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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.

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Posted in Español, General

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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Mining in Izabal, Guatemala

The El Estor mine (located in El Estor, Izabal, four miles away from the Sister Parish community Chichipate) is the largest nickel mine in Guatemala. The mine is operated by Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel S.A., a Guatemalan subsidiary historically owned by Canadian transnational mining companies, but more recently sold to a Russian company. The mine began operations in the 1960s without the consent of local indigenous communities. Over the years, local communities have had conflicts with the mine over land disputes, violent evictions and repression, environmental pollution, and employment issues.

The mining company was originally granted a 40-year contract by the Guatemalan government and upon entrance, confiscated ancestral lands of the Maya Q’eqchi’ people and denied access to public lands on which local community members had tried to settle. The mine was linked to and benefitted from massacres, evictions, and assassinations carried out in the area during the war in Guatemala until it shut down in 1982. Now, the surrounding communities have an unclear legal claim to their ancestral lands, for which many never had land titles. People are prohibited from buying or settling lands that the local population never agreed could be mined.

Since the mining companies announced renewed interest in re-opening, the mine has once again been a contested site. In 2006, the International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations, ruled that Guatemala had breached international law by granting the Fenix mining concession without first consulting with local Mayan people.

On September 27, 2009, local leader and teacher Adolfo Ich Chaman was brutally murdered. The locals say that the mine’s private security guards murdered him. On the same day, community member German Chub Choc was shot, also by a member of the mine’s security forces. In 2011, 11 local women filed a case against mining and state security forces accusing them of rape during a 2007 forced eviction in the community of Lote 8. The mine denies any responsibility in all three cases. Charges have been filed in Guatemalan and Canadian courts as the victims and their families seek justice. (See Choc versus Hudbay website for more information about the cases filed in Canada).

Along with these three cases there are numerous other reports of injustices committed by the mining company. Since mining operations renewed, the local communities have noticed a shift in crop reproduction and pollution. This year, fisherman denounced pollution in Lake Izabal and the Río Dulce that they fear will affect the fish populations and their livelihood. Local communities have also expressed concern about contaminated drinking water sources.

If you would like to have more information on mining projects in Guatemala or other countries, visit Mining.com or MiningWatch.

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Visit to Chichipate: Guatemala representatives meeting and Solidarity Walk

For the September 2017 Guatemala representatives meeting, we had the opportunity to travel to visit the Catholic Community of Santo Domingo Guzman in Chichipate, El Estor, Izabal (see photos of the weekend).  For many, this was the first time they had visited this part of the country.

Representatives from TN1, TN2, UPAVIM, las Margaritas 2, San Andres Itzapa, Chichipate and Chontala gather for the Solidarity Walk in Chichipate.

The Chichipate community was excited to receive brothers and sisters representing various Sister Parish communities.

As part of the visit, representatives visited a nearby comunity to hear about their struggle to defend land rights affected by mining.  We listened to the community members tell their story of how they formed their community and gained formal recognition in the face of many challenges.

Representatives also participated in the annual Solidarity Walk with the theme this year of “Embracing our Neighbors”.   We walked through the community of Chichipate to a place where we could stop to reflect on Bible readings about solidarity.

Read more about the representatives meeting in the report (pdf).

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St. Joan of Arc – Solidarity Walk 2017

On a recent sunny Sunday morning, 25-30 parishioners gathered for a high-energy walk around the  church’s neighborhood with several stops for reflection and prayer. We lifted up our 23 year relationship with our Sister Parish in Tierra Nueva Dos (TNII) in Guatemala, and we carried a banner covered with parishioners’ signatures and well-wishes collected after both masses. Our time together was filled with remembrances of our TNII family, mindful discussions about “who is our neighbor” and joyful songs with beautiful trumpet and guitar accompaniment. We closed with fellowship and treats — including creative cupcakes spelling out PAZ, SJA and TNII.  See photos.

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Youth, religion and the impromptu: Our visit to Potrerillos

Seven delegates from Decorah, Iowa visited Potrerillos, El Salvador from July 7-17, 2017.  Rev. John Caldwell, of First United Methodist Church of Decorah, reflects on their experiences below.

