Mission to Guatemala

It is hard to believe, but it has been six years since my trip to do mission work in Piedras Negras, Mexico. That was a wonderful experience that I have wanted to repeat ever since, but several moves, opening and closing a restaurant, and of course the day-to-day responsibilities of a working parenthood required me to keep putting it off. Since our last move our family has found a wonderful new church home at Nacoochee Presbyterian Church here in north Georgia. We became members a few months ago and we have gotten very involved in Convivio, a Latin America Outreach program. Many of the people I have gotten to know are originally from Central America. The leaders of Convivio are also leading a Mission Trip to Guatemala this summer. I am very excited to share the news that I will be able to go on the trip.


We will be flying into Guatemala City on June 6th and then taking a bus to Quetzaltenago in the western highland region of the country. That will be our home base for the week as we visit various places and work on different projects in the surrounding mountains. The group that we will be partnering with is CEDEPCA, El Centro Evangélico de Estudios Pastorales en Centroamérica/ The Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America. (www.cedepca.org). We will work alongside them on their ongoing projects to build latrines in communities that lack them, plant fruit, oak and pine seedlings in areas that need to be reforested, and support the Association of Mam Christian Women for Development as they provide resources to help the women of the community start, maintain and grow their own businesses.

In Ostuncalco we will take part in a Health Fair that will include sharing educational material and providing health screenings for an area clinic. We will have some doctors with us and we expect that malnutrition, stomach and respiratory problems will be common. One of our areas of focus with the children will be teaching them about how to best take care of their teeth as well as providing them with dental supplies. Though I do not have medical experience I do speak Spanish well. I hope to be useful as a translator at the Health Fair and in our other projects. Most of the people in the area speak Spanish but their first language is a Mayan dialect called Mam. Not only am I brushing up on my medical and dental vocabulary in Spanish, I am also trying to pick up some basic words in Mam.

PascualPrayer_photoOur group has been fundraising since the fall. We have sold Guatemalan crafts, had a dinner and movie night, and hosted a Latin American Dance group. Through those projects and some friends who donated early I have raised most of the $920 I need for room, board and projects. In order to help cover the $820 round trip plane ticket I have done a new painting and am offering prints of it for $25. The painting is of my friend Pascual, who attends our church and Convivio with his family. He is an immigrant from Guatemala who has inspired us with his faith and trust in God while working to appeal a deportation order. The prints are 8×10 inches and come in 11×14 mattes with backing boards that will fit easily into a standard frame. I hope you will want to add one to your art collection. I also ask you to pray for us, our trip, Pascual, CEDEPCA and the people of Guatemala.

Thank you so much,

(Note: Purchasing a print is not tax deductible but a donation can be. If you need your donation to be tax deductible then you can use the church’s donation site or mail a check to Nacoochee Presbyterian Church, Post Office Box 87, Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia 30571 with “Guatemala Mission –Jennifer Herrera” in the memo line.)

Planning for the Moon

My coworkers are incredibly supportive when it comes to my artwork. I don’t think anyone finds it odd anymore that my brain does its best work trying to figure out the logic behind a report while my hands are doodling swirls and birds and such. A few especially nice folks have even left me little notes with doodles that made an impression on them which always makes me smile.

Most of my work doodles are the kind that happen when I am thinking about something else. They start with a little flower or a swirl and slowly grow through out the day or even the week. Some are better than others. I have plenty that are easily forgotten and also a few that turn into full size paintings or pages in a coloring book. But the other day I was not just doodling. I was sketching an idea for a painting for my sister’s birthday. I knew basically what I wanted to do, but I was not sure about the composition, so while waiting for data to refresh I was trying out different placement ideas. I then got up to get more coffee or something.Infinity Moon Sketch

I knew it was not the kind of drawing someone would stop to look at, so I had no idea why when I came back to my desk several people were gathered around looking at my notebook. They were also shaking their heads and talking amongst themselves. When I got closer they asked my if I was okay and if while I had been sick I had “lost it.” And by “it” they meant my artistic ability. I made an attempt to explain I was trying out a new idea, but they didn’t seem to be buying it. So this post is to show them the finished piece in hopes of redeeming my poor little sketch. I feel like it did its job even though it wasn’t a glamorous one.

