their job. Stay with the team and don’t wander off. Watch your belongings closely. Don’t be offended by filth you might come across. Often kids will want to touch. Don’t break out the Purell every time somebody touches you. Be appreciative of everything that is offered. Don’t spend wildly on tourist things. some people will never be able to afford what we buy on a whim. I could go on, but have a great experience and allow yourself to appreciate the different cultures

  • Denica

    Last year I traveled to Thailand, my first mission trip abroad. Our leader had us do something that really helped the transition back home. Coming home from a trip like this will be different for everyone, depending on how you handle things, but more likely than not, you will experience reverse culture shock in some form after coming home. There are so many emotions, jet lag, and new experiences to process through, it can seem extremely overwhelming. What our leader had us to is to get a good friend that we trust to agree to be our “download person.” So that when we came back, we would have that person to basically download everything that happened on the trip, to talk through the hard things and the good things that we experienced. The thing is, people will ask you how your trip was, and you will probably want to give them a big answer. They may not be prepared to hear all your stories, so to not be discouraged or disillusioned, you know you have your trusted friend who will be willing to hear it all. Another thing is, stay in contact with the people that traveled with you! They are the only ones who have shared this specific experience with you. We all need to know we are not alone, so it will help to have each other. Bless you all! -Denica

  • honored to pray for this gift of  a team!  treasure carriers.  joy givers.  BE.  They need you.

  • Www.wordtraveling.com

    Hey, Jeff & team-
    Will be praying. Advice- immerse yourselves. Jot Notes, shoot and document away-, yet don’t be so focused on capturing that you miss experiencing all you can absorb. Let each moment soak in deeply so the waters leave a permanent reflection. Create a real kingdom community – and bring it home to the US. And the world.
    Peace. Love. Joy. Adventure awaits.

  • Amy

    You are all AMAZING!!! Go be world changers! My advice? Pack light. Take lots of pictures. Be prepared to step way outside your comfort zone.

  • Lindamarie

    My advice would be to pray continually for God to open your eyes to see what He wants you to see, your ears to hear what He wants you to hear, you heart to love as He loves as you offer your hands to do what He asks of you each day. You will be wrecked. May I share a short clip of my nephew? He was a “fill in” on a mission trip four years ago and has become one of the people I most admire.
     Josh is training hard to ride his bike from California to NJ this summer, he got wrecking ball wrecked! Please watch his 4 minute video, and I ask  anyone who does watch it to please pray about how to be involved. Jeff, you welcome us to be a part of your trip, I am asking for people to be a part of this incredible journey.


    thank you

  • Great work you’re doing.  

  • Jewell

    Take along a little water purifier. It will fit in your suitcase and you can purchase them at a camping store. They are great. I wouldn’t travel without one.

  • May God bless the work you’re doing. I’ll pray for you guys right now. I’ll echo the comments of others who advise to pack and travel light. 🙂

  • Heather

    Wow this sounds so amazing!! I hope you have a wonderfully fulfilling time! The best advice I can give is to take time to really soak up all aspects of the trip. Listen, really listen to the people you meet, they all have a story to share. See the beauty of the new place around you, sure take pictures but burn the image into your brain and heart so you don’t need a photo to remember. 

  • Sounds awesome! I lived at an orphanage in Peru for a year so I’m a big advocate of missions work. One word of advice: be mindful of what the full-time permanent leadership/missionaries have to say about projects, rules, and donations. I was the volunteer coordinator and some groups were so excited to help that they did things without asking (i.e. gave kids candy, donated old junky clothing, etc). Their hearts were in the right place. We didn’t want to seem ungrateful so it was impossible to tell them we didn’t need something unless they took the time to ask. Enjoy seeing God move! He does big things on trips like this!

  • Marilynslagel

    Enjoy each person you meet.  I went to Guatemala in 2007 with a group to help at an orphanage for Special Needs children.  That trip changed my life – we have no clue just how blessed we are here.  Watching little boys lie in a roadside ditch opposite a school broke my heart.  They couldn’t afford to attend the school, so they listened from across the road – dirt road.  Their lunch was a hard-boiled egg and a cup of liquid ? gruel ? maybe – no idea what it was.   

  • Jeff, I’m excited for you and the group going with you. Can’t wait to hear all about your experiences!

  • Alisonhector

    I’ll be praying, Jeff.  Hoping to go on an AIM trip in the summer, either to Haiti or Jamaica.

  • Kyrstenjw

    This sounds awesome. I’ll definitely be praying for you all as you travel.
    My advice for a first-time traveler?

    1) You don’t actually need to pack that.
    2) It’s okay to be an introvert while travelling. (I am!) But don’t let fear masquerade as your need for space to observe and recharge, because it will try. It will try so hard.
    3) Try something new!
    4) Listen to people’s stories.
    5) Pack clothes that you will *actually* wear (and that you can get rid of). Anything else will bog down your bag.
    6) A kind smile at someone can go a long way.
    7) You don’t actually need to pack that.

  • Ruth Dupre

    Wow, I went to Antigua eons ago back in the late 60s, early 70s. Met a doctor there by the name of Ira Chamberlain (I think; it’s been a while.)  Awesome man. 

    Anyway, travel light and only take things that you wear here. A place like that is no place to break in new shoes. Take as little as possible. Listen to the people. Hats are good. Try to speak the language, even if it’s only gracias and por favor. Talk to people. I always take aspirin, alka-seltzer and salt. And neo-sporin. 

  • DS

    I’ve been to Mexico and Ethiopia.  I would suggest to first-timers to embrace the culture.  Visit with “locals”, don’t be an arrogant American, try to speak Spanish, compare/contrast life there with life at home (the pace, the luxuries, our everyday services).  Be you, and serve as you are able.

  • Henry Lewin

    I’m so glad to read about your trip to my country… but specially to read about the reasons WHY you’re doing it and WHAT you want to take out of it! I’ve personally had the chance to take some of these “life changing” trips…were you simply go away to escape from your so called “reality” and face the real and sometimes cruel reality of our condition as human beings… Then you start redefining your goals and your reality will never be the same.. You will want to do more, dream more, act more, love more, and all with the honest goal to have a better and greater impact in the quality of life of others… and discover that our true mission as humans is exactly that: to give a message, share hope and collect as much smiles as you can! 
    It would be great if I could meet you all here in Guate!  Count with me if you need any help or assistance and if you have the chance… I would love to show you the project I’ve been working on after coming back from those trips. 
    Hope to see you all and I wish the best always! 

  • Shyloe

    Take A LOT less “stuff” than you think you need. Less clothes, much less clothes and bare minimum in toiletries. Bare minimum all the way. And be prepared to keep your heart open, even if it hurts. You most certainly can do it.

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