Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Latest word is that two different Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-related groups - Guatemala mission network and Amigos de K’ekchi’ – will both be gathering in Cincinnati during a day or two of gatherings before the big Mission Celebration that will bring the month of travel, speaking, and engagement by PC(USA) mission co-workers and PC(USA) international peacemakers to a close. All of the Central American will gather for dinner on the night of Wednesday, October 21 and then the network and the Amigos will both be gathering on Thursday, October 22. It appears that we’ll have to split up and/or pick and choose about the two groups, as their gatherings will apparently conflict, scheduling-wise.

The deadline for registering for the Mission Network gathering (and with meals) is Tuesday, September 15. Go to Make sure to register as a mission network member (will not attend conference) and do NOT sign up for any workshops. More details about the Amigos gathering will be forthcoming.

Both of these events will take place in the Duke Energy Center-Millennium hotel (pictured) complex in downtown Cincinnati.

-- Perry

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More progress

Half a dozen Crescent Hill folks were among those planning a joint James Lees Memorial Church-Covenant Community Church-Crescent Hill English as a new language education ministry earlier this week. A small planning committee met Monday at the seminary and a larger group of about 20 met at the other church and made some decisions Tuesday. They explored Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Friday as possible date combinations for a six-week fall 2009 program, possibly with dinner from 6 to 7 p.m. and class from 7 to 8 p.m. Jen, a seminary student, will apparently be the site coordinator. Committees on promotion, teaching, children’s activities, and meals formed and met. For now the group is planning for activities at the joint James Lees-CCC Frankfort Avenue/Clifton site, although the two congregations have a busy schedule for the relatively small building. Plenty of opportunities for involvement for others in the three congregations and the community – from going to neighborhood businesses with flyers to helping test students’ English skills to helping clean up after meals – exist. ESL education and children’s activities training starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Strathmoor Presbyterian Church on Bardstown Road.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Moving forward

Things are plowing ahead with the possible joint James Lees-Crescent Hill-Community Christian English as a new language ministry. Earlier this month a group of 20 people – with about seven from each of the three congregations – gathered at James Lees and generated a bunch of questions about the ministry. A total of 20 Crescent Hill folks have expressed interest in the ministry.

The other leading possible sites are Fern Creek’s Beulah Presbyterian Church, the South End’s Beechmont Presbyterian Church, and Bardstown’s First Presbyterian Church. Apparently

Apparently Buechel Presbyterian Church – located near Bashford Manor – already has such a ministry.

About a dozen of the 50 people on hand this past Saturday for the presbytery Latino commission’s ENL ministry overview at Bardstown Road’s Presbyterian Church were interested in working in the Crescent Hill-Clifton area. Those included folks from the three main congregations, plus Brownsboro Road’s Second Presbyterian and Westport Road’s John Knox.

Monday a small planning group will meet at 5:30 at Carlos, Nora, and Ana’s at the seminary’s Heuser Hall for food and planning. This small group will be planning another 5:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting – 1-1 ½ hours – at James Lees. Then this coming Saturday, at 9 a.m. back at Strathmoor, our own Ada and Sandra will help lead ENL and children’s activities trainings. Ada and Sandra, both Latino commission members, were among four women who introduced themselves to the big group Saturday, explaining their personal background, training, and experience as educators. Good work, so far – among others, Ada, Sandra, and Pastor Jane!

-- Perry

Friday, August 14, 2009

ESL ministry update

Wow! What a great group of folks we have had express an interest in an ESL ministry. Several of us gathered the other night with folks from James Lees and Covenant Community. Indeed, there's enough people to pull this off!

We had more questions than answers the other night though and so know it's important for as many of us as possible go to the Orientation meeting on Saturday, August 20 from 10 to 12 at Strathmoor Presbyterian (on Bardstown Rd., just inside the Watterson). I hope some of you can make that meeting. Then we'll have another tri-church gathering the Tuesday after that - Aug. 25 at 5:30 at James Lees - to try to make some more definite decisions about what our particular ministry will look like. If you can make that meeting it would be great. And then, for folks interested in actually teaching or working with the kids, there will be a training on Sat., August 29 from 9:30 (I think!) til noon at Strathmoor.

