Our Blog

This blog is a place for our staff, members and supporters to share news and reflections about Sister Parish.  You can sign up for our e-news to receive updates or contact us to submit a piece of your own.  See blog archives.

Blog en español.

Posted in Español, General

St. Thomas Lutheran Church visits Chichipate

We were thrilled to accompany St. Thomas Lutheran Church on their visit to Chichipate in eastern Guatemala March 10-18.  The delegation was a powerful time to reconnect and spend time together in a truly beautiful place. Thank you to all who made the delegation possible!

A visit to Lake Izabal.

Enjoying time at Lake Izabal together.

Learning about beekeeping.

Learning about beekeeping.

Participating in a Mayan ceremony with the Chichipate community.

Visiting schools in the area.

Learning how to make tortillas.

Still learning how to make tortillas.

Posted in Delegations, Guatemala, North to South | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Week traditions – annual sawdust carpets

Inspired by the beautiful sawdust carpets made in Guatemala during Lent, numerous communities in the North make an annual carpet for Easter.

The church in Fryeburg, Maine makes the carpet inside the fellowship hall on Palm Sunday and members walk through it on Easter.

St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community braved winter weather this year to make their annual carpet with the theme, “Heart of flesh”.

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‘Cada experiencia fue nueva para nosotros’ – delegados de Tierra Nueva II comparten sus experiencias

Inglés

Entrevista con Pedro Uz y Olga Alegria
Delegados en la delegación a St. Joan of Arc en Minneapolis, Minnesota
9 al 19 de febrero de 2018

Entrevista por Carrie Stengel

¿Qué les gustó?
Olga: Me gustó todo. Llevo todo en mi mente, lo que vivimos allí. Cada parte que recorrí, tengo en mi memoria. Nunca se me va a olvidar, porque nunca lo volveremos a vivir.

Pedro: me gustó todo, desde la bienvenida. Aquí a veces nos olvidamos de abrazarnos, pero allí nos abrazaron. Me gustó su amor. Nunca olvidaré esto. Una hermana me dijo, “mi español no es muy bueno”, pero solo con su risa, lo pasamos bien juntos. Todo fue excelente con las familias y los hermanos allí.

Cada experiencia fue nueva para nosotros. La misa, por ejemplo, nunca había visto una misa así. Cada momento, cada detalle, lo tengo en mi memoria. No tengo más palabras, solo gracias.

Pedro y Olga conocen a su familia hospedadora para el primer fin de semana.

¿Qué actividades fueron las más impactantes?
Pedro: La actividad de Panes y Pescados Móviles fue muy impactante. Fuimos a distribuir comida a personas necesitadas. A veces uno piensa que todos tienen trabajo alla. No sabemos cómo viven las personas.  No hay dólares. Hay un Sueño Americano. Pero no todo es color de rosa. Sin trabajo, allí uno se queda perdido.

Olga: Para mí, me impacta ver cómo toman el tiempo de llevar chocolate a la gente en la calle en este gran frío (con Panes y Pescados Móviles). Dan su tiempo para coordinar y organizar todo y luego repartir la comida. Es difícil para mí dar tiempo.

Preparando para repartir comida con Panes y Pescados Moviles.

Pedro: La misa indígena también fue muy impactante. Me recordó de mi cultura. A veces me olvido de dónde soy.  Me recordó de dónde soy, quién soy.

La otra cosa bonita es que ahora con Olga, nos conocemos mejor. Nuestra amistad es más fuerte Es muy bonito.

Olga, Pedro y miembros de Sta. Juana de Arco y de Gichitwaa Kateri.

Olga: Y trajimos algo de allí, de los niños de NAZ (Northside Achievement Zone, una organización que trabaja con familias de bajos ingresos para que sus hijos salgan adelante en la escuela). Lo expusimos con los becados en nuestra comunidad. Les dijimos a los jóvenes que tienen que seguir estudiando, que tienen que ser alguien en esta vida. Los papas de los becados estuvieron de acuerdo con nosotros. La educación es importante para seguir luchando, para llegar a la universidad, para ser personas. Traje un poco de todo.

La presentacion con NAZ en el norte de Minneapolis.

