Saturday, October 31, 2009


Here are updates on two series of events covered in the past on the blog:

- Like the Amigos de K'ekchi - which is considering gathering in Coban in 2010 - the Presbyterian Guatemala Mission Network may gather next in Guatemala, perhaps during the first week of March 2011 at a seminary.

- The funerals of some of the community leaders and residents killed in late September in connection with stuggles over land ownership on land that a Canadian mining company owns and hopes to re-open as a nickel mine brought thousands of people into the street, according to the Guatemalan paper "Prensa Libre." Mining company spokespeople blamed the violence entirely on the community leaders. We may hear more from our partners about this.

Writing the mining company is still in order. Write the following Hudbay executives and ask that they suspend development of the mine until they have settled land claims of Q'eqchi' communities, that they reveal any ties to the paramilitary groups apparently behind some of the killings, and that they cooperate with any investigations: Peter R. Jones, Chief Executive Officer, or Michael D. Winship, President and Chief Operating Office, Hudbay Minerals, Dundee Place, Suite 25011 Adelaide Street. East Toronto, Ontario, M5C 2V9, CANADA.

-- Perry

Friday, October 30, 2009

Against the coup

On Wednesday – a national day of protests against this summer’s coup in Honduras – half a dozen plus Louisville folks – including Crescent Hill’s Bartlett brothers and Elmer, a former Crescent Hill visitor – rallied in the plaza outside the Mazzoli federal building and then sent half of the protestors in to talk with an aide to Congressman John Yarmuth.

While Andrew stayed outside taking videos, Stephen and Elmer led the charge. Elmer, like our friend Soila, a Honduran native, had been to Honduras twice this year, including one time since the coup, and has kept up with news on the Web. Stephen also brought telling color photos, blown up to 8 ½ by 11. The group pushed Yarmuth to support House Resolution 630, which would have the U.S. government recognize the coup as a coup with more aid cutoff implied. (Stephen had observed that the Honduran government – besides lobbying Republican U.S. senators and Bush Administration holdovers in the State Department – had implicitly threatened to throw out the U.S. military base in Honduras.) They also asked Congressman Yarmuth to push the government to keep its promise not to recognize the results of the scheduled Honduran election, which allies of ousted President Zelaya are boycotting.

I also drew the parallel between Honduras and Guatemala (and even the United States) and said that – from the U.S. government’s ambiguous position – Latin American leaders may get the idea that ousting elected center-left governments by calling in the military is OK.

Yarmuth’s aide was noncommittal, expressing patience with the Obama administration approach and citing the U.S. aid to Honduras that the government has cut off (not mentioning the aid that continues to flow).

Two days later – on Friday – word is that Zelaya and the de facto president have made a deal that may restore Zelaya and will provide a framework for all sides to recognize the election. Neither the Army nor Zelaya may be immune from subsequent prosecution, including for the Army/government’s killings of more than 100 Zelaya supporters, arrest and torture of many others, shutting down of pro-Zelaya newspapers, etc.

Not sure that Congressman Yarmuth, feeling pressure from constituents in Louisville, pushed President Obama and Secretary Clinton to press both sides for a deal. But who knows?

Let’s hope and pray for peace and justice in Honduras.

-- Perry

Monday, October 26, 2009

All Saints' Day Eve

Celebrate All Saint’s Day Eve morning with the Guatemala mission partnership task force at Brad and Soni Castleberry’s home at 209 Fairfax Avenue, Unit 1, in the 40207 zip code, kitty-corner from the St. Matthews library. Be there at 9:30 a.m. to help us debrief after Guatemala mission weekend and dialogue about what’s next for the mission partnership.

Guatemalan PW outreach

Click here - to magnify these for readability - sheets from the brochure about the Guatemalan Presbyterian Women's outreach ministry.

