Kirk Liemohn – 2017 Mission Trip to Guatemala

Key Points

  • While some people have prior experience the best thing to have is a will to work and ability to learn.
  • The experience was a good way to bond with others and learn how others came over their hardships.
  • ThreeWill gives 5 days a year to volunteer, giving a chance for the ThreeWill family to get out and help others.

Conversation Highlights

  • Getting Started – 3:52
  • What do you get out of it?  – 9:03
  • Thanks to ThreeWill – 13:31

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Danny:Hello, and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone podcast, this is one of the bald brothers, Danny, and I am here with Kirk Liemohn. Kirk, how are you doing?


Kirk:I’m doing fine, Danny, how are you?


Danny:I’m doing great. It’s a Friday afternoon. We’re getting prepped for the big storm, I guess. Looks like it could head up our way which is kind of … I don’t think we’re used to getting ready for hurricanes in mid-Georgia, but …


Kirk:It’ll be weaker, but it’s going to come right over us, I hear. We’ll see.


Danny:Yep. Yep. Absolutely. Should be a interesting weekend and it looks like, I guess, it’s coming the first part of the week, Monday or Tuesday. Should be interesting to see what happens.


I wanted to talk to you about, I guess we were … In prep for this, this is number three as far as the number of mission trips that you’ve had going down to Guatemala. Is that correct?


Kirk:That is correct.


Danny:Awesome. Number three, lucky number three. Tell me about this one. How was it different than the other times that you went down?


Kirk:It was similar to the last one. The first one I went on we did some construction at the organization is called Salud y Paz, which stands for health and peace, in Guatemala. I think they have five clinics and one school. The main location has a clinic and a school, but it’s still in a very rural area. We did some work on site for their playground two years ago. Then the last two, however, we’ve been building houses for people associated with the clinic or work at the clinic. This year it was for [Tomasa 00:02:03] who has, I believe, five kids and she’s a widow and she lives in a shack, basically. That was the case for Rosa, as well, in terms of her living conditions.


It was pretty close to the last one in terms of the construction work we did. I guess the main difference is we lost … A year when we did it, all they had was the footings in. This time a previous mission team had gotten up to four levels or so, maybe five, in terms of cinder blocks high. We brought it up pretty much all the way to the top and had started some of the prep work for laying the floor down, the cement floor, and getting ready for the roof and the porch and stuff like that.


Danny:This is you’re building out another house for Tomasa, did I say that right?


Kirk:Yes. This one was for Tomasa. The interesting thing about her house … The one we did last year we had to walk a couple hundred yards through a cornfield to get to Rosa’s house, which really wasn’t that bad, even if you were carrying cinder blocks and stuff. Tomasa’s house was way more than that and it was very hilly from the road. It was just painful getting back out every day because it was downhill to her house and then uphill from there. It’s all volcanoes everywhere around in Guatemala, it seems. So it’s pretty steep.


Danny:Tell me, the prep for this, is it … Are you working on … I guess the materials are already down there waiting for you or what sort of things did you need to do as a group to prepare for this?


Kirk:In terms of the construction preparation there was nothing. It was just make sure your bring yourself with some decent boots or shoes and some gloves and clothes you don’t mind getting real dirty and don’t want to keep maybe, and that’s it. They’ve got a crew down there of, in this case it was probably three guys that really … One of them was leading and knew what he was doing. He would set up all the corners for the walls and everything and the line to keep everything level and plumb. A lot of us already knew the rest of what to do but you learn on the fly, too. I did a lot more block laying this time than I did before, just because I was relatively experienced at it compared to some others.


Danny:You said blockling?


Kirk:Block laying. Sorry. Laying cinder blocks. I would say brick laying, but they weren’t bricks.


Danny:I knew I didn’t know anything about construction, but that was a new one for me so I just needed a picture. Block laying, okay, I think I’ve done that before. Yes, absolutely. How many folks were in your group that went down there?


Kirk:I think the final number was 17, I believe. Mostly from my church, Dunwoody United Methodist here in the Atlanta area. Let’s see, were there just two that weren’t from my church out of group? I believe that’s the case.


Danny:Was one of them that [Guy Lee 00:05:23]?


Kirk:That is correct.




Kirk:Yeah, yeah. I’ve been keeping up with Guy and he … His wife grew up in Guatemala, actually.




