October 2011: Guatemala

The Confessional Lutheran Education Foundation
Trip Notes for
Guatemala, Central America – October 2011

October 3, 2011 (Monday)

The flight to Guatemala City, Guatemala, through Atlanta, Georgia, begins in Minneapolis at 5:30am, meaning I’m up and out at 3:00am. I am driving first to the Klemet Preus home to pick up Klemet and his wife and take them to the airport for the same flight. Trust me, the thought “Why am I doing this, getting on a plane at 5:30am?” does often go through my mind.

But there are several really good CLEF reasons for The CLEF to be off to Antigua, Guatemala. I’ll lay them out here at the beginning, and in the coming week we will see if they are realized.

First, there is the Spanish edition of The CLEF International Lutheran Hymnal Project (ILHP). The CLEF will have opportunity to meet face-to-face with some new and important people to the project from Synod and Central America. Among them: the newly-appointed Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean – LCMS International Missions, the South Wisconsin District Mission Developer (former Latin America LCMS missionary), and the presidents and/or official church leadership from five additional Spanish-speaking countries.

Second, in attendance (the featured lecturer) will be the General Editor of the Spanish edition of the ILHP. I will be able to spend a goodly amount of time with him and the LCMS official (yes – they are supportive of the ILHP – how times have changed!) and we will accomplish much in laying out the upcoming companion volumes to the new Hymnal.

Third, I will be able to discuss the final details of the Hymnal’s printing. Hopefully I’ll make great strides in the coming seven weeks at which time I will go to Argentina to see the project on to the next level in addition to The CLEF other translation projects as the Luther Academy’s: Confessional Lutheran Dogmatic series – we are working on the second one.

Fourth, I will be able to touch base with the Latin America folk with whom we are producing another 25 books and move as many of them forward as possible.

Fifth, I will meet these new men. Aside from the folk from the USA, I have only met one of the conference participants. So, there are some 20 more CLEF overseas partners for us to work with – all For the Sake of the Gospel.

But remember, nothing happens but for your prayers, physical and financial support. Okay, I get the awesome privilege of making these things happen, but in the end, I only get to be a part of these things by the mercy of God and your hard work of support. (Care to work even harder? Early next year I’ll tell you of yet another incredible opportunity open for you – that is being asked of you, the supporters of The CLEF. Seriously, it is so awesome you will hardly believe it to be true! But we – you all – will need to work harder. The window is open and the doors are opening at this time in the life of The CLEF, the LCMS, and Confessional Lutheranism world-wide! We need to strike NOW!

So, why have you not invited The CLEF to your congregation for an update Mission Festival, or for the first time? Do it now! Call 612 940-1927 (okay, wait a week til I get back), or e-mail us at TheCLEF@TheCLEF.org!

So you really don’t care that I was put in Business Class from Atlanta to Guatemala City and they gave me a medium-rare steak, mashed potatoes, roasted peas in the pod and red wine and other stuff. I took it and knew that I was eating a great “lunch” in a nice seat on the airplane on your behalf.

We arrived safely in Guatemala – bodily speaking, that is. One of my suitcases underwent severe trauma; it was completely smashed and will remain here in Guatemala til the end of the age. Nothing was lost except the piece of luggage – entire 1/2 of the zipper side ripped off and the bottom end completely crushed. So Delta settled on the spot – no claim but for the piece itself. I walked out with cash to purchase another one. GO DELTA IN GUATEMALA!

The ride to Antigua is some 45 minutes. That is what it took. We checked in to the Centro Luterano (Lutheran Center), a place I had scoped out for a conference four years ago when I came here with my dentist (Dr. Schell) as his guest (like his assistant) to “do teeth” at San Lucas Taliman (one of my sidelines with him that is just a pure fun distraction).

We arrived at about 12:30pm, but with the baggage issue we did not get on the road for about 45 additional minutes added on after our completing customs. Those who arrive after the hour of 7:00 or 8:00pm are likely to have to stay in Guatemala City as the 22 miles to Antigua are 100% not safe at night – robbers and such ilk. Even the nationals do not do that road at night. (Dr. Gard, remember our objections to night travel and our near-death-in-the-night trip in Haiti?) So we arrived here in plenty of time to take the trip in a private van.

We went for a walk through the city in the afternoon; been there, done that – but it was fun to share with friends who had not.

Early to bed, had been up really early, all starts tomorrow. Think I’ll shave, just to make a good impression, or something like that.

The END.

The Lord be with you.

Me – John Fehrmann

October 4, 2011 (Tuesday)

The CLEF (me) spent the morning at the Centro Luterano on the computer; they actually have WIFI building wide!

