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How a Decade of Guatemalan Mission Work Resulted in a Pillow Business

When she was a young mom, Cathy set a goal to go on an international medical mission trip. She put it on her vision board and as years passed, she would see it on that board and look forward to it, knowing that when the time was right, it would happen. One day, about ten years later, she saw an advertisement for a medical mission trip to Guatemala. At this time, she was a nurse and felt like the timing could not be any more perfect. Not knowing anything about the trip or anyone involved, she was quite anxious but felt the push to apply and move forward with what she was feeling she was called to do. The nerves sunk in as she was thinking about leaving her family to travel to an unfamiliar place internationally. While going through this process and feeling a mix of emotions, Cathy remembered that when she was in middle school, she was intrigued by the Mayan customs and culture, the mountains and volcanoes, and the agriculture. Everything just clicked. Her heart was heavy with everything that she felt had prepared her for this mission trip.

Cathy packed her bags, checked her list, said farewell to her family, and got on a plane to Guatemala. Upon landing in Guatemala City, she met up with a group of about thirty-five missionaries who then boarded a chicken bus and began their trek to the town of San Pedro La Laguna. Cathy's heart was racing as they traveled for about three hours on this rickety bus, speeding through the mountains on skinny, dirt roads. She watched members of the group peek through the widows wide-eyed as the bus driver went full throttle across mountain switchbacks. Once they made it safely onto solid ground, they transferred onto a boat and travelled for about an hour.  The group arrived at night in the small town of San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlan. Upon arrival, they could not see much since it was dark, but when Cathy woke the next morning and put on her scrubs to hike up a very large hill to the clinic, she saw one of the most breathtaking views she had ever laid her eyes upon. Along with the stunning view of the lake, her eyes were opened to the extreme level of poverty in the town. She learned that there was no internet, most people did not have electricity, and the water was not drinkable. She was taken aback when her attention was turned onto the number of patients waiting in line at the clinic. At that moment, she knew she was exactly where she was meant to be.

Fast forward to a decade later, Cathy has now been on over twenty mission trips to San Pedro and has developed strong, loving relationships with so many people there. What started as one mission trip, resulted in many more, which ultimately led her to start a new business at sixty-one years old, making handmade pillows from Guatemalan textiles that she has collected throughout the years. Cathy adds, "My pillow business keeps me connected to Guatemala when I am not physically there and helps me to support the Mayan women weavers I absolutely adore."

 Photo credit Thomas Runion

4 comments

  • There are so many reasons to go on a mission but the camaraderie of fellow missionaries is one. Cathy is an inspiration to me. Her GO ALL IN FOR GOD attitude reminds me I can do more. Each time I travel to San Pedro I say this is the last trip but when I think of Cathy and others I am committed. Her Pillow project is just one more way she has found to do God’s work for the San Pedro community even though we can not travel there. I bought several pillows to remind me of how special the people are there, how they see colors and beauty even when they struggle, the work of their hands to produce these amazing textiles, and how one person living in Charleston, SC can find a way to support them from miles away in these pandemic times. I am blessed to have Cathy as a friend.
    Mary Rana
  • Love ❤️ Love ❤️ Love ❤️

    Molly
  • Hi Cathy! I am required to take all activities down a notch (or several) as I had total shoulder replacement a week ago today. Fought it for several years and even with all the after surgery pain, I’m realizing it was a good decision. Loved reading your story above, and made me think about how much I miss you and Mary and especially our wonderful adventures together in Guat. Hopefully we can get together again one day soon to reminisce and just be together. Hope you are surviving the pandemic with extra time to work on your wonderful pillows. Lots of Love, Patty. ❤️

    Patty Malec
  • This story melts my heart. I am so grateful for people like Cathy .
    They are willing to get out of their comfort zone to make the world a better place.
    Thank you Cathy for representing those of us that are too scared to step out of their comfort zone. You are such a blessing to the world.
    I am so proud of you Cathy, and I am so blessed to call you a very dear friend..

    Kris Wilhite

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