I suppose that most delegations have a theme or two that seem to run through the whole experience. Because our July 7-17 delegation to Potrerillos had three adults and four youth (well, okay, one of the youth was eighteen!), we all experienced a great deal through the eyes of young people. We also found that we related more to the young people in the community than in the last couple of delegations.

The delegation lined up just before departure (Back, from left: Guy Nave, John Caldwell; Front, from left: Ezri Dowden, Sydney Nave, Alexander Nave, Landan Folkedahl)

There was also a religious theme. We had asked for opportunities to worship with the community, and our itinerary delivered with four worship services in the nine days we spent in El Salvador! The first was the inaugural mass of Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez in the cathedral in San Salvador. The excitement that Salvadorans felt at having one of their own as a bishop of cardinal rank was palpable! We were introduced at the Saturday evening mass at the newly renovated church in Potrerillos. On Sunday we visited the community of Arcatao and attended mass yet again (three masses in two days!). We were feeling pretty religious by then. Later in the week we got to attend an evangelical service in Potrerillos, led by a Korean missionary.

Softball game with Potrerillos team – Guy arrives at 3rd base.

We put a lot of time with the community. We played softball with the women of the community. They graciously put our delegation on both teams instead of playing against us! We went fishing and enjoyed a fish-fry and picnic. We got to color papers with kids at the day care center.  We spent a day visiting a Pacific beach. Because of dangerous riptides, swimming in the ocean was out but there was a swimming pool that many of us enjoyed.

Some of our best times were not planned: a time of singing after a shared meal, a bus ride home from the beach with young and old competing in telling jokes, late-night basketball games played by youth under street lights, and, of course, time spent with our host families talking and taking part in daily activities.

Landan learns how to wash his clothes in host’s pila.

In Sister Parish we have often noted just how much can be communicated between people who do not speak each other’s language. And it’s true. But it is also true that learning—and continuing to learn—the language of our host community not only widens the possibilities for building relationships, it is also makes us more than ordinary tourists.  It shows that we are serious about really understanding them and committed to being in relationship for the long run.

Delegates and community members enjoy the fish-fry and picnic.

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Who isn’t our neighbor?

Seven delegates from Danville Congregational Church visited their partner community San Antonio in April 2017.    After the delegates returned, the church held a Sister Parish-themed service  to share the experience and the relationship with the wider church.  Reverend Eric Sherlock shared the following sermon that Sunday, reflecting on the his delegation experience, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and the Archbishop Oscar Romero Prayer

So this morning, I’d like to start off with a story.  In the winter of 2007 an astonishing thing happened in New York City. A construction worker named Wesley Autrey was standing on a subway platform with his two young daughters, ages 4 and 6, waiting on a train.  Suddenly another man on the platform, apparently suffering from a seizure stumbled and fell off the platform and down onto the subway tracks. Just at that moment, the headlights of a rapidly approaching train appeared in the subway tunnel. Acting quickly and with no thought for himself, Wesley jumped down onto the tracks and he pressed the man into the hollowed out space between the rails and spread his own body over him to protect him as the train passed over the two of them.  The train cleared Wesley by mere inches, coming close enough to leave grease marks on his hat.  Almost immediately and for good reason, Wesley became a national hero.  People were deeply moved by his selflessness and they marveled at his bravery.  What Wesley had done was a remarkable deed of concern for another person. He had no obvious reason to help the stranger. He didn’t know the man. He had his young daughters to think about. What he did was severe risk for his own life. But a human being was in desperate need and Wesley saw it and moved with compassion, did what he could to save him. The Subway Superman, that’s what the press called him.  The Harlem Hero. But the headline in one newspaper described Wesley in Biblical terms. It read, “Good Samaritan Saves Man on Subway Tracks.”

