Inside EMI web feature by Peter Hildebrand / EMI Canada / Guatemala


The first time Vancouver architect Peter Hildebrand visited Impact Ministries in Guatemala was as an adult leader for a youth mission trip. While the youth helped out with work projects, Peter offered to help with facility planning and design. Alongside Impact Ministries Director Les Peters, he assessed the state of the ministry’s schools and other buildings. Peter gained a sense of how construction is done in Guatemala, and explored the ministry’s future needs. Armed with this information and some rough sketches Les had put together, Peter and Les walked the ministry’s property. They discussed how to best accommodate all the future requirements. The result was a schematic design, “a discussion piece,” as Peter puts it, “so that something more concrete could be drafted.”

Little girl at the site Rows of agriculture on the site

This little girl is attending the Impact Ministry’s school in Tactic.

Rows of agriculture on Impact Ministry’s site.

Two and a half years later, Peter once again toured that same piece of land in Guatemala. This time he was the lead architect for an EMI Canada project team. The team was tasked with designing the first Impact Ministries Orphanage as well as defining the ministry’s vision for the site more concretely. Along with the orphanage, the master plan would include ministry offices, staff and visitor housing, and Bible school classrooms. Also considered were expansion of agriculture on the property and opportunities for commercial development to help with financial sustainability. Once again Peter was volunteering his services as an architect—this time with a full complement of design professionals. The team included civil, structural and electrical engineers, as well as two survey crews to document the 40+ acre property.

Peter’s building design and master planning skills as an architect were put to good use on his initial trip. However, Peter noticed significant differences working with an EMI team. Following the trip he reflected:

With all the technical disciplines present it is much easier to make decisions about the design. And working alongside professionals who are willing share their skills and time for the Lord makes a huge difference here. One can get a clear understanding of design ramifications immediately, which helps to guide the process and make it efficient. It’s encouraging to see that there are intelligent people who can check their egos at the door and allow themselves to be used for God’s glory.

Team architects working Team architects working

Team architects Kim Nordhoff and Peter Hildebrand consult on the design.

Team surveyor Patrick Cochrane instructing on the use of a GPS system in Tactic.

So the outcome of a team effort is far more comprehensive and carries more momentum simply because it addresses all the main issues. We have a better overall picture of what is needed to make Impact Ministry’s goals a reality. We developed a more realistic design solution and I believe this translates into a more realistic construction project for Impact.

Besides the professional support there is the fellowship you experience in an EMI team that can work together and worship together. It takes things to a whole new level. I feel it gives a small sense of what heaven will be like: We work together, we share our gifts and simply enjoy ourselves. We know we’re part of a much bigger plan with God at the helm.

Inside Uganda, Project # 11017, February 2014