If you can't make any of these meetings and are still interested, do not fear! I'm sure there will be a place for you.

If you're interested but still need more specifics (which are still to be decided) that's understandable and I'll be in touch as we know those.

Thanks for your interest though. This should be exciting!

-- Jane

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 8 gathering

Crescent Hill folks interested in Guatemala mission gathered at Brad, Soni, and Kara’s house on Saturday morning. Folks expressed concern for a number of people with health problems - Shannon, Annie, Bruce, Martha’s neighbors, and Soni’s mother-in-law – and for survivors of the flooding earlier in the week - including South Enders Debby and Ken & Amy and folks at Soni’s work.

Pastor Jane shared with us news of two upcoming activities actual or possible. After talking about doing this ourselves, Crescent Hill folks have been talking with the presbytery’s Latino commission (including our own Ada and Sandra) and folks with two Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations on the other end of Crescent Hill in Clifton: James Lees Memorial Presbyterian Church and Covenant Community Church (which meet at James Lees, which is on Frankfort Avenue almost down to Mellwood). The idea is that the three congregations would pool people and resources to put together twice-weekly – for limited terms – English as a second language classes, children’s activities, and meals – probably at James Lees (we’ve got an idea that there are more Spanish-speaking residents on the other end of the neighborhood).

Folks are invited to a preliminary meeting with Crescent Hill, James Lees, and Covenant Community folks at 5:30 p.m. this Tuesday, August 11, at James Lees. After that, the whole presbytery has two Saturday morning events scheduled at Strathmoor Presbyterian Church on Bardstown Road between Taylorsville Road and the Watterson Expressway: an informational meeting on August 22 and a training on August 29. It’s not yet decided when the near East side congregation’s activities might begin and how we might reach out to near east side Spanish-speaking people who would want to be involved. A fall kick-off event is a possibility.

Pastor Jane also explained that Ada had started out teaching Spanish classes several years ago and that had petered out. Crescent Hill church is going to try again, this time reaching out to the community for possible students. The idea this time is, again, twice a week and with a limited term and – in this case – paying a modest tuition to the teacher (probably Ada). There was a very brief discussion about how to do outreach for this.

Twice during the gathering Carlos called Pastor Gerardo in El Estor. An Estoreño Presbytery executive committee meeting was to take place Saturday morning, but apparently our first call beat them to it. (This committee is essentially their Guatemala-Crescent Hill mission task force.) Carlos had called Gerardo this past Monday to ask if he would be around Saturday morning and to ask for prayer for Shannon. Later Saturday morning Carlos called Gerardo back – probably during the middle of their meeting – and let him know also about the Kentuckiana flood damage and asked for prayers for flood survivors including church members. Folks thought it was important to know that we too face some problems they face – flooding – and to help burst any bubble they might have in their minds about trouble-free life in the United States.

Gerardo also reported that the Estoreño presbytery continued to struggle with growth, as they start new churches and try to better equip existing churches old and new. The last time we talked Gerardo had told us about their quest for roofing material for the mission church in El Chupon, west of El Estor, that his church, Arca de Noe, had helped start. (Later we talked more about issues roofing raised).

Gerardo also told us a little about Estoreño dialogues about the Acts 2 scripture we jointly studied in the spring leading up to Pentecost. Ellen and Carlos had found and adapted some Spanish-language materials about Pentecost and e-mailed this along with the Acts 2 scripture in Spanish (but not in Q’eqchi’). Roman Catholics originally developed those materials, and Carlos and Ellen had tried to delete clear Catholic references. However, a word that remained was ecumenical (or a related word). (Stephanie confessed she didn’t know what this meant: the original Greek means the inhabited world. In the United States this has come to mean interdenominational – although denomination is a U.S. term – and so it can be different branches of the church coming together.)

