Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ana's Minute for Mission

Two years ago a group of 17 members from our church traveled to El Estor, Guatemala; this beautiful and cool weather place in Guatemala! Well, I guess that’s a little off description but you can ask the people that went what the weather was like; I bet they would love to retell their stories. In that trip they started to build up a relationship with the Estoreño Presbytery in Izabal, Guatemala. A year after, 2 members from our church went to Amatitlan for a partnership meeting with Guatemalan folks and other Americans who have partnerships as well. Then a couple of months after this, 6 people from our church went back and they created an agreement with the Estoreño Presbytery. In this agreement it was made clear that we needed to keep building our relationship.

As Jane told us this morning, face-to-face is the best way to do so because it is really hard to maintain a relationship without that face-to-face interaction; and even though we do have our monthly conversation with pastor Gerardo and we exchange emails sometimes, it isn’t enough. It’s hard to keep up without in-person contact and it is of great importance to have such interaction at the beginning of a relationship. This is why we are planning a mission trip to Guatemala this summer; to have that face-to-face interaction with our fellow brothers and sisters in Guatemala and because it is something we agreed upon.

This mission trip will include Bible study, partnership planning, leadership training and cultural tourism. It is a great opportunity for new folks to meet our Guatemalan brothers and sisters and help build our relationship with them. This mission trip will be taking place in a more comfortable location and much cooler zone of Guatemala. Which once again, if you ask the people who went on the previous trips is really good and exciting news! But to know more about our partnership with the Estoreño Presbytery and our upcoming trip to Guatemala; I would like to invite you to a short informational meeting next Sunday, March 7 in the Education Building after church. This meeting will go more into detail about our next trip. But its not just for those who are considering going on the mission trip—but also for those who may want more general information for possible future trips or simply are trying to get involved in a supportive way.

So this is an invitation to all of you to learn more about the commitment we’ve made with the Estoreño Presbytery and for you to find a way in which you can get involved in this partnership because it is not just a small group of people who have this partnership with the Estoreño Presbytery it is all of us as CHPC. So please come to next week’s meeting and learn more about the mission trip will be having this summer and our partnership with the Estoreño Presbytery as a whole.

-- Ana

Jane on face-to-face interaction

The Book of Psalms is considered the Church’s prayer book. It is the hymnal of ancient Israel. Most of the psalms were probably composed to be used in communal worship. Because of their “spiritual depth and beauty” they have become a resource for both public and private prayer for generations of Jews and Christians. (Oxford Annotated Bible, page 674) The psalmists pray for us—give expression to our own deep prayers—and they also lead us into prayer. We think about the Bible, for the most part, as being God’s word for us, God speaking to us. This part of the Bible, though, the Psalms, are more us speaking to God. The way Walter Brueggemann puts it they are “the voice of our own common humanity . . .” (Brueggemann, Praying the Psalms, pages 15-16) They help us face ourselves and God honestly. Which, someone has pointed out to me recently, is what Lent is about: facing ourselves and God honestly. So, this Lent, we turn to the psalms—to pray with and for us.

Many of the psalms can be categorized—for instance, as a psalm of praise or thanksgiving or trust or a psalm of lament. This week’s Psalm 27 is a lot of that all mixed together. It is considered “an act of devotion and a prayer of deliverance”—both a “song of trust and a lament.” (Oxford Annotated Bible, page 694)

Because of this, it so well names “where” we are—“where” we live—which is somewhere between faith and doubt, between being confident of God’s care and feeling threatened by daily living, between the ideal-divine possibilities and the very political-human realities, between heaven and earth. Here we are, with the psalmist, living in that tension. Because, as the psalmist reminds us—lest we ever think it “should” be otherwise—trust in God “does not eliminate trouble from life.” (Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms, page 153) Faith in God does not deny the realities of life—but does somehow make a difference in how we face those troubles.

The psalmist knew well that we live in this in-between place—and what I like about this particular psalm is that—just like in real life—all that is all mixed together: salvation, fear, light, evildoers, a stronghold, adversaries, fearlessness, foes, confidence, violence, beauty, days of trouble, and the goodness of the Lord.

This is where we are, too, is it not? Where we live? Living among adversaries and foes—be they al Quaeda or an unreasonable boss—or one’s own demons of insecurity, self-doubt, depression, temptations. At the same time, even if we aren’t conscious of it, we are also living in the “house of the Lord,” sheltered by God, surrounded by beauty and goodness.

Somewhere in that tension, just like smack in the middle of this psalm, is the deep desire of the human heart/creature—the desire for God, the desire to know God. The desire to seek God’s Presence. “

Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek God’s face!’ Your face, Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me.” (Psalm 27:8)

The face. God’s face.

Harvard psychiatrist Robert Coles wrote a book called The Spiritual Life of Children. As part of his research for this book “he asked nearly 300 children to draw a picture of God. All but 38 of these ddrawings were of God’s face—no arms, legs, torso, or chest—just the Divine face.” (J. Bradley Wigger, an article in Family Ministry, Summer 2000; parts of this were also in an article in Horizons magazine and The Power of God at Home)

This is really probably not surprising—at least in a psychological way—when one hears about studies showing the importance of the Face—from almost the beginning of life. In an article for Horizons magazine a few years back, Brad Wigger writes about this. It’s been “discovered,” he says, “that infants between two and six months of age, as a rule, not only smile when smiled at, they also smile for any facial expression—from frowns to leers to any kind of face. In fact, it does not even have to be a real face; they smile at any kind of face-like object, even a mask or dummy, as long as it moves. A face pattern is enough. . .The implication is that infants are primed to smile in the presence of the face. We are created to notice, to smile at, to delight in, and to thrive on the sheer presence of another. We ar born to attach . . . (in) a sense, we are made for communion. And this communion generates the deep sense of security that lets us thrive in life.” (Wigger, pages 6-7)

The Jewish philosopher Abraham Heschel says that the face is “a living mixture of mystery and meaning.” (Heschel, page 38) And the face of another—even a mere human—but a human created in the image of God—gives us a glimpse of the Face of God. And so we see in other humans an image of God’s Presence.

