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Bringing Light & Hope


For the first time, there will be lights this Christmas in Sesaltul, a remote village in north central Guatemala. Walton EMC’s Nate Howell and Hollis Lucas helped make it possible.

They were among 15 linemen from Georgia’s electric cooperatives who spent two weeks installing four miles of electric lines and bringing power to the village’s 90 homes, two schools and two churches. By any measure, it was a daunting task.

“Our whole apprenticeship at Walton EMC is based on learning how to build an electric system, and this is going to take all those skills,” Lucas remembers thinking when he first surveyed the job site.

Aided significantly by villagers, the team labored daily in intense heat and humidity. “It was some of the hottest weather I’d ever dealt with,” Howell said.

A lack of modern tools and equipment added to the grueling work.

“No bucket trucks or power tools like we use for line work at home,” Lucas said. Lineworkers climbed poles with their spikes, pulled heavy wire by hand, and generally did line work the way it was done years ago in Georgia.

They navigated difficult terrain along trails in heavy vegetation to extend lines to villagers’ homes. The typical home is a one-room bamboo hut with a palm leaf roof, dirt floor and no running water. Sleeping hammocks and makeshift beds furnish the interior.

Each Sesaltul home received four lights, two switches and two outlets. Seeing villagers’ reactions when their lights turned on is a treasured memory for Howell.

“They would jump up and down, and smile. Then they’d run over and turn off the light, thinking it was going to run out of power,” he said.

Access to electricity will enable growth in education, economic prosperity and a better quality of life for the people of Sesaltul. Those who helped bring light and hope also benefit.

“This experience changed my whole life,” Howell said.

Lucas agreed, saying it was “an amazing feeling” to bring electricity to those who have never had access.

“I’m very thankful Walton EMC gave me the opportunity to go, and I’d go again tomorrow,” he said.

Watch their story here.