People-to-People Pilgrimage Inspired Creation of Womens Group in Mexico
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1.1-5)
In our culture and also in our religion -I have to say- in the practice of our faith we have learned, we are used to understand the world in terms of duality, usually putting both sides against each other, such as darkness vs. light, up and down, north vs. south, adult and child, men vs. women, flesh vs. spirit, mission and field. We do that since we read just the first part of the verses, where it says that God saw that the light was good and he separated it from the darkness.
But we also have the verse where God gave a name to them both just the way we name kids in a family and we teach them to grow as well: in peace, recognizing as sacred, honorable and worthy one to each other. As siblings, friends and partners: as one.
They both received a proper name. God saw all that he had made and it was very good.
So, hello, I am México. I am Latin America and the Caribbean (just as a symbol, because how a single person could be all the diversity and wealth we are together, the issues we have, the life we live).
But hello, I am México. I am darkness to something of you and some of you are darkness to me. Good news for us! As creatures that are able to be amazed due to new experiences, by discovering the unknown.
In the middle of what the media decides to sell to us, surrounded by the information and stories that serve the interests of the power elite or ruling class, in the middle of that, I am happy to know that Global Ministries works as a space where we both, the known and the unknown can sit side by side to enjoy the beautiful break of day.
Global Ministries and People-to-People Pilgrimage inspired “Mujer a Mujer Mexicana” (Woman to Woman in México) to be born. The resources we received challenged our women to start micro-enterprises and to reaffirm through that the importance of vanishing that duality in our churches that says social work and religion don’t walk together.
With these resources, our women started many micro-businesses such as restaurants, breeding cattle, manufacture of artisanal marmalade, sauces and talking about my closest experience, the manufacture and fair trade of artisanal coffee in San Luis Potosí.
We have two Disciples of Christ local churches in la Huasteca Potosina, a gorgeous patch of heaven, a 7 hour drive from the capital city, where I live. This zone of our state is part of a bigger one in our country that has been declared as an “extreme poverty belt”.
How can this patch of heaven be extremely poor?
Our wealthy lands have suffered the experience we find symbolized in Genesis 3.16.
Human eyes “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye (well done so far) and also –oh gosh! – also desirable for gaining wisdom…”
And getting power, empty glory… And so a human voice said: Let there be monopolies. Let there be a vault of ignorance and greed between the living beings to separate people from nature.
But sadly that human voice doesn’t seem to be struggling with the consequences of provoking the misconception (and I use that word so I don’t allow myself to use the rough one I have for that), the misconception of what natural resources were made for.
I am Mother Nature; I am Latin America and the Caribbean land. I am Mexico; I am the nutritious land of God and I’ve been hurt. Everything started with a filthy look and then, they objectified me and after that they assaulted me. No wonder my children do the same thing to each other.
I became night to my children, not because I turned evil, but because they started being unaware of me; they heard God’s voice in my gardens and “they were afraid because they were naked so they hid”.
How can this patch of heaven be that poor? Well, it is not poor as a matter of fact; it was impoverished.
But we get stronger when we tear the wall down. The wall that media has built between us by convincing us that our struggle is against flesh and blood –which is not; our struggle is “against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (as read in Ephesians 6.12).
So flesh and blood have to join as one. Day and Night have to meet each other.
And here we are, joining as one; embracing the change.
Mexican Woman to Woman received the micro-credits and started working; and as I told you before, I am closer to the artisanal coffee called “Joya Divina”.
In la Huasteca Potosina, merchants go into these rural communities and they buy their coffee and oranges by paying in terms of cents per kilogram. Mexican cents for the fruit and the hard work of harvesting… cents! Then, they go to the city or cities and sell it with good profit for them. That’s why you may walk through the communities’ roads and notice the oranges spoiling under the trees. It literally isn’t worth a dime.
Through this initiative, our Disciples of Christ women’s leader of the project started working with the women from both churches and encouraged them to produce their own coffee now, not just for their own consumption but for fair trade.
The coffee is processed in those indigenous communities and then it is taken to San Luis Potosi (capital city) to be packed and women in the city or from other states can become an authorized distributor. Today, the coffee is being sold (in Mexican states) such as Jalisco, Sonora, Mexico City and Aguascalientes. The Woman to Woman micro-credit produced and gave back the money they received in the beginning. We celebrated this achievement last year and we had the enjoyment of doing this with the presence of your Latin America and the Caribbean team. We received a certain amount of money which was divided in three, according to the three organizations represented in our Joint Table in Mexico. In August 2013, the projects were just starting. The artisanal coffee project decided to increase its capital by 10 percent every 3 years.
This money has now been invested a second time and today new projects are running, again, by female Mexican hands. These new projects are:
1. A mobile coffee shop at Empalme, Sonora; which by the way, works with our “Joya Divina” coffee. This project belongs to United Christian Church women and our coffee is now running into a new stage; so now, we have a project in common between Disciples of Christ and UCC women.
2. The new Disciples of Christ women’s project has been called “Flores de los Retes”. Flowers from a rural community in San Luis Potosi and all these projects are getting stronger.
New roads have just been opened. Who says church and social justice don’t walk together?
The liberating God has called us to help each other. The king will reply “Truly I tell you, whatever you did or did not do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”. In this rough world of ours, the vulnerable ones usually find themselves fighting for their own causes and every time we remain quiet, the stones will cry out.
So hello, I’ve been named Night. And God saw I was very good and I’m here to say “Thank you” for being part of this compelling process of encouraging our people, our women. Your presence and help inspired and challenged us to make, to develop mission between us.
Since you are not imposing a specific way of making mission, since you recognize that we are capable of multiplying the bread and fish in our very own hands, we can say Global Ministries is providing the space to sit down together as equals to teach one each other and enjoy the break of day.
Your presence and the way you have been neighbor to us, empowers us. It is empowering our indigenous women, not just at church but the full community. You inspire new ways of making church, making mission, making community. You start the flame and we are keeping it burning, shining.
Your presence reminds us we can make room for peace and remain calm… but if it’s necessary, to say out loud to this rough world: You say I’m helpless? I got your “helpless”; here comes the vulnerable.
Thank you for being part of our journey, our resistance, and for allowing us to be part of yours as well. We will still keep teaching each other. Together we transcend, we go beyond any wall.
Thank you very much.
Sincerely, your friend
Rev. Lisania Sustaita-Martínez
San Luis Potosí, S.L.P., México
Common Global Ministries Board Member