Saturday, January 30, 2010

Today's Guatemala meeting cancelled

Due to the snow, this morning's 9:30 am Guatemala Partnership Task Force meeting has been cancelled.

Instead, we will meet right after worship in the Fireside Room. Please bring your own sandwich. We will be discussing the next trip to Guatemala and plan to call our partners there for our monthly conversational update.

- Soni

Monday, January 25, 2010

Snowy morning?

Join Crescent Hill folks interested in Guatemala mission in a discussion partly about a next Guatemala trip, possibly this coming June or July, at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday, January 30, at the Chang/Gregory/Mathews home (pictured above in the snow) in St. Matthews at 3928 Kennison Avenue (Louisville, KY 40207). From Crescent Hill church by car, drive down Frankfort Avenue through Chenoweth Lane/Breckinridge Lane (when Frankfort turns into Shelbyville Road) and turn left onto St. Matthews Avenue, jig-jog across Westport Road and the train tracks and then drive two more blocks to Kennison Avenue (a one-block street on the left only). From St. Matthews Avenue, the house is 1/3 of a block on the left.

-- Perry

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Trip ideas

Here are some ideas that Ellen and I batted around last week:

Ellen and I talked about us possibly working with PRESGOV for transportation only. She and I looked at the PRESGOV Facebook page and I Facebook messaged them to follow up and PRESGOV charges $85 (total - not per person for transportation only – plus gas and driver expenses – for a 10-person van and $125 for a 15-person van. PRESGOV – a partnership between the Guatemalan and U.S. Presbyterian denominations – planned the whole 2007 Crescent Hill Guatemala mission trip. But we went entirely on our own in 2009. Transportation only would include driving us in vans between the Guatemala City airport and Coban and then being available to take us elsewhere in the Coban area. We’d be responsible for arranging our lodging and meals and our substantive itinerary. (Ellen learned of some problems recently with some of PRESGOV's fleet of vans, and we would want to follow up with them and others about this.) CEDEPCA – where Dennis Smith and Delia Leal work – also runs trips, but Ellen said they’re even more expensive, like $120 per person a day. (Arranging with a shuttle company to rent a van and drivers would be another option - possibly preferable to going by public bus or asking PRESGOV to arrange the whole trip).

Ellen and I talked about doing the following in Coban: partnership planning, Bible study (trying it together after doing the parallel/shared study apart), living and eating together, bringing Delia Leal and maybe another person or two from the area to talk about the Q’eqchi’ tradition in the area and Christianity including the Nazarene church long dominant in the area, plus the following cultural visits (together):
- a beautiful waterfall area (Semuc Champey) (pictured above) (day trip)
- a coffee finca those tours show the whole coffee-producing process (Finca Santa Margarita)
- a small museum about the local area (Museo el Principe Maya)
- walking around Coban
(Ellen and I talked about us possibly doing some theological reflection at some of these sites - for example, like when we read the Mayan creation story - or we could read something from the Bible - when we went out on Lake Izabal during the spring 2007 mission trip.)

Ellen and I talked about us planning the itinerary with Roger Marriott and our Estoreño partners and logistics with Roger and PRESGOV. Another reason to use PRESGOV is that Roger is pushing people to do so and he may be less enthusiastic doing logistics for us if we don’t use PRESGOV. Roger would like us to send at least one person to a meeting in late April with Tennessee folks and Q’eqchi’ partners about a possible theological training program in Q’eqchi’ in Coban.

Ellen and I talked about us using Delia Leal as a resource person. Delia might spend a good part of a day with us, time permitting.

Ellen and I also talked about our partners staying with us in Coban (perhaps after we stay a night by ourselvces) for something like three nights. Pastors Gerardo and Pablo spent four nights at Amatitlan in November 2007, but we’re of course hoping for a bigger group of Estoreño folks – maybe 8-10 folks each from Crescent Hill and Estoreño (hopefully including some Estoreño women and young adults).

Ellen and I talked about whether the group would go straight to Coban and to Coban only. Ellen said if we left early and got to Guatemala City by 2 p.m. we could easily get to Coban in time for a late dinner. But she said we could stay in Guatemala City – perhaps again at the Mennonite facility or at a hotel – or we could spend another day in or two in Antigua. She didn’t have a clear suggestion about this.

Another plus of staying in Guatemala City or nearby is that we might get to meet with Karla Koll or Dennis Smith again (although Ellen said it’d be better if our partners could hear them too).