Of course, human faces are fragile—both in their permanence and in their reliability. The faces we see around us will let us down—they will not always be there for us. They will turn away in anger, run away in fear, look away in shame, and of course ultimately fade away in death. But, still, they help us know the Divine Face that is “beneath the fragile human faces of our relationships . . .” They help “secure us in the midst of a beautiful but fragile existence.” (Wigger)

So, seeking a relationship with God . . . .draws us into face-to-face relationships with other people. Seeking God’s face, leads us to see the faces of those around us, to actually SEE other faces. And seeing the faces of those around us helps us see God’s face. Which is why face-to-face encounters are not just important, but essential.

It does beg the question of how much our current climate of divisiveness and suspicion is encouraged by simply not looking at one another. Technology lets us communicate more and more without ever even seeing another’s face—so that we don’t witness the fear or elation of humanity, let alone the divinity that face reflects. It sure makes it easier to wage war against someone if they are just a faceless nation—or a stereotyped category of person.

On the other hand, what is it that gets us to care? Seeing the faces of children caught in the rubble of an earthquake. Sitting across a classroom table looking a new immigrant in the eyes. Visiting our partners in Guatemala in person. Gathering in someone’s living room with a small group of church folks to share personal stories. Maybe even, dare we hope?, meeting at a big square of tables in a White House Summit, rather than side by side in a congressional chamber where adversaries don’t have to look directly at one another.

I spent Thursday morning at home working on this sermon, thinking about the Face and its importance. When I got in my car to head over to church, the NPR program, “Fresh Air” ws on. A man was telling a story about being held at gunpoint. Turns out it was the actor William Hurt. Years ago when he was in Brazil filing Kiss of the Spiderwoman he and a woman companion were kidnapped. The man who had a gun pointed at them ordered them to turn around and face the wall. Hurt said, “I just couldn’t do it. If I was going to die, which I was sure was his intent, I wanted to be looking at someone’s face—even his.”

So Hurt refused to turn around. Instead he looked his captor in the eyes. Which made the man have to look at his face as well. And they spoke to one another. The man eventually lowered his gun, gave them instructions not to call the police for 15 minutes, and fled. One wonders if both men didn’t get a glimpse of the Divine Face underneath a human one.

As the writer of Psalm 27 knew so well, this life is lived in the tension of divine mystery and human messiness. And it is in the human arena, right in the midst of the messiness of adversaries and foes and troubles and violence and fear that we seek the Face of God…that we will “behold the beauty of the Lord.” We will see “the goodness of the Lord.”

It is right into that tension, in fact, that God came—in the flesh: to see us face to face, to be seen by us in the face of Jesus. To live with us—right where we are: in the juxtaposition of heaven and earth, of life and death. This is where the face of God is to be found. Because Jesus, if anywhere, was in that tension between the human and the divine.

And let us remember that the psalms were also his prayer book, the hymnal of his tradition. So Jesus prays as we do, prays with us:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him,

“Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” (Luke 13:31)

One thing I ask of the Lord, that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in God’s temple. (Psalm 27:4)

He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’” (Luke 31:32-33)

For God will hide me in the divine shelter in the day of trouble;
will conceal me under the cover of the divine tent;
will set me high on a rock. (Palm 27:5)

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34)

“Come,” my heart says, “seek God’s face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:8, 13)

“See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Luke 13:35)

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)

(Thanks to Janice Catron for the juxtaposition of these texts.)

-- Jane

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why another trip?

We need to try hard to have in-person, face-to-face contact between Crescent Hill folks and folks in our partner presbytery, eastern Guatemala’s Q’eqchi’ Estoreño, Izabal Presbytery, at least once a year. It is true that we have been maintaining almost monthly e-mail and phone contact, and we have been engaged in some events that have brought each other closer (speakers from Guatemala, prayer vigils both at Crescent Hill and in Guatemala in which we pray for each other, weekly prayers, teaching local Guatemalan Americans English). And it is true that mission trips (depending somewhat on the numbers) are costly for the church, for trip supporters, and for those involved. However, the phone calls typically only involve one Estoreño person (Pastor Gerardo Pop Ich) and a half dozen or us who have been to the task force gatherings .

Especially in the early days of a partnership, it’s hard to develop personal relationships, hard to see where God is pointing us, and hard to sustain partnership momentum without worshiping in person with each other, without visiting with each other at each other’s churches and homes, and without being able to explore in person each other’s culture, beliefs, and practices. At some point, we hope that this will include visits by some Guatemalans to Louisville.

The 2010 summer mission trip – as we have envisioned it– would helps us take a big step in this process. We would be going to a “neutral site” where we would both be exploring together, but one relatively near to El Estor so that a number of Estoreño folks would be able to participate (as opposed to the November 2008 meeting further away at Amatitlan that only two pastors attended). We would be going to the metropolitan center of Q’eqchi’ culture, so together we would be able to learn more about Q’eqchi’ culture and religion. And we would be going to a place with affordable, but not too rugged accommodations, only a five-hour drive from the Guatemala City airport, so that a wider array of Crescent Hill folks (including those who would probably not be able to do the 10-hour, bumpy trip to El Estor or stay in people’s homes there) would be able to participate in this trip.

