Buckner Family Hope Centers are located in three different Guatemalan communities: San Jose Penula, Jocotenango and the government orphanage Hogar Seguro.
Many of the places Buckner works are considered ‘Red Zones,’ meaning they have severe poverty and extreme levels of crime. Going into these communities is very dangerous, especially for anyone who appears out of place and lacks the ability to communicate with people in their native tongue.
That’s where the translators become critical.
J.J. Velasquez has been a translator for years and said that after all this time, he enjoys it more and more every day.
"It's not only about language, it's about culture,” Velasquez said. “So we are supposed to help bring you guys together and help you bond."
Translators are there from the time the mission team starts their day to the time they call it a night.
Translating Bible stories, helping Americans communicate what they are saying while putting shoes on the kids feet and helping teach memory verses help break the ice between English-speaking Americans and Spanish-speaking Guatemalans.
It was 12-year-old Sophie Goforth’s first mission trip out the states, and her first time seeing the Guatemalan culture.
"We would try to ask them if they were ticklish,” Goforth said, “but they would just look at us, because they had no idea what we were saying."
The thousands of pairs of shoes donated in the Lubbock area were delivered to the hands of Buckner Guatemala employees like Francis Spillari, who is going on her third year as missions coordinator.
"I have to do with and to work with the containers, the shoes that people send to Guatemala,” Spillari said. “ It's like I know what we can do with that and who we can benefit."
They live and work in the communities with the greatest need and help put shoes on the feet of kids and families whose health depends on them. These translators are the key to what makes American trips so successful.
SaraBeth Tunnel is the project coordinator for Buckner’s Shoes for Orphaned Souls Shoe Drive. Like many others on the trip, it was her first time in Guatemala.
"We may not be able to speak their language,” Tunnel said, “but there is definitely some connection there. Love goes beyond a language barrier."