Volunteer Opportunities

The Mission has a long history of collaborating with and hosting volunteers. Many visiting groups chose to participate in a service project while in San Lucas, typically with the Construction program supporting stove and home building. More specialized, Medical volunteers partner with the Healthcare program to perform surgeries and community health clinics in and around San Lucas. Those interested in getting involved for 3+ months can apply to become a long-term volunteer. Questions? Get in touch with the Director of the Visitor Program.

Medical groups come to San Lucas Mission to volunteer, learn and participate in the cross-cultural experience the mission offers. Working alongside Guatemalans and observing the local culture, groups learn about the Mission clinic, rural healthcare program, and healthcare in Guatemala.

Volunteer Work

After medical volunteers are oriented to the community’s health programs and the EMR system, they will join a team of Health Promoters who work in the rural communities. One of the leaders of the Health Promoter program will meet you at the Mission and accompany you to the clinic where you will pick up your supplies for the day. From there, you will be transported to one of the surrounding communities for your clinic day.

Medical teams typically eat breakfast and dinner at the Mission and lunch at the clinic.

It is required that medical groups bring a licensed physician and observe physician-student ratio protocols in order to provide medical service in the communities.

Surgical groups are based in the clinic and need to coordinate their visit through the Healthcare Committee and Dr. Tun.


Interpreters can be provided, although many groups choose to bring their own. Visitors are not required to speak Spanish, although being able to converse with Guatemalans – particularly in a medical context – will greatly facilitate the experience. Remember that Spanish will be the second language for most, therefore Health Promoters will be available to translate from Spanish to Kaqchickel when needed.

Medical Supplies

As you prepare for your trip, your group should decide on how to supply your pharmacy in the rural community clinics. Some groups decide to bring their own medications from the States, while others chose to purchase medications through the hospital. This should be arranged at least 90 days before your clinic trip, in order for the Hospital to prepare the necessary paperwork.

Pre-Arrival Orientation

Cultural sensitivity and openness to the local culture is paramount in ensuring that this cross-cultural experience is as fruitful and as mutually dignifying as possible. New groups are required to connect with Dr. Paul Wise of the Healthcare Committee to receive an orientation and ensure volunteer requirements are met. Returning groups are encouraged to connect with the Healthcare Committee.

It is recommended that medical volunteers come with an open mind and willingness to do a variety of medical activities – needs of the Mission healthcare program vary from season to season and groups should plan to be flexible, humble, and open to learning.

The primary work of Long-Term Volunteers is to accompany visiting groups and both facilitate their experience and interpret the work of the Mission. Long-Term Volunteers (LTVs) help arrange itineraries, accompany groups to work sites, interpret, ensure all safety protocols are met and logistical needs are arranged. The experience of a Long-Term Volunteer at the San Lucas Mission is focused on learning. By working with Guatemalans and accompanying them in their daily activities, Long-Term Volunteers can learn about the richness of Mayan culture, the work of the Mission, and life in Guatemala.

Long-Term Volunteers become a part of Mission projects, form relationships in the community and learn about the community development efforts of the San Lucas Mission. While participating in this cross-cultural exchange, we hope that Long-Term Volunteers become more open, aware, and educated global citizens.

Volunteer Work

The average day for a Long-Term Volunteer will vary during the course of their time at the Mission. They take part in various projects headed by Mission Leadership, including gardening, construction, coffee processing and picking, and work at the Women’s Center. Initiative is required on the LTV’s part to get involved. The LTV Coordinators will help in facilitating the experience.

Long-Term Volunteers are required to interpret Spanish for visiting groups, so fluency in Spanish is required. Long-Term Volunteers also are expected to learn about history and function of the Mission so that they can answer questions brought to them by group leaders.

Weekly reflection sessions are held at the Mission. These sessions may focus on volunteering, Guatemalan history or culture, faith, or any other issues relative to life in San Lucas. Those who stay in San Lucas for three months or more receive a three-month evaluation. More information about this will be provided during the application process.

Room and Board

Depending on the number of LTVs present, a single room or shared double room is provided. Currently, LTVs live communally in a house rented from a member of the community. Homestays are not available. All volunteers and staff members share meals prepared by staff at the Mission. Wi-fi is available.


Before arriving at the Mission, Long-Term Volunteers must be comfortable speaking Spanish in casual situations. You will also be asked to interpret for groups on a regular basis. We recommend that volunteers 1) arrive with a plan to strengthen their Spanish skills 2) have at least basic background in the language (beginning college courses, for example), and/or 3) attend language school in Xela or Antigua for 3+ weeks prior to arriving in San Lucas. The language schools in Xela and Antigua are among the best in Central America, but classes in San Lucas are limited. Keep in mind that admission to the program is competitive, and language ability is considered in the process.

Interested in joining the long-term volunteer team? To apply, email your resume and available dates to ellen.mathiowetz@sanlucasmission.org.

Health and Safety Protocols

A main priority in the Friends of San Lucas Visitors Program is to protect the health and safety of local community members and visitors. Prior to traveling to Guatemala, we recommend that visitors set up an appointment at a travel clinic to discuss vaccinations and travel safety practices.