In October 2015, local doctor Carole Nasralla and her daughter, Maya, traveled to the Guatemalan village of San Lucas Toliman, on the shores of Lake Atitlan, to provide medical care to the Mayan people.
The mother-daughter duo partnered with a Catholic mission in the village that has served the Mayan people since the late 16th century.
According to the mission’s website, the San Lucas Mission was built in the year 1584.
In 1958, the Catholic Church in Rome called for increased involvement of clergy in world missions. As a response to this call, in 1962, Fr. Greg Schaffer, a diocesan priest from New Ulm, Minn., began serving as the pastor of the mission.
“He is kind of like the Mother Theresa of the region,” Carole said.
Fr. Schaffer arrived in San Lucas just as Guatemala’s brutal 36-year civil war was beginning. It ended in 1996 with peace accords, but not before an estimated 200,000 people were killed. Nearly 83 percent of these deaths were Mayan.
The mission focuses on serving the Mayans in particular based on the history of Mayan oppression by the Guatemalan state.
According to Carole, the priests at the mission told stories of the civil war and spoke of being targeted because they were helping the Mayans.
The socioeconomic programming of the mission is based in Christian social doctrine and is designed to promote six basic human rights including food, security, shelter, health care, education and work.