Missionary Stories

God of Chocolate

One of my favorite things about traveling to new places is trying all the food, and Mexico is no exception. Food is such a large part of every culture; it creates community, strengthens relationships, and, more often than not, shows recipes and techniques that have been passed down for generations. What we eat shows what is in season, the things that can and cannot be grown in an area, as well as changes in traditions that have happened slowly over time.

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Greetings from Bogotá

Greetings once again from Bogotá, Colombia. Looking back at 2017, as I write this first Newsletter of 2018, reminds me just what an important year it was for Colombia. As always, it was filled with many challenges, but also much inspiration and hope. I am truly blessed to be able to engage in the ministry of peace, justice, and reconciliation with my Colombian colleagues at this time.

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PROGRAMA DE CAMBIO (Program of Change)

I want to first share about the Program of Change. 35 women and men have worked together in this program. This program was created to address the harsh reality that addictions are the primary roadblock to maintaining proper drug protocols for HIV medications.  The residents of Las Memorias have access to anti-retroviral medication.  The problem when living in addiction, the addiction rules and health suffers.

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From A Wisp of Wind

 Dear Friends and Family:

Retoños en las ruinas: esperanza en el trauma.... Roots in the ruins: hope in trauma - A spiritual accompaniment program to nourish hope and develop resilience in the midst of conflict and emotional trauma. During the past year, I have continued to facilitate the "Retoños" program alongside the staff from the Institute for Intercultural Study and Research (INESIN) in southern Mexico with participants from Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and the United States. In each of the five courses, the experience of storytelling and story-listening is at the core of our time together. We encourage each other in the face of the challenges, changes, and choices shaping our personal lives, communities, and countries. I wrote the following story while thinking about the impact that people who have lived through the devastation of earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods and the uncertainties of political unrest and forced migration have had on their own healing and the healing of others through simple acts of goodness, kindness, and compassion. This story and newsletter are dedicated to the children, women and men who keep fluttering their wings against all odds, sending out whispers of life, hope, dignity, and peace blowing softly, but tenaciously, against the storms of destruction and death.

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Reflections on International Women’s Day and el Encuentro Mujeres Que Luchan

Mexico_Cara_McKinney_Encuentro_todas_antes.jpegIn celebration of International Women’s Day, 9,000 women from all over the world gathered together at a retreat in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico to celebrate art and culture, play sports, and talk politics, grassroots organizing and self-love. Planned and led by the women Zapatistas, this international event was the first of its kind and drew women from as far away as South Africa, Patagonia, and Palestine. Every one of the 16 women who work at or are full-time volunteers at Melel Xojobal, along with 12 teenage girls who take part in our programing, attended this 5-day retreat in an effort to promote sisterhood, recognize and understand the different struggles of women all over the world, and retake our bodies and spaces as women.

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The Unheard Stories of Street Children

Who among us can blame another person?  The sad fact is that it happens every single day.  We all fall into the temptation without even realizing it.  We walk down the street and judge others based on their looks, perceived poverty, smell, clothes, or assumed mental states.  But why must these judgments exist in everyday society? We are called to be Christians and spreading the pure "Love" of God, but we get held back by our own prejudices in sharing The Word with the people God places in our paths.  Always make sure your heart is open-wide and welcomes every person that you meet!  Was Jesus afraid of the homeless, the prisoners, the elite scholars, or the sick and elderly?  Christ is shining through us every day, so we need to be bright for others to see. 

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Finding Comfort in Challenge

While I have only been in Ecuador with Ecumenical Foundation for Development, Integration, Training and Education (FEDICE) for two months, I have been out of the United States (and my comfort zone) since November.  For me, November was the tail end of a time of discomfort, restlessness, and waiting for God’s plans for my future to be revealed.  I had finished my medical school applications, and my plans to be a GMI had been in the works for months.  When I was finally given a week’s notice that I could go to Mexico before heading to my placement in Ecuador, I leapt at the opportunity.  Hanging up the phone after that conversation, I wondered if I had been hasty.  I didn’t know anything about Chiapas, Mexico.  I had been preparing for a different country all together. Fast forward to the night of November 20th: I found myself smiling as my taxi wove through traffic, I had this overwhelming feeling that life is so cool. While my time in Mexico was brief, it was the perfect transition on my way to Ecuador.  I got back into the groove of speaking Spanish, I worked with people different from me, I found value in any menial task that could help those around me, and I learned that forming relationships is one of the most valuable things we can do in life.

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Faithful to the Gospel

Greetings Friends,

As a Global Service Worker (Long-term Volunteer), having served for more than forty years as a Mission Co-worker in Latin America and the Caribbean, I am back in the field assigned to Venezuela, specifically to serve our longest standing Pentecostal partner in the world, starting way back in the 1960’s with Juan Marcos Rivera and Flor María Piñeiro Rivera, a couple from Puerto Rico, who worked intensely and with passion with this unique Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela. La Unión, as we commonly refer to this unique ecumenical Pentecostal denomination, has played an important role for more than sixty years in a prophetic ministry advocating for justice and in concrete ministries among orphan children and promoting the active role of women in ministry (at all levels), ordaining women as pastors and regional bishops.

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The Widow's Mite (Might)

Mexico_12-12-17.jpg“And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” - Mark 12:42-44

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It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.


Bishop Ken Untener 
(This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener. The words of the prayer are attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.)

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/archbishop_romero_prayer.cfm, Sept. 23, 2017

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