This little painting (8×10″ on paper) is a bit different from what i normally do. My sister Rachel, who turns 35 today, has always loved and repeatedly used the phrase, “I love you to the moon and back,” so this is my rendition of it for her, cause I love her to the moon and back and back and back, to infinity if you will.

Rachel's Picture - Love you to the Moon and Back
Rachel’s Picture – Love you to the Moon and Back


Map Print Series

Map 8 with FishI worked on my map print series from March to May 2011. I started with a Metro Atlanta Street Atlas with over 100 pages of maps that begged to be drawn on. Rather than plan the drawings out in advance I let the lines of the streets, rivers, lakes and highways dictate the shapes I drew. Many of the drawings will never see the light of day, but at least five were deemed worthy of framing. They are also available as matted prints for $15. Though it as been almost two years since I have worked on this series it is possible that I will revisit it.

Map 79 with Hornbill  Map 2 with Urban Girl  Map 22 with Owl  Map 100 with Profile

Mission to Piedras Negras

Below you will find the letter I sent out to my friends and family to seek support for a mission trip to Coahuila, Mexico. I was blessed with a great response and raised exactly what I needed to make the trip. The trip was an amazing experience and I am still processing all the ways it affected me.

Hello Friends,

I am writing to share with you an exciting opportunity that has opened up to me. As you know I lived in the southeast of Mexico for seven lovely tropical years. The influence Mexico had on me and my artwork is obvious. I have a great love for the country, its people and culture. And of course my dear husband, children, and foster son were all born in Mexico.

Living in Cancun and visiting Mexico City I had the opportunity to experience the very best Mexico has to offer. But as anyone who watches the news knows there are parts of Mexico that have huge problems with poverty, corruption and cartel-related crime. In my volunteer work with immigrant children here in Georgia it has been hard for me to reconcile the Mexico I know and love with the one they left behind. Their Mexico is so lacking in opportunity that families leave everything they know and risk their lives to cross to this country. For some time I have been anxious to have a better understanding of this other face of Mexico. This June I hope to have the chance to learn more first hand.

My church, Mountain Lake Church, partners with a group called Hands and Feet that works with schools, orphanages and medical clinics in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. A group of us from Mountain Lake will be going there on a mission trip to offer our help by offering medical clinics, building a cafeteria pavilion for a local school and by sharing the love of Jesus with children at orphanages and through a week of Vacation Bible School. I am so excited about the possibility of being able to help in some small way the people of the country that I love so much while at the same time learning more about the complicated issues Mexico and Mexicans face.

Our group will fly from Atlanta to San Antonio, Texas and then cross the border by van and drive south about 2 and a half hours to Piedras Negras. Though Piedras Negras is on the border it is not near Juarez where most of the cartel crime is centered. Hands and Feet have been working in the area for over 12 years and many groups like ours have visited without incident. We do not believe we will be in any danger but neither do we take our safety lightly and we hope you will pray for us and our trip.

All of us going on this mission trip are sending out letters to our friends and family asking for commitments of prayer as well as financial support. Each of us needs $1300 to cover the cost of our transportation, lodging, food and supplies. To raise my portion I am offering prints of my painting “Light in Darkness” for $25. The painting is inspired by Matthew 5:14-16. The prints are 10×8 inches and come in 14×11 mattes with backing boards that will fit easily into a standard frame. I hope you will want to add one to your collection. If not I hope you will still commit to pray for me, the rest of my group, the people of Piedras Negras and Mexico in general.

If you would like to donate directly to my trip’s fund instead of (or in addition to) buying a prints you can do so here.


I would also love for you to leave me a comment below letting me know that I can count on you for prayers.