San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala


Dates: Jan 2-Jan23

Group Size: 2 student leaders, 1 staff advisor, 9 participants

Cost: $2500

Travel Clinic: Level 2 visit  +immunizations  


Quick Facts:

  • VISION’s longest running host community.
  • Harvest coffee and learn about the justice issues surrounding it.
  • Hike a volcano!
  • Discover the local Mayan history.


Host Community

Guatemala is known as the “Land of Eternal Spring.” It is a place of incredible beauty and a history plagued with years of political problems, foreign intervention, and civil unrest. The San Lucas Tolimán Mission, supported by the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, is located on the shores of Lake Atitlan in the rural mountainous region of southwest Guatemala. The mission has worked with the community on housing, land development, and health projects. Home to a community coffee cooperative, the mission generates jobs and income for the people of the San Lucas area. San Lucas Mission has been hosting VISION groups since 1986, making it the first and longest-standing VISION site.


Justice Issues Overview

  • Fair Trade Coffee— For over 10 years, the Mission has been selling the best coffee in Guatemala and exporting it throughout the United States. Working with a cooperative of small growers, the Mission ensures these workers receive better than fair trade prices for their harvest, over triple the national average.  The group will work on a variety of projects at the mission. Spending most of the day outdoors, you’ll be helping with the coffee harvest and reforestation projects.
  • Land Ownership— With approximately 80 percent of Guatemala’s land owned by 2 percent of the population, the San Lucas Mission attempts to recognize human dignity by working for the fair distribution of  land to families.  Their efforts provide families with three acre plots, to be used for staple crops and commercial farming.
  • Development—Poverty is present in Guatemalan communities.  It is not only the cause of sickness and death but it destroys self-respect and self-reliance so that any progress becomes difficult, if not impossible.


Cultural Opportunities

Living in a small Mayan town, you will have opportunities to take in the culture of the area. You will hear a series of talks on Guatemala’s history, Mayan culture, and politics from longtime residents. The group will have a chance to see the beautiful Atitlan region by boat, hike around volcanoes, and visit the colorful outdoor markets of the villages.


A Sample Week

Monday—Wake up to hand-picked Guatemalan coffee and head to the work site.  Spend the morning working alongside coffee harvesters at a local co-op.  Eat lunch.  Head back to work.  Finish the work day and spend time winding down.  Enjoy supper.  Play soccer with the locals and other volunteer groups.  Share an evening reflection with the group and prepare for tomorrow.

Tuesday— Take a walking tour of  San Lucas with a local guide.   Head back to the mission for lunch and work preparation.  Go to a small construction site to tackle a work project during the afternoon.  Eat dinner.  In the evening go on a walk to Lake Atitlan and share a lakeside reflection .

Wednesday—In the morning, spend time planting trees for reforestation efforts.  Eat a bagged lunch.  Finish up the project in the afternoon. Following your project, visit a local school and spend the afternoon playing with children.  Return for dinner and spend the night storytelling, making music, and reflecting as a group.

Thursday—Visit a local hospital where group members serve the community by assisting local and visiting doctors.  Go to the mission for lunch and return to the hospital in the afternoon.  Spend the afternoon getting to know local patients and their stories.  After dinner, share in conversation with long-term volunteers of the mission discussing their lives and the justice issues of the region. 

Friday—Carve spoons in the morning and spend the evening doing laundry, scrubbing your clothes by hand at the mission.  End the evening with a reflective reading on the rooftop.

Saturday—Wake up early and hike the Cerro de Oro trails, and get the most spectacular view of Lake Atitlan and the surrounding countryside.

Sunday—Attend an optional Mass.  In the morning experience the local market.  Take a boat trip tour of Lake Atitlan in the afternoon, visiting the villages of San Tiago and Panachelle along the way.


Food, Lodging, and Travel

The group will leave Minneapolis/St. Paul and arrive in Guatemala the next day. You will be met at the Guatemala City airport by a representative from the San Lucas Tolimán Mission, located three hours from the city. The group will stay at the mission, where all housing, meals, and local transportation will be provided. Food options are limited for vegetarians.  **Note: Passport Required**



The trip fee of $2500 includes round-trip airfare to Guatemala City, transportation to and around the site, work materials, lodging, meals, and programmed group activities. Students should be prepared for additional expenses not included in the program fee, which include but are not limited to: spending money (as determined by the group agreement), food en route to site ($30), passport fees, updated immunizations, optional travel medications, and optional travel during free days.


Student Reflections

"Going on two trips to San Lucas Toliman has changed my lifestyle and the way I think. It has enforced simplicity in my life and encouraged me to act against justice issues in Latin America and my community.”

                  - Stephanie Edquist, Leader


“I shared unbelievable experiences with friends that I will never forget.”

                  - Mike Beaudoin,  Participant



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