This is a remarkable story.  But when you think about it to hear someone referred to as a Good Samaritan is not all that uncommon in our culture.  Whether it’s a person who stops for someone stranded on the highway or someone who chases down a purse thief, we all seem to have heard of at least one story in modern day of a Good Samaritan. The parable of the Good Samaritan is certain one of the most well-known parables in the Bible. Virtually everyone knows it or at least knows what it means to be a Good Samaritan.  The story was included in our Sister Parish delegation devotional and was one that accompanied us on our journey to Guatemala.  Now, while on this trip, it became pretty clear to me that this was a familiar story. In fact, I’d venture to say that we might know this parable a little too well. And sometimes when you become comfortable with a story, you take it for granted.  You can forget the details that make it so great to begin with.  And the story can lose its punch. I think that’s what’s happened with the story. It’s lost its punch, its shock value. And I think it has lost the heart of its message. So this morning, I’d like to unpack the message that we find in this parable and see if it might relate to our Sister Parish partnership.

Often preachers like to turn this story into a moralistic tale about how we simply ought to go and help people. “Will you be a Good Samaritan today?” they ask.  It becomes about how we should be polite and nice and if someone seems to be in need of help, well then, we ought to go help them. But the problem is we all already know this. Our church does a pretty good job of outreach and providing support and a friendly hand to those in need. So I’m not sure the story is simply about getting someone to be a better person and to do more good in the world. Thomas Long, a famous preacher, makes a good point. If this story were simply about being good and taking care of people, Jesus would have told the story a little differently. He would have left out all the business about the Samaritan. He would have simply said this, “A guy was lying in a ditch and three men passed him by. The first two didn’t do a thing and the third one did. Which one was the neighbor to the man in the ditch? That’s right, the third one. Be like him.”  No need to say anything about the Samaritan at all and we can all go home and be happy. But Jesus didn’t tell the story that way, did he?

Just after Jesus tells the lawyer that the way to life is to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and your neighbor as yourself, the lawyer asks Jesus another question.  “But who, who is my neighbor?” It seems like the neighbor is trying to qualify the law, as if what the lawyer is really asking is, “Who isn’t my neighbor? Who don’t I have to love?” And we do that, don’t we? Sometimes we want to know the minimum amount of love we are asked to give. And so Jesus tells him a story about a man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. The man is given no race, no religion, no regional distinction and no indication of occupation, which means he could be any of us. And on this road to Jericho, the man is stripped, beaten and left for dead. And then, by chance, along comes a priest, an expert in the law. The priest sees the half-dead man and crosses to the other side of the road. Along comes a Levite, another expert of the law, who also sees the half-dead man and then crosses to the other side of the road, leaving him there.  And then, Jesus says, came a Samaritan.  Now if you listen closely enough you can hear everyone’s back straighten and their jaws clench. Along comes a Samaritan, the enemy of the Jews, the hated, the unclean one. The ending of Jesus’ story is clear.  The Samaritan would be the one to help, the one to truly see, to truly see the man in the ditch. And not only would he help, but he would go above and beyond the call by paying for this man’s lodging and other expenses, and even coming back to check on him. A Samaritan becomes the hero of the story. There is no way around it and yet to combine hero with Samaritan would be like mixing oil with water. They don’t go together.  It shatters the Jews moral universe because suddenly that which was bad is now good. And then Jesus asks the lawyer which of the three was a neighbor. The lawyer couldn’t muster the word Samaritan out of his mouth so he resorted to, “the one who showed him mercy.” The lawyer asked a question that would build walls. Tell me who my neighbor is, define it for me, give me parameters to work with. And in response, Jesus told a story that tore down all of his walls, a story in which the enemy becomes the hero, a story in which those listening are forced to see a different landscape, a different view, a reality without walls.