"Reverse" mission trip visa info

Click below to magnify the information on trying to obtain visas for Guatemalans invited to the United States for "reverse" mission trips.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Amigos de K'ekchi

Amigos de K’ekchi plans developed in the small Thursday afternoon, October 22 gathering at Cincinnati’s Covenant Presbyterian Church (with Richard and Debbie pictured above):

- Continuing to share information and stories – including perhaps invitations to participate in others’ mission trips

- Theological education – including scholarship support perhaps for congregational and presbytery leaders in each Amigos group’s Q’eqchi’ partners to attend a new Q’eqchi’ theological education center in Coban. Roger was willing to try to bring together the national church, the Presbyterian seminary, PC(USA) folks, the 11 Q'eqchi' presbyteries, and some Q'eqchi'-speaking theologians to help make this happen. This effort could complement/supplement whatever other theological reflection Crescent Hill folks were doing with Estoreño partners (but whatever it was it would be less than the several days a month in person Roger was advocating).

- Next Amigos gathering in 2010 in Coban (the urban-metropolitan center of Q'eqchi' culture, which Ellen had also suggested we visit some time), hopefully with some partners.

Mission Celebration pictures

Network people

Above are network conveners Roger Marriott and Morton (the latter of Howard County). In the background below is Crescent Hill's own Jerry, reporting for the Presbyterian News Service, and, in the right foreground, Ellen.

Below is the Guatemala Presbyterian church's Ivan Paz and the PC(USA)'s Tracey Ortega.

Below are Carolyn and Becky.

Below are Morton and Ivan.

Below is Howard County's Becky.

Below right is Edwin, one of three Guatemalans there for the gathering.

And below his colleague, with Becky.

-- Perry


Guatemala mission network activists spent a couple of hours Thursday sharing partnership perspectives. Among the familiar partnership issues that folks raised:

- Efforts to try to engage their (U.S.) congregations and to try to redirect the impulse among folks in our congregations and even ourselves to do projects.

- Areas in which U.S. folks had engaged in projects: Habitat for Humanity, Living Water for the World, medical mission and health promotion, scholarships mainly for young people to go to junior high and senior high school, theological reflection, and prayer.

- Another type of project were “circle of love” projects in which a U.S. church congregation, a Guatemalan partner, and eventually an East Asian partner joined together to work on a mission project in Africa.

- “Reverse” visits and fighting the impulse to turn into tour guide and show visiting Guatemalans mainly tourist sites.

- Difficulties communicating with Guatemalan partners – both broad difficulties staying in touch and more specific misunderstandings – apparently heightened when the folks in the U.S. congregation know no Spanish.

Two men at the gathering made other points. An associate pastor from Georgia said mission partnership offer Christians many opportunities:
- to show Christ’s love
- to become disciples of Christ
- to strengthen families (though intergenerational mission trips)
- to advocate for social justice

The other man told an intercultural exchange story. He told about a mission trip that a man who fished to help support him and his family in Guatemala took to Minnesota. Folks at the storyteller’s church were excited to take the Guatemala visitor out fishing in a Minnesota lake. But they did so on a lake in which fisherpeople had to throw their catch back in. After a long dry spell, the Guatemalan visitor finally caught a decent fished. At this point, it was very difficult, however, for the Minnesota Presbyterians, to explain to their visitor the concept of throwing the fish back and to persuade him to do so.

-- Perry

Interesting characters

Interesting people at the pre-World Mission Celebration 2009 and pre-celebration activities in Cincinnati:

- Amy Robinson, now long-term international mission worker in northern Mexico and El Paso and one-time college roommate of former Youth Team member Kelsey Rice (now Kelsey Rice Bogdan).

- Carolyn Thalman, mother of Jennifer Thalman, one of the leader of the Looking for Lilith theater group that presented “Strangers/Extranjeras” in Louisville this summer. Carolyn subtlely promoted “Strangers,” which has been touring.

- Richard and Debbie Welch, both from the Spokane (Washington) area in the Inland Northwest presbytery. It was Richard who uttered that pivotal statement: “They need someone who cares.” Debbie had not been involved with Inland Northwest’s partnership when they were trying to connect with five Q’eqchi presbyteries (including with Izabal) but has gotten involved as the refocused their partnership with a central Guatemala Q’eqchi’ presbytery (Polochick).

