Posted by: amandacraft | April 22, 2013

Earth Day

We are still in the midst of the promises of the Resurrection, and yet our world continues to shutter from unspeakable and inexplicable violence.  God has given an open invitation to enjoy the goodness and righteousness desired for all creation.  However, as humans, we fall short in fulfilling our own end of the pact.  Instead, innocents are robbed of life far too soon and the earth weeps as we rob her of her richness.  We still have so much work to do, so many voices to hear, so many needs to meet, so many ills to forgive, so much injustice to overcome.  Are we ready?

I don’t always have the answers.  I often give in exhausted from just living the day.  However, I know God has different plans, different dreams.  So I wake each day, grateful for another chance to do something right.  Although some of the world’s problems seem so large and inaccessible, I forget to look at the root of them – our misunderstanding of how to love our neighbor.  If we could learn to love our neighbor, what would the world look like?  And what is a neighbor in today’s context?  I do not think it is only the person living next door.  Our world is far too connected for that response.  My “neighbor” is a complex answer in a globalized and integrated world that contains all of nature.  As I sit reflecting on Earth Day these questions linger in my mind.

Madre Tierra de Declaracion Universal de los Derechos Hermanos.

Madre Tierra de Declaracion Universal de los Derechos Hermanos.

So today I invite you to learn more about what the Presbyterian Church (USA) is doing as members care for the earth. Presbyterians for Earth Care, an Eco-Justice Network, offers worship resources and ideas for action for this special day.  As I become wiser, I know the small acts of remembering and learning are significant.  We should not shut down because we think problems are too large but be inspired and motivated by the small steps congregations and communities are taking in God’s name.  Let us be a community of light and hope in a world that struggles with keeping the light going.

Scripture – Luke 10:25-37, “The Good Samaritan”

Luke 10:25-28

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[j] “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

Prayer -

God we know we fall short of bringing your realm to this world, not knowing how to love our neighbors.  Fear and ignorance often dictate how we interact with neighbors instead of love and grace.  Help us to understand how these shortcomings lead to hate and violence.  Help us to learn to love one another and your creation in order to transform how we live.  Let us learn to be agents of change.  AMEN.

This is a prayer written by the Rev. Mark Koenig, Director of Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.  Mark and I worked together for several years with the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.  I have deep respect for him – his commitment, his thoughtfulness, his desire to create a more just world, and his genuine faithfulness.  Thank you, Mark, for sharing this!  Please feel free to use this in your communities of faith.

Prayer of Confession from Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day

God of grace and goodness,

what we claim as our own,

you create and give to us.

What we would use for ourselves alone,

you entrust to us for the blessing of all.

Where we perceive scarcity,

you provide enough for all.

Where we grasp and hoard,

you invite us to share.

Where we privilege some at the expense of others,

you endow all with value, worth and dignity

Where we divide and exclude,

you invite and welcome all to the table.

When we turn from your way,

you love us still.

When we fall short,

you make possible new beginnings.

God of grace and goodness,

forgive us, renew us.

Open us afresh to the leading of your Holy Spirit

for the living of our days.

We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

This prayer was written for the opening worship service at the 5 April 2013 Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day by the Rev. W. Mark Koenig. It may be used freely.

Posted by: amandacraft | April 10, 2013

Songs of Nature

I had the unique privilege of spending some time with the Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) serving in Guatemala in early March.  They were working with Spiritual Director, and former PCUSA mission co-worker in Guatemala, Jeannene Wiseman, to provide tools to help them process their time in Guatemala as they move into the second half of their year-long mission experience.  I would have enjoyed spending the entire retreat with them, but I was grateful that they graciously allowed me to participate during a few hours one morning.  During that particular segment of  the retreat, they were working on noticing.

I wrote the following reflection out of that time:

God, you’re inviting us in, aren’t you?
 
You tempt us with things so beautiful.
You offer front row seats for a private concert – “songs of nature.”
 
My ears are treated to these melodies and counter harmonies:Guatemala woodpecker(2)
A chorus of birds celebrating your day,
Woodpeckers adding the percussion,
The crinkle beneath my feet providing the harmony,
Jacaranda petals falling and settling gently on the ground are the strings,
Wind rustling through the leaves fills the role of the wind instruments,
Singing human voices of the young and old add depth to the experience. 
 
You create things that go beyond my understanding of beauty and harmony.
 
But suddenly I am pushed back to my worldly reality by the screeching ambulance siren.
 
Why, God, is it that we humans must disrupt the harmony and beauty found in nature’s stillness?
Why, God, is it that we must fill the silence as if we struggle to dominate instead of integrate?
 
Please, Lord, keep inviting us in.
One day we will hear and understand.
 