Much of the history and identity of Guatemalan evangelical Presbyterians is as NOT Catholic and NOT Mayan spirituality. Gerardo recounted that early on in his theological training a Guatemalan Presbyterian leader had warned that ecumenism – ecumenical activities – were to be avoided (almost like it was a bad word too). So he said seeing this raised red flags for some of the presbytery leaders. But, interestingly, Gerardo said they wanted to know more. Carlos and Ellen also said that ecumenism might be associated – in Guatemalans’ minds - with Catholicism or with left-wing guerillas (from the civil war period). Folks talked about trying (as with Pentecost) to find some Spanish-language material on ecumenism and/or identifying a scripture on which to focus. Gerardo, Carlos, Jane, and Ellen had talked on the phone about John 17, in which Jesus offered parting words about church unity. Ellen also suggested scripture passages from Galatians or Ephesians. The group ended up resolving to look for materials on ecumenismo while continuing to talk among ourselves and with the Estoreño folks about possible scripture passages.

(Perry also mentioned later that United Crescent Hill Ministries, the renegade Catholic congregation that worships in our sanctuary, and the conservative Southern Baptist takeover of Southern seminary all raise practical, local ecumenical issues for us. Later on the group also said we should ask Gerardo about any additional issues that the Estoreño folks’ study of Acts 2 raised.)

Gerardo said that the Estoreño Presbytery annual assembly would take place on from 10 a.m. Friday, September 18, through Saturday, September 19. The group talked with Gerardo and then with ourselves about having a fast and prayer vigil between 8 a.m. and 12 noon Saturday (at the start of the second day of the presbytery assembly), in the sanctuary, with a labyrinth/stations of the cross set-up as folks prayed for each of the congregations in the Estoreño presbytery (if not also for the Presbyterian Women and youth and young adult organizations or others?). Folks discussed the possibility of having people sign up so we make sure there were at least a few people at all times and the possibility of having a short worship service with a hymn and scripture reading at the end. (Earlier the group had talked about getting together to break the fast after the fast and vigil at a restaurant, but had rejected this since everyone would be coming at different times. With a short service, the lunch possibility might rear its head again.) The group talked about the significance of fasting and the vigil and the importance of educating Crescent Hill folks before and during the vigil about both of these: Guatemalan church groups regularly have fasts and prayer vigils. In spring 2009 on the wall of the Espiritu Santo church where both the 2007 and 2009 mission trips wound up was a schedule of dozens of fast during the rest of the year. Christians have fasted for centuries partly to empty ourselves so God can fill us with spiritual food. (I could use some help here.) Ana and Andrea, from the Worship Council, will be helping spearhead this event, which will need some education and publicity, starting in the September church newsletter.

Later the group talked about packaging the fast and prayer vigil as part of something like an extended, big GUATEMALA MISSION WEEKEND (other, more catchy names?). The group talked first about the arrival in Louisville of Dennis Smith, a PC(USA) mission co-worker in Guatemala who is an expert about Guatemalan religion and politics and wrote two pieces that the 2007 mission team read before or during the trip. Smith is one of a couple of hundred (?) mission co-workers coming to tour and speak around the United States in October (Ellen and Lora are helping put this together). Many of these are getting an early start on Tuesday, September 22. Smith, however, will fly into Louisville on Monday, September 21 (the Monday after the vigil), apparently partly to speak at Crescent Hill church. The group talked about whether Smith would speak in English or Spanish and English (probably in English only), but talked less about exactly when and where (Fireside Room?) Smith would speak and how the church would publicize it (probably outside the church community).(seminary? other churches? Spanish-speaking communities? university?) (Consultations with Patti and Jane seem in order.)

