Giving Back In Guatemala

Karen Scheeringa-Parra first visited Guatemala during a mission trip in her early twenties. While on this experience she was struck by the country’s poverty. It inspired her to create Hearts In Motion, or “HIM.” Now the Executive Director of Hearts In Motion, she knows that the choice she made 29 years ago changed her life forever.

Scheeringa-Parra said, “The name Hearts In Motion came to us on an airplane when we were flying to Guatemala the first year and I loved the name because of the acronym ‘HIM.’ I can tell everybody I work for ‘Him’.”

Scheeringa-Parra believes that Americans live in a prosperous nation, and she believes in sharing resources and skills with our Guatemalan neighbors.

According to the U.S. State Department, the majority of Guatemalans live on far less than we do–most existing on fewer than two dollars a day. And Unicef states that more than 360,000 Guatemalan children are orphans.

For seven years members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church have been traveling to Guatemala with Hearts In Motion.

Within seven days, the Naperville team of 18 supplies clothing to 500 families, serves meals to 100 children, and provides medical assistance to about 1,500 people.

Gaby Garcia is a teacher at the Los Limones school for students kindergarten through 5th grade. She is one of 10 that teach the approximate 250 village students enrolled at the school.

“Really, it’s very important for the children, the families and the teachers, because here they don’t have a lot of materials to use for teaching,” said Garcia.

At the Hearts In Motion Nutrition Center, malnourished children are able to receive the help they need in order to become healthy again. Hearts In Motion volunteers provide the care the kids need by serving food and hosting free medical clinics. They also provide social interaction experiences for the children and help out with childcare.

This particular team constructed a wooden playground set that will provide 300 children with outdoor recreation often taken for granted in the United States.

“The kids, when we all got out of the van, they ran up and hugged us and blew us kisses and I think that was the greatest part of it, because they were so happy,” said Kali Pike, a Naperville Resident.

“We came to touch the Guatemalans, but they gave us more back than we gave to them,” said Scheeringa-Parra. “They’ve changed the people that have come to serve and that’s what the project really is.”

“When a congregation like Good Shepherd goes to an emerging nation like Guatemala, it is amazing,” said Pastor Greg Wenhold of Good Shepherd Church. “What it will do not only to effect change in Guatemala but equally to effect change in individuals. We come back as different people, we have a different way of viewing life and the resources that God has given us can be used to maximum potential.”

To learn more about Hearts In Motion and how you can get involved, visit


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