Missionary Stories

Humanity is the Biggest Commerce From Guatemala to Mexico

Guatemala_-_Gloria_Vicente_May_2015_pic1.jpgI'm not from here, nor from there
I have no age, nor future
And being happy is the color of my identity
(Facundo Cabral)

“Now I know we are in Guatemala” was the first thing that I said to my colleague when we arrived at our destination. I said that because I heard the sounds of a Marimba band playing from afar, not because Tecum Uman looked anything like the Guatemala I know. As in many countries, different regions have different traditions and cultures, but the diversity was never as pronounced as it was in Tecum Uman, even after living seven years in Guatemala and travelling to most regions in the country. My colleagues who have lived all their lives in Guatemala experienced the same feelings. We travelled to Tecum Uman, in the State of San Marcos Guatemala, to attend the first “Bi-national Conference on Migration, Children and Border” from the Guatemala-Mexico perspective that took place on September 29th and 30th, 2014.

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A New Assignment!

Honduras_-_D_Westra_Spring_2015_pic1.jpgThe new year brought a new assignment for the Westras.  We moved to Yoro, Honduras in the middle of January.  Yoro and its surrounding communities have a population of approximately 40,000.  It lies 7 hours from Tegucigalpa and 2 ½ hours east of San Pedro Sula.

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The State of Chiapas

Mexico_-_Mercer_Spring_2015_pic1.jpgFor many years, the Institute for Intercultural Study and Research (INESIN) has continuously worked with many rural, indigenous communities in the central Chiapas region to support food sovereignty and holistic health. They do this in response to the scarcity of resources to meet basic alimentation needs in rural, indigenous communities. They encourage the development of organic vegetable gardens for home consumption as well as the cultivation of medicinal plants to contribute to the overall health of the rural indigenous family.

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The sounds of Port-au-Prince

Haiti_-_Fonderlins_Spring_2015_pic1.jpg“Once our eyes are open, we cannot pretend we do not know what to do.”    -   Proverbs 24: 12

As we write, the sun is shining and an honest-to-goodness breeze is causing the palm trees to sway.  It is rather quiet now and we hear only the occasional bark of a dog or the crowing of a rooster in our part of Port-au-Prince.  The toddlers at the next door crèche are down for their afternoon nap, but in another two hours or so they will be awake and once again the neighborhood will resound with their laughter and their screams; yes, they have found their “big” voices.

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Carnaval in Ecuador

Waggoner_pic1.jpgI write this letter as a delinquent. I’m embarrassingly late turning this into the patient folks at Global Ministries, but I admit I’m glad because now I can tell you about the last two weeks. They’ve been fast-paced, medicated, challenging, and travel heavy. They’ve also been two of the best weeks of my life.

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Walking Along the Path

Brewer-Calvert_pic_Spring_2015.jpgAs I write this, I can hear the laughter. It echoes through the halls of Caminante’s office in a wonderful imitation of the children we serve! Caminante Proyecto Educativo, or Caminante Education Project in English, has a staff of approximately twenty people moving about their schedules with a joy you must experience to fully grasp.  During my first six months here, I have grown synthesized to the team's laughter and singing during surprise birthday celebrations, Dominican and Christian holidays, and even while just sitting at their desks in the office! I am incredibly happy to be their Global Ministries Intern because Caminante loves what it does and I feel fulfilled assisting!

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I am fearfully and wonderfully made!

(by M.C.E.P as shared with Elena Huegel)

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

My healing process began in 2010.  I was finishing my last year of college and travelled to the Shalom Center for the first trauma healing and resilience development workshop.

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Cuban Spirituality: What Lies Ahead?

Now that the process of normalizing United States and Cuban diplomatic, political and economic relationships is under way, it is appropriate to reflect on some of the issues that lie ahead, examining the deep spirituality so pervasive in Cuban culture and life. Touching the Cuban life necessitates traveling deep into the spiritual relationship of Cuban faith and culture and the ongoing struggle to define spiritual and cultural identity. This was within a twofold mixture of Spanish/indigenous cultures (mestizaje) and the creole/African cultures (mulatizaje). Out of this mixture came a blend of humanity we call “Cuban”.

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The moment has arrived

Paraguay_-_Casillas_Spring_2015_pic1.jpg“Porque De tal manera amo Dios al mundo, que envió a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en El crea no se pierda, sino que tenga la vida eternal” (Juan 3:16).

The moment has arrived to walk for the pathways that Jesus showed us.  Streets, sidewalks, alleys and avenues.  There are no limits; Jesus came to the world to show us that a new way of life is possible.  The beauty of life in the pilgrimage of peoples and multitudes, along with their complexities, form part of the divine purpose.  This Jesus that we knew formed us, called us and commissioned us.  And when we refer to our commission we mean that, literally, God sent us.  We simply arrived to new lands, new people, enriched by a fusion of two cultures and languages, Spanish and Guaraní.  They are beautiful, special, happy people, enriched by a fertile land that literally produces milk and honey.  This reddish Paraguayan land produces mandioca, batata, banana, milk, cheese and honey, corn, oranges, lemons, mandarins, mango and many more.  God blessed this land with abundance of fresh water.  The best gift that Our Creator gave to this beautiful land is that the whole country of Paraguay is settled above the Guaraní Aquifer System, the biggest subterranean source of fresh water in the world. 

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STOP! LOOK! and LISTEN!

The theme at the Shalom Center this last summer (January to March in the southern hemisphere) was traveling along the Pan American highway that stretches from Canada 30,000 miles south to Argentina with a small gap in Central America.  We have been reflecting on the signposts, markers and city names as symbols of the guidance of God in the voyage of our lives.  The small group Bible study areas have been names with villages and towns in Chile that are along the highway: Nueva Esperanza (“New Hope”), Tolerancia (“Tolerance”), Peor es nada (“Better Than Nothing”) have become our meeting places.   In the middle of the camp season, I had to take a trip along a road feeding into the Pan American highway and I made a wrong turn in the village of La Huerta (“The Orchard”).  As soon as I made the turn, I knew I was heading in a direction different from the one I wanted to get back on the Pan American highway, so I began looking for a place to turn around.  In the process, I spotted a young man by the side of the road in front of me.  He must have been about 13 or 14 years old, sitting all alone in a patch of morning sunlight that made his blue wheelchair glisten.  He looked at me intently, with a warning or surprised look on his face, as I drove slowly past and straight into a steep dead end where I could barely turn around.  After some maneuvering to avoid the barbed wire, the steep gulley, a light post and someone's carefully tended bed of flowers, I got the car turned around and stopped, facing the young man again.  From this new perspective, I could see he was sitting directly under a red "Pare" or stop sign!  Since the signpost was facing the dead end, and unseen from the main highway, I had driven right past it. And I stopped.  I turned off the car and I looked and listened.  All summer we had been talking about watching out for the signs.  The young man under the stop sign looked back at me bemused - I am sure I was his morning entertainment!   If only I had looked backwards, or at least glanced in my rearview mirror, maybe I would have stopped to heed the young man's warning look.  Before turning on the motor again and heading back to the Pan American highway, I remembered the song my four year old nephew, Joel, used to sing to me...

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