Later the group also talked about the possibility of inserting a third event into a Guatemala mission weekend: a Guatemalan Nazarene pastor, Delia (DAY-lee-uh) Leal (LAY-ahl) who Ellen knows, who has worked with Q’eqchi’ people, and whose brothers the military or allies killed during the civil war. The group talked about Pastor Delia – if it’s possible for her to fly to Louisville – preaching at church on Sunday, September 20. (Consulting with Jane would be key here too, and let’s keep in mind that Leal doesn’t speak English.)

Smith and perhaps Leal would be coming at the start of the month of mission co-workers touring around talking with congregations and presbyteries about their work. At the end of this month Presbyterian mission activists from around the country will meet up with these mission co-workers in Cincinnati, for a Mission Celebration and conference, Friday, October 23-Saturday, October 24. Before that big conference many of the mission networks will meet, and the Guatemala mission network will meet from Wednesday evening, October 21 (for a joint dinner with other Central American mission networks) through Thursday afternoon, October 22. The Guatemala mission network is made up of Presbyterians working with folks in Guatemala. Two years ago Soni and Perry connected with them in Louisville, and last November Ellen and Stephanie went to a mission network gathering in Guatemala. One of us (Perry) already plans to go to the mission network part of the event. Other might go – perhaps just for the day Thursday (since Cincinnati is about 1 ½ hours away by car – maybe even car pooling). Registration for the whole 24 hours of mission network events (which covers most food but not transportation or lodging) is $70.

The group also talked about another group of Presbyterians working with Guatemalans – the Amigos de K’ekchi group of congregations and presbyteries that works with Q’eqchi’ folks in particular. Last summer six Crescent folks participated in a Nashville gathering of this group. The group gathered again in Spokane this spring, and they have asked for Crescent Hill folks to participate in a steering committee. During the past week Crescent Hill folks received detailed notes from that meeting, and a summary is on the blog (at “Amigos de K'ekchi update”). Follow-up may be appropriate.

Ellen and Perry updated the group about goings-on in Guatemala and elsewhere (some detailed elsewhere in the blog): the political crisis in Guatemala, the coup in Honduras (that some Guatemalans want to emulate and that has endangered some Honduran community leaders), the hunger strike by parents of children whom people part of the Guatemalan adoption industry have kidnapped (started and finished), and the move of Crescent Hill friends Jeff and Soila from Guatemala through Honduras to Pennsylvania (that the U.S. government finally approved). Ellen said she feared for the safety of PC(USA) mission co-workers and their family members in Honduras. Carlos said he has a friend on the right in Guatemala, and he understands that these folks are planning for regime change in Guatemala, with or without the presidential election that comes up in some two years.

Perry reported that – in addition to a poster about the partnership in general in the Gathering Room – a bulletin board – with a new info sheet and new photos each week – has gone up in the Narthex. This past week Patti and Perry got off schedule and the bulletin and bulletin board clashed (Arca de Noe vs. Altar de Noe churches). But most weeks the bulletin and the bulletin board ask Crescent Hill folks to pray for the same church. Often Pastor Jane or whoever is leading church prayer time – sometimes with a prayer request card reminding them – leads prayer for that church, its pastor, and members. Perry said sometimes he also puts photos and info about that church up in FaceBook, which a number of church folks are on. Eva recently also suggested that the list of congregations that are to pray with also go back in the newsletter each month (for folks who don’t take home church bulletins). The group agreed that Crescent Hill should continue to go through each congregation each week, continuing to rotate. Ellen said this keeps the congregations at least in the back of folks’ minds. Up during the rest of August are: Espiritu Santo church, Monte Sinai church near Puerto Barrios, Livingston church, and Peniel church in Boqueron.

Soni also suggested the group have some photos available if the group continues to do phone conversations with Estoreño folks during the big meetings (so that everyone can picture who we’re talking with). Late in the gathering the group concurred that such phone conversations ought to continue – perhaps with a cell phone with a better speaker phone capacity – even though it’s hard for mediocre and non-Spanish speakers to keep up. Just being around for the conversation seems important.

