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

Medical volunteers, after orientation and a tour of the programs, accompany a team of Health Promoters into the communities. Medical teams eat breakfast at the Mission and pack a lunch to carry with them to the communities they’re visiting. A Health Promoter will meet you at the Mission, and transportation will be provided to the clinic where medications/supplies for the day can be prepared and picked. Then you will be transported to one of the surrounding communities.

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

Medications for your time in San Lucas, need to be either brought to Guatemala or purchased through the clinic prior to your trip. We will need to share details of the medications, amount and expiration dates with the clinic to facilitate bringing them into the country.

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. The Long-term Volunteers (LTVs) help arrange itineraries, accompany groups to work sites, interpret for them and 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. In working alongside 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 come to be a part of Mission projects, form relationships in the community and learn about the community development efforts of the San Lucas Mission. In being a part of 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 the Guatemalan directors, including but not limited to gardening, construction, coffee processing & picking, and work at the Women’s Center. Initiative is required on the volunteer’s part to involve him/herself, though the Volunteer Coordinator will help in facilitating the experience.

Long-term volunteers are required to interpret Spanish for visiting groups, so facility with Spanish is a must. Long-term volunteers also are expected to learn enough about the philosophy of the Mission so that they can answer questions brought to them by group leaders.
Weekly reflection sessions are held in 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 volunteers present, a single or shared (one other person) room is provided. Currently, volunteers 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. Wifi is readily available.

Before beginning work 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.

The cost of volunteering varies depending on the amount of time you plan to spend in San Lucas. Most long-term volunteers pay $100 per month to contribute to the cost of room and board.
Money can be exchanged in the Mission Office preferably in check form. Long-term volunteers need not apply for a work visa – a tourist visa can be acquired upon entry and renewed every 3 months in Guatemala City or by leaving the country. Volunteers are required to cover the fee for their visa renewals (approximately $50).
In order to get the most out of the long-term volunteer program, it is important to come with an open mind and be willing to engage in a variety of activities and to invest in relationships both within San Lucas and with the people involved with the Mission. Planning to come to humbly learn, grow, and serve with a positive attitude and patience will ensure a rich and meaningful experience.

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

Covid-19 Protocols

Prior to traveling to Guatemala, all Visitors are required to have been fully vaccinated for Covid-19 and to show a negative test result within 72 hours of travel. While in-country, Visitors are expected to wear masks and socially distance whenever possible. Our main priority is to protect the health and safety of local community members and visitors. Community groups and individuals can begin registering for dates from January 2022 onward.