Ellen also said the Nazarene facility in Coban – pictured in an earlier blog entry – has classrooms, rooms for lodging, and a dining hall with decent food. Another alternative would be to stay in a hotel. If I remember right, she says she’s used a couple of different hotels in Coban. We still might use the Nazarene facility or other facilities for meetings/discussions. (Ellen also said that the Nazarene facility probably has bunk beds - like the Mennonite facility in Guatemala City that the 2009 mission team stayed at - and, if some Crescent Hill folks are interest in going on the trip who can't stay in bunk beds, we and our partners will need to stay in a hotel.)

Ellen gave us Delia’s e-mail address and Ellen’s cell phone number. She said we could call her during or after the Saturday morning meeting.

(I noticed several Q’eqchi’ cultural areas in outlying areas from Coban listed in the Lonely Planet’s Guatemala guide, plus a caves area.)

Ellen and I also wondered out loud about how our partners would react – if we were in Coban on a Sunday – about going to Delia Leal’s (Nazarene church). There are no evangelical Presbyterian churches in Coban, Ellen said. At some point there was a geographic division of labor among denominations in Guatemala, and the Nazarenes got the Coban area.

Ellen leaves for Guatemala this Sunday but may join us by Skype for the meeting.

-- Perry

Summer schedules

So far in conversations with interested Crescent Hill folks, along with possible partners Roger Marriott and Ellen Dozier, four weeks have emerged as most problem-free for a possible Guatemala mission trip:
- second week of June (June 5-11)
- third week of July (July 10-16)
- fourth week of July (July 17-23)
- fifth week of July (July 24- 30)

We've been telling people that we are considering making a less arduous trip to a less remote area closer to the airport and cooler (Coban) where we'd meet some of our partners, with a shorter bus trip and accommodations like a retreat center or a hotel. We've also told them that on the first big trip we took 19 people for 9-10 days, and on the second big trip we took only six people for seven days. This will probably be something in between. We talked about 8-10 people in the last meeting (and we've mused about beling willing to take mature high school students). So far, about 14 people sound pretty interested. I'll circulate a spreadsheet with information about level of interest and summer schedule.

-- Perry

We're off!

Three Guatemala mission-related activities are underway for 2010. The joint English as a foreign language teaching ministry - over at James Lees Presbyterian church - started up again a week and a half ago (supper on the first night pictured above). Attendance the first week was spotty but rose to about 15 adults and 7 kids this past week. This coming week is a week folks from Crescent Hill church are planning, preparing, and cleaning up supper, led - I believe - by Lowell and Andrea. More Crescent Hill folks than in the fall have also been involved in teaching.

This past Tuesday Ada's Spanish class - topping out at 19 students! - got started with a discussion of cognates, words like "presidente" that look and sound in Spanish almost the same as in English. The class - which included a mix of ages and Crescent Hill old-timers and newcomers - was to practice some and finish chapter 1 of the "Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish" textbook between classes. Ada (with a soft D almost like "th") is a great teacher!

Carlos Lara's mission partnership Sunday school class started back up last week. After spending most of the fall discussing ecumenism - including through the four scripture passages we shared with the Guatemalan folks, the class is shfting back to Sherron George's book - "Called as Partners in Christ's Service" - moving to chapter 3 (picking up where we left off two years ago) - starting with respect as a foundation as partnership.

Lots of opportunities for involvement and reflection: English as a foreign language ministry, studying Spanish, and studying partnership. See you there!

-- Perry


The United Nations commission trying to beef up Guatemala's criminal justice system earlier this month determined that charges that Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom arranged the assassination of an opponent of his administration, the lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg, were not true. Apparently Rodriguez - overwhelmed by the death of a client with whom he was also involved - paid others to kill, after he had filmed himself predicting his own death and accusing the president of plotting to have him killed. The film that went viral in Guatemala on YouTube and many Colom opponents called for his removal. But Colom, a center-left figure whose economic development steps and very moderate steps to improve the criminal justice system have met strong opposition, called on the United Nations to investigate and rode out the turmoil.

Two important pieces of background: During this time period the right in Honduras - instead of waiting for an investigation as in Guatemala - had the military oust the center-left president. And - Dennis Smith tells us - although Colom (elected two years ago) is consitutionally barred from serving another term, apparently his wife - whose charity's funding sources are not public - seeks to succeed him.

