A time for gratitude

A time for gratitude

by Elena Huegel who serves with the Intercultural Research and Studies Institute (INESIN) in Mexico

As a review of my ministry over the last year, in preparation for new workshops and courses ahead, I decided to read the “Gratitude Journal” where we invite participants in the different Retoños en las ruinas: esperanza en el trauma (Roots in the Ruins: Hope in Trauma) activities to express their thoughts and feelings during and after this personal and community experience. Journaling is one of the basic tools we encourage people to practice as they explore their healing journey. I hope that as you read a few of these brief but heartfelt entries, you will be encouraged to begin your own gratitude journal, either as an individual, a family or church community. 

Mexico INESIN 2024

“I just have to say thanks to the Lord for this beautiful gift of hope, faith, kindness and service which came to me at the precise moment I needed it. Roots in the ruins has been a treasure for me, something I will cherish but also share with others in service of the Kingdom.  I will never forget the hands that accepted and encouraged me and opened my own hands to bless and share God’s love.”  Vitalia Vásquez (Pastor), The Pentecostal Church of Chile, Chile

“An oasis in the desert, firm ground in my instability, fresh air for my soul… this is what Roots in the Ruins has been for me.  This path of healing opened up in the midst of chaos, a city literally in ruins after an earthquake. I had no home and was surviving in a shelter, but my hands and heart were ready to serve others, to dream of a new way, to find actions to reconstruct that which had been destroyed.  The Roots in the Ruins program came to help me rebuild my life and the lives of the members of my church; we have built dreams, hope, plans, and a new sense of community on a firm and healthy foundation. I thank the Institute for Intercultural Study and Research as well as all the sisters and brothers who have supported us and helped us to sprout again from our deep roots still alive in the ruins.” Noemí Santiago, (Pastor) Church of the Nazarene, Oaxaca, México

Mexico INESIN 2024

“I give thanks to God, Creator of the earth and the heavens, for this sacred place blessed by the leaves of the willow tree, by the Swiss chard that we eat for breakfast; for the community we are building like a colorful mural, like a coordinated dance.  We all have a place, a unique role, where all our grains of sand together become a beautiful beach.”  Lindsey Frye at the Institute for Intercultural Study and Research with the Mennonite Central Committee, Chiapas, México

“I am especially grateful for the gift that is each participant in this course.  The new faces, the little piece of homeland that each of us brings with us, the good humor, the spirit of cooperation, the facilitation team, the songs, the topics.  The community life along with the subjects that we studied have made this course pleasant, live-giving and healing.  I hope that this space and time will have generated ties that will keep us together as we continue to weave Shalom wherever we are sent.”  Ernesto Martín Guerrero Zavala (Director of the Institute for Intercultural Studies and Research), (Superintendent) El Buen Pastor Church, Chiapas, México.

 “I finally arrived!  We finally arrived!  It has been a long journey that started with an interest in the topic of resilience, but it has become a process of intense searching, reflections, tears, laughter, and great satisfaction.  What started as a seed has germinated with roots, new shoots and leaves, fruits, and even birds and dreams.  I give thanks to God for the journey and the path walked!  I give thanks to God for all the people who have walked beside me and I with them!  I give thanks to God for the learning and the experiences!  I give thanks to God for a spectacular program of transformation and renewal!  May the roots continue to grow into dreams and peace!”  Carlos Negron, (Pastor) Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Puerto Rico

“Sometimes I weep, sometimes I play, and sometimes I only walk, but through it all, I know the Lord is accompanying me in this long journey. Sometimes I know where I am going, but most of the time I don´t; however, I am sure that God prepares me to take the next step. Here where I have faced my emotions and memories, I have become more human with a stronger sense of solidarity. I have been embraced as a child of God, with my virtues and defects, and encouraged to follow in the footsteps of the Teacher.  Thanks to every person who made it possible for me to participate in this journey of transformation.”  Claudina Lacayo, The Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua. 

“I give thanks to God for this opportunity which has been a great blessing to my life for I have begun to walk the path to healing while inviting others to join me. Thanks to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the learning and transformation has given me new insights and tools to heal myself and accompany others from that better place.  It is a beautiful honor to be an instrument of the God of Healing, and as I recognize myself as a wounded healer, I am filled with a sense of well-being and hope.” Danilo Jimenez, (Pastor) Congregational Church, Tepic, Nayarit, México.

It is with hearts and minds full of gratitude that the facilitators of the Roots in the Ruins: Hope in Trauma program and the staff of the Institute for Intercultural Studies and Research begin to plan the activities for 2024.  New courses will be taught by trained facilitators in Chile and different parts of Mexico.  We are excited as we plan to gather in July for the first time as trained facilitators from Chile, Nicaragua, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the US at the Institute for Intercultural Studies and Research in Chiapas, Mexico, to evaluate the program along with several doctoral research students, to share our experiences and update our learning in trauma healing and resilience development. But most of all, to look toward the future with renewed vision of critical hope, healing, and “lekil kuxlejal”. (Mayan Tseltal term for the fullness of life with dignity, justice, and peace.) 

Elena Huegel serves with the Intercultural Research and Studies Institute (INESIN) in Mexico. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.