So, do you know who your neighbor is? Before going on this year’s trip with the Sister Parish delegation, questions swirled in my mind. What would the people be like? Would I be able to communicate beyond language? Where would I sleep? Would I like the food? And most importantly, what would the bathroom situation be like? And then, on top of all of that, I wondered, what is the purpose for this whole Sister Parish partnership? For me, the concept of Sister Parish was unfamiliar. How in the world is this mission? How is it outreach? My definition of outreach was already pretty well defined. I went to seminary. I had already built my wall. I had already set my parameters for mission and outreach to a nice, neat box and it was informed by my limited experience. For me, mission and outreach was all about being part of a project and helping those in need. And so we do this, don’t we? We make up our mind on a topic based on our limited experience as human beings.  And so we build walls and we define parameters. It took the actual experience, however, of me going on the trip for me to see a different landscape of mission, mission that is not based on some project, mission that is not based on some monetary value where we go in as these white knights from the first world with a savior complex. Sister Parish is not based on any of these well-defined parameters. Instead, it is mission grounded in relationship. The Sister Parish partnership is a relationship where we in the North, with all of our access, with all of our education, with all of our privilege might journey South not to save, not to help, but to immerse ourselves in learning. To immerse ourselves in learning. By going South, we acknowledge that our brothers and sisters might have something to teach us about life, about faith, and about relationship, and that through the experience of immersion, we might receive unexpected love and grace from people who were once strangers.

And so I wonder, can you see our brothers and sisters in San Antonio as your neighbors, as children of God whom you are called to love? Can you see the people in this room, sitting here this morning in this community as children of God and as your neighbor whom you are called to love? And then let’s take it a step further shall we. The single mother living on welfare, the handsome man driving the Tessla, the boring science teacher, the woman in the Prius with bumper stickers that prove she is a socialist or the man in the truck with decals all about Trump, guns and loving America.  Can you see them? Can you really see them? Can you see them as your neighbor, as children of God? You see, I don’t think our eyesight is something easily changed, at least my eyesight about Sister Parish wasn’t easily changed, the kind of seeing Jesus asks of us can’t be easily changed with a new pair of glasses, rather it calls for a whole new set of eyes. And sometimes the only thing that can give us such a transplant is an experience, an experience of immersion where we encounter the stranger and receive unexpected love and grace.

I’d like to close this morning with one more story, a story about Jack Casey. When looking at his life, Jack had little reason to be a Good Samaritan. Casey was raised in a tough home, the child of an alcoholic father. He once said, “All my father every taught me was that I didn’t want to grow up to be like him.” But something happened to Jack when he was a child that changed his life. It changed his heart. He was having surgery one day and he was frightened. He remembers the surgical nurse standing there and compassionately reassuring him. “Don’t worry,” she said to Jack, “I’ll be here right beside you no matter what happens.” When Jack woke up again, she was true to her word and she was still there. Years later, Jack became a paramedic. One day, he was sent to the scene of a highway accident. A man was pinned upside down in his pick-up truck and as Jack was trying to get him out of the wreckage, gasoline was dripping down on the two of them. The rescuers were using power tools to cut the metal, so one spark could have caused everything to go up in flames. The driver was frightened, crying out how scared he was of dying. Jack remembered what had happened to him long ago on the operating table, how that nurse had spoken tenderly to him and stayed with him. And he said and did the same thing for the truck driver. “Look, don’t worry,” he said, “I’m right here with you, I’m going nowhere.” When he said that, he was reminded of how that nurse had said the same thing and she never left him. Days later, the rescued truck driver said to Jack, “You know, you were an idiot. The thing could have exploded and we both would have burned up.” Jack said, “I just could not leave you.”

My prayer today, my friends, is that each one of us might have an experience, an experience of encountering people who were once strangers, but now are neighbors, where we receive love and grace. Amen.

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

Learning the art of resistance

Feb 8, 2017
by Rita Nohner

Our final few hours in Tierra Nueva were spent in retreat with the SP Committee with a picnic lunch prepared by the women of TNI afterward. There were lots of tears as we said goodbye and lots of promises to hold one another in our hearts and prayers.

As we prepared to leave, we gathered in the parking lot of the TNI church, loading up the van with the lunch supplies and the majority of our Guatemalan retreat participants. Miriam and Eluvia remained with us while Martin drove the others back. We were all in good spirits, even though we knew our time together was quickly coming to an end.

There were two comments made during this time that, for me, sum up the dichotomy of a Sister Parish delegation. The joy and the sorrow. The love and the fear.

