Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Thursdays Blog!

July 21, 2011

Buenos Tardes amigos!

Today is our last day in Guetamela. We will be very sad to leave this beatiful country and all the friends that we have made, but also very happy to come home and see our family and friends. Today we worked at Women’s Center. Here are the jobs that people contributed to; 1. Pound small rocks into smaller rocks (making gravel). 2. Moving dirt to level out the surface for making the playground level (people shoveled dirt and then other people moved the dirt in wheelbarrows). 3. Some people cut wire and other people bent the wire to make support beams. Then the rest of the people tied on the support beams onto the rebarb. After that we rode in a truck to get back to the parish and eat lunch. Then after lunch we had the rest of the day free to shop and get ready to go home. Next is dinner and the last night here. ūüė¶

See You Soon!

Shea & Andrew


Blog for Tuesday, July 19

July 19, 2011

Hi! ¬†]This is Carl Dyar and Brigh Niccum reporting on today in Guatemala! ¬†This was our second day of doing actual work for the Mission, but this was the first day that we worked all day on projects. ¬†We spent the morning working on the new playground and soccer field at the Women’s Center, which involved a lot of breaking large rocks into smaller rocks with hammers and then moving muchos piedras (rocks) from one place to the next. ¬†After an all-too-short break for lunch, we walked to the farm area, where we spent the afternoon cutting rebar with hacksaws and bending metal (with our hands, not our minds!) to make columns for construction. ¬†We think that our group is finding sore muscles that we didn’t even know we had!

Today is a very special day, because so far, this is the only day that it hasn’t rained (yet!). ¬†Usually, the afternoon is good for at least one or two storms that dump an inch or two of rain, but so far nada. ¬†We have heard rumors of a tropical disturbance that might give us more rain in the next few days, but we are enjoying the sun while it lasts!

Tonight, we will probably take it easy after dinner and relax around the hotel until we have our nightly prayer and meditation at 8:00. ¬†It gets dark so early here (it is pitch dark by 7:00) that there really isn’t a whole lot of time to stir things up around town in the evening. ¬†¬°Que lastima!

We need to run to dinner now, but someone will be checking in tomorrow, so keep checking for posts!

¬°Hasta ma√Īana!

Monday, July 18th

July 18, 2011

Hola from San Lucas!

Sam and George writing from a nInternet cafe. Today is July 18th, our third full day in San Lucas. ¬†We had our orientation tour which included the Women¬īs Center, the health clinic, and the coffee growing and processing center. ¬†The Women¬īs Center opened last February and is a beautiful multi-use building. ¬†The health clinic was very impressive and we met Dr. Foegol who gave us a tour of the newly expanded operating room. ¬† The coffee growing area presented a little uphill hike to where beans are dried on concrete patios. ¬†We also visited the main building where coffee beans are stored until orders come in and they are processed and packaged.

We had an afternoon orientation class which included a letter written by Chona, who unfortunately was not available.  After the orientation had an opportunity to shop for products made by Chona and other widows receiving assistance from the Mission.




Second day in Guatemala!

July 17, 2011

Hello all!

Today was our second day in Guatemala and it was filled with tons of fun! Today, we went on a very pleasant boat ride from San Lucas to Santiago to Pentischell. While in each city, we explored the streets and admired the items the locals were selling. While we were in the second city, we celebrated his birthday at a steakhouse while watching the womans world cup. We are learning lots about the Guatemalin culture and ourselves.

The trip has made us all realize how thankful we are for the simple things that we have. Along the streets we see some extreme cases of poverty while along the lake, we see brilliant houses.  These are examples of extreme of the haves vs. have nots.

We are looking forward to working for the mission tomorrow and learning more about the local culture.

Ta ta for now!

Buenos Dias!

First post from Guatemala!

July 16, 2011

¡Saludos desde San Lucas Toliman!  (that means greetings from San Lucas Toliman)

As we (Sophie & Charlie) type this, it is raining buckets and the rest of our group is figuring out how to spend our free afternoon when the town we’re in seems to shut down when it rains (or maybe just because it’s Saturday).

We arrived yesterday afternoon after very little sleep having arrived at the airport at 4:30 a.m. to catch our flight.  The drive from Guatemala City was about 3 hours and was punctuated by the occasional torrential downpour.  Our driver, Julio, was very kind to point out the various sights and since Sophie was sitting shotgun, she was able to translate for the rest of the group.  I think it was the first time most of us have smelled a rubber plant in action.

After we arrived, we were informed that the other 60 to 70 Americans working with the Mission had taken all of the small rooms, so the 13 of us are currently sharing 3 rooms. ¬†It is very cozy. ¬†We have been told that the bulk of the people will be leaving tomorrow morning and we’ll get to spread out a bit and be sleeping with fewer people per room.

This morning we went with some other people from the Mission (who are also from Minnesota!) to go help out on a local farm.  Half of us shoveled fertilizer into small bags to be used for future planting and the other half weeded spinach and carrots.  When we started, the entire bed looked like a jungle, but by the time we were done, you could actually see some of the carrots and spinach.  There is photographic evidence of this feat (to be posted later on).

Since then, we ate lunch and were assigned dish duty for the meal, which entailed Carl saying a blessing before we all ate and everyone pitching in to clean the dishes and eating area after lunch.  It felt like most of those 60 to 70 other Americans (and some Canadians) ate lunch with us today after the mess we had to clean.

