Pioneering a Better Future

Date posted: Friday 15 February 2019

In 2018, the Saint Paul Area Synod released "Stories of the Synod," a 24-page stewardship booklet which details the synod's work. The stories inside are just a glimpse of the work that Mission Support makes possible. One of those stories, below, celebrates the new Milagro Center at the Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala (ILAG). The ILAG is one of our companion synod partners through ELCA Global Mission.


The Milagro Center

“Sunday morning, I saw their faces as they were waiting for worship to start,” Paulina Dasse remembers with excitement. “They were the six girls from the Milagro Center!”


Paulina Dasse, manager for relationships with ELCA Global Mission, was one of the people present at the dedication of the Milagro Center in March 2018. In its third year, the Milagro Center is a ministry of La Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala (the ILAG), dedicated to being a safe place for indigenous girls to learn new skills, discover their own unique gifts, and further their education. The Milagro Center was born out of a need that the Rev. Karen Castillo, president of the ILAG, heard echoed throughout the 17 communities that make up the church. For many girls living in rural Guatemala, schooling is cut short due to the economic impact of the need to care for family or to get married. In meeting those needs, their futures are decided for them and the cycle of poverty continues.



“Last year I wanted to come here to study,” says Luvia, who is 13 years old. “I heard about the opportunity, but it was my responsibility to care for all my brothers and sisters. My dad didn’t allow me to come because I don’t have a mom. I talked my dad into allowing me to come. Now my brothers and sisters are taking care of each other.” In her first year at the Milagro Center, Luvia’s favorite subject is math and she has hope that she will get a good job to support her family.


Like Luvia, 15-year-old Mirza has a story similar to many other girls living in rural Guatemala. “In my community there is no school past 6th grade,” she shares. “I am very grateful to God for this opportunity. Before I came here, I had not studied for two years. Pastor Karen came and told my mom I had the opportunity to study and it wouldn’t cost anything.”


The Heartbeat of the ILAG

Since its founding in 1991, the ILAG has been ministering to people living in the margins of Guatemalan society, particularly the indigenous poor. Equipping Guatemalans with knowledge, faith, and possibilities for the future is the heartbeat of the ILAG.


The Saint Paul Area Synod entered into a companion relationship with the ILAG in 2005. The Milagro Center and the women who are pioneering it offer a new way to accompany our companions – through hope for a better future, to break the cycle of poverty, and to empower young women to know the full extent of the gifts God gave them.


Sonia, nine years old, is in her first year at the Milagro Center. Sonia loves mathematics and hopes to one day be a teacher. Her wish in life is to have a good future. With the help of the Milagro Center, Sonia has the opportunity to choose a path for her life and indeed, make her future a good one.




Stories of the Synod

Churches are encouraged to share the content of these stories in their congregations. Any re-print should include: Saint Paul Area Synod, To request printed copies of the booklet, please call 651.224.4313. A PDF of the booklet is also available here.