We'll have to find out how all of this shakes out for Guatemalan politics and for our partners in Izabal, already beset by turmoil associated with the drug business, the nickel mine, and the spread of palm oil plantations.

-- Perry

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Epiphany gathering

In celebration of Epiphany, Perry and Stephanie brought a King cake to share with the group.

Trip possibilities: Perry shared that the Tennessee group is planning to go to Coban in late April to further their interest in developing a theological training center in that area. Those present discussed whether we would be interested in being part of that trip. Carlos said that he felt that participation in this trip would take us away from our partnership. Although our partners in Guatemala have asked for training, it is not exactly the same. There was general agreement with that thought. We then talked about the most likely alternative - still going to Coban, but meeting some of our partners there [at a different time, not in April with the larger group] so we could all see and learn more about the country and culture and get to know each other better too. We thought that it would be best to take 8-12 persons from here and likewise from there. We discussed the importance of sharing the same living quarters. Carlos said that maybe Delia Leal, the Guatemalan Nazarene pastor who visited here and preached for us last September, might be able to arrange housing. Findig a date may be tricky. We think that General Assembly will e meeting the week of July 4. Generally, we're thinking of some time in June or July in order to miss school schedules.

Communication: Carlos called and talked with Pastor Gerardo Ich Pop during the meeting. We leanred that the churches in the presbytery had celebrated Christmas and New Year's using materials he had suggested through the presbytery. These celebrations are not usual practices in Guatemala. New leaders were selected for the presbytery Women's Group. Pastor Gerardo said that the Presbyterian Women's Convention (November 11-13) in the southwest part of the country had gone well. Unfortunately, the women's petition to have the next meeting in Coban was dnied. Apparently there were earlier petitions to have the next convention in San Juan Ostuncalco in the western part of the country. The celeration of the first anniversary of the establishment of the presbytery youth and young adult group also went well. The presbytery was that six representatives came from Guatemala's national group. Pastor Pop also mentioned that the presbytery is wanting to create a Q'eqchi' hymnal (apparently just with lyrics, not music) and he said that "probably Crescent Hill could help with this." All of those actions showed wonderful progress in trying to unify the work of the presbytery. the phone call was cut short due to someone else in Guatemala needing the phone. Carlos will try to call back after church on Sunday.

Local Activities: Card sales in December didn't go very well. We only sold 2-3. Soni had previously suggested that this be the last attempt and that the remainder of the cards be used by the church as gifts for new members. The English as a Foreign Language classes being coordinated through James Lees Presbyterian Church will resume for a second term on January 11. About 10 Crescent Hill church members are involved as teachers, aides, or child care workers. And many others are helping to coordinate and prepare meals. Ada Asenjo is also starting her Spanish class for Crescnet Hill folks and others this month.

Meetig Place and Times: We had some discussion about when and where to meet. Although we had been rotating meetings amongst the homes of members, it was suggested that perhaps more people would attending meetings if they were held at church and on a week night. Since attendance did not seem to improve for this meeting, those present decided to resume our previous schedule. The next meeting will be on Saturday, January 30, at 9:30 a.m., at the home of Perry Chang and Stephanie Gregory, at 3928 Kennison Avenue, in St. Matthews. Anyone interested in the partnership is welcome to attend.

-- Soni

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Or bust?

At the December gathering Crescent Hill folks interested in Guatemala mission opted to pursue a travel plan that Ellen first proposed: connecting with some of our partners for fellowship, Bible study, and cultural tourism in Coban, metropolitan center of Q’eqchi’ Guatemala – hopefully to coincide with other Presbyterian groups working with Q’eqchi’ folks gathering with some of their partners also.

Since December the possible time for that gathering of others (gathering as the Amigos de K’ekchi’) shifted from July to some time in April and telescoped to a gathering primarily of 2nd Presbyterian Church and other Middle Tennessee Presbytery folks with a few of their Q’eqchi’-speaking partners from the Peten area of northern Guatemala gathering to talk about starting up a theological training ministry – probably for Q’eqchi’-speaking church leaders and probably based in Coban – and about a presbytery center that the TN folks and their partners may work together to build in the Peten.