During the June gathering the group had talked about being involved in a fall outreach event – either involving Latin American and Latino entertainment and/or aimed at our Spanish-speaking neighbors. But the group now thought enough events were planned. Perhaps some kind of kick-off event for the English as a second language activities will be in order.

Perry volunteered to draft a newsletter article, although it will be useful if some additional details can be included, but the group undertook no broader conversation about communicating with the congregation.

The group also talked a little about how a Louisville visit by Estoreño folks would go. Jane had suggested some follow-up about future visits, but – running overtime – the group did not get to this.

Perry mentioned that Outreach Council had talked about asking the Stewardship Council to raise money in worship in August again for water causes: Marion wells, Living Waters for the World, or Edge ministries. Some of us are less enthusiastic about raising money for people we don’t meet or follow up with, but the wells last summer triggered a lot of passion as Crescent Hill folks raised $3,000 plus. If Outreach pushed to do some August fund raising, is there any reason to raise money for roofs for church plants in Estoreño instead of for water projects? This triggered an interesting if longish discussion that ended with Martha suggesting the church (through a church school class) go through a Just Faith curriculum that raises questions about giving, charity, and relationship-building. To find out more see below:

The group agreed that we would gather next at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 12, a week before the vigil, at Perry, Stephanie, and Vincent’s behind the Chenoweth Lane Heine Brothers in St. Matthews, at 3928 Kennison Avenue.

-- Perry

Friday, August 7, 2009

Changing situation

U.S. government officials have indicated that they will not press hard to reverse the Honduran military coup that toppled elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from office, exiled him, and endangered his supporters and other Hondurans. Although the Obama Administration has suspended some aid to Honduras and supported negotiations mediated by Costa Rican President Arias, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (pictured above in Kenya on Thursday) has begun to criticize Zelaya for “provocations” and will not declare the coup a coup. Zelaya has called for the United States to suspend most favored nation trading status trade with Honduras, which would deal a serious blow to the Honduran economy, which is heavily dependent on U.S. trade. The Obama-Clinton move came as Republican senators—much more supportive of the coup—have threatened to hold up Obama State Department nominations.

The United States operates military bases in the Honduras, and the Honduran military and leading families can afford to ignore the wishes of Honduran middle and working classes and rural communities partly because the U.S. subsidizes the Honduran government. Zelaya’s leftward turn in the past year alarmed various Honduran interests, who feared that the Zelaya administration aspired to govern in the style of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. But Zelaya’s effort to schedule a straw ballot on whether Honduras should have a constitutional convention was one of only many steps that he would have had to take to make it possible for him to serve another term. In fact, Zelaya was not on the ballot for the upcoming election, and the ballot is already finalized. The coup has apparently given the Honduran security forces and others a free shot at left-wing and community leaders they can tie to the outgoing administration.

Consider contacting Kentuckiana House member John Yarmuth at 582-5129, at (202) 225-5401, or at The Honorable John Yarmuth, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515, and Senator Mitch McConnell at 582-6304, at (202) 224-2541, or at The Honorable Mitch McConnell, United States Senate, Washington, DC 20510. Ask them to help restore democracy and the Zelaya administration in Honduras. Have the coup declared a coup and suspend most favored nation trading status.

-- Perry

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Saturday AM gathering

Crescent Hill folks interested in our Guatemala mission partnership with the Q’eqchi’ Estoreño Izabal presbytery will gather at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday, August 8, at the home of Soni and Brad Castleberry, kitty corner from the St. Matthews city hall and Eline library (pictured above). Contact Soni at 896-8561 for additional directions. Sure to be discussed are: the latest news from Guatemala, our September fast and vigil timed to coincide with the start of the annual presbytery meeting in El Estor, the new English as a second language ministry for Crescent Hll/Clifton neighbors, and possible participation in the October Guatemala mission network gathering in Cincinnati. Everyone is welcome. Bring your ideas, your energy, and your openness to learn.

