Receiving the GiftWritten by Gloria Vicente
June 24, 2008
I write to you from Santa Cruz, K'iché the highland region of Guatemala. I am now on my seventh month here serving at Guatemalan Cultural Action, ACG on behalf of Global Ministries. While the time may seem short, it has in many ways felt as if I had been here longer. I say this because I feel I have found a sense of belonging and place here at ACG. I say this because I have not only being received with open arms and affection, but I have also received many gifts in my short tenure here. The first gift was the gift of trust. This was a challenge and priority for me personally when I arrived in Guatemala and I got the first signs of trust in my first two months here.
Now being here on my seventh month, I have been actively involved with ACG's executive team assisting as advisor and working together with my colleagues in staff and organizational development areas. At the same time, I am accompanying groups and individuals from our UCC and Disciples region as they make their way to Guatemala either to visit ACG in the K'iché region or visiting other communities like Indianapolis' Westview Christian Church, a Disciples Church who visited Santa Maria Tzeja, and meeting friends from Centre Congregation Church in Vermont, a UCC church. I also had the pleasure of accompanying friends like Martha Pierce from the Illinois Maya Ministries, a project of our Illinois Conference of the UCC, and the joy of accompanying my own church, University Church a Chicago, UCC and Disciples church. I have to say that being here and receiving, greeting an/or accompanying our churches has not only been a gift because of the joy of connecting with old and new faces from the US but is also is a gift because it is through this work of accompaniment and mutual commitment to each other that I have been able to share and walk with our churches in witnessing the critical presence of meeting with God's Children and creation at the point of deepest need: Spiritually, physically, emotionally and/or economically. I have been accompanying our churches encouraging direct visits to ACG's communities. For example so far this year, part of the delegation's visits to ACG involve accompanying ACG's women facilitators to nearby communities where groups of women from the communities come together as leaders and administrators of the loans they receive from ACG who finances the income generating projects of women through the micro credit system. Thanks to these visits, women from the communities as well as our churches have been witnesses of each other. They have been witnesses of the mutual commitment and critical presence of each other. Women from the communities not only expressed thanks for the continued economic support of groups like Global Ministries, but also more than anything give thanks for the presence, the physical and emotional sharing and witnessing of each other's presence. This is but one of the many gifts and joys that I, as missionary in Guatemala, have been blessed with. I have identified the importance of the meaning of accompaniment as a foreigner even though I was born a Guatemalan; I grew up a Chicagoan and therefore am a foreigner. I once, only new the meaning of being accompanied; now I know both.
Thank you to all who read this and who once again, continue to accompany me as a church, a friend, a relative, a colleague. I send many greetings and a million thanks to the Illinois UCC Conference for your continued critical presence and commitment in Guatemala vis-à-vis ACG and myself.
I ask for your prayers, continuously and humbly.
Gloria serves with Guatemalan Culture Action (ACG) as a youth and communication worker.
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