¿Qué aprendieron durante la delegación?
Pedro: Aprendí de las palabras de mi familia hospedadora: “Muchas veces nos acoplamos al trabajo, y no vemos las personas alrededor, si están bien, si necesitan algo”. Y los hermanos con sus sonrisas, el carino, no piensan solo en ellos mismos. Me encierro mucho en mi trabajo. No veo a mis compañeros.  Me cuesta escuchar. Me quedé con esto. Cuando llegué, descansé un poco.  Ahora me abro más.

Olga: Lo que vi en Sta Juana, lo tengo en mi mente. Aprendí que hay muchas personas de diferentes culturas, personas de diferentes religiones, que se respetan.  Qué bonito si todas las personas fueran así. Nuestra ciudad sería diferente.

También aprendí a apreciar más a mi familia porque la extrañaba mucho.

Aprendí que a veces nos encerramos en la iglesia y hablamos de Dios, pero no vemos un Dios en nuestros hermanos.  Me impresiono que luchen por los demás. Aprendí que ver a la otra persona es importante para entender sus necesidades. Tal vez no me di cuenta de los demás, ni de mis vecinos. Hoy veo a mis vecinos y las personas necesitadas. Lo que aprendí es no ignorar esto.

Pedro: Todo fue excelente. Para cada programa, hubo un reflexión después. Cada programa tenía una pequeña enseñanza.

Retiro con miembros de Sta. Juana de Arco.

Posted in Delegaciones, Español, Guatemala, sur al norte, United States | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

“Each experience was new for us” – Tierra Nueva II delegates on their visit to St. Joan of Arc

Español

Interview with Olga Alegria and Pedro Uz
Delegates to St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis, Minnesota
February 9-19, 2018

Interview By Carrie Stengel

What did you like about the delegation?

Olga: I liked everything.  I hold everything in my head, everything we experienced there.  Every place we went, I have my memories.  I will never forget, because we will never have this experience again.

Pedro: I liked everything, starting with the welcome.  Here, sometimes we forget to hug each other, but there every other minute they were giving us hugs.  I liked the affection and care they gave us.  I will never forget that.  One person told me, “My Spanish isn’t very good,” but just with her laugh, we had a wonderful time together.  Everything was excellent with our host families and with our brothers and sisters there.

Each experience was new for us.  The mass, for example, I had never seen a mass like that.  Every moment, every detail, I will hold in my memory.  I have no more words except thank you.

Pedro and Olga meet their host family for the first weekend.

What were the most powerful experiences?

Pedro:  The activity with Mobile Loaves was very powerful.  We went to give out food to people in need.  Sometimes we think that everyone there has work.  We don’t know how people are really doing.  There are no dollars.  There is an American Dream.  But not everything is perfect.  Without work, one is lost there.

Olga: It was very powerful for me to see how people give their time to go and bring hot chocolate to people in the street in that extreme cold (with Mobile Loaves).  They give their time to coordinate and organize everything and then to go and hand out the food.  It is hard for me to give my time like that.

Preparing to go out in the Mobile Loaves truck.

Pedro: The indigenous mass (at Gichitwaa Kateri Catholic Church) was also very powerful.  It made me remember my culture.  Sometimes I forget where I come from.  The experience there made me remember where I come from, who I am.

The other wonderful thing about the trip is that Olga and I know each other better now.  Our friendship is stronger.  This is really nice.

Olga and Pedro with members of St. Joan of Arc and members of Gichitwaa Kateri.

Olga: And we brought something from there to our community, from the children at NAZ (Northside Achievement Zone, an organization that works with the whole family so that children excel in school).  We presented what we had learned with the scholarship students in Tierra Nueva II.  We told the youth that they need to keep studying, that they can be somebody in this life.  The students’ parents agreed with us.  Education is important and they should keep trying even if it is hard, so that they can go to university, and be somebody.  I brought something back from all the activities on the delegation.

A talk with NAZ in North Minneapolis.

What did you learn during the delegation? About yourselves or about your sister community?

Pedro: I learned a phrase from my host family, “A lot of the time, we focus only on our work, without seeing the people around us, if they are okay, if they need something.”  And our brothers and sisters at St. Joan of Arc, with their smiles and affection, they are not thinking only about themselves.  I close myself up in my work a lot.  I don’t see my friends around me.  It is hard for me to listen.  I learned that.  When I came back, I rested a little.  Now I am more open.

