Reaching out and rebuilding

With the organization LEAST, juniors CJ and Ella Lyon along with their mother spent a week in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala helping rebuild parts of the town for elderly citizens.

Olivia Dowell, Print Editor

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During her second visit to San Lucas Tolíman, Guatemala for a mission trip, junior CJ Lyon saw the work of a kitchen she built the summer before. While revisiting the site, CJ said it was rewarding to see her work in full effect. 

“I remember last year, my first time we built a kitchen for someone because hers was falling apart and she really needed it,” CJ said. “We got to walk by her house again the second year and we saw our work and how happy she was.”

Ella said they worked with the organization Loving the Elderly and Satiating his Thirst, or LEAST. The program’s purpose is to aid elderly people who do not have food, electricity or water as well as work on construction on the organization’s site, Casa Feliz. 

Jennifer Lyon, CJ and Ella’s mother, said she has been going on mission trips to Guatemala for about ten years now after first joining the international ministry at the Church of the Ascension. She has been working with the mission group since 2014. 

Each time the group goes on the mission trip, Jennifer said her goal is to analyze the difference in the culture of the city in Guatemala versus the usual nature of Overland Park.

“It’s always a goal of mine to really foster that cultural setting,” Jennifer said. “It is so important to see things that happen outside of our little bubble that we live in.” 

During her week in Guatemala, Ella said they fed the elderly citizens three meals a week and worked on specific construction projects depending on what the person was needing at their homes. This included fixing and installing running water, building parts of houses such as bathrooms and bedrooms.

This year, they had medical clinics and helped diagnose some of the elderly people with diabetes, a big problem with older citizens in Guatemala. Also, Ella said they plan on doing construction on Casa Feliz, the area that LEAST owns where tenants come and go.

CJ said this trip helped improve the connection she has with her twin sister and also made her grateful for her sister, as well. 

“She’s my twin, so we’re gonna fight sometimes,” CJ said. “But it’s kind of nice having another thing that we can say we’ve done together. It makes me grateful for all the stuff that I have.”

Both CJ and Ella said they plan to continue going on the trip to Guatemala next year. For someone wanting to become involved with an organization like LEAST or simply going on a mission trip, CJ said with a willingness to work hard, the end result will be worth it.

“We get to see a place that is unlike where we live. . .,” CJ said.  “I would say if they’re willing to put in a lot of hard work, it’s going to be really nice to see.”