Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist


As many of you know, I work in the pulp and paper industry. I also have a passion for missions in Guatemala. A couple of years ago I knocked together a crazy idea: Let’s take some papermakers to Guatemala to build houses.

The first year there were three of us. We had to skip 2017 when I was ill. This past summer, eight of us went. Of course, those on the trip know others; some connections not along for the trip are mutual acquaintances of all of us. Our industry knows each other over long distances.

When I got back, I got a call from a paper mill manager I know (and who is a colleague of a person who has gone to Guatemala with me twice).

This manager has never gone with us. He is also a volunteer firefighter. He told me they had a bunch of surplus equipment, and he wondered if the fire department in Panajachel, Guatemala could use it. Without hesitation, I said yes.

It so happened that that weekend the couple who manages the mission in Guatemala was going to be visiting us, so I did not bother emailing or calling them to tell them about this largesse that had fallen in my lap. As soon as they walked in the door, however, I did tell them.

Lloyd Monroe (the missionary) stopped dead in his tracks and looked at me, “Did you know the Panajachel Fire Department’s gear was stolen a couple of weeks ago?”

“No,” was my reply.

It turns out the fire department had made the long trip into Guatemala City for some training, and within a half hour of arrival, someone broke into their van (which they had borrowed from the mission) and stole all their gear.

Well, the mill manager got the gear all boxed up. There were 24 big boxes of it. We communicated with all the teams going down this fall and started shipping boxes to the teams state-side, as many as each could take.

The teams broke down the boxes and repackaged the gear in duffel bags in order to take it as luggage on the planes.

Last week, the final gear arrived.

The thankful Panajachel Fire Department has reported there was more than enough gear for them. In fact, they have distributed the surplus to other departments in the region.

Now, what was that you were saying about feeding 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes and the size of the surplus gathered after the meal?

Happy Thanksgiving.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press.