Yearly person-to-person contact, joint exploration/learning, directly engaging a broader array of Crescent Hill and Estoreño folks – all great things about the planned-for summer 2010 trip.

-- Perry

March prayers

Crescent Hill folks will pray in March with the following Estoreño Presbytery partners:
- On Sunday, February 28, and the week that follows: San Jorge church, Pastor Marco Xo Ical, and its members, deacons, and elders.
- On Sunday, March 7, and the week that follows: La Union mission church, Pastors Pablo Sacul, Roberto Caal, and Antonio Tec, and worshipers.
- On Sunday, March 14, and the week that follows: El Chupon mission church, Pastor Gerardo Pop, and worshipers.
- On Sunday, March 21, and the week that follows: Arca de Noe church, Pastor Gerardo Pop Ich, and members, deacons, and elders.
- On Sunday, March 28, and the week that follows: Altar de Noe church, Pastor Raul Contreras, and its members, deacons, and elders.

Update from Amanda

The New Year has come and gone, as well as the resolutions. As the Lenten season comes upon us, I realize that I need to ask for forgiveness and try to keep up with my resolutions.

One resolution is to renew my commitment to sharing my experiences in Guatemala with those in the Presbyterian Church (USA). This past year was a whirlwind of transitions, and my commitment to sharing the story got lost in the process. As I become more comfortable with my new roles, mission co-worker and mother, the fogginess subsides and my excitement to involve others in this journey grows. And clarity always seems easier on a beautiful, clear, sunny day in Guatemala.

So how do I briefly wrap up an entire year in Guatemala? What comes to mind is motherhood. Women in Guatemala are extremely proud of their role as mother. They take the responsibility of caring for the next generation with great sincerity and compassion. It often defines the woman in Guatemalan society.

Becoming a mother myself introduced me into their world in a way I never thought possible. I was accepted into their lives as a fellow mother, one who now had the responsibility of raising a child. It was also clear that they felt it was part of their duty as community to help raise my son as well. There were countless times when childrearing advice was given without question. It was evident that I had much to learn and they were more than willing to help out. That even meant rocking a crying baby to sleep.

After conquering the overwhelming sense of how I lacked the proper skills to raise children, I came to understand the women’s intentions. They for the most part are the ones who make sure children’s daily needs are met. They are the ones who ensure the cultural and religious traditions continue in the next generation. They have enormous pressure placed on their shoulders as they care for their children.

In short, they are answering God’s call. This is their special ministry, their gift to the community.

It is in these crossroads where our journeys intersect that I come to understand what it means to be part of the Christian family. Here are sisters in Christ taking intentional care of me and my son sharing God’s grace and compassion. And as I struggle with this new call, they walk alongside me as my accompaniers, which is ironic. When people in the United States ask me to explain my job I often say that I accompany the women in their ministry. However, the truth is that they are the ones accompanying me on this faithful and spiritual journey as we strive to share our faith with the next generation.

God calls each of us in unique ways and the beauty of answering the call is the people that you meet along the way. God’s family is rich and wise and this is evident in the women of Guatemala. I look forward to this next year as we accompany each other mutually.

How can you accompany the women of Guatemala?

They invite you to participate in the World Day of Prayer on Friday, March 5th. You can find more information about the day at

As this letter arrives, I know many thoughts and prayers will be with the people of Haiti. If you are interested in helping, please visit Presbyterian Disaster Assistance at

Thank you for supporting me, my family and my ministry in Guatemala. The women and I are grateful for your spiritual and financial support.

-- Amanda

Ellen update

Ellen and I talked by phone Thursday evening. She had just come back from three weeks in Guatemala. Ellen and Pastor Gerardo, our chief Estoreño phone contact, spoke by phone while she was waiting to board her plane for the United States. Gerardo had gotten our e-mail and had two questions: When was the July rendezvous scheduled for? And Who sent the e-mail? Gerardo and Rene, Gerardo’s colleague who is the computer guru, are used to receiving e-mails from Ellen, not from me (who this latest e-mail came from). Ellen confirmed that there was still some lack of certainty about the exact dates and times of the July Coban rendezvous, but also confirmed that around July 10-17 was right.

Gerardo went on to talk with Ellen about the interest of women active in the presbytery’s Presbyterian Women organization in leadership development training.

Ellen and I talked about how Crescent Hill would probably need to pay transportation and room and board costs for any Estore o folks who might participate in the April or July Coban trips. We talked about working with Roger Marriott, a PC(USA) mission worker in Coban, more urgently on supporting any April participants (which we’ll have to discuss).

Ellen and I also talked about the need to contact or follow up with other people. I had contacted Delia Leal, the Nazarene pastor who preached at Crescent Hill church in September. Pastor Leal lives in Coban and had said in the e-mail she would be happy to visit with us while there. But we’ll need to get back with her with details, perhaps immediately after our March 6-7 meetings. Ellen and I also talked about the possibility of us contacting Amanda Craft, a PC(USA) mission worker in the old Spanish colonial city of Antigua (whom the church is supporting), where the Laras are from. We might invite Amanda to join us in Coban (which Ellen thought Amanda would not be able to do – it turns out that may not be true) or see her in Antigua if we go there. Ellen said Amanda might be able to help us with accommodations in Antigua, should we go for something more affordable. And Ellen and I also talked about the possibility of us connecting with PC(USA) mission worker Karla Koll, a colleague of Delia Leal at the Central America interdenominational center with whom we talked in Guatemala City a year ago. (Koll will in fact be in Louisville in a month and endorsed the cheap flight to Guatemala via Mexico City option, though she warned there is little English in the Mexico City airport and it’s a bit of a maze.)

