323 Getting to Know... Fernando and Marianela Saravia
Fernando and Marinela Saravia with their three daughters

Where are you from?
I (Fernando) am from Guatemala. Marianela is from Panama. We have three daughters: Nivia (23), Marianela “Nelita” (20), and Marlene (18).

Where do you work/What is your role with SI?
I am the SI Guatemala Field Director for the last 8 years. I work at the SI office in Antigua, Guatemala, and I do mostly administrative work for SI. I supervise all the work staff does when we have teams. I also lead staff meetings, meet with staff, run errands, visit ministry sites when needed. I also give site tours to people wanting to know about the SI Guatemala ministry.

How long have you been working with SI Guatemala? In what capacity?
Since January 1998, so for the last 15 years and 8 months. I came in as field staff. I worked for three years leading a site called economic development where I produced chicken and pig feed. Then from 2001-2004 I was Teams director, leading and supervising all the work with student outreach teams. From January 2005 to the present I have been functioning as SI Guatemala Field Director. Marianela, my wife, worked for three years as staff at Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua, Guatemala. Right now she is helping coordinating the Banquet cooking we do for our teams. She is helping with pastoral care and leading some staff women activities. Marianela also provides advice and counseling to me.

What is your favorite part of your work?
I love it when I can interact with people, and specifically staff and students, and influence them, helping them to fulfill their call and passion.

Do you have a favorite verse or favorite story from the Bible? What is it?
Jeremiah 29:11-13 I like this verse because it affirms how God has good plans for us. The verses talk about how we can pray to Him and he will listen; and how we will seek Him and find Him, if we do so with all our heart.

Why did you decide to join the SI team?
After serving for 10 years with Youth With a Mission (YWAM), God gave us the opportunity to join SI. Marianela and I are sure God called us to serve Him in the mission field. So, after understanding the SI vision and mission, it became clear that this is a way to reach Guatemalans and influence North American students for God’s kingdom.

What is one thing you are looking forward to in your future ministry with SI?
After serving for almost 16 years with SI I hope to be able to share the way SI works with new staff, either nationals or North Americans. I love to help them understand why do we do what we do. I look forward to training new staff so they can do a better job.