The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
As the current arctic blast holds us in its icy grip, I wonder what our friends in Guatemala would think of the bitter cold. I know that when they were here in 2014 during a relatively warm December, Pastor Karen, Pastor Esther, and pastor Karen's children thought it was plenty cold. During that December visit, Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Circle Pines had the pleasure of welcoming this Guatemala delegation to our church on a typically busy Wednesday night.
Pastors Karen and Esther joined former and future delegation members for an informal soup supper. We engaged in conversation on a smaller scale and shared updates on our churches. It was nice to focus on our specific partnership and to have time to ask more in-depth questions about San Isidro Labrador, our partner congregation. Former delegation members renewed their connection with ILAG, and future delegation members lay the groundwork for their own relationship.
After supper, Pastor Karen's children arrived from visiting another congregation. We gathered in the fellowship hall and entered the chaos that is Youth Club, a Logos ministry program for 4th-5th graders. Our ILAG guests observed groups of 4th and 5th graders and their table parents (adult volunteers who eat dinner with the kids every week) as they finished dinner and cleaned up. When they were finished, I introduced our visitors and talked a little bit about our partnership with ILAG. Valeria, who was the same age as the youth club kids, graciously answered their wide range of questions. It was so exciting for our youth to actually meet people from Guatemala, including a peer of the same age. For the youth club participants, our partnership became more than a petition during our Sunday morning prayers. For our visitors, it was a chance to observe our children's ministry in action, including our pastors and children's ministry directors having cream pies smashed into their faces.
We ended the evening meeting with middle and high school youth who had just returned from Christmas caroling and were enjoying hot chocolate and fellowship. Following introductions, Diego and Karen Sofia talked about the similarities and differences in youth ministry in ILAG and Minnesota. Pastor Karen also shared information about the challenges for youth in rural Guatemala communities who are forced to grow up too fast, sharing that many kids their ages are not able to continue their education and some are already working and having families.
Having traveled to Guatemala numerous times, I have experienced our partnership through numerous personal interactions. I know that many are not able to take the trip to Guatemala; therefore, the opportunities to meet with representatives from ILAG here in Minnesota are so important - they allow others to experience our partnership in a very real, physical way.
I look forward to connecting with ILAG staff this May when they come to Minnesota. Pastor Karen will be present at the Saint Paul Area Synod Assembly as well as at the Guatemala Gala on Sunday, May 22nd.
Our Saviors Lutheran, Circle Pines, MN