Pray for Guatemala on Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pray for Guatemala on Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lectionary Selection: 2 Kings 5: 1-14

Prayers for Guatemala:

Creator God, builder and teacher,

We invoke you today and give thanks to you for the gift of life and the lives of our brothers and sisters in Guatemala.  We give thanks for the gift of memory that helps us remember the thousands of Guatemalan victims of war.

Help us restore our flesh, our spirit and faith in you, God as we work toward hope and reconciliation in a country whose spirit and hope has been broken multiple times.  Help us Creator, to work toward restoring the spirit and faith of the thousands of Guatemalan victims of the genocide that took place in the country as a result of the 40 year old civil war.  Help us work toward restoring the social and cultural fabric that has been torn by the different acts of violence in the country.  And God, help us remember that you are omnipresent and all-healing.

Invoking you God and your son Jesus Christ, we pray for all Guatemalan women, men, children and elders who sacrifice their lives for the common good.  We pray for them and give you thanks for making them examples of true discipleship.  Amen

Mission Stewardship Moment from Guatemala:

The Ecumenical Council works with different youth sectors around the country.  One of their specific efforts is to empower and encourage young adult leaders in empowering them to become social agents of change.  For that reason, a number of efforts have been done so that youth can travel abroad to learn two languages, English and German.  This is mainly due to the partnerships that the Council has with churches and entities in both the US and Germany.  We currently have one young woman who traveled to the U.S. to visit the Disciples summer camp in Bloomington, Illinois.  Two women were invited by the Illinois-Wisconsin region, but unfortunately the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala only granted one of them a visa.  So, Glenda Lopez was the only one to travel to Illinois. 

Glenda is a young 19-year-old mestizo woman from Jutiapa, Guatemala, a remote village.  One of her goals is to pick up on the English language whenever possible and to find opportunities that may open doors for her work in her community, specifically with youth and women.  She has been at camp for about two weeks now. 

When I accompanied her to the Airport in Guatemala City I realized she was a bit nervous and I imagined that being from a remote area and not exposed to many urban settings in Guatemala and now traveling alone to the US was probably evoking a mixture of feelings for her.  Although her family was so excited for her to have this opportunity, she was nonetheless, quite scared and nervous.  Helping her at the airport I also realized how easily we take things for granted.  When I excitedly asked her if she brought a camera along she said her family did not have one.  Then, when I was helping her fill out her immigration forms, I was advising her in the event someone asked her how much money she was traveling with.  She showed me a small coin purse filled with Guatemalan currency, pocket change.  This made me realize how easy it is to sound and to be paternalistic and patronizing towards others.  I should have known better, having been treated this way myself in the past.  This made me realize that whenever we northerners travel abroad, one of the fundamental items we make sure to pack is a camera and cash, some of it for emergencies, but most of it we use for buying keepsakes and gifts.  This was not the case for Glenda traveling to the US for more than two months without a single dollar and without the indispensable camera.  Important to note here is that Glenda’s advantage is that she is being hosted by the US churches and has her expenses covered.  One of the things that most impresses me about Glenda is her sense of dignity and appreciation of life.

A few days ago, I received a surprise long distance phone call and it was Glenda!  When she told me she had been given a phone card to call home and that she called her family and then me, I realized we had connected in a different way.  Being away from my family when I was her age and experiencing a different cultural and social context myself brought back memories for me.  This also made me remember a book I read as a young woman called “When I was a Puerto Rican”, by Esmeralda Santiago, which not only was a rite of passage for me growing up in the U.S. and Chicago for that matter but also a note of encouragement growing up in a complexity of situations and ambiguities.  Being considered Latina/o, Hispanic, “Indian”, Guatemalan, Indigenous, “Mexican”, “Filipino”, working class, a woman of color was hard for me growing up in such a big city like “Xicago” (my own interpretation of the Windy City).

So on that note, I want to lift up and celebrate young women like Glenda who may not have fully imagined the challenges and ambiguities that were going to become a part of this experience; and, who had an opportunity to travel abroad through the support and partnership between the Christian Church in Illinois Wisconsin and the Christian Ecumenical Council of Guatemala.  I know in my heart and mind, that she will come back a more determined woman having been exposed to new, exciting and different contexts.  I ask that you help me lift her up in prayer and to accompany her and other youth in Guatemala whose eyes and doors are opening up for them as the future Agents of Change so qdirely needed in a broken social and cultural fabric as is Guatemala. 

(Prayer and Mission Moment by Gloria Vicente-Canú)

Global Ministries International Partners in Guatemala:

More info on Guatemala:

Global Ministries Missionary in Guatemala:

Gloria Vicente Canú serves with the Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala (Consejo Ecuménico Cristiano de Guatemala – CECG), as a consultant for communication, interpretation and women’s projects.