-- Perry

Outreach opportunity

We have a unique opportunity that fits our commitment to mission as partnership and lets us reach out to our local community in new ways.

The Hispanic/Latino Commission of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery is inviting churches to engage in direct mission and ministry with new immigrants by teaching English as a Second Language. One of the areas they’d like this to occur is in our own Clifton/Crescent Hill neighborhood. So, we’re in conversation with the other Presbyterian Churches in this area—James Lees and Covenant Community (which meets in the James Lees building on Frankfort Avenue)—about a partnership among our three churches to embark on such a ministry. The plan is not just to teach ESL, but also to provide child care and a meal for folks. So this is an opportunity for people to be involved in various ways depending on your interest and skill and time. This approach will also help us to get to know and build relationships better.

I’m really hoping there are many of you who will consider being a part of this partnership. The presbytery is sponsoring an informational meeting on Saturday, August 22, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon as well as a training for teachers, site coordinators and child care workers on Saturday, August 29, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Both events will take place at Strathmoor Presbyterian Church, 2201 Hawthorne Avenue.

But, to make sure our three churches have enough interest in and commitment to this before we commit to it, the other pastors (Phil Lloyd-Sidle and Jud Hendrix) and I would like to gather interested folks together on Tuesday, August 11, at 5:30 pm at James Lees Church, 1741 Frankfort Avenue. And I’d like to hear from you even before then about your interest and possible participation. So . . . let me know if this is something you can get involved in.

This is such a great invitation for us to let our partnership with a presbytery far away in Guatemala impact our ministry and life right here in our neighborhood. I look forward to seeing what may spring forth.

- Jane

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Amigos de K'ekchi' update

Crescent Hill church folks recently received notes from the late April gathering of Amigos de K’ekchi, the network of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) presbyteries and congregations working with Q’eqchi’ presbyteries and congregations, primarily in north central Guatemala.

Crescent Hill folks participated in a similar gathering last summer, in Nashville, and hope to stay connected with this group. A different group, the Guatemala Mission Network, which focuses on all of Guatemala, has also garnered Crescent Hill participation and may do so again when they congregate in October as part of the PC(USA) Mission celebration there.

Judging from the notes, the April gathering, which no Crescent Hill person was able to be there for, focused on three transitions:

Follow-up to the PC(USA)’s suspension of funding for education of disadvantaged people in Guatemala – including for theological education of the Q’eqchi’ and other Mayan indigenous people – and the possibility of some pilot projects to get the funds flowing again. The Walton Funds came from WalMart widow Helen Walton, a Presbyterian, after she visited Guatemala.

Follow-up to the PC(USA)’s partial withdrawal of participation in PRESGOV, an organization that was to facilitate partnership among PC(USA) presbyteries and congregations and those of the Guatemalan evangelical Presbyterian church (the IENPG), which had devolved into a short-term mission trip travel agency and then only that. Crescent Hill worked with PRESGOV on planning the summer 2007 Izabal mission trip and the PC(USA)’s decision not to send replacements for David and Jeanne Wiseman, who helped lead that trip, marked a nadir in the IENPG-PRESGOV-PC(USA) relationship. A challenge is that the Guatemalan church leans more heavily to the Ladinos (the dominant lighter skinner, Spanish-speaking cultural group), instead of the Q’eqchi’ and other Mayan indigenous groups. For Crescent Hill’s spring 2009 church we planned the trip more ourselves, working also with friends (Soila and Jeff) at the Mennonite SEMILLA organization. It apparently has worked with several PC(USA) presbyteries and congregations on summer 2009 mission trips. Whether PRESGOV will actually function better without North American staff such as David Wiseman and be able to reconnect with more PC(USA) folks and refocus its work on partnerships more broadly – instead of just these short-term mission trips – remains to be seen. A related issue that Amigos folks discussed in Spokane was whether short-term mission trips are a good idea at all. (Of course, most of the partnerships that Amigos incorporates started with short-term mission trips.)

