Galen and Phyllis Groff began serving as overseas missionaries to Guatemala in 1985. There they served the K’ekchi’ people, an indigenous group descended from the Maya. Here are Phyllis and Galen with their children Rosalyn (14), Cynthia (11), and Timothy (12) in 1987, in the midst of their first three-year term with EMM. Photo from EMM archives.
The Groffs moved to the remote K’ekchi’ village of Fray Bartolome de las Casas to help develop the Mennonite Church. Phyllis also worked in medical ministries. The Groffs underwent a steep adjustment to the new culture — here, Phyllis bargains for food at the local market in 1986. Photo from EMM archives.
Throughout their 22 years serving the K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church, Galen and Phyllis saw the K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church increase from 50 congregations to about 130, with over 10,000 worshipers. This is a 2014 snapshot from their visit to a packed worship service in Solidad, Guatemala.
Galen enjoyed connecting with K’ekchi’ church leaders and believers in Guatemala. Here, he talks with Sebastian, who used to walk an hour with his family to the nearest church each Sunday and is excited that a new church is beginning to develop in his own hometown of Caarnila.
Phyllis enjoyed connecting with believers, too. Here she studies the Bible with friend Marcella Cu in Cojaj, Guatemala.
The Groffs supported the K’ekchi’ church community in many different ways. Here, Galen officiates a wedding in Selamuch for Hiladio and Angelina, who lived together but wanted to become officially married in God’s eyes.
Phyllis, a nurse, cared for K’ekchi’ health needs for over two decades. She also trained many K’ekchi’ people to become health workers in their own communities. Here, Phyllis translates for a visiting doctor as they discuss how to help this baby with a cleft palate.
Phyllis’s ministries also included developing women leaders in the K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church. Here a young church committee meets in Yaalpamech.
The Groffs helped coordinate annual conferences for K’ekchi’ pastors. Here, a group of 50 pastors listen and take notes during a seminar at Bezaleel Education Center.
Baptisms in the K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church were always joyful occasions. Outside Cahabon, the Groffs got to attend a baptism of six new believers. Here, Pastor Mariano prays for the newly baptized members.
The Groffs loved becoming part of the K’ekchi’ community during their years in Guatemala. Here, they joined in a wedding procession making its way to the hilltop church in Semesche.
With a different culture came different traditions. Here, the Groffs’ friend Juana Maas skillfully carries a jar of water on her head in Tucuru.
In 2015, Galen and Phyllis were delighted to join their son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Julie Groff, for a two-year term of missions in Belize. Pictured are Julie and Tim with sons TJ (14), Simeon (12), and Gabriel (9). Photo provided by Tim Groff.
Galen and Phyllis love serving in Dangriga, Belize, with their family nearby. Here is a snapshot they took while helping with fun camp games at a Christian camp with local youth.
Although Phyllis and Galen retired from formal ministry in July 2017, they plan to continue living in Dangriga and supporting the Garifuna Mennonite Church … and enjoying the beauty of Belize together, like on this trip to the local zoo!