So I sat at the table/desk outside the lecture room, sitting in on a whole group of meetings folks decided to have at that table with me sitting there. Certainly a group of folk not having things to hide from The CLEF.


Monday lunch: Soup with 1/3 chicken breast and rice side.
Monday dinner: Spaghetti with salad. (DO NOT EAT THE SALAD!)

Tuesday break: Scrambled eggs and black-beans paste.
Tuesday lunch: Soup with 1/3 chicken breast and rice side.
Tuesday dinner: Lasagna with red beet salad. (NO EAT BEETS!)

Each meal comes with some fruit. So far it has been pawpaw (papaya to some of you), pineapple, and rock melon.

Afternoon “snack” – taco shells, baked to a crisp then covered with “special stuff.” Want to know what it was? Invite me to your congregation for a CLEF Mission Sunday and I will tell you (pretty neat idea for snacks!).

Remember the hopes and reasons for coming here (yesterday’s notes)? 100% accomplished today. PTL – as Dr. Scaer would say! I guess I could [leave] tomorrow, would not cost much to change my upgraded tickets, but there are a few secondary things to get done with the folks here. But it’s been awesome – even more than ever I could imagine on the best of days did we get done.

So on the 5th I am going to listen to the music given to me by Hal on my 100g external drive – the Beatles song: “It’s Your Birthday” cause it is – be all of 61.

“Good Night” (on the White Album) is the song playing that I’m listening to while typing these last notes to you! So, Good Night, sleep tight, dream sweet dreams ………..


The following is yet to come:

October 5, 2011 (Wednesday)

My B’day – feel free to send a special gift to The CLEF in honor of the old man, or you can wait until November 1st when my puppy “Yan” turns 14!

October 6, 2011

October 7, 2011

October 8, 2011

I have ALREADY been moved to Business Class for my trip home. Both flights – yes!



05 OCTOBER 2011 – (WED)

My B’day – feel free to send a special gift to TheCLEF in honor of the old man OR YOU CAN WAIT TILL 01 NOVEMBER WHEN MY PUPPY “YAN” TURNS 14! I avoid celebrating my birthday most years but if I can talk you into sending in a few bucks to The CLEF as a way to celebrate it on my behalf – well look at it this way – The CLEF needs the money and I don’t feel bad selling my birthday so you can celebrate it with your gifts.

It has rained every day since we have been here. The showers come in from the mountains every afternoon about noon and end about 3.30p. The rain is gentle but very steady. A couple of showers might also come through during the night.

It has been in the low 70s during the day – much different than when I was here with Dr. Schell. We stayed here at the Lutheran Center and as I remember it was rather warm.

Today I have again spent the day-time hours working on The CLEF primarily on the Internet. After the class is over for the day I’ll have time to sit and meet with the men The CLEF needs to meet with.

Breakfast was pancakes with pretend Maple Syrup – it was made from honey. Granola, yogurt and the three fruits (pawpaw, cantaloupe and pineapple) were the sides.

Lunch was tomato soup with potato chunks and shredded red meet (maybe beef or goat). A small portion of corn on the cob sat aside the bowl of soup and right next to the corn was a pile of rice. Fresh homemade tortilla was the “bread”. So – figure this out: what are potato, corn, rice and tortilla? – That sounds like a lot of carbs to me. I am told that the tomato soup served is the traditional soup served at weddings.

The coffee is without equal – very fresh and grown like right here in Antigua or up the road at San Lucas, Taliman.

A little about where we are – Lutheran Center, Antigua. I stole most of this from a posting at the reception desk. I thought it was interesting. You can always delete me or just mark me as spam.

The Centro Luterano came to be a part of Lutheran work in Guatemala about 1950. The land and home were purchased by the new USA Lutheran missionaries. At that time the building was the Hospital Santa Rosa with a Dr. Elena Trejo and the Iglesia Luterana Cristo el Gran Medico.

Dra. Trejo was Guatemala’s first indigenous woman doctor. She was born into a very poor family but was able to get an education – graduating from the university. She was denied entrance to Guatemalan medical schools because of her race and gender. The missionaries helped her to get to the USA where she earned her MD and then returned to Guatemala. She spent half her time (mornings) working with the indigenous patients (Indian). The afternoons she spent with the Latino patients who paid.

The Lutheran medical work and Dra. Trejo thrived until the CIA backed a coup that unseated the leftist – progressive (Socialist / Communist leaning) president in favor of an anticommunist hardliner. Immediately the hospital and doctor were labeled as communistic sympathizers. Shortly after the hospital closed and Dra. Trejo had to get out of Antigua hidden in the trunk of a car. Her husband spent six months in jail held by the military for questioning.