Kirk:Yep. I think … She was born there, sorry. I think her parents were from Canada, but she was born in Guatemala.  I knew that he had an affinity for it from that reason and then that I just talking to him more about God and religion and Christianity, I knew that he would also be interested from that standpoint.


Danny:That’s awesome.


Kirk:He jumped at the opportunity and is a lot of fun to have around.


Danny:That’s great. You just gave him a personal invitation to come with you to go down there and he took you up on it.


Kirk:Yep. We have meetings ahead of time where everyone kind of figures out what’s going on, you decide if you really want to go. Then, of course, you start committing to going and pay money and all that stuff. That’s the way it works.


Danny:Guy have a good time? How’d it go for him?


Kirk:Yeah, I think he had a great time. I suspect he’d want to do it next year. I don’t know but I’m pretty sure he would, and I do too, so we’ll see what happens next year.


Danny:That’s awesome. Well done. Part of this going down there as well was there was a vacation bible school or … Tell me more about what you did there.


Kirk:Yeah, we spend four days of the trip, there’s a couple of travel days and a couple of free days, and then there’s four days on site where we’re doing the work. Of those four days, three of days we do vacation bible school. Those are back at the school and clinic, not at the person’s house, in this case. I personally was not involved with the vacation bible school. I did get to play with the kids some when we go there for lunch and if they’re out a recess, I play with some of the kids, which is a lot of fun.


The vacation bible school is Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the afternoons.  In the first day you usually get over 100 kids there. I think we had 120, I forget the numbers now. Then it grows from that the next day and the third day because the word gets around. The third day I believe we had 326 kids, which is our record for doing this, which is really neat. I know it had to be hard to manage but we’ve got several on our team that are doing it and they get a couple of people outside our team to help as well.


Danny:Word gets around that the famous American Kirk Liemohn is there?


Kirk:No, not me. It wasn’t me. It was Deanna and Lori and others. A lot of the women from our team are involved with the vacation bible school. They certainly do construction as well but when it comes VBS time, they run off and do that, usually. It’s great, it’s great outreach, and kids really like it. We put them into three groups, but if you over 300, that’s 100 per group. That’s got be pretty hard to manage, but they do it somehow.


Danny:That’s awesome. Anything from this time going down there that, I guess every trip like this changes you. Any sort of ways that you came back from this either a changed person or noticed something new going down there, or just had a different type of experience while you were down there?


Kirk:It was neat having Guy with me. During these trips we have devotions, and each person gives a devotion, and they can read from a book, they can tell a story, it can be personal or not. Typically they are personal stories, kind of like the “what’s said in Guatemala stays in Guatemala” type of stories. These are just amazing because we really open up with each other and it’s just … I know you’ve been on retreats, Danny, and mission trips and I know you’ve experienced this. It’s really neat to get to … You kind of really get to know the group better when people open up like that.


Several people really opened up and some of them … I don’t have, my faith story and life story is not as interesting as some of the others but several have very interesting stories. Many have tragedies involved and a lot of personal hardships. It’s just really interesting hearing those and it draws you closer to them and to Christ and hearing how they’ve pulled through it.


That happened throughout the three times I’ve gone, but it just seemed to be more prevalent this trip. I don’t know, maybe I just got more out of the devotions this one. I’ve really loved the other ones but that’s what really struck me this time.


Another thing that was different this time was our … We travel on Saturdays, and then the first Sunday is a free day. We do have our own private church service that we do, but … Worship service, I should say, but then the rest of the day is free. Typically, we’ve done shopping on that day or something, but I got to go on a volcano hike this time.


Danny:Oh, nice.


Kirk:Nice might not be the right word.


Danny:What should I say?


Kirk:It was beautiful, but it was grueling. We took a boat across the lake, we were near a place called Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. It’s aa beautiful scene, it’s just surrounded by volcanoes. From Panajachel, which is where we stay, to another town, I wish I remembered the name of it right now. San something, Pablo or something like that, Pedro I think. There’s a little town over there and then you get on these tiny little cars that are called Tuk Tuks, which I think are from India. They’re meant to hold the driver and maybe one or two behind the driver, but we would try and stuff three adult males in this thing, which was not fun. It would take us up the hill to the park where the park entrance is for climbing the volcano. I think that was a little over 6,000 feet of elevation at that point. The lake is at 5,000 feet of elevation, so it’s already basically a mile high.  It went up 9,900 feet of elevation.


