ECHOcommunity Conversations

One month in Guatemala

Dear friends,

Tomorrow I will complete one month of my stay in Guatemala. In the midst of transition, God has been faithful to give me little moments each day that affirm his presence and love. These moments include laughing after failing to pronounce Kaqchikel words, tying tamales with my host mom, and conversations around the dinner table over tortillas, eggs, and beans.

I have had the honor of visiting people’s homes and talking with them about their gardens. Though these are just the initial visits, it has been a very exciting endeavor and we are learning a lot. Two weeks ago we traveled up to the área norte where we hope to implement the garden initiative. There we accompanied Wuqu’ Kawoq’s kind nutrition technicians as they visited the homes of children with chronic malnutrition. The nutrition technicians monitor the weight and height of the children and give the mothers advice about how to better nourish their children based on their response to a 24 hour dietary recall. Afterwards, we ask a few questions about the agricultural context of the community and their perception of and openness to gardening.

During these visits I am always looking for how the family is already engaged in the practice of cultivation. Thanks to the year I spent at ECHO with people who love the pass the time by identifying plants, I have new eyes to see a garden where others may only see a landscape. I have been overjoyed to find an abundance edible and medicinal plants! Plums, apples, peaches, passion fruit, blackberries, lemons, oranges, bananas, papayas, jocotes (red mombin), avocados and loquats! And of course, the corns, beans, and squashes have recently been harvested and are on display, drying in the sun or tied to the eaves of the roof. The medicinal plants, herbs, and flowers may be hiding in corners, growing in plastic bags, or appear to be weeds, but they are being cultivated too: roses, chamomile, mint, cilantro, dill, rue, aloe, and much more!

Thank you for your support and accompaniment. As you remember, I would appreciate prayer for the following:

That God would give us wisdom as we plan the garden intervention and the research project that will investigate its impact
That God would provide the right person to become the MHA agricultural technician at the right time
That God would continue to increase my trust and dependence on Him in this new season
Below are some photos of the amazing things people are doing to grow food, feed their families, and make their home more beautiful!


Flowers and seedlings growing in coke bottles and plastic bags.

A mini passion fruit nursery that a family has started from the seed they saved!

A collection of different squash known as ayote and chilacayote. Chilacayote is boiled with a brown sugar block, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks to make a dish that tastes and feels similar to applesauce.

A baby plum!


Thank you for sharing! I want to do something similar in Honduras. Can you explain what is the “24 hour dietary recall” ?

Richard, the 24 hour dietary recall is when you ask the patient what they ate the day before in every meal, including drinks and snacks (which can sometimes be forgotten and may be significant sources of calories). It is ideal if they can tell you approximate portion sizes as well. It is ok if they give you an example of a standard day of eating if the day before was not a “normal” day.

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I really like that method, thank you for sharing that!