Iglesia Luterana Cristo el Grand Medico, that is Christ the great Physician Lutheran Church, was established through the efforts of Rev. Gussick, the first LCMS missionary to Guatemala. Sadly, the fact that the church was so closely related to the hospital, at least in name and location, led to accusations and rumors that it also was a communist front. The congregation eventually was forced to close its doors.

Today it still has a chapel, does not serve as hospital or seminary (as it once did), and serves as a retreat center for many, including Lutheran type folk.

So there.

The evening came and with it the evening meal. I sat next to the President of the Lutheran Seminary in Buenos Aires – our CLEF Spanish hymnal general editor. He pointed to the chicken leg on my plate and remarking about it he said, “holocaust” – the leg was more than well done. I ate it and the mashed potatoes – leaving the beans and carrots garnish.

I spent a couple of hours after that in the room and then joined the “cigar” group that had parked themselves for the second evening in a row just outside of my bathroom window. We talked, told jokes and had a great time.

After they (the Cuban cigar group) went to bed another one of the blokes (separate from the cigar guys) came to my room and we talked till 12.30 am.

Now it is time to say good night, good night ………….

The LORD keep you all faithful and safe,



06 OCTOBER 2011 – (THU)

07 OCTOBER 2011 – (FRI)

08 OCTOBER 2011 – (SAT)

I have ALREADY been moved to Business Class for my trip home –both flights – YES!


Tuesday/Wednesday, October 9-10, 2012

Breakfast was scheduled to start at 7:00. Can you say 7:20? So, that means I could have stayed in bed a few minutes longer – bummer.

Pancakes, “maple syrup,” paw-paw juice (papaya), watermelon cubes with yogurt and granola as topping was the menu, along with bread and tortillas.

Each day starts with devotions — Morning Prayer. Not being an “official” part of the conference and not being able to speak the Spanish, I am not doing one of the sermons — thankfully.

I spent the morning at the Centro Luterano on the computer — the internet working a few minutes at a time. Then the most amazing thing happened – I got a group of emails, about 75+, from a group of blokes in the LCMS I work with on various projects, some of them dated months ago! They just showed up. I wonder where they have traveled to out there! The group probably thinks I am dead.

So again, as last, I sat at the table/desk outside the lecture room setting as it is the best place to get the internet connection – when it is working.

Most of what is happening this year is CLEF meeting with individuals, so these notes will likely not be all that informative. Today I will be with Pfaffenzeller, getting his reports on the Dogmatics series status and discussing a budget.

So I am getting a lot of email and filing done while they sit in class. Jose is doing a good job — introduction stuff at the present. The course is “Christology.” Some of the pastors are taking the class for academic credit, meaning that the course is not just fluff; it has substance.

Antigua sits at the foot of two volcanoes. The one is named Water and the other Fire. They look like Mt. Fugi in Japan, big cones rising into the clouds, where the tops are in the clouds almost all day. It is not surprising that earthquakes occur in that part of the world – the volcanoes letting off the steam and stuff built up way down there and finding an outlet in the fractures that shift and make the ground shake.

Check it out on Wikipedia.

Wile the food is plentiful and prepared by happy kitchen folk, the flavors are not outstanding. Compared to Panamanians, who eat a lot of rice, Guatemalans eat more corn. Corn is sacred to the Mayans who believe that mankind comes from corn. (I asked if that was the origin of the concept of someone being “corny.” Seriously, not EVEN a smile!) So, on account of that, I am told a Mayan eating a corn tortilla has religious connotations.

Tuesday lunch: A piece of chicken in a soup of tomatoes, potatoes, rice and such, stuffed something — like a pepper but not a Bell, half cob of corn (no butter or salt), breads and tortillas. I brought out two jars of Planters Peanut Butter; I was a smashing hit!

Tuesday dinner: Pasta with red sauce with salad (DO NOT EAT THE SALAD!) and all the standard stuff. Lemonade washed it down. And PB.

Late in the afternoon on Tuesday I discovered that my favorite shirt was missing from the room. It was too late in the evening to report it to the desk. A young man had cleaned the room during the devotions. McMiller talked to the desk this morning and the young man did not come to work today. Hummmmmmmm.

After lunch, McMiller, President Eduardo, and I went shopping — me for coffee and chocolate for the glory of Christ “Mission Silent Auction” and Dan for himself.

In the evening, we got some cervesa and we sat around the table and talked til about 9:00. All went to bed, or at least to their rooms, early.

Again, remember your work here through The CLEF. You are the difference.


Me — John