A third transition that the gathering took up was to what extent and how the Amigos group might function not just as a network of disparate PC(USA) groups involved in partnerships with Q’eqchi’ peers, but how it might function as a stand-alone organization as a whole. Immediately before the Spokane gathering a group of Amigos folks traveled together to north central Guatemala, before fanning out to connect with various partners and then returning to the United States to go to Spokane. A challenge in working with Amigos folks: Most of these congregations and presbyteries have been working with Q’eqchi’ folks in Izabal for years, and many of their partners are in north central Guatemala (where many Q’eqchi people live), while the Q’eqchi folks we just started working with in the past couple of years are in far eastern Guatemala. It’s also possible to interpret some of what went on at the Nashville Amigos gathering that some Crescent Hill folks attended last summer as a summit on development issues that Q’eqchi’ regions face. Crescent Hill folks and our partners just don’t have the resources, vision, experience, and even inclination to start out trying to solve key social and economic development issues in the Iaabal region. It appears that transfers of money from North American Presbyterians to their Q’eqchi’ partners is a key part of some of these partnerships, and we have shied away from starting it like that.

Hopefully, additional fruitful communication among Crescent Hill, the PC(USA), the Amigos, the mission network, the IENPG/PRESGOV, Q’eqchi’ partners, and PC(USA) mission co-workers such as Roger Marriott, Gloria Marriott (who worshiped at Crescent Hill earlier this summer), Marcia Towers, Karla Koll, and Dennis Smith will continue.

-- Perry

Hunger strike

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-worker Karla Koll has been keeping folks up to date about the hunger strike by three Guatemalan women (pictured above), outside of the Guatemalan Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City.

One of these women, Norma Cruz (in the center), won U.S. government recognition this spring for her advocacy work for women in the Guatemalan judicial system. The other two, Olga Lopez (above left) and Raquel Par (above right), are women who say their children were kidnapped so that they could be turned over to U.S. families as part of the lucrative U.S.-Guatemalan adoption economy.

U.S. families have adopted thousands of Guatemalan children in recent years, at least some of these in dubious circumstances that involved third parties kidnapping Guatemalan children and then posing as the biological parents so that they could pass on the children to U.S. families as part of expensive private adoptions.

The three women ended their hunger strike late last month after Guatemalan authorities found Par’s daughter before she was adopted, charged two people for her kidnapping, and plowed ahead with court actions to have the adoptions of the other women’s child – and apparently other children – canceled.

No word yet on the location of the child of the third woman, Olga Lopez (also pictured below).

-- Perry

Good news from Soila and Jeff!

Greetings to all of you as we come to the end of July. I hope that you are all enjoying these weeks of summer.

I wanted to take the opportunity to let all of you know that Jeff and I finished our time with SEMILLA in Guatemala on June 9th. We went back to Honduras for around a month to process our last documents at the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Thanks for all your prayers and support that you have given to Jeff and I while going through the visa process. Thanks to God we got the visa during the first week of the political situation in Honduras. In spite of everything that was happening in Honduras, the US consular section stayed open and we were able to finish all of the necessary documentation.

We arrived in Lancaster, PA on July 14th. and we were grateful to experience no problems going through customs at the Miami Airport. Here in Lancaster there are some job opportunities for me to work and we are also happy that Jeff got a job to teach Spanish with Conestoga Valley School District. He did the interviews through skype while we were still in Tegucigalpa.

I'm also thankful for your prayers for the people in Honduras and the political situation right now that sadly is affecting the majority of Hondurans (the poor more than anyone else). We hope that the situation improves in Honduras and that the best interests of Honduras are pursued and not just those of one particular side of the conflict.

During the last week of August we will be moving to our own place, which will be temporary (month by month) until we know for sure where I'll be working. We don't have a phone number yet but this will be our address in case you want to find us:

Soila Matute and Jeff Eshleman
1610 Morningside Dr.
Lancaster, PA 17602

I look forward to hearing from you.

-- Soila