We have the rest of the day off of “official” work so we’ll probably end up playing cards, staying dry, and spending more quality time as a group. ¬†Tomorrow we are told we’ll be going on a boat tour of Lake Atitlan, so we hope the rain lets up by then! ¬†Other people from the group will be posting daily (with pictures, hopefully) so stay tuned to hear more about our adventures in Guatemala!


Charlie & Sophie

Guatemala, here we come!

July 14, 2011

Our group of 13 departs at daybreak tomorrow morning! ¬†We will be visiting the San Lucas Mission¬†on the shores of Lake Atitlan. ¬†(pictured above). ¬† The core of our group is this year’s confirmation class – it’s a tradition for the youth to go as part of their confirmation experience.

Though the church has a long-standing connection with the Mission, this is my first visit. Last night, over supper, I sat down to read the journal from a previous trip.  What a neat glimpse into the small everyday moments and impressions that make up such a powerful journey.    The journal told tales of shopping in the vibrant markets, helping with reforestation projects, crushing rocks, learning to make wooden spoons, striking out on an early morning hike, attending a mayan ritual, and playing soccer.  Amongst the scribbled scores of card games and the sketches of the mountains and village were reflections about the simple goodness of community life in San Lucas;  about the pollution that accompanies the incredible beauty of the mountains and the lake;  about hunger among animals and hunger among people.

The materials from the mission emphasize the fact that we are going to Guatemala primarily to learn, not to help.  I am feeling incredibly lucky to get to learn from this experience and witness the processing and growing that takes place for all of us along the way.  Please check back with the blog starting on Saturday, as members of our group take turns posting their daily reflections.


June 13, 2011

print by Diana Eicher, from the “Laughing Bear” portfolio

This Spring, we exhibited the ‚ÄúLaughing Bear‚ÄĚ Portfolio ¬†in Pilgrim Hall. ¬†Artist Diana Eicher put this beautiful show together. ¬†She¬†sent the ‚ÄúLaughing Bear‚ÄĚ poem, by Katherine Tilton, to twenty some printmaker colleagues and asked them to make a print. ¬†You can read the poem here: ¬†

We held a  reception for this exhibit on Friday May 13, which included a reading of the poem, beautifully rendered by Sally Wingert.  Since the poem addresses the subject of domestic violence, we invited representatives from area organizations to join us.  Carol Arthur, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Domestic Abuse Project, and Rebecca McLane, Operations Manager from the St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project both talked about their programs and gave a bit about the history of domestic abuse intervention in The Twin Cities and in Minnesota. The Twin Cities have been in a leadership role in this area since the beginning.  We were thrilled that purchases of prints donations raised over $700 for the St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project.

The “Laughing Bear” event inspired First Church member, Carol Cochran, to write this reflection: ¬†


I wrote a God, hear our prayer article for Chimes [First Church newsletter] in 2005. My brother, a psychiatrist, was locked in an Arizona jail with a $1,450,000 bail. His crime‚ÄĒdomestic violence. I was shocked, confused, angry, sad, and grateful. Our parents deceased, I, his big sister and only sibling, went to his trial in January 2006 to testify and find out more. The trauma of seeing him shackled and fallen from his throne where I, our family, and his community had placed him, was like a horror movie, not real life. He was a forensic psychiatrist with the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) and formerly for the Utah DOC, where he gained fame as the psychiatrist for Gary Gilmore, Utah‚Äôs first death row inmate, after many decades, to die by firing squad. Now, my brother was on the other side, without the keys.


Good Friday Resource for April 22, 2011

April 21, 2011
art by He Qi

Good Friday is the holy day on which we remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus. At First Church, we will observe this day with a simple time of scripture reading, prayer, and silence at noon. If you are unable to join us at church, we invite you to use this resource as a guide for observance at home. Below are just a few suggestions for practice, reading, meditation, and prayer; please draw from it as you see fit.


Family Resources for Holy Week

April 21, 2011

Here are some activities you can try together as a family during this Holy Week or any time. Feel free to adapt them to fit your family.

Make a prayer table at home

Lent and Holy Week are a time of increased reflection and prayer and making new habits of prayer. A family prayer table invites the practice of prayer at home and is a physical reminder that God doesn‚Äôt ‚Äúlive‚ÄĚ at church! You can use it as formally or casually as you wish. It is a place for shared family prayer/contemplation or individual time. Perhaps start a ritual of gathering at the table before or after dinner for a few moments of candle-lighting, prayers for the world, and shared quiet. The prayer table should include a few items to show that it is a special place:


Member Lenten Reflections: 7

April 20, 2011

Xan Laurence contributed her thoughts on prayer and an old hymn from childhood. ¬†Thank you, Xan…

My heart an altar?


I am not a prayer.

More accurately, I am not a pray-er. I am not one who prays, much, except in the ‚ÄúPlease, God‚ÄĚ sense ‚Äď ‚ÄúPlease, God, let me find a parking space‚ÄĚ; ‚ÄúPlease, God, let me not be late‚ÄĚ; ‚ÄúPlease, God, let me win the lottery‚Ä̂Ķ Even an occasion which perhaps should have evoked a prayer ‚Äď a narrowly avoided car crash ‚Äď instead found me repeating, ‚ÄúOh, $#!+, oh $#!+‚ÄĚ for as long as it took to avoid hitting anything and regain control of my vehicle.