Ellen also revealed that she has made some decisions about her new future. Ellen was a pastor in North Carolina who then served as a mission worker in Guatemala, working with Presbyterian Women in Guatemala, for 11 years. She has lived in Louisville, worked at the Center, and worshiped with us for the past year. Ellen has decided to move back to North Carolina and visit Guatemala lots. She said she may be able to be at our March 6-7 events, because she needs to come back to Louisville to pick up some of her things. Ellen repeated her interest in going with us to Guatemala in July.

-- Perry

March 6 and March 7 events

The Guatemala mission partnership task force continues to plan one or two possible mission trips to Coban, a central Guatemala city five hours from the capital that is the metropolitan center of the Mayan Q’eqchi’ culture. Our church’s partners (from the Q’eqchi’ Estoreño, Izabal Presbytery) in the eastern part of the country are also from this indigenous culture.

The major trip is tentatively scheduled for July 10-17. We’d like to send 10-12 Crescent Hill folks on this trip to meet 10-12 Estoreño folks. The trip will be less arduous than trips to El Estor, our usual destination, and the accommodations (probably a church retreat center) less rugged. So it will be an ideal occasion for folks who have not been to Guatemala (including high school juniors and seniors and older adults) to try it out. We expect to spend several days in Coban, living and eating with our partners, engaging in Bible study, leadership development, and partnership planning, and visiting sites in Coban and the surrounding area (perhaps including a Presbyterian school, a beautiful waterfall area, and a coffee plantation). There may be opportunities to visit with Delia Leal, the Nazarene pastor who preached at Crescent Hill in September, and to worship with local Presbyterians.

Another event to plan advanced theological training for Q’eqchi’ pastors will take place April 20-27, and it is possible that one or two Crescent Hill people will go to that.

Before fund-raising, previous trips have cost about $1,500 per person. Folks interested in learning more about the July trip should be at an educational event about the trip after worship on Sunday, March 7, in the Education Building. You might also talk with folks active in the task force or check out the blog at

Folks interested in the Guatemala mission partnership will gather at the home of Brad and Soni Castleberry at 209 Fairfax Avenue, Unit 1, in St. Matthews, at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 6. Everyone interested in Guatemala mission should be there.

Some food will be provided at both events.

Partnership particulars

Below is a piece (dubbed "Doing Mission in Christ's Way: A Follow-up to the Mission Invitation") drafted at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) World Mission Celebration conference this past October in Cincinnati, by a working group trying fill in specific details for the principles that the PC(USA) documents "Gathering for God's Future" and "Presbyterians Do Mission in Partnership" outline. How-to advice for international mission. Earlier in February the mission partnership Sunday school class (pictured above) discussed it. What are we doing to deepen our parntership that is not on this list? we asked.

We recognize that God calls us to mission that is grounded in confession of our sins, grows out of a life of prayer and is sustained in worship. We recognize further that God invites all of us to participate in God’s mission. Therefore, we commit ourselves to work cooperatively with one another, and more than that, to assume a spirit of collaboration. For Presbyterians who enter into this new way of thinking and doing God’s mission, the dictum continues to ring clear and true: We do mission in partnership.

As we move out into the world (across the street or to another country) together, our first step is a vow to call the church continually to intercessory prayer for mission. Together let us respond with heart, mind and body to Jesus’ own prayer:
The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

[John 17:22-23]

With bold humility we now invite others to covenant with us as we encourage one another and seek God’s guidance in all that we undertake as Christ’s agents of reconciliation. We will be guided and instructed by the following values and practices.

Those who do mission in Christ’s way . . .

Worship the triune God together and pray for one another (Matthew 7, Acts 1)

Sample Practices
- Spend time in prayer and discernment before and after planning your local or global mission
- Pray for your partners by name before, during and after local or global mission together
- Include times of worship and prayer with partners/hosts as a part of the schedule for any visit
- Plan to be with partners for worship in their congregations
- Develop long-term prayer partners

Participate in mutual discernment (Acts 10)

Sample Practices
- Participate in a PCUSA Mission Network focused on a common country, people group or issue
- Initiate collaboration with churches doing similar kinds of local or global mission or who are working with common partners (contact Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Presbyterian Hunger Program, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Medical Benevolence Foundation, entities cited in the PCUSA Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, nearby presbytery execs, etc. for connections)
- Seek feedback from mission workers and partners on what cultural issues need to be considered to avoid problems during your time together
- Provide individual and team training prior to visiting a partner, and debrief during the trip and upon return
- Converse openly and honestly with local or global partners to shape the nature, leadership, and content of the partnership and its elements, especially visits and gifts
- Honor the idea that the primary responsibility for discerning God’s call for the church in each place belongs with the local host partner
- Debrief with your mission partners before concluding a mission experience and assure them of appropriate follow up
- Remember that God has called the partner church to be Christ’s body in that place and that you are a guest; when you leave, they will live with the consequences of your actions

Model self-giving and self-emptying mission (Philippians 2, John 17)

Sample Practices
- Focus local and global partnerships on the priority of relationships over projects
- Allow the partner to express their desires, their understanding of needs, and their strategies as you shape the nature and content of your mission
- Actively seek ways to learn from partners
- Make contributions in ways that strengthen your partners’ organization, integrity and unity in the place where they live and serve
- Make financial contributions in consultation with official boards or committees of your partners, and not to individuals
- Be willing to express your own needs and allow your partner to minister to you

