LaTech Students Head to Guatemala Again!

Three years ago, led by Catholic student Rachel Hanks, four ACTS (Association of Catholic Tech Students) members ventured into the unknown to serve the young people of Valley of the Angels Orphanage located near Guatemala City.

The ACTS Guatemala Mission Program has now grown so that this year 12 students made the trip to spend two weeks 6,000 feet up in the mountains of Central Guatemala in August.

This mission trip is completely planned and orchestrated by ACTS members. This year’s leaders, Grant Reddoch, Zoe Martinez and Jessica Houte, organized the team in such a way that the children of the valley received hours of attention from the college students. The program is structured so that students are totally immersed in the culture of the native children –  they live in the  same housing, eat the same food and follow the same schedule.

Franciscan Friar, Fr. Michael Della Penna, OFM, the Director of Valley of the Angels Orphanage, is thrilled to have the ACTS members come to the boarding school. Because of their efforts and organizational skills, other groups are now sending missionaries to “The Valley.”
Each year the staff of the Valley and the mission team from Louisiana Tech make improvements that enhance the experiences of both the children of the Valley and the staff and members of ACTS. This year, they introduced a “mission intern,” Bethany Eppling, to the program with the hope that the person in this position would be able to oversee this quickly growing and very popular mission opportunity and add others.

Not only are the college students involved, but the entire parish of St. Thomas Aquinas in Ruston lends time and resources to this worthwhile cause.  This year the Women’s Guild hosted a bake sale for the trip and a “Burgers and Bingo” night to help cover expenses.  Additionally, the Quilting Group spearheaded a “Sweet Dreams Project” where parishioners were encouraged to donate and /or make pillowcases for the young children of the Valley of the Angels. The project collected over 300 pillowcases.

Rev. Bro. Michael Ward, OFM, the Campus Minister at St. Thomas could not be more proud of the dedicated and faith-filled college students. Each student is responsible for covering their own expenses and the group conducts fundraisers to cover general expenses such as ground transportation and food for the group.  The key to this program is that the college students themselves are completely in charge of what happens!

by Rev. Bro. Michael Ward

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