Olga: What I saw at St. Joan of Arc, I carry in my mind.  I learned that there are people from different cultures, different religions that respect each other.  How nice would it be if all people were like that. Our city would be different.

I also learned to appreciate my family even more because I really missed them.

I learned that sometimes we shut ourselves up in church and talk about God, but we don’t see God in our brothers and sisters.  I was so impressed by the way that St Joan of Arc works for others.  I learned that seeing the other person is important to be able to understand their needs.  I didn’t realize what others needed, not even my neighbors.  Now, I see my neighbors and the people in need. I learned that it is important not to ignore that.

Pedro:  Everything was excellent.  For each activity, there was a reflection after.  Each program had something to teach us.

Retreat with members of the Sister Parish committee.

Posted in Delegations, Guatemala, South to North, United States | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

El Salvador Solidarity Walk commemorates four U.S. missionaries

Representatives in El Salvador gathered for the 5th Annual Solidarity Walk in Zaragoza this year. The ACOMUJERZA cooperative had the opportunity to host for the first time and the other Sister Parish communities from Chalatenango enjoyed going somewhere new for the event.

The event was planned for December 2, the anniversary of the 1980 murder of four U.S. missionaries in El Salvador.  The participants wanted to pay homage to the martyrs of the armed conflict as part of the event.  The evening started with a mass, a walk to the town center, and then a brief program in front of the Zaragoza mural honoring the four missionaries and Monsignor Romero.

See more photos of the event.

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Día Internacional de la Mujer – un año para conmemoraciones

English

En el marco del Día Internacional de la Mujer este año, con la Pastoral de la Mujer de Tierra Nueva 1 y 2 y la Mesa Multisectorial, asistimos a una misa y otras actividades para conmemorar el primer aniversario de la tragedia del Hogar Seguro en la que se murieron 41 jóvenes y 15 más sobrevivieron al horror.

La misa también conmemoró la vida de Marco Antonio Molina Thiessen, un niño de 14 años quien fue desaparecido por el ejército de Guatemala en 1981 después de la fuga de su hermana. El histórico juicio que busca responsabilizar a cinco miembros del ejército por la desaparición del niño, y el secuestro, violación y tortura de su hermana, comenzó este mes.

Posted in Español, Guatemala | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Women’s Day – a time for commemorations this year

Español

For International Women’s Day this year, with the Women’s Ministry in Tierra Nueva 1 and 2 and the Multi-Sector Group, we went to a mass and activities to commemorate the one year anniversary of the tragedy at the state-run “safe house” Hogar Seguro in which 41 young women were killed and 15 more survived the horror.

The mass also marked the life of Marco Antonio Molina Thiessen, a 14-year-old boy who was disappeared by the military in 1981 after his sister managed to escape from detention. The historic trial to hold 5 members of the military accountable for his disappearance, as well as the kidnapping, sexual assault and torture of his sister, started this month.

Posted in Guatemala | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Member churches called to migration ministries

A member of Wallingford UMC walks along the U.S. – Mexico border wall during a delegation with Opening Borders. Photo credit: Opening Borders website.

A number of Sister Parish member churches have recently responded to calls for action on migration and U.S. policy.

  • Wallingford UMC has organized a trip to the border with Opening Borders and coordinated visits to a local detention center.
  • St. Joan of Arc has also organized trips to the border with Opening Borders and started a Welcome the Stranger ministry.  Another group holds regular vigils outside the large detention center in the area.
  • People of Hope has committed to sharing positive stories from El Salvador to combat all of the negative stereotypes in the media.
  • Duluth First Lutheran is organizing a forum on immigration and has shared their bishops’ statement with their sister community in El Salvador.
  • Trinity Church joined others in the area to form the Interfaith Partnership for Refugee Resettlement to support refugee families in transition to U.S. life.

If you or your faith community is looking for ways to respond, we encourage you to connect with others to share ideas (we would be happy to help you connect).  This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but one to invite further sharing and support.

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Give us hearts of flesh – Tierra Nueva II visits St. Joan of Arc

Give us hearts of flesh is the theme for Lent and we certainly grew our hearts during the delegation with Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Community and Tierra Nueva II.