Approach ministry holistically (word/deed and evangelism/compassion/justice) (Luke 4, Micah 6)

Sample Practices
- Demonstrate locally and globally a concern for the poor, oppressed, invisible, and unreached
- Collaborate with global and local partners with grace
- Articulate an eagerness to share leadership with partners, local or global
- Observe and learn from global partners who have a more holistic vision of mission
- Support the partner in their ministry in ways that are appropriate for you both
- Consult with partners to determine advocacy needs and how to act on those needs
- Recognize and support the mission work of other groups in and beyond the PC(USA) that complements your participation in holistic mission
- Seek additional partners, recognizing that no one group can do it all
- Study a mission book together to discern your church’s outreach ministry calling and ensure a holistic approach
- Include role-playing in trip preparation so that for each anticipated ministry action, an opening for gospel-sharing and cultural sensitivity is recognized and acted upon.

Provide mutual encouragement that honors different gifts in ministry (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 1), and recognize our interdependence and the need for mutual transformation (1 Cor. 12, John 15, Romans 12)

Sample Practices
- Look up PC(USA) mission workers who are serving in areas where you are visiting; share a meal and encourage them
- Receive graciously the gifts, meals and invitations your partners offer
- Recognize and appreciate the gifts of each partner and strategize together, especially when shaping the nature and content of a mission trip
- Leave your comfort zone; be adaptable and flexible
- Share deepest beliefs through the arts, forms other than the spoken or written word
- Stay in touch with your local and global partners throughout the year, affirming each other’s gifts
- Invite each other to visit
- Open yourself to the transformation of your lifestyle and attitudes

Communicate openly; act transparently; and be mutually accountable (Ephesians 4)

Sample Practices
- Work to communicate honestly, openly and humbly as you and your local or global partner identify the actual needs in an area/country/cause
- Invite the insight and collaboration of relevant mission initiators and keep them informed of what you are doing, e.g., Validated Mission Support Groups, PC(USA) offices and other Presbyterian-related nonprofits involved with the same area or people
- Develop good listening skills
- Draft a covenant of understanding together, one that also provides for on-going mutual evaluation
- Communicate in advance about expectations related to financial gifts (what to do if an unexpected need arises, if the project changes, if there is surplus money, etc.)
- Clarify assumptions about what constitutes good communication and methods of mutual accountability
- Share financial reports on all gifts with partners, mission workers, PC(USA) offices and donors
- Designate a representative from each partner to serve as the “official” channel for communications about partnership matters

Are aware of our own context (Philippians 2); work to understand cross-cultural realities including the context of those with whom we labor (Phil. 2, Deuteronomy 24); respect the dignity, gifts and resources of the partners (Phil. 2); and are sensitive to the issues of power that come from global inequities (Phil. 2, Jeremiah 9)

Sample Practices:
- Spend time learning about the culture and socio-economic context of those with whom we want to partner
- Seek to listen to the voices of and follow the lead of the people closest to the ground with the most knowledge of the situation
- Engage in language learning with an eye toward immersing yourself in the local community
- Learn the communication styles of the community, not limited to language
- Be aware of the harm that some gifts can cause, including generating relationships of unhealthy dependency, divisions of churches, and jealousies
- Ask local or global partners to respond honestly to the hard questions: “How can we help?” and “How can we do no harm?” and “What are our weaknesses and failures?”

Value and build long-term relationships of trust (I Thessalonians 2)

Sample Practices:
- Value the role of long-term mission workers
- Pray for PC(USA) mission workers, financially support and personally encourage them
- Collaborate with long-term mission workers with grace and a willingness to share leadership
- Work collaboratively to increase funding for long-term mission workers
- Take time to build cross-cultural friendships both locally and globally
- Focus your partnership on long-term relationships that facilitate deep personal change
- Organize repeat short mission trips to the same location and with the same partner
- Take intentional steps to build trust with other workers in the mission field

Armando's response

E-mail received on Saturday, February 20, from Armando Chub (pictured a year ago, above right, in the white T-shirt and dark pants, president of the Estoreño Presbytery youth and young adult organization:

Estimados hermanos y hermanas en Cristo, del presbiterio Kentuqui, y de la Iglesia Crescent Hill de los Estados Unidos, les saluda el hermano Armando, Presidente del distrito de los Jovenes, y tambien como previlegiado de presidente de los niños de este año.

Gracias por los saludos que nos an enviado y la informacion de su carta, segun que leó el hermano pastor Gerardo Pop, de la iglesia local, Presbiteriana Arca de Noé.

El pastor Gerardo informa a todos de sus miembros de la iglesia, que el Presbiterio Estoreño esta trabajando y velando en la vida espiritual de cada Iglesias en el Estor, y como también estan viajando y visitando en cada iglesias en nuestra región. Aunque les cuesta un poco por la cuestión de los recursos economicos que les afectan, y esperamos la oración de ustedes, por el presbiterio estoreño, para que salgan adelante en la obra del señor Jesucristo. Y tambien esperamos la oración en la vida de la Directiva del Distrito de los Jovenes, y la directiva de los infantiles, porque tenemos un plan de este año para que los niños y niñas salgan adelante y tengan conocimientos de la biblia, y tambien estamos muy satisfechos de la iformación aserca de la biblia teologica que se realizara en Cobán en los proximos meses de este año, le pedimos que oren por nosotros para poder llegar y participar en Cobán aserca de la biblia, el motivo de que la situación de la poreza que nos afecta en Guatemala.

Y tambien les vamos a mandar el canto CUAN GRANDE ERES TÚ, en el idioma Q´eqchi´ que ustedes solisitarón, pero hoy no podemos mandarlo pero les enviaremos en esta semana entrante sin falta.

