Guat’s up? Building a Library, Friendship, & Community

Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Inspiration | 46 comments

MLWGS guatemala


Today’s post is brought to you by my son and his Relevance Rising seminar classmates.

For the past year they’ve been raising money and awareness towards their international service project Biblioteca Comunitaria Tzununa in Guatemala.

And last month they traveled there to lend a hand.


guatemala volcano

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala


Fruits of labor

Santa Catarina


Panajachel Guatemala

Panajachel Nature Reserve


tzununa lake atitlan dock

Boat ride from Panajachel to Tzununa

Lake Atitlan


tzununa guatemala journey

The path to Tzununa


clearing tzununa library site

Clearing rocks and weeds for the site of the future Tzununa library.


guatemala library site

tzununa children guatemalaTzununa village children



These last two pictures were captured by the children–they loved playing with my son’s camera. :)


Tzununa school

relevance rising MLWGS


If you’d like to read some more words from the students, check out their Tumblr page HERE.


What’s inspiring you this week?

Happy Monday!



  1. Great post by your son, Coleen. What a fabulous trip! I have a Swedish friend who did some voluntary work making walls in Scotland. I think traveling plus volunteering makes the experience even more rewarding.

    • I agree, Catherine! Volunteering adds another element to the experience. :)

  2. Let’s try this again.

    Gavin is so cool! You must be so proud of him. That is a great lesson to learn at a young age. Go Guatemala!

    • Thanks, Susie. I think he will be talking about this trip his entire life!

  3. Not sure my comment went through. Trying again. Coleen, I enjoyed this. I know you are proud of your son. Thanks for sharing such a great post.

    • Thanks, Freeda. I am proud and hope that little library will bring joy and opportunity. :)

  4. What wonderful photos, and what an amazing experience for your son and his classmates. I particularly like the in motion photo taken by one of the kids! Guat’s up? Pretty funny!

  5. Great project, photos – and he has a way with words too!

  6. What an awesome goal and experience – the world needs more people like your son and his classmates!

    • Thanks, CJ. Seeing the spirit in the photos and words of the students inspired me and I had to share!

  7. Fabulous project and I loved the photo post!

    • Thanks, Joanna! One day maybe one of these students will look back and write a blog series about their experience similar to your backpacking adventures!

  8. Coleen I love how the world has become smaller and your son has the opportunity to do something so amazing such as this. I tell my children often that the world is an incredible place to learn about other cultures, appreciate difference and care about the people in it. Love the photo’s too.

    • Kath that is a wonderful message you’re teaching your children! :)

  9. What a wonderful project! It looks like your son also has inherited Mom’s talent for photography, too. :) Things like this really do remind us that we’re more alike than different. Thanks for sharing!

    • Before my son left, we knew the basics of his trip, but so much of it seemed so, well, foreign. But now, hearing his stories and seeing his pics, at heart there’s so much similarity. :)

  10. That’s incredibly cool. Congratulations to your son and kudos to you for raising such a wonderful man. Looks like there may be a writer in there somewhere.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt
    Patricia recently posted..Cinco de Mayo – Mexican Holiday Or American Excuse to Get Drunk?My Profile

    • Thanks, Patricia. I’ll tell him that. He will appreciate it as he has been bogged down in “hateful” essay writing. :)

  11. Such a great thing your son is supporting. You must be proud! There really are good kids out there. Those are all wonderful pictures too.
    Phil recently posted..Bondurants – beer, cocktails & whiskey love in my NYC hood!My Profile

    • I’m happy to have the opportunity to report about some good stuff! :)

  12. This looks like a GREAT trip, but I can tell you—-I really don’t think you’d catch me walking across THAT bridge! lol

    • No kidding! I would’ve had a hard time with that bridge too. :)

  13. How inspiring. I love to see young adults doing projects like this for kids in third world countries. You must be proud! Great photos of the trip.

    • Thanks, Patricia. I love when I get to pass on some inspiration. :)

  14. I love how they’re helping them get ready to build a library. Perfect! My brother went to Lake Atitlan. I love the pictures of that place. It’s gorgeous.

    • Lake Atitlan is now on my mental map. There really are so many hidden gems in this world. Thanks, Charissa!

  15. Hi, Coleen,
    Your son’s post is inspiring. I’m off to build scenes and chapters, but I carry with me your son’s enthusiasm and the memory, via his photos, of exuberant kids.

  16. Wow! Good for him! What a great experience!!

    • Thanks, Jenny. I think he will be telling stories about this trip for years to come. :)

  17. Wow, just wow! Coleen, you and your husband must be so very proud of that son of yours! Gavin is an amazing young man. It is obvious that you instilled a love for life and people regardless of the color of their skin or nationality. Yes, we are all brothers and sisters! You better believe he will be talking about this trip for the rest of his life. What a wonderful opportunity. Thanks for sharing this with us! Great post girl! :)
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Advice From the OceanMy Profile

  18. Oh my gosh, what an amazing blessing to give those people! No one who went will ever forget the experience, I’m sure.

  19. What a fabulous, worthy experience to be involved in. You must be so proud, instilling so much love and compassion in Gavin that he has followed through and participate in something so big like this. These memories are something that will stay with him always. And the lives he’s touched, that will forever make a difference.
    Debra Kristi recently posted..The Shining and The Myrtles – Immortal MondayMy Profile

    • Overall I think the kids had a positive, rewarding experience, which will hopefully encourage more opportunities to make a difference! Thank you, Debra.

  20. What a wonderful experience for Gavin! I love what he got out of the trip, the common links we share. That will stay with him a lifetime – you must be very proud :)

    • For sure! I’m glad he had this opportunity. thanks, Alarna!

  21. This is the second attempt, or rather third. I saw your post Monday and told myself – WOW, what a great experience. I am always amazed at how service, whether it is large or small or simple or complex, can influence the development of our kids. It helps them build a deeper understanding of our role on the planet. It helps them understand that it is more than just where we live or who live among. We can read books, watch videos, but when we go there and experience it – it is so much deeper. Thanks. I am sure he had a great time and came back beaming. I know inside he’s a different young man and he’ll look back on this as an important point in his life. Have a great day.
    clay recently posted..Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring!My Profile

    • Sorry you had trouble commenting, Clay. You’re right, he came back beaming–from his experience AND because he realized how great he has life here in the United States. :)

      • It was a combination of lack of time, fat fingers, and trying do something quicker than I should have…. Gotta slow down, sometimes! Love the post.

  22. Inspiring!
    Happy Mother’s Day to an amazing mom!

  23. He definitely looks like he’s enjoying himself, and has also grown strong due to lifting rocks! Great pictures.

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