At lunchtime, Eluvia had given us each the gift of Carnival Eggs – regular egg shells that had been carefully emptied of contents, leaving a hole on one end. The shells are painted festively, filled with confetti and sealed with crepe paper over the hole. Joe was holding the bag with all the eggs and Eluvia said something that made Carrie laugh out loud. She prefaced her translation with the information that in Guatemala, the word “egg” is also a slang term for men’s testicles. What Eluvia had said to Joe was “don’t break my balls!” She was laughing her big laugh and we were all howling over the joke.

After the van arrived and we got loaded, Miriam and Eluvia stood on the concrete, looking in at us and smiling. Then Miriam asked Carrie to translate for her to give us one final message. She told us, “We know you are worried about us because of the violence we live with. But don’t worry about us. We know how to struggle. We were born for this.”

The look she gave us was so gentle and maternal. So concerned about us being worried for them. Eluvia simply nodded and smiled.

And with that, I felt my heart torn in two. Those two women, Miriam and Eluvia, are the strongest, most heroic women I know. The way they get up every day, facing extreme challenges, yet ready to take on the world, is incredibly humbling to me. I don’t know where Eluvia finds her joy. Well, I do. In her faith. That’s where she and Miriam find the strength to keep pushing on when all the odds seem stacked against them.

That’s why I was there, I guess. God is giving me the opportunity, with each visit to Guatemala, to deepen my faith. To learn perseverance. To regain perspective.

Many of us here in Minnesota and throughout our country, face great challenges in the days and years ahead. The values we cherish and the Gospel we know – one of justice and mercy and love – are ours to keep or to lose. We must persevere. We must not lose hope. We will find our strength in each other and in God.

And when our energy flags and it seems like we can’t face losing one more battle, we need only turn our eyes south to Guatemala. For 500+ years the people have fought for justice. Let us learn the art of resistance from them. Let us push on in our building of the Kingdom. God is with us and has given us each other. We are yoke mates and so the burden is made light.

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Guatemala Representatives Meeting – March 2017

The Guatemala representatives meeting was held March 4-5, 2017.  See photos.

The March 2017 Guatemala Representatives Meeting was hosted for the second time by UPAVIM (United for a Better Life).  UPAVIM was very excited to support the organizing efforts of the Sister Parish and facilitate the new Guatemala Directiva (advisory board) elections.

The newly elected members of the Guatemala Directiva for 2017-2018 are:
President- Luis Talaoj
Vice President- Paul Quiroz
Secretary- Victor Chun Chub
Treasurer – Concepción Mateo
Member at large – Pahola Chumil
Member at large – Irene Gil

The representatives also had the chance to learn more about and compare their own experiences with climate change.

Read more in our Guatemala Representatives Meeting Report.

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Venimos como Pablo


Por Karin Grosscup
Delegada de Sta. Juana de Arco que visitó a Tierra Nueva II en 2017.  Se puede leer más reflexiones en inglés en el sitio de Sta. Juana de Arco y ver fotos de la delegación en Flickr.  Las lecturas mencionadas son del 5 de febrero de 2017: 1 Corintios 2:1-5 y Mateo 5:13-16.

Para empezar, quisiera agradecerles por su espíritu de generosidad al recibirnos, convivir con nosotros, y guiar nuestro camino. Hemos sentido su amor y protección cuando hemos compartido con sus familias y su comunidad. Es una experiencia increíble poder caminar por la calle, sentir una conexion con nuestras familias hospedadoras y hablar con miembros de su comunidad que se acercan para darnos la bienvenida.

ee1c0816Venimos como Pablo, en la lectura de Corintios de hoy, con debilidad y temor, con conciencia de las disparidades en el mundo y las injusticias de nuestro gobierno. Pablo llegó a Corinto para difundir la noticia de Jesús y creo que llegamos aquí para recibir el
amor de Jesús, compartiendo nuestras vidas y dejando que el poder de Dios nos toque.

Somos personas diferentes cuando salimos de su comunidad. Nos sentimos humildes por el coraje, la gracia y la dignidad de las personas que hemos conocido especialmente al llegar a comprender como las injusticias económicas afectan a las personas que queremos. Salimos con gratitud y un profundo respeto por todas y todos.