Gracias por su atención y que Dios vendiga en sus ministerio y en su familia en cristo asta pronto.

Presidente del Distrito y Infantil.
Armando chub Quib
Pastor Local
Gerardo Ich Pop.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mid-February e-mail translated into English

Greetings to our Estoreño Presbytery brothers and sisters in Christ:

This month we have snow in Louisville and there is snow in many other places in the United States. This month many people from our church also continue to teach English to people who do not speak English well (including many Guatemalan men and women), prepare meals for the students and teachers, and play with children of the students. Also this month, other people from our church are participating in a Spanish class. The teacher is Ada, who went with the group to El Estor in 2007. Other people from our church are studying, in English and Spanish, partnership and ecumenism in the Bible and in a book about partnership. This month we are going to have a special worship service on Ash Wednesday and other special services before Easter Sunday.

In December Ben’s wife began to work again. Thanks to God, Shannon is well, after being very sick. Shannon works for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the national Presbyterian church in the United States. Many thanks to you all for your prayers for Shannon.

Some people in our church – and many other people in the community – do not have work. Other people believe that they are going not to have work in the future. Can you all pray for these people? We believe that that are many people in Guatemala without work also.

On a recent Saturday Pastor Gerardo and we talked about some ideas for a trip by a group of people from our church and a trip by a group of people from your presbytery. We imagine that each group (would) include some pastors, some elders, some deacons, some women, and some young men and young women (including at least two elders or deacons, two women (from the Presbyterian Women organization), and two young people ), 10 or 12 total in each group.

Our idea is that these groups meet in Coban and stay in the Nazarene Center in Coban. We imagine that we (would) do Bible study together, that we (would) talk about ideas for the partnership together, that we (would) talk together through the streets of Coban and (would) talk with some people about the history of Coban, Q’eqchi’ culture, and the region of the area (including Delia Leal, a pastor who preached at our church this past September).

We imagine that we (would) travel together to some places around Coban. It is possible that we (could) travel together to the Mayan museum in Co ban, to the Santa Margarita coffee plantation, and to Semuc Champey (waterfall area). We are communicating with Roger Marriott. Roger and his wife, Gloria, Presbyterian missionaries who live in Coban, and Roger hopes that we and you all are going to visit the La Patria school. We talk(ed) with Pastor Gerardo, and he hopes that we have a worship service with some Presbyterians who live in the area around Coban (possibly at the school).

The best time for Roger and us for the trip is the third week of July. It is possible that we and you all (would) meet in Coban on Saturday, July 10, or Sunday, July 11, and (would) stay there until Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Are you all interested in the idea of a meeting and trip to Coban? Is it possible that a group of pastors, elders, deacons, women, and young people from the Estore o presbytery could travel to Coban on July 10 or July 11? Would you all like to visit in Coban with us?

Roger is also organizing a meeting in April with U.S. Presbyterians from Tennessee and other places, Q’eqchi’ pastors and elders from many places in Guatemala, and some people from the national church in Guatemala (IENPG) about possible advanced theological training in Q’eqchi’ for pastors. It is possible that one or two people from our church are going to go to this meeting. The meeting is also going to be in Coban at the Nazarene Center, but is going to be April 20-27. It is possible that we and you all are going to communicate about this meeting in the future. We are interested in theological training even if we are not able to send some people to the meeting in April. Are you all interested in this meeting and in theological training for pastors?

By telephone with Pastor Gerardo, we also ask(ed) that you all try to provide us with the words in Q’eqchi’ for the hymn “How Great Thou Art.” In March 2009, Pastor Mario at the church in San Jorge sang this hymn – in Q’eqchi, we believe. The PC(USA), the national Presbyterian church in the United States, is now preparing a hymnal and we would like you all and we to submit the hymn in Q’eqchi’ for the hymnal.

Thanks for your attention to this long letter. Blessings from God for your ministries and your families this spring. We hope that some people from our church are going to be able to see some of you all in July or in April or (at) both (times).

Guatemala-bound early February e-mail

Saludos a nuestros hermanos y nuestras hermanas en Cristo del presbiterio Estoreño:

Ese mes tenemos nieve en Louisville y hay nieve en muchas otros lugares en los Estados Unidos. También ese mes muchas personas de nuestra iglesia continuamos enseñando Ingles a personas quienes no hablan Ingles bien (incluyendo muchos Guatemaltecos y muchas Guatemaltecas) y preparamos las cenas para los estudiantes y los maestros y las maestras o jugamos con los hijos y las hijas de los estudiantes. También este mes otras personas de nuestra iglesia participamos en un clase de Español. La maestra es Ada, quien fue con el grupo al Estor en 2007. Otras personas de nuestra iglesia estudiamos, en Ingles y Español, el compañerismo y el ecumenismo en la biblia y un libro sobre compañerismo. Ese mes vamos a tener un culto especial en Miercelos de ceniza y vamos a tener otros cultos especiales antes del dia de Pascua de resurreccion.

En Diciembre la esposa de Benjamin comenzó a trabajar otra vez. Gracias a Dios, Shannon esta ben, después de que estaba muy enferma. Shannon trabaja para la iglesia Presbiteriana nacional en Los Estados Unidos, o sea para PCUSA. Muchas gracias a Ustedes por sus oraciones para Shannon.

Unas personas en nuestra iglesia – y muchas otras personas en la comunidad - no tienen trabajo. Otras personas creen que talves vamos a no tener trabajo en el futuro. Pueden Ustedes orar para esas personas? Creemos que hay muchas personas en Guatemala sin trabajo también.

