Guatemala photos

July 18, 2011 by

Monday, July 18th

July 18, 2011 by

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´s Center, the health clinic, and the coffee growing and processing center.  The Women´s 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 by

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 by

¡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 by

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.


July 14, 2011 by


July 10, 2011; Matthew 13: 1-9,18-23; Isaiah 55: 10-13


A sermon preached by Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC at University Baptist Church

“The bottom line is that seeds are alive…” This quote comes from an article entitled “How Seeds Work”. The author goes on to explain that seeds are the embryo of a new plant. Tucked inside each seed is DNA from plant parents. As well as the radicle, or primary root, and the cotyledyn, or first leaves. The seed also contains enough food to last until the plant’s own roots and leaves can draw nourishment from the soil and sun. The seed coat protects this plant embryo from disease, insects and moisture. The process of growth, called germination, begins when the conditions are right, with respect to water, light, oxygen and temperature. Source:

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God Between Us

June 26, 2011 by

June 26, 2011; Matthew 10: 40-42

Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC

“Compassionate welcome means approaching each other through God…” writes theologian Emilie Townes. Compassionate welcome means approaching each other through God. (Feasting on the Word Commentary, Year A, Volume 3, p. 190)

A small encounter this week at the Y reminded me that compassionate welcome is no simple task. On the seat of the exercise bike sat a water bottle. The man on the next bike said it wasn’t his, and he hadn’t seen the owner. So I set in the floor, adjusted the machine, and began pedaling. At just that moment a young man walked up. “Oh,” I said, “were you using this machine?” “Yes,” he answered. “Would you like me to move? I would be happy to…” Before he could respond, someone else spoke: “no, no it’s fine. We’ll just set up over here” – gesturing toward another bike he was already adjusting. I said “OK” and went back to pedaling. A conversation ensued between the two of them. The young man confronted his helper with words slow and strained. “I’m feeling upset” “What’s wrong?” “I don’t like it when you speak for me.” “What do you mean?” “Just then, you answered for me. You told that lady it was Ok for me to use another machine. I had it all adjusted and ready. It takes a lot of time and effort for me to figure out the seat and I don’t like to have to do it all over again.”

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Going to Galilee

June 19, 2011 by

June 19, 2011; Matthew 28: 16-20

A sermon preached by Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC

Jesus said to the disciples: “after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” At the empty tomb, they once again received word: Jesus went to Galilee; go to Galilee. Galilee is home- the place where they all grew up. Galilee is daily life, the arena where big politics touch ordinary people. In the Palestine of Jesus’ day, the Romans ruled the Jews through tyrannical governors.

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June 13, 2011 by

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

This Spring, we exhibited the “Laughing Bear” Portfolio  in Pilgrim Hall.  Artist Diana Eicher put this beautiful show together.  She sent the “Laughing Bear” 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—domestic 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’s first death row inmate, after many decades, to die by firing squad. Now, my brother was on the other side, without the keys.

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Clothed With Power

June 5, 2011 by

June 5, 2011; Acts 1: 1-11; Luke 24: 44-53

A sermon preached by Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC.

On the morning of Saturday May 21st, NPR reported on Harold Camping’s rapture prophecy. At 6 pm on May 21st, Camping had predicted, terrible earthquakes would strike, beginning in New Zealand. 200 million of the faithful would be taken up into heaven Those left behind would endure 6 months of torture until the world ended in a fireball. The reporter spoke to a couple dozen people who believed in the prophecy.

Up until this point, the whole rapture thing had struck me as funny. I kept quipping that since I work on Sunday, it would be convenient for me if the world ended on a Saturday. One way or another, I would get the day off. I grew sad; however, as I listened stories of real people who had staked their lives on this prophecy.

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