Nuestro tiempo en Guatemala ha incluido muchas visitas a los monumentos de las personas que fueron asesinadas por defender la justicia. Fuimos a Santiago Atitlán donde los mayas fueron masacrados debido a los sistemas de opresión.  Vivimos en un mundo interconectado.

Lo que les sucede nos afecta y lo que pasa con nosotros les afecta tambien. Sólo podemos dar un paso a la vez.  Sin embargo, cuando nos conocemos, nuestros corazones están conectados y empezamos a ver cómo nos afectamos unos a otros. Me parece que es por eso que los Evangelios siempre nos llaman a hacer la justicia. Cuando hay reciprocidad en nuestras amistades, la luz de Dios brilla.  Comenzamos a ver otras posibilidades mientras comemos juntos, nos reímos juntos y lloramos juntos.

jrcf_0229El Evangelio de hoy nos recuerda que somos la sal de la tierra. La sal da sabor a nuestra comida, así como conserva. ¿Cómo sazonamos la vida del otro? La sal de nuestras lágrimas nos une ya que sea por tristeza o por alegria. ¿Y qué es lo que estamos conservando para el futuro? Nuestro viaje a un centro de permacultura maya nos recordó lo importante que son nuestras relaciones en la creación de un mundo que prosperará. Fue una experiencia impactante ver cómo la biodiversidad de Dios es esencial para la salud de nuestra tierra. Aprendimos de la cultura maya y el cuidado de la Madre Tierra. Vimos tambien un guia para nosotros como seres humanos, para convivir juntos con la diversidad y para hacernos más fuertes. Mateo nos recuerda de esto hoy cuando dice hagan brillar su luz delante de todos. Estamos agradecidos a todas y todos en Tierra Nueva II – han fortalecido nuestras luces para que brillen con mas fuerza.


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We came like Paul


by Karin Grosscup

Delegate from St. Joan of Arc visiting Tierra Nueva II in 2017.  Read more delegate reflections and see photos of the delegation.  Readings referenced below are from February 5, 2017:  1 Corinthians 2:1-5 and Matthew 5:13-16.

To begin I would like to thank all of you for your generous spirit taking us into your lives and guiding our way. We have felt your love and protection as we have entered into your families and community.  It is an amazing experience to walk down the street feeling connected with our host families and have members of your community coming toward us and welcoming us as well.

ee1c0816We came like Paul , in the reading from Corinthians today ,with weakness and fear as we are aware of the disparities in the world and the injustices in our government..  Paul came to Corinth to spread the news of Jesus and I think we came hear to receive the love of Jesus sharing our lives together and letting God’s power touch us. We are different people as we leave.  We are humbled by the courage, grace and dignity of the people we have met especially in coming to understand the impact of economic injustices on people we have come to love.   We leave with gratitude and a deep respect for all of you.

Our time here has included many visits to the memorials  of people who have been murdered for standing up for justice as well as  to Santiago Atitlan where Maya people were massacred due to systems of oppression.  We live in a world that is interconnected.

What happens to you touches us and what happens with us touches you.  We can only take one step at a time and yet when we meet and come to know each other, our hearts touch and we begin to see how we affect each other.   It seems to me that is why we are always being called in the gospels toward justice.  It is when there is mutuality in our relationships that  God’s light shines through.  We begin to taste such possibilities as we eat together, laugh together, and cry together.

jrcf_0229The gospel today reminds us we are the salt of the earth.  Salt seasons our food as well as preserves it. How do we season each other’s lives?   The salt of our tears unites us whether from sadness or great joy. And what is it we are preserving for the future?  Our trip to the IMAP reminded us how important our relationships are in creating a world that will thrive. It was a powerful experience of how God’s biodiversity is essential to the health of our earth where we learned of Maya culture and care of the earth. We  couldn’t help but see a map for us  as human beings as we live together with diversity and become stronger. Mathew reminds us of this today when he says to let  our light shine.   We are grateful to all of you that have strengthened our lights to  shine.



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