En un sábado reciente Pastor Gerardo y nosotros hablamos sobre unas ideas para un viaje por un grupo de unas personas de nuestra iglesia y un viaje por un grupo de unas personas de su presbiterio. Imaginamos que cada grupo incluye unos pastores y pastoras, unos ancianos, unos diáconos, unas mujeres, y unos jóvenes y unas jovencitas (incluyendo por lo menos dos ancianos o diáconos, dos mujeres (de su presbiterial), y dos jóvenes), 10 o 12 en total en cada grupo.

Nuestra idea es que esos grupos queden en Cobán y que se hospeden en el Centro Nazareno en Cobán. Imaginamos que estudiamos la biblia juntos, que hablamos sobre las ideas para al compañerismo juntos, que caminamos juntos por los calles de Cobán y hablamos con unas personas sobre la historia de Cobán, y también sobre la cultura Q’eqchi’, y la religión del área (incluyendo la pastora Delia Leal, una pastora quien predico en nuestra iglesia en Septiembre pasado).

Imaginamos que viajamos juntos a unos lugares cerca de Cobán. Es posible que viajamos juntos al Museo Príncipe Maya en Cobán, a la Finca Santa Margarita, y a Semuc Champey. Y nos comunicaremos con Rogelio Marriott. Rogelio y su esposa, Gloria, misioneros de PCUSA quien viven en Cobán. Rogelio espera que nosotros y Ustedes vayamos a visitar a la escuela La Patria. Hablamos con Pastor Gerardo, y espera que tengamos un culto en la escuela con unos Presbiterianos quienes viven en el área cerca de Cobán (posiblemente cerca a la escuela también).

El tiempo óptimo para Rogelio y para nosotros es un viaje en la tercera semana de Julio. Es posible que nosotros y Ustedes nos quedemos en Cobán, Tal ves el Sábado 10 Julio, o Domingo 11 Julio, y nos quedemos allí hasta martes o miércoles o jueves. Están ustedes interesados en la idea de una reunión y viaje a Cobán? Es posible que un grupo de pastores, ancianos, diáconos, mujeres, y jóvenes y señoritas del presbiterio Estoreño puedan viajar a Cobán en 10 Julio o 11 Julio? Quisieran Ustedes visitar Cobán con nosotros?

Rogelio también organiza una reunión en Abril con otros Presbiterianos Norteamericanos de Tennessee y de otros lugares, Q’eqchi’ pastores y ancianos de muchos lugares en Guatemala, y unas personas de la iglesia nacional en Guatemala (IENPG) sobre la posibilidad de educación teológica avanzada en Q’eqchi’ para pastores. Es posible que una persona o dos personas de nuestra iglesia vayan a ir a esa reunión. La reunión también va a ser en Cobán en Centro Nazareno, pero va a ser en las fechas de Abril 20-27. Es posible que nosotros y Ustedes van a comunicar sobre esa reunión en el futuro. Nosotros estamos interesados en la educación teológica incluso si no podemos mandar personas a la reunión en Abril. Por el teléfono, Pastor Gerardo indica que el sabe sobre la reunión. Están Ustedes interesados sobre esta reunión y sobre la educación teológica de sus pastores?

Por el teléfono hablando con el Pastor Gerardo, nosotros también pedimos que Ustedes intenten proporcionarnos a nosotros con la letra en Q’eqchi’ para el himno “Cuan Grande Eres Tu.” En Marzo 2009, Pastor Mario en la iglesia en San Jorge canto ese himno – en Q’eqhchi, así nosotros creemos. La iglesia Presbiteriana nacional en los Estados Unidos (PCUSA) esta ahora preparando un libro de himnos y quisiéramos que Ustedes nos presenten el himno en Q’eqchi’ para la posibilidad de dicho libro.

Gracias para su atención con la carta larga. Bendiciones de Dios para sus ministerios y sus familias en esta primavera. Esperamos que unas personas de nuestra iglesia vayan a poder mirar algunas personas de Ustedes en Julio o en Abril o ambos oportunidades.

February 6 gathering

- Call down to Guatemala.
- Ellen Dozier has been on three trips to Guatemala.
- Dates: July 10th-17th,
- Might spend two-three days elsewhere.
- Coban is a tourist place, with rough terrain.
- Nazarene center.
- Worship time in Coban to meet at Nazarene church for Guatemalan’s and all of us to meet.
- June 1st: PC(USA) deadline for hymnal submissions. K’ekchi song, Amazing Grace?
- Western Highlands food shortages.
- Ellen D. comes back February 23rd.
- Must plan a fundraiser and go to session.
- Martha, Stephanie, and Carlos are all part of the planning for the trip to Guatemala.
- EFL classes.
- Sunday school class.
- Thursday February 18th Gerardo has a meeting with a women’s group.
- Translate from English to K’ekchi- Book of Order.
- Study guide for leadership.
- Gerardo’s job is overwhelming and there just isn’t enough people to do all the church work.
- [Saturday] March 6th- Next meeting time and number of people going [9:30 a.m. at Soni’s].
- Planning for the trip occurs Wednesday February 17th.

-- Sara

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wait and see

Check the blog and Facebook and call us (at 384-4339) if you’re unsure if we’re going ahead and meeting Saturday morning in the snow. We’ll also try calling everyone who was there Sunday afternoon or who has told us they hope to be at the 9:30 a.m. Saturday meeting (at 3928 Kennison Avenue, sort of behind Heine Brothers on Chenoweth Lane in St. Matthews), if we decide to cancel/postpone the gathering. Hopefully, we'll be able to go ahead. Runners – like Eva and Ben – it’s possible that the snow will snow out your event, but not ours. In that case, I hope you’ll join us. It's also remotely possible that Ellen will be able to join us from Guatemala vis Skype (before she hits the road for Guatemala City). And we'll hope to see our pastor, Jane, fresh from the slopes (or wherever) in Colorado! (And our apologies to Mid-Kentucky Presbytery Leader Development Day.)

