Sunday, July 15, 2012

Regresamos a Tegucigalpa: Early Reflections on Year Two of Partnership

The trip began fairly smooth, as we ventured back to Teguc for year two of our youth-to-youth missional partnership with the Presbytery of Honduras. While we experienced a brief layover in Atlanta (the plane scheduled to transport us to Honduras was, and I quote, "broken"), a disappointing in-flight showing of The Hunger Games (such a let down of a film), and a very long morning/afternoon of travel, we safely arrived.

And we were thrilled to be greeted by familiar faces and fellow disciples in Central America.

We have a pretty jammed pack week ahead of us, thanks to Tim and Gloria Wheeler and the Presbytery of Honduras. And they did not hesitate to launch us right into a schedule chalk full of conversations concerning culture and context.

On Friday morning, a workshop was facilitated by an administrator from a local NGO, Fundacion Simiente, which works to alleviate poverty in their community development programs. They broke us up into small groups and invited us to consider poverty broadly defined and the causes of poverty for men, women, children, and the elderly. She reminded us that the poor and those who long to partner in community development strategies cannot do so without first knowing what poverty is. So the photo to the right was our group's creative attempt to define poverty.

The remainder of the conversation was too vast even to attempt to summarize via this blog. So I will update soon with a few notes from the workshop, to include minor reflections on some of the more significant and controversial socio-political events that have taken place in the past four years.

On Friday, we also headed to another retreat center where we spent the weekend with over 100 Honduras youth from throughout the country. Some walked for over five hours to participate. That made for nearly 130 campers gathered for worship and the exploration of the theme, venciendo gigantes (defeating/overcoming giants).

As I type, I confess that the experience has been both beautiful and exhausting. We are immersed within a culture not our own, speaking a language not our own, and encountering preaching that has challenged many of us. We feel like toddlers, constantly processing new information, people, and language that cause our brains to work on over-drive. Thank God for coffee and ciestas!

The youth leadership of the Presbytery of Honduras have put together a great program with fantastic and lively worship and incredibly creative and messy team activities. We have entered into sacred community together.

I also had to develop and impromptu sermon and speak for the requested time...one hour! Yep, they asked me to preach for an hour!

My team told me I would have no problem, given that I like to talk, but they also asked that I share a bit of Amercian church culture by preaching closer to 20-25 minutes.

I compromised. The combination of having a translator, a clever dramatic rendition of Mark 2, a few photos to share about who I am and who we are, and reflections on Romans 8:35-39 and 1 Timothy 4:6-16, led to the shortest sermon of the weekend: 35 minutes.

The focus:

God is love.

Nothing can separate you from the love of God.

God can and will do incredible things through the youth in Honduras and Pennsylvania to transform their present as they move towards a beautiful future.

But the best part of the evening was the jubilant celebration and worship that broke out in the temple as we celebrated how God has overcome all of our giants: venciendo gigantes.

Our kids joned right into the charismatic expression of God's love and grace, even as they chanted prophetic statements that have more power than most of us may realize: Christo libre. Christo vive. Christ frees. Christ lives.

I am so glad to be here this week. I feel blessed to be able to reconnect with friends in Central America. I am not sure what this partnership will look like in the days ahead. We are still in the earliest beginnings. We simply must continue to be open and conversant, willing to pursue mutuality in mission.

This takes time. A lot of time.

Please continue to pray for our team, especially as we conclude the retreat and continue our adventures in the days ahead.

Stay tuned...

 

Notes:

  • Many thanks to Tim and Gloria Wheler of PCUSA World Mission and Heifer International and Mark Wright of PCUSA World Mission. They have worked extremely hard to pull together this week in partnership!
  • Also checkout Further reflectins fom youth and parents in regards to this partnership: www.workofthepeople.wordpress.com

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