Introduction / History The Kaqchikel (local spelling) are located at the foot of the volcano called Agua (Volcan de Agua). The volcano, Agua, is located directly South of Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala. The Kaqchikel name of Santa Maria de Jesus is Junapu, meaning "one volcano" because they lie at the base of Agua. Kaqchikel Maya are one of many Maya ethnic people groups, each are distinctive based on their language and other factors despite many shared beliefs.
What are their lives like? Many Kaqchikel Maya people of Santa Maria de Jesus ride the 40 minute bus ride to Antigua, Guatemala where the job opportunities are more open due to the high level of tourist activity in Antigua. These Kaqchikeles sell artisan products such as woven fabrics, jewelry, scarves, paintings on the streets of Antigua and/or in the artisan market in the West part of Antigua. There are many others, like most Maya, who are in agriculture: coffee and chocolate are big agricultural cash crops in the Guatemalan highlands near Antigua.
The family structure is such that the man is the main financial provider and oftentimes wears "modern" clothing to appeal to employers while the woman is the main homemaker. She cooks, cleans, cares for the children, weaves the clothing, and sometimes sells additional crafts or tortillas. It is also the Kaqchikel Maya woman's role within the market to sell the produce or the craft and typically the man's role to farm and transport the produce. She is almost always seen in traditional clothing, or traje, as well as the children. The children grow up speaking Kaqchikel in the home with Spanish being taught in the education system and used outside of the town and as such, Kaqchikel is their primary language, Spanish is their secondary. Most Maya children are minimally educated in a formal setting but almost always learn the craft or trade of their parents, depending on gender.
What are their beliefs? They have a heavy influence on ancestor worship and themes of rebirth and renewal permeate their worldview. They believe in the interwoven cycles of nature or agricultural cycles, time, and life cycles that they can't be separated. They cling to ritualistic offerings to gods in the forms of Catholic saints, with the understanding that they don't necessarily distinguish Catholicism in its true form from the syncretic Catholicism that has heavy Maya beliefs.
Prayer Points The Kaqchikel people need prayers more than anything that they would know the true, unadulterated JESUS of the Bible and truly who He is. I am unaware of the religious material available to them in their language but that certainly does not mean that there are no materials available. I am doubtful that the Bible has been fully translated and distributed to the Kaqchikel people of Santa Maria de Jesus primarily because like most Maya peoples and languages, Kaqchikel is an oral language and many cannot read the language on paper. It has been formulated into an oral language for the purposes of the Spanish in 1500s and for people like myself who are learning the language. There are programs and pushes for the Kaqchikel people to learn how to read and write within their own language, but most cannot. Even if Kaqchikel has been written down there are so many variants of spelling due to it being an oral language and each person spelling words how they speak the language, etc. which obviously poses a difficulty in a written Bible for this people.