-- Perry

Trip news

We’ve heard this week from Roger Marriott, part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-worker couple in Coban. Roger confirmed their interest in working with us and our partners for a Coban visit. He mentioned the possibility of us staying at the Nazarene center, and said he would check on its availability. He also mentioned the possibility of going to the waterfall area.

On two issues he was interested in taking us in different directions. Although we thought he would promote working with the Guatemalan evangelical Presbyterian-PC(USA) vehicle PRESGOV for transportation, he said he could arrange for shuttle service from the airport to Coban and back. He said it would take about five hours (and he seemed to think we would do all that traveling in one day). We may need to stay the last night closer to the airport, and that may put us in the vicinity to see other places, like going back to Antigua.

After Sunday’s meeting, we told Roger we were thinking about any one of the final three weeks of July, although in fact we had considered most seriously the fourth or fifth week. Roger and Gloria’s oldest child is getting married in late July now, and Roger asked that we focus on the third week, which is July 11-July 17. It may be pushing for folks are going for all of the PC(USA) General Assembly in Minneapolis to make it to this (and in fact PRESGOV’s 15-person van is already taken for that week). But if our partners OK this week, I think we should go for it. It would be three years and two weeks after our summer 2007 trip to El Estor and Antigua.

Delia Leal, the Nazarene pastor who also lives in Coban, also let us know that she would be interested in connecting with us while we are in her town, and she wanted to work out details later.

I suspect we’ll talk more about the dates, etc. briefly before calling Pastor Gerardo. We may also want to write an e-mail text for our partners not only putting our trip ideas in writing for all of them but also updating them on goings on here (including the English as a foreign language teaching ministry, Spanish class, partnership Sunday school class, etc.). And we may want to turn over logistical details of the trip to a small planning team and work with them to plan a more public congregational event at which we could present ideas for the trip (including for prospects) and develop fund-raising ideas also. Eventually, we’ll want to present plans to Outreach Council and session too, and seek the latter’s OK.

-- Perry

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spring schedule

Guatemala mission partnership task force gatherings:

9:30 a.m., Saturday, February 6, 2010 – at Stephanie Gregory and Perry Chang’s house at 3928 Kennison Avenue

9:30 a.m., Saturday, March 6, 2010 – place TBA

9:30 a.m., Saturday, April 3, 2010 – place TBA

9:30 a.m., Saturday, May 8 – place TBA

9:30 a.m., Saturday, June 5 – place TBA

February prayer list

Crescent Hill folks will pray in February for the following Estoreño Presbytery partners:

- On Sunday, February 7, and the week that follows: the presbytery’s youth and young adult organization and the organization’s president, Armando Chub.

- On Sunday, February 14, and the week that follows: Peniel church, Pastor Fidel Juc and spouse Jesus, and its members, deacons, and elders.

- On Sunday, February 21, and the week that follows: Familia de Noe church, Pastor Benjamin Sacul Tiul and spouse Carlotta, and its members, deacons, and elders.

- On Sunday, February 28, and the week that follows: San Jorge church, Pastor Marco Xo Ical, and its members, deacons, and elders.

After church

The meeting was held at church after worship after being cancelled the day before due to snow. Those present shared prayer concerns and Perry opened the meeting at 12:30 p.m. with prayer for those concerns and for the groups and congregations within our partnership that we prayed for today and will pray for in February. Appreciation also was expressed to Nora Lara for the delicious authentic Guatemalan food she prepared for all to share.

History of our partnership – Perry began the meeting with a quick summary including:

- 2007 – First trip to El Estor with 19 adults and youth. PRESGOV and the Lara family helped Perry and Ada to arrange the trip. Travelers stayed at a motel in El Estor.

- 2008 – Stephanie and Ellen went to a retreat center in southern Guatemala for a meeting and met with some of our partners during that time.

- 2009 – Six CHPC members traveled back to El Estor in April and stayed with some of our partner families. During this visit the details of our official partnership were finalized. Ellen and Ben were the primary coordinators of this trip.

Trip possibilities – Perry handed out copies from the CHPC blog with ideas for a trip this year to Guatemala as well as information gathered to date on possible times. Check out other blog entries about this. After further discussion, it appeared that the July dates were more likely. Those present were encouraged to decide about their own participation in the trip as well as to talk to other folks who might be interested in going. There was some discussion about what to do about youth participation in the trip since many of our youth are attending Triennium this year thus could not afford, or have time, for both trips. Some questions arose about possible insurance issues especially in regard to minors. Perry agreed to check on how this was handled on previous trips.

Next meetings - Since we didn’t get to call Pastor Pop today because we forgot to bring his phone number and we need to begin planning this next trip, we agreed to meet this Saturday, Feb. 6, 9:30 am, at the home of Perry Chang and Stephanie Gregory, 3928 Kennison Ave., in St. Matthews. All are encouraged to attend. In case of a snow cancellation, we will email folks, or you can call Perry and Stephanie at 384-4339. We also decided to set a regular meeting time for the task force usually on the 1st Saturday of the month at 9:30 am. The next meetings would be Mar. 6, Apr. 3, May 8 (a week late due to Derby) and June 5. Meeting places to be announced.

-- Soni