- Becky and Morton, from Howard County (Maryland) First Presbyterian Church. It was Becky with whom Pastor Jane, Ben, and I spoke in the pivotal speaker-phone conversation a year or so ago. Morton, Guatemala mission network convener, is co-pastor with his wife, Susan, with whom Soni and I had spoken (along with with Becky) at the 2007 Louisville network gathering.

- Rich, a retired business executive who has worked with U.S. church on central Guatemala Habitat for Humanity projects and then other school-oriented construction projects. Like the Inland Northwest folks in their new partnership and us, Dan’s familiarity with some Guatemalan communities – in this case near Coban, essentially the capital of Q’eqchi’ Guatemala – goes back about two or three years ago. He’s got no church partner and seems more intent on being involved in projects, particularly related to education.

- Roger Marriott, the PC(USA) international mission worker whose week had started with a tough e-mail from a Amigos activist from Roger’s home state of Tennessee that was essentially a letter of resignation from the Amigos steering committee, who was stressed when he realized that no one from Tennessee was coming and yet tried to salvage the Amigos gathering and some kind of Amigos agenda with just the five of us in the basement of downtown Cincinnati’s Covenant Presbyterian Church (including two newcomers, Becky and Dan).

- Maria Zack, a Southern California professor and World Mission activist with whom I worked on one of several projects for World Mission.

- Tracey King (now Tracey King Ortega), the PC(USA) Nicaragua-based Central America regional liaison, who had been active in past network and Amigos gatherings, and who at this gathering led an interesting personal values clarification exercise – a self-awareness activity to help people their and others’ values and help inform cultural sensitivity efforts – and then translated for the tough-minded presentation by Ivan Paz, the head of the national Guatemalan evangelical Presbyterian church.

-- Perry


For the second time in three years, Presbyterian international mission workers this fall traveled to the United States in the fall and fanned out across the country for a month to talk with Presbyterians. Many Crescent Hill folks were involved in both of these fanning out efforts, and the September 2009 Crescent Hill church visit of Dennis Smith, as well as “international peacemaker” Delia Leal, was part of this.

These travelers and other Presbyterians interested in international mission gathered together after this month of traveling this year for a World Mission Celebration in Cincinnati. A bunch of small Presbyterian international mission groups – including the Guatemala mission network and the Amigos de K’ekchi (as well as a network associated with the Guatemala-based organization that Dennis Smith and Delia Leal are part of) – gathered before this big gathering started.

Crescent Hill folks had been a little involved with the Guatemala and Amigos groups in the past.

Soni and Perry had participated in an unofficial Guatemala network gathering associated with the Cincinnati gathering’s 2007 predecessor. It was at this gathering where we met folks from First Presbyterian Church in Howard County, Maryland, whose U.S. congregation-to-Guatemalan presbytery became a model for Crescent Hill’s much newer partnership with the Estore o presbytery. At a time when Crescent Hill was wavering on whether to try to forge ahead with a possible partnership, we had a phone conservation with two folks from that congregation, including the co-pastor, Sue, and a laywoman who was a partnership leader, Becky.

A little over a year ago, when Crescent Hill folks were still exploring our Guatemala partnership interest, half a dozen folks traveled to Nashville for a gathering of the Amigos de K’ekchi, a federation of Presbyterian congregations and presbyteries not terribly involved with the mission network but with strong links with Q’eqchi’-speaking Guatemalan communities. I noticed that a number of the congregations involved in the Amigos federation were more wealthy or large than Crescent Hill. I wondered out loud to Richard, from the not-quite-so-wealthy Inland Northwest presbytery (in Washington state), whether it would make sense for the then Estore o presbytery-in-formation or any other Q’eqchi’ Presbyterian group to affiliate with our church, given our lack of size and wealth. Richard rejected the logic of this argument and cut to the chase: “The “Q’eqchi’ don’t need rich partners; they need people who care.” And that persuaded me.

