Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mid-October gathering

A last-minute phone conversation with Pastor Gerardo was a highlight of the mid-October Crescent Hill Guatemala mission gathering at Jane and Brad’s. Gerardo had sent Crescent Hill missives in August and September, and Carlos had followed up with a phone call at the beginning of October. Saturday midday found Gerardo and his wife Isabel in a town in the Polocic Valley, not too far from Panzos. Isabel has been very ill, perhaps with complications from her diabetes. Facing amputation as the logical medical step from Western doctors, Gerardo and she went to a naturopath to seek alternative treatment. Arca de Noe church has given Gerardo family medical leave to be with his wife for the treatment. Gerardo seemed genuinely pleased to hear from us, and he asked for prayers for Isabel, him, and their family, some with them and others back in El Estor taking care of each other.

Gerardo’s missives and the phone conversations caught Crescent Hill folks up somewhat on events in Izabal in between the mid-July visit and mid-October. In August the presbytery Presbyterian Women met and elected new officers: Carmen Quib Caal as president, Olivia Cucul Rax as vice president, Nury Marlena Cajbom as secretary, Angelina Maaz as treasurer, and – as board members at-large – Olga Coc Choc and Ana Maria Coc Tiul, outgoing president and summertime member of the presbytery’s partnership committee, Pastor Gerardo or Pastor Antonio as an advisor. Partly following up on a conversation at Louisville’s Presbyterian Center between Maria Arroyo and Gerardo, Ramiro, and Macaria, the PW developed an idea to ask for an $8,500 loan to fatten up the chickens of PW activists, with the revenue produced going both to repay the loan and for mission funds for their organization. Before the Crescent Hill group called Saturday and learned more about this, the group agreed that the church didn’t have money for this, but afterwards said they might be able to pursue this with Maria and with possible micro-lending sources (the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Oikos International??).

In late September the presbytery had met in a regular meeting. Gerardo, outgoing president, was only able to attend part of the meeting. Elected as president was Benjamin Sacul (Familia de Noe church pastor); as vice president, Ramiro; as treasurer, Roberto (Macaria’s husband, for a second consecutive term); as secretary, Raul Contreras (Altar de Noe church pastor and another member of the old partnership committee); and another secretary, Noe Chul. The presbytery seemed to create a new position for Gerardo, who had served various offices previously, as the advisor (kind of president emeritus). The presbytery also set in motion the creation of a Christian education committee and an international relations committee, which would take over for the old Crescent Hill partnership committee. It seemed that membership of this committee and the old committee would turn over some. Pablo Sacul, pastor of the Peniel church in Boqueron and President Benjamin’s father, would serve on the committee, along with Raul Contreras and representatives of Presbyterian Women and the youth and young adults (and others?), apparently some still to be selected.

In between the PW and presbytery gatherings, the Theological training institute, which had started in July when the Crescent Hill mission team was there, had their three-day September session, starting Tuesday, September 11. It wasn’t clear that Gerardo had a lot of news about that, but he did confirm that food (and transportation??) for that cost about $400, which is about Crescent Hill had sent the presbytery later in the month (and had hoped would last for two sessions). The group talked about possibly sending another $400 for the November session, which would it be it for that for the school year. Also discussed was sending the presbytery another $300 installment of the $600 a year communication budget for communicating with us, provided they document how the previous $300 had been (reasonably) spent, and $200 if they wanted to send two people to the end-of-January 2013 (Guatemala City) Guatemala mission network gathering, provided they understand that Crescent Hill might or might not be able to send anyone there.

Gerardo said they thought they had sent Crescent Hill a report about communications expenditures (by email), but Carlos asked Gerardo if he might have it re-sent (although Perry promised to look for it).

Carlos and Peter agreed to follow up with Gerardo with a longer phone conversation Sunday about the possible Panzos land transfer. Since Gerardo was near Panzos, he was slated to go to meet with some Panzos folks this Monday (October 15). Gerardo said that the Panzos municipal government had rented the Panzos land for 10 years. Gerardo said the Panzos congregation had a legal advisor who had somewhat facetiously suggested they contact the national church about it. Looming now is (apparently) the nickel mining company who had spent money to survey the land, meaning they may be intending a (legal or not) land grab (the nickel mine processing plant and Panzos are actually not near each other). A letter from Maria to the national church (IENPG) might be in order once Crescent Hill has a little more information about this.

Near the start of the meeting – given the time allotted for the meeting – Perry asked if folks could look over the English-language draft partnership plan and give feedback on it (probably by e-mail). Once the group is OK with it, it might be translated into Spanish and then shared with the Crescent Hill Outreach Council and session and the Estoreno International Relations Committee, not necessarily in that order. Feedback from any of those three might lead to revisions.

Even though Gerardo had sent Crescent Hill three missives, more or less without response, apparently presbytery leaders talked about trying to send Crescent Hill folks a report after the presbytery meeting, but decided to wait – not because of the delay in hearing back – but because they wished for some advice from Gerardo, who was off in the Polocic Valley with his wife.

The group celebrated Alec and Nick’s parents’ wedding (later that day) and Perry and Ana’s birthday. They agreed to meet again - including with a call to Raul Contreras – on Saturday morning, November 3, at a place to be announced, and perhaps make the first Saturday morning of the month a regular meeting time.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

October prayers

This month Crescent Hill church will pray with and for our Guatemalan partners:

- On Sunday, September 30, and during the week thereafter: Esfuerza congregation, Pastor Antonio Tec and family, and worshipers.

-On Sunday, October 7, and during the week thereafter: Q’eqchi’ Estoreño, Izabal Presbytery Executive Committee, President Gerardo Pop Ich, and other officers.

-On Sunday, October 14, and during the week thereafter: Estoreño Presbytery Presbyterian Women organization, President Maria Coc Tial, and other officers.

-On Sunday, October 21, and during the week thereafter: Estoreño Presbytery youth and young adult organization, President Roderico Sacul Tiul, and other officers.

-On Sunday, October 28, and during the week thereafter: Peniel church in Boqueron, Pastor Pablo Sacul, and members, deacons, and elders.

-On Sunday, November 4, and during the week thereafter: Familia de Noe church in El Estor’s Sinai neighborhood, Pastor Benjamin Sacul and family, and members, deacons, and elders.

Late September letter