From February 9-19, 2018, Olga and Pedro from Tierra Nueva II visited their sister community.  We were welcomed in church services and Bible reflections, heard from wonderful community organizations, shared in community service, and even had time for zumba and a walk on (frozen) water.

Throughout the delegation, we held space for the three members of Tierra Nueva II that were denied visas to participate in the delegation.

Read more about our activities on the St. Joan of Arc daily blog.

Members of St. Joan of Arc welcome the group at the airport.

Friends meet again.

Tour of St. Joan of Arc.

Olga and Pedro meet their host family for the first weekend.

Three chairs reserved at Sunday masses for the three members of TNII who were denied visas.

Visit to the Somali Museum of Minnesota.

Mass and lunch with members of the Church of Gichitwaa Kateri.

A powerful art exhibit on missing and murdered indigenous women at All Our Relations gallery.

A “walk on water” at the cabin.

Pedro and Olga prepare rosa de jamaica and tostadas to share at the cabin.

An evening distributing food with Mobile Loaves Twin Cities.

An evening distributing food with Mobile Loaves Twin Cities.

Zumba at the cabin. The women’s group in TNII supported by St. Joan of Arc organizes aerobics classes three times a week to improve their community’s health.

Potluck at St. Joan of Arc to welcome the delegates from Guatemala.

Ice breaker at the welcome potluck.

Ice breaker at the welcome potluck.

Welcome potluck at St. Joan of Arc.

Welcome potluck at St. Joan of Arc.

Bible study with Peregrinos II, a group that was formed to share reflections with the Bible study group in Tierra Nueva II, Peregrinos I.

Bible study.

Bible study.

Mass for the first Sunday of Lent – Give us hearts of flesh.

Choir members and host families with Olga and Pedro.

Cookies and coffee after church.

A visit to Northside Achievement Zone to hear about their work to close the achievement gap. Andre holds up a baby t-shirt that says, “College graduate 2035”.

Good-bye potluck.

Good-bye potluck.

Welcome at the airport in Guatemala upon our return.

 

 

 

 

 

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Holy moments and tortillas

Wednesday of this week was the last full day that the team of women from the UPAVIM Cooperative in Guatemala City were going to be with us. They had shared with us in worship and Bible study; visiting a local public school, transition school, and shelter; serving at the People’s Resource Center; touring Downers Grove and downtown Chicago; and then, on their last evening with us, they were going to work with the Wednesday evening Fellowship Dinner cooking crew to create an authentic Guatemalan meal for the church to share.

I knew that homemade tortillas, unlike anything I’d had in Illinois, were going to be part of the meal, and after I heard UPAVIM team member Carmen describe them, they were in the back of my mind all day.

When suppertime came, I enjoyed the special chicken dish, and the rice mixture, and – a warm, freshly made tortilla, soft and hearty, and discovered it was every bit as good and satisfying as promised.

And then – then came an invitation in the middle of our meal to come to a table in the gym and learn how to make those tortillas ourselves. Carmen was giving hands-on lessons. In moments, a cluster of children, and some adults, too, gathered around the table to learn.

I stayed in my chair.  Why did I do that? I had some inner excuse about needing to make a Conference call in 20 minutes and not wanting to get dough remnants on the phone. But while I was making excuses, the adult next to me went to the table and came back with a tortilla, an experience (“you have to move it back and forth from one hand to another, otherwise its will stick to your skin”), and a memory of bonding for a few moments with someone whose home is in a whole different part of the world. And a child from the table behind me practically danced back holding in her hands a remarkable, edible creation – a really perfect looking tortilla and the joy of a new  achievement. Obviously, they received even more in those moments than I had – by taking the small risk to try a new opportunity that was available to them.

This Sunday is Thanksgiving Sunday, and our scripture, a parable of Jesus, tells about three servants, all of whom had received much from their householder. However, two of the servants made the effort to use their abundance to try to create even more for their householder, while one servant just buried the gift in the ground – and made lots of excuses for doing so. This parable, found in Matthew 25:14-30, encourages us to take a deeper look at what we’ve received, and to dare to imagine the ways our abundance can be multiplied for others. We’ll celebrate God’s gifts in word and song in our worship services this Sunday, and let the scripture remind us to See What We’ve Been Given.

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