It’s basically like climbing stairs for three hours … is it two or three hours, now? I think it’s three hours on the way up.


Danny:Hoo ah.


Kirk:Yeah. With a couple of breaks in between. I loved it, I would do it again but not anytime soon. It was … I mean, it’s painful. You’re thighs and legs and other things are screaming. Then going down you would think is easy but that’s actually kind of hard, too, because you have to break on every step because you’re going down basically a steep path. There’s sort of stairs in some places where there’s wooden limbs are placed across the pathway with some vertical ones holding the horizontal ones in place and then becomes a dirt stairway with wood supports. It was really neat. There were several of us guys that made it to the top. It’s beautiful up there. We only got to hang up there for a few minutes but it was still really neat to see, and just a neat experience.


Danny:That’s awesome. Very cool, very cool. Anything else that you’re taking away from this experience that you’ve had?


Kirk:Certainly, thanks to ThreeWill because you haven’t mentioned this yet on this podcast. ThreeWill’s program of allowing us to do service to others and take the time off for it. That’s what got me started on this. I always wanted to do it and then once the program started I immediately said, “That’s what I’m going to do.” I appreciate that-




Kirk:ThreeWill allows for me to take this time off and it doesn’t count against my vacation. Enough so that actually I hope to do two in one year, which I know ThreeWill won’t give me the time for that, but that’s okay. I’ve caught the bug and I love doing it. It’s just a great experience. I recommend others try it for sure.


Danny:That’s wonderful to hear. I think from you sharing earlier with hearing people’s face stories and just getting to grow and to meet others closer than you can just in day-to-day life. That’s where I fell in love with Amy, we met on a mission trip and it definitely was a life changing thing for me.


Kirk:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Danny:I just think it’s great that you’re doing these and then doing them once year what a way to sort of renew yourself and what a way to give back. As you know, as we had this morning in our company meeting, I really want to encourage people to take those five days off. What Kirk is referring to is we have what’s called Volunteer Time Off at ThreeWill where you can take five days out of the year, and they won’t count against you for vacation days or for, we also have some utilization bonuses and it doesn’t count against that. But we want to encourage people, we know how important it is to give back and how important it is to do things like go take mission trips.  I just think it’s wonderful that you’re doing this.


Congratulations on asking … Guy is just a wonderful person and the fact that you reached out to him and invited him, hopefully he’ll be able to come with you again on future trips but just giving him that opportunity, I just want acknowledge that that was a good thing that you asked him and that you got him involved as well. Thank you for doing that.


Kirk:Sure. There’s one other thing … Yeah, I’m really glad that I invited Guy and it was fun to get to know him better on this trip. Another thing that I failed to mention was that was different this time is we had one of the associate pastors from our church, Jenna Kennedy, she came. She’s one of the younger pastors, and it was great to have her come. She was my helper at one time, standing up on scaffolding and laying those cinder blocks down. It was fun working with her and getting to know her better.


She was also … We do Communion, our own Communion at Salud y Paz when we’re nearly done with the trip. We do it on Thursday afternoon. She lead that and that was pretty powerful to have that happen. It was really neat at this time because … This has happened in the past, I guess, but as Jenna’s giving Communion and giving a speech before it’s being translated by the executive director of Salud y Paz to a couple of the other guys we work with because they didn’t know English, obviously. Jenna’s trying to talk off the cuff without a prepared speech, which she’s good at doing, but she’s not used to having a translator come in and make her pause for a few seconds. It was kind of funny but really powerful at the same time. It was just neat to see.


Danny:That’s awesome. What a great story. Very nice. Thank you, Kirk, for taking the time out of your, I know, very busy schedule doing this. Thank you for all the preparation that you put into this and I just think it’s wonderful that you … It’s just a great thing that you do and I think it’s also neat your girls seeing you go out and do something like this as well. As a leader of your family it’s really good that you’re going and doing this.


Kirk:Thanks. It’s my pleasure.


Danny:Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you everybody for listening. Have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye bye.


Danny RyanKirk Liemohn – 2017 Mission Trip to Guatemala

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