A year ago, after these and other events and conversations, had persuaded Crescent Hell folks to pursue our partnership interests, Stephanie and Ellen traveled to a church camp on Lake Amatitlan near Guatemala City for a Guatemala mission network gathering. This gathering was important for several reasons. Contacting Estore o folks in advance about this gathering was the first time we had communicated with Estore o folks in more than a year, and, when Ellen, Stephanie, Pastor Gerardo, and Pastor Pablo gto together during the gathering, this was the first time Estore o and Crescent Hill folks had gotten together in person in a year and a half. Theologically informed dialogue about partnership principles informed the Amatitlan conversations among Stephanie et al. and subsequent conversations, which helped shift our partnership away from benevolence and towards engagement.

Crescent Hill folks missed a follow-up Amigos de K’eckhi gathering in the Inland Northwest’s Washington state that came just a month after Crescent Hill’s spring 2009 mission trip.

But in late October Crescent Hill folks had an opportunity at the start of the 2009 Mission Celebration to dialogue again with folks involved in these two important groups that had played such an important role in the unfolding of the Crescent Hill-Estore o partnership. Jerry and I attended the first half of the Guatemala mission network gathering, and I split off after a lunch to a very small Amigos de K’ekchi steering committee gathering.

-- Perry

Week 2

Eva, Joanne, Soni, and Ana were among the Crescent Hill folks – working with some 10 James Lees and Covenant Community folks (including Unzu, Karen, and Dirk) - on hand to help feed, teach, and play with participants in the joint English as a foreign language ministry – on the Monday (October 12) of Week 2 of the ministry’s fall term.

-- Perry

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mission network gathering

Here's the schedule for the Guatemala mission network gathering later this month in Cincinnati:

Wednesday Oct 21
6:00pm – 7:00 pm Supper
7:00 – 9:00 pm Joint Workshop with Central America networks:
“Mission Partnerships that work: Learning to be Cross-Cultural”

Thursday Oct 22
7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast
8:00 – 10:00 Brief Partnership reports: blessings and challenges
10:15 – 11:15 Report from IENPG Executive Secretary: present Guatemalan context, IENPG present blessings and challenges
11: 15 – 12:00 World Mission overview and review of proposed Guatemala strategy. Progress report on Walton Fund and Missionary updates.
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
12:30 – 2:00 What kind of Network are we? “Cooperating”, “Coordinating” or “Collaborating”. A theoretical analysis.
2:00 – 3:30 Topics chosen by participants.
3:30 - 4:00 Wrap up, next network meeting date selection and election/confirmation of steering committee

Monday, October 5, 2009

We're off!

Half a dozen Crescent Hill folks were among the dozen plus who greeted the dozen plus (including some kids) prospective new English as a foreign language students who came to James Lees/Covenant Community church for a meal, conversation, and class Monday evening, the first night for the joint three-congregation EFL ministry. Ana, Eva, Jane, and Joanna were among those there. James Lees folks cooked dinner. And Jane and I got to talk with three men - including two from Guatemala - one from San Marcos (towards the Pacific coast) and another with a spouse and four-year-old child back in Guatemala City. I'll be eager to hear how the classes went. Join us Monday or Wednesday. I believe Crescent Hill will cook for next Monday. Good start!

-- Perry

Sunday, October 4, 2009

All Saints' Day Eve

Spend All Saints’ Day Eve morning at a St. Matthews gathering of saints and sinners communing about future Guatemala partnership ministries. Join us at 9:30 a.m., on Saturday, October 31, at Brad and Soni’s home at 209 Fairfax Avenue, Unit 1. Everyone is welcome. Costumes are optional.

Buena suerte!

Best wishes to all of those involved in the joint Crescent Hill-James Lees-Covenant Community English as a foreign language classes, which get underway with registration at 6:00 p.m. Monday.

Political news

Good news and bad news on the political front over the weekend, with reports suggesting that various sides in the Honduran political crisis are negotiating - with the U.S. ambassador to Honduras, who I had called on the U.S. government to recall - playing a mediating role. On the other hand, Pastor Gerardo - earlier in the week - said that one of the dead in the political violence in El Estor late last month was a person who was part of the El Chupon mission church west of El Estor that Gerardo's Arca de Noe church helped get started. Two of the presbytery's mission churches - La Union and El Chupon - are west of town, in an area that the Canadian company that owns the nickel mine has apparently slated for strip mining.

-- Perry

Feliz compleaños, Gerardo!