From August 14 to 24, five delegates from Tierra Nueva II, Guatemala visited their sister church St. Joan of Arc. During the mass on August 23, the delegates shared their experiences and reflections with the wider church during mass.
Good morning, God’s peace be with us. Our community chose us to come and participate in this delegation. We had to leave our work and our families, but we accepted. We felt called by God and now we are happy because we have shared wonderful experiences here.
On this 10-day visit, we have been most impressed by the solidarity you have for others. You inspire us; we see that you are filled with love, that you respond to the Bible reflection – give food to the hungry, give drink to the thirsty – in every way – physically, spiritually, psychologically.
We admire your community work, like the peace march, support for homeless families, your church recycling system, and your alliances with other churches. You put a human face on the situation of immigrants, as we heard a woman speak about her experience leaving water for those who cross the desert.
We also learned more about the life of our Lakota brothers and sisters. We saw their leadership working to defend their people. It is good they are fighting for justice.
And we also had fun. We went to a cabin. It rained the whole time and we couldn’t go swimming in the lake. But we felt the bond between our two communities. We played pool for the first time, Julie showed us her skills at Twister, we learned Silver Sneakers exercises, and we played music and danced. In between all the laughter, we talked about the movements for peace in our countries.
Faith without works is dead. For us, this experience strengthens our faith, because we can see the sacrifices you make. As human beings, we all want to help our neighbor, even if we are poor. It is like when Jesus took off his shoes to give them to someone who was barefoot – we have to share what little we have. We have to set aside our pride and all that divides us. When we went with Mobile Loaves and Fishes to give out food to people that are in need, sometimes people would say, “no, not that – maybe someone else needs it more than I do.” In spite of their poverty, they have the spirit to give; they know the love of God.
Mary Johnson told us her story, how her son was murdered and how she formed a bond with the man that murdered him. She knows how to listen to the word of God. Meeting with her, one understands the grace of forgiveness – that forgiveness is a transformative action. We were struck by how she has helped so many people heal the wounds of hate and the thirst for vengeance.
In the theology school in our community, we have a motto – faith is studied, lived and shared. On this delegation, we studied faith from your context, we are living it and we will share it – here during mass and in our community. Faith is in everything we live, but since we haven’t studied it, sometimes we don’t see it. Talking about Guatemala, we also carry out works in our community, but we take action according to our context. We don’t have a truck to hand out food, but we can do the same thing in a different way.
What we have experienced during this delegation strengthens us, through the sharing of faith and our social and cultural lives. We had cultural exchanges with the Ojibwe, Lakota, African Americans, St. Joan of Arc, and urban and rural Guatemalans – and when people from here come to Guatemala, it is the same. This way, each day, we become more humane.
We thank our community for choosing us, and we thank all of you – host families, Sister Parish committee, and wider church – for your hospitality. We invite you all to join Sister Parish and other missions, and for those who can, we will be waiting for you in Guatemala for next year’s delegation. Our hope is that this relationship continues to grow and flourish.
Faith and the hope that we can change the world unite us – a more humane world is possible.