GUATEMALA—When Krystal Kennedy went on her mission trip to Guatemala in January, she had a very specific goal of teaching Natural Family Planning to the men and women there.
In a phone interview and e-mail to The Miscellany, she described how she waited anxiously for her first class to start, only to realize no one was coming.
It turned out there was a funeral in the village that day.
At the next scheduled class time, Kennedy said she was relieved to see six people arrive, anxious to learn about the Billings Ovulation Method.
“My excellent translator, Lee Hicks, and I said a quick prayer asking God to speak for us — through us — and let His will be done,” Kennedy wrote.
She said the class went quite well and the sessions turned into much more than just information on NFP.
“The class shifted to the culture of Guatemala and why NFP is so difficult to talk about,” she wrote. “As Catholics, they have heard about Natural Family Planning in their marriage preparation classes, but that was the end of it.”
So they talked about ways to accept women as equals, loving communication between spouses and maintaining abstinence while showing love in other ways.
Kennedy said the goal is for those six people — two couples and two midwives — to take that information into the community and evangelize it.
She said the pastor of the Catholic Church in San Pedro La Laguna, wanted NFP to be accepted by the community and become a detailed part of the marriage preparation classes to help end the use of artificial birth control.
The widespread use of the contraceptive Depo-Provera was what inspired Kennedy to teach the ovulation classes in the first place. She said she was surprised to learn about the practice while on her first mission trip to San Pedro La Laguna. She went with Catholic Charities in May 2009 and was working in the women’s clinic.
“Being Catholic, and on a Catholic mission, I felt the need to make a change,” she wrote. “Isn’t this what we all want to do, make a difference? I wanted to plant a seed that would make a huge difference and bear vast amounts of fruit.”
She spoke to Deacon Ed Peitler, director of the diocesan Office of Social Ministry, about her plan and received his approval.
When Catholic Charities returned to San Pedro in January, Kennedy, who is a nurse, put all of her knowledge of NFP into play.
By the end of the weeklong mission, three more people had asked to join the class, proving that the lessons and the evangelization effort were succeeding.
Kennedy, a member of St. Joseph Church in Anderson, said she can continue to monitor the progress of her six students via the Internet and is already planning a return trip to Guatemala.