Sunday, March 2, 2014

Accompanying Mission in Guatemala

One of our responsibilities as mission co-workers here in Guatemala is the accompaniment of visiting groups from churches and presbyteries from the U.S. Due to the nature of our work with indigenous members of the Presbyterian Church of Guatemala, we are encouraged to accompany groups from our home denomination that are called to partnership with indigenous partners of the Guatemalan church (when we are invited to accompany them, of course).

We just returned from our first accompaniment assignment, traveling and working alongside members of Hillsboro Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee as well as (in a wonderful expression of our connected church) two members of two other churches in their presbytery. This church maintains a mission partnership with the indigenous presbytery of Sayaxche, in the northern panhandle of the country. For us, being alongside this group of faithful missioners was beneficial and encouraging, enlightening and educational, and of course, renewing and restorative. We discovered how much we love traveling and working alongside groups of dedicated people who give of their valuable time and other resources to be present with their partners in another part of the world.

Visit to Palestina Dos
The benefit and encouragement to us was in the visits to the churches and communities of the Sayaxche Presbytery. In every place we visited, we worshiped, shared music, and enjoyed meals together. As a part of introducing ourselves to the communities, we were introduced as mission workers who would be working with them. We exchanged contact information. It was a great way to meet the leaders of a presbytery we hope to work with as part of our ongoing work. We were encouraged by being a part of community and church visits as this was the type of ministry that got us hooked on Guatemala in the first place. Until we joined this group, it had been a long time since we experienced the joy of fellowshipping with our indigenous partners.

Meeting with project leaders
Hillsboro church has been committed long term to sponsoring basic education for the youth of the Sayaxche Presbytery. Over the years, the project has provided education to many kids in the presbytery, some of whom are now setting their sights on college. It’s a success story many of us in the world of mission partnerships can learn from. We were re-educated not only by witnessing the results of long-term commitment to mutual partnership goals, but also enlightened by the dignity and mutuality of intentional and respectful reviews of the details of project goals, finances, and results. Leaders from this delegation met with leaders of the Sayaxche presbytery to review the ongoing progress of the project. Witnessing a respectful and informative project meeting was enlightening by how it puts partners from completely different demographics on equal footing.

Reflection time with the group
Finally, we were renewed and restored by the daily fellowship, morning devotions, and evening reflections. After a week or so of living and working together, we've renewed existing relationships and forged new ones. We hope this great bunch of folks enjoyed and benefited from our time with them as much as we enjoyed and benefited from our accompanying them. After our time in Sayaxche, we’re happy to join more groups of US Presbyterians on their visits to indigenous Presbyterians here in Guatemala!


Richard and Debbie

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