Culture Guidelines

While visiting another country you will want to respect that country’s culture and way of life. Our missionaries living among the Guatemalan people have learned many of their customs and would like to share them with you so that you too can merge into the culture of Guatemala.

  • Most Guatemalan’s you will meet are friendly and inviting and want to get to know you. Feel free to spend time with them learning their language and sharing your testimony.
  • The Guatemala people greet each other with a kiss on the cheek; with the exception of men greeting men, they will shake hands.
  • As an American woman you should wait for the Guatemalan man to extend a greeting to you, if he extends a greeting, by all means smile, say “Ola” and return the greeting.
  • As an American man you should wait for the Guatemalan woman to extend a greeting to you, if she extends a greeting, by all means smile, say “Ola” and return the greeting.
  • Don’t bring attention to yourself with loud outburst or radical behavior.
  • Leave your diamond jewelry and expensive watches at home.
  • Don’t compare the Guatemala people and their way of life to the way you live in the United States. Even though the people of Guatemala live with a minimal amount of resources and material items, they are a happy and content people and have lived with the traditions of their ancestors. Embrace their way of life.
  • Be flexible with regards to time. Being on time for Guatemala is rare. Be ready to be in a hurry to wait. Use the time to practice your Spanish, pray for your ministry or get to know each other.
  • Have a “Missionary Mindset”, some of the ministries you planned for your trip may look and be different once you’re here. Go with the flow and don’t worry about following a strict timeline or perfect plans, God works all things for His good and if the love of Jesus is there, ministry will find a way.
  • Be cautious when taking pictures. Ask your team leader or the missionary for permission before taking any pictures of the Guatemalan people. When using video cameras, only record scenery, your teammates or during a ministry event. Always check with the missionary before using any photo or video device.
  • When offered something to eat or drink from a local Guatemalan ALWAYS check with the missionary before accepting any food item. When visiting a Guatemalan friend of the missionary it will most likely be ok to eat any food offered. While visiting a remote mountain village, the missionary will determine whether it will be safe to eat any food offered.
  • Upon finishing a meal that has been served by a local, be sure to thank each person at the table with Muchas gracias.
  • Be aware that some of the Guatemalan people can understand a little bit of English, keep your conversations positive and up lifting, use words that bring joy and glory to God.
  • No flirtatious behavior is appropriate between girls & guys on a team or between a team member and a local member of the opposite sex.
  • While in Church, be ready to be asked to pray or give your testimony.

Spanish 101:

Here we have added a few Spanish phrases that you will find helpful while visiting:

  • Hello – Ola
  • Good Bye – Adios
  • Please – Por favor
  • Sir – Señor
  • Ma’am – Señora
  • Good Morning – Buenos dias
  • Good Afternoon – Buenas tardes
  • Good Evening – Buenas noches
  • Yes – Si
  • No – No
  • Bon appetit – Buen provecho
  • How are you? – ¿Como estas?
  • Fine thank you. Bien, gracias
  • Pleased to meet you – Mucho gusto
  • No thank you – No gracias
  • Thank you- Gracias
  • You’re welcome – De nada
  • My name is _____ – Mi nombre es _______
  • What is your name? – ¿Como se llama?
  • Jesus loves you – Jesus te ama.