Tom Dirks, right, and Loren Melton, next to Dirks, with a Guatemalan family they installed a new stove for during a mission trip with Marine View Presbyterian Church. Dirks and Melton will return to Guatemala on a similar mission trip in April. Courtesy Brian Dirks

Tom Dirks, right, and Loren Melton, next to Dirks, with a Guatemalan family they installed a new stove for during a mission trip with Marine View Presbyterian Church. Dirks and Melton will return to Guatemala on a similar mission trip in April. Courtesy Brian Dirks

Local group heads to Guatemala to install stoves

Marine View Presbyterian Church has been sending teams to Central American country since 1989.

A team of 11 people, many from Federal Way and northeast Tacoma, will head to Guatemala in April to install stoves in two impoverished villages in the Barillas District.

Marine View Presbyterian Church near Federal Way has been sending teams to the Central American country since 1989 through an Everett-based organization called Hands for Peacemaking.

For Brian Dirks, the team’s leader, the trip – from April 12 to 22 – will be his fifth since 2012. The rest of the team is a mix of people from a variety of backgrounds, some who have gone on the mission before and others who are making their first trip. About half the team members attend Marine View.

“The church has sent people to build school in the past,” Dirks said. “The last 15 years or so have focused primarily on stoves.”

Installing the stoves is a big blessing to the villagers in Guatemala, Dirks said.

“As it turns out stoves are a big deal in a lot of third-world countries because the traditional cooking method is open-pit fires in the homes,” he said.

Many of the homes are built of planks with tin roofs and mud floors.

“They will put the cooking fire in the middle of the home,” Dirks said. “That creates all kinds of problems. It creates a lot of smoke inside the home and a lot of soot that goes up in the rafters. With the smoke the kids and adults will suck it all in and it leads to all kinds of respiratory issues.”

Installing the wood stoves not only helps improve health, but also protects the environment.

“It is also a solution to wood usage,” Dirks said. “Villages will go out and haul heavy wood on their backs by burning less wood with those.”

For the villagers who earn an average income of $5 a day, purchasing a stove is an expense they can’t afford.

The stoves, which are built locally in Guatemala, cost $200 a piece. Families in the village pay a small portion of the cost and the rest is covered through donations.

The trip costs approximately $50,000, half of which will purchase 125 stoves.

“We could send money down to the village and they would install their own stoves, but the real key is the interaction we have,” Dirks said. “Those who have participated get as much, if not more, out of it as they put into it.”

In addition to the stove installation, the group also takes bags of school supplies and toys, including notepads, coloring books, tennis balls, jump ropes and dental supplies, as well as Bibles and eyeglasses.

“We set up tables with different strengths and they can tell what they need either by reading, or if they can’t read, threading a needle,” Dirks said of the glasses. “It’s great to help people see again.”

In addition to Dirks, those making the trip include Dirks’ brother, Tom Dirks of Seattle, Bilhan Gonzalez of Auburn, Odilia Gonzalez of Milton, Ed Hong of northeast Tacoma, Winnie Lee of Bellevue, Diane Malone of northeast Tacoma, Erik Melton of Jackson, Mississippi, Loren Melton of Packwood, Kay Miller of Federal Way and Richard Shenk of Federal Way.

For more information or to make a donation, visit facebook.com/Guatamala2018/.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

Families in Guatemalan villages often use open stoves to cook. A group from Marine View Presbyterian Church will go to Guatemala in April to install safer, more efficient wood stoves. Contributed photo

Families in Guatemalan villages often use open stoves to cook. A group from Marine View Presbyterian Church will go to Guatemala in April to install safer, more efficient wood stoves. Contributed photo

More in Life

Well-fed at the Federal Way Farmers Market: Cran-Apple Butter

Join in on an apple-theme scavenger hunt this weekend at the market (ages 12 and under)

Well-fed at the Federal Way Farmers Market: Cauliflower curry soup and naan bread

Recipe of the Week includes ingredients found at the Federal Way Farmers Market.

Well-fed from the Federal Way Farmers Market: Roasted Pattypan Squash

Recipe of the Week features locally sourced vegetables from the Federal Way Farmers Market.

Photo courtesy of Linsay Hill
Local leader focuses on helping, healing young women of color

The Mirror’s Hometown Hero for August is Linsay Hill

Federal Way PAEC offers livestream comedy special Aug. 29

Tickets now available for Yakov Smirnoff’s “United We Laugh” virtual comedy special.

SKFR firefighter lives at station for six weeks during pandemic to protect family

Setting up his trailer in the parking lot of Station 66, Chris and Justine Mathis knew it was the right decision in order to protect their son.

Well-fed from the Federal Way Farmers Market: Summer Medley Salsa

Recipe includes fresh corn, tomatoes, cilantro, and more from the Federal Way Farmers Market.

Siblings 9-year-old Ava Guerrier, left, and 8-year-old August Guerrier show off their blueberry findings on Aug. 13, 2019. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
There’s still time to visit u-pick blueberry farms in Federal Way

So many berries in just one city. While in Federal Way, visit… Continue reading

Well-fed from the Federal Way Farmers Market: Berry Delicious French Toast

Recipe of the Week includes fresh berries from the Federal Way Farmers Market.

Three drive-in films set for Kent’s ShoWare Center Aug. 12-16

‘The Lion King,’ ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Gremlins’

Drive-thru Salmon Bake nets more than $15K

Last week’s take-away Salmon Bake fundraiser, hosted by the Kiwanis Club of… Continue reading