In February 1994 founders Bernard and Trish Cohen began Guatemalan Mission Outreach (GMO). The next two and one half years they had "on the job training" under the teaching of Dr. Hermann Alb, Guatemalan Missionary/Doctor. Their mission "adventure" driving through rivers, riding horseback and sleeping on dirt floors was their vehicle to share the Gospel and deliver health care to thousands of Indigenous in primitive aldeas (villages) throughout Guatemala.
In June 1996, after the Overseer of the Guatemalan Church of God asked Bernard and Trish to go to Panimaquin (Paw-knee-maw-keen), they began their work in an existing church with a congregation of 7.
Panimaquin is located 27 miles west of the capital, Guatemala City in the department (state) of Chimaltenango. The people group are Cakchiquel (Catch-chee-kell) Mayan. It is a farming community of 600+ that received electricity in 1991. The village is 7300 feet above sea level with a breathtaking view of 2 volcanoes and a beautiful mountain range.
When they arrived, the homes consisted of one room with walls half block and half flake board open to the air below the corrugated tin roof. Their kitchen, a separate room built of cane stocks tied together, a dirt floor and no chimney. The women would sit on the floor in this smoke-filled room many hours a day cooking over an open fire.
Although the men wear jeans and t shirts, the women still wear typical hand woven and hand embroidered clothes as their mothers and grandmothers did. The main crop is cauliflower, but they also grow carrots, beets, and of course field corn for their tortillas. Their nutrition is poor with a diet rich in carbohydrates and poor in other nutrients. Bernard and Trish noticed immediately the need for better nutrition, and improved living conditions. They quickly learned that most children attended school for a couple of years, then left to help in the fields or sell vegetables in the market below with their parents.
In 1997 GMO began a pre-school which served breakfast and lunch with 12 students. The school indigenous team consisted of 2 cooks, 1 woman to clean, 3 teenage helpers and two men who worked beside Bernard. He began to teach them the many construction skills that he had as a contractor/plumber in the States. In December 2006 Bernard and Trish moved to help their family back in the United States, the new ministry headquarters for Guatemalan Mission Outreach, Inc. a 501C3.
Since 1996, hundreds of the villagers who have become a part of GMO have learned about God's love for them through the many short-term mission teams who have visited and help make their homes warmer, smoke free with cement floors. The teams have taught in the classrooms, scrubbed latrines, built dormitory and class rooms, help prepare our nutritious meals, worshipped with them in the church, visited the families in times of sickness and death, smiled as our young adults have been baptized, attended their weddings, staffed medical and dental clinics, prepared fiestas for birthdays and Christmas, and ministered the word in many different men, teens, and women's conferences atop this once unnoticed village.
GMO challenges you to come on a trip to Panimaquin. Help our Indigenous staff in the kitchen or the school, which now offers teaching from birth through 9th grade and complete nutrition. Come help our women create their newest product in the factory or help Brother Pablo paint, remodel, or build. We know that God is not through doing His work in Panimaquin. Will you be next?