With Tennessee-based folks pushing Crescent Hill to join that effort (along with maybe one person from eastern Washington) and others saying at this point those are other folks projects, that this is not what’s currently on the agenda with Crescent Hill and our partners, it seems that Crescent Hill faces several options:

- Embrace the theological training ministry (which will need support in the form of planning, prayer, and money) and gather with some of our partners, other North Americans, and other Q’eqchi’ Presbyterians in late April (at a date yet to be decided) to plan that. (Pictured above is the facility that some folks have in mind as a site for the theological training ministry.)

- Plan a separate trip, simultaneous with the TN-Peten trip; do the fellowship, Bible study, and cultural tourism originally planned; and yet also tack on a couple of meals with the TN-Peten folks and perhaps join them for a gathering late in their schedule to hear about theological training ministry plans. I am awaiting word from TN and Guatemala folks as to whether this is even logistically possible (for PRESGOV, the Marriotts, Coban facilities, etc.) and whether the TN-Peten folks would be OK with us joining them for a couple of meals.

- Plan a separate trip – still with Coban, still with fellowship, Bible study, and cultural tourism – at a different time. Crescent Hill folks had originally talked about July, although, I’m told that March through August is the rainy season in Coban (some others try to go during the winter months).

- Do something completely different (back to bringing Estoreño folks to Louisville? Another small trip to El Estor as we await a larger, intergenerational trip in summer 2011?).

We might pray about this this week. I'll publicize any new information as it becomes available.

-- Perry

Youth Room gathering

The partnership between Crescent Hill church and eastern Guatemala’s Q’eqchi’ Estoreño, Izabal Presbytery will kick off its first full year with an early January gathering of Crescent Hill folks interested in the partnership, at 7 p.m., Wednesday, January 6 (Epiphany!), at the Crescent Hill church Youth Room. Everyone is welcome! Folks will continue to talk about a possible 2010 rendezvous with Estoreño partners, now as early as April 2010 in the predominantly Q’eqchi’ central Guatemala city of Coban.

In December Crescent Hill folks continued to discuss ecumenism in the mission partnership Sunday school class, sold Guatemala greeting cards to support the partnership fund, and took a break after a special Thanksgiving Eve fall term graduation event from the joint English as a foreign language ministry, slated to kick off a winter term on Monday, January 10. An $80 winter-term advanced beginner 6:30-8:00 p.m. Tuesday evening Spanish class, with any extra proceeds going to the partnership fund, will also kick off at Crescent hill church that week. In December Estoreño folks celebrated the one-year anniversary of the formation of a presbytery-wide youth and young adult organization.

January English classes update

A couple of dozen Crescent Hill, James Lees, and Covenant Community folks gathered on Sunday, January 3 to plan the joint English as a foreign language ministry’s second term. Classes at James Lees/Covenant Community will resume this coming Monday, January 11. Classes will continue throughout Jefferson County Public Schools holidays (like Martin Luther King birthday on January 18) but will be canceled on snow/weather days when JCPS classes are canceled. The term will end on Wednesday, March 17.

The ministry will maintain the same schedule, with classes – probably divided again into three or four levels – running between 7 and 8 p.m. and supper between 6 and 7 p.m. Crescent Hill will again provide the meals, with Andrea taking joining Lowell in spearheading this. Supporters of the ministry who are not actually involved in child care, teaching, or food preparation are nevertheless invited to stop by for the ministry’s meals, since fellowship is a key part of the ministry.

Folks are encouraged to distribute English- and Spanish-language flyers for the ministry to people and at places that the group and supporting congregations didn’t reach last time. New this time is transportation, which supporters of the ministry will hope to provide to families and individuals in need of this, especially during the cold winter months.

January prayers

Crescent Hill folks will continue to pray in January for Ramiro Quib, an elder who is treasurer of the Estoreño presbytery; for the youth and young adult organization including its president, Armando Chub; and for the following specific congregations:

- On Sunday, January 3, and the week that follows: Monte Sinai church near Puerto Barrios, Pastor José Sub, and its members, elders, and deacons.

- On Sunday, January 10, and the week that follows: Livingston church, Pastor Abelino Tec, and its members, elders, and deacons.

- On Sunday, January 17, and the week that follows: Nueva Amanacer church and its worshipers.

- On Sunday, January 24, and the week that follows: the presbytery executive committee including President Fidel Juc.

- On Sunday, January 31, and the week that follows: the presbytery Presbyterian Women organization, President Maria Coc Tiul, and other Presbyterian Women executive committee members.