I thank the YAVs and Jeanne for allowing me to be a part even if briefly of this experience.  I also thank you for sharing so honestly and deeply.  My life is busy with small children, work, and school.  This was a gift – to sit still, listen, and experience God’s loving grace.

If you would like to learn more about the YAV experience in Guatemala, please visit these two blogs:

L-R: Myself, Victorina (Moderator of Maya Quiche Presbyterial), and Annie (YAV)

L-R: Myself, Victorina (Moderator of Maya Quiche Presbyterial), and Annie (YAV)

Annie Aeschbacher – corazonguatemalteco.wordpress.com

Rachel Lee – yavesperanza.blogspot.com

Please learn more about the Young Adult Volunteer Program.  This Presbyterian Church USA supported year-long mission experience is for young adults.  The program is still accepting applications for those interested in serving at national sites for this year (August 2013- August 2014).  For those interested in serving in an international site, your applications for the following year (August 2014-August 2015) are due by January 2014.

Scripture reflection – Psalm 147 (NRSV)

Psalm 147:7, “ Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre.”

Prayer:

Thank you, God, for giving so abundantly.  Your world is full of miraculous creation of beauty and harmony beyond our human understanding.  May we take time to notice that beauty and harmony.  Let us let go of those worldly things that disrupt the beauty and separates us from living in harmony.  May we work to one day be integrated members of the harmonious chorus.  AMEN.

Posted by: amandacraft | April 4, 2013

The color purple

IMG_1565Lent comes alive in La Antigua, Guatemala.  The celebrations held during lent and holy week are now the largest in the world surpassing what is done in Seville, Spain.  Churches take turns to host processions that depict Christ’s life during the lenten season.  Holy week processions focus on Christ’s arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.  The life-like statues conjure up stark images as men, women, and children lumber along cobble-stoned streets carrying heavy platforms displaying the protagonists.  The streets themselves come alive with splashes of bright colored “carpets” made of dyed sawdust, fresh flowers, fruit, and pine needles.  The artistry is intoxicating.

This will be my 6th lenten season in Antigua.  And although I enjoy and respect the tradition and significance it holds for Catholic Guatemalans, I try to seek out something new – something I have not noticed in previous years.   This year what catches my attention is color.

Of course the town is draped in the liturgical color for lent – purple.  Purple banners have over windows and balconies.  The dried flower arrangements that adorn doorways are filled with purple flowers.  However, what I have not noticed before are the purple jacaranda blossoms.  jacaranda trees in parque central Jacaranda trees are tall and large, and when the flowers are in bloom they pack the limbs as if they are leaves.  The flowers are small and delicate giving off a soft, sweet smell.  Guatemalans respect these seemingly insignificant blossoms for their medicinal properties.  Boiling the flowers in a tea is a natural alternative to calming microbial infections in the digestive system (a common problem in Guatemala).

The irony is not lost on me.  Here is a purple flower that has healing properties enjoying full bloom during a liturgical season focused on healing.  God has such an interesting way of speaking, no?  Jesus’ death is significant since it was a divine 220px-BlueJacarandaFlowersact meant to heal the many wrongs, shortcomings, and sins of the world.  I am reminded of this through a tiny tree blossom.  The power to heal does not have to come from something grandiose, but through delicate, small acts that have the capacity to transform.  I am hoping that I can challenge myself to notice and name more of these acts.

Prayer:

God you have given to use freely, even offering the ultimate sacrifice of your human son.  Help us to understand that through Christ’s resurrection we are invited to live this life anew.  May we be transformed by the acts of our sins dying, our lives healed, and being given a new chance to glorify your name.  Halleluiah, Christ has risen.  AMEN.

Posted by: amandacraft | March 8, 2013

International Women’s Day – how to walk with…

Guatemala is a society that conforms to strict gender roles.  There are glimmers of change – there is almost gender parity in the universities – and women are seeking employment and political positions that give rise to the female voice.  However, these glimmers are still weak.   Guatemala remains one of the most dangerous places for women and girls.  A sad reality to remnants of cultural and political violence that lingers unresolved and a legal system that is too ineffective to bring justice.  So my question is this, how do you walk with women living under these circumstances?

To me the answer is ally-building.  Listening to others’ stories, understanding their realities, and working together to find solutions are three important steps to ally-building.  The piece I challenge myself with is walking alongside these women, patiently and gently pushing them for change.  I exige tus derechosappreciate this picture from the International Women’s March in NYC and Rally at the UN (picture taken by Bruce Reyes-Chow).  It says, “woman demand your rights.”  In Guatemala this is a risky notion.  Women are not always free to demand their rights, or if they do, they can place themselves in physical and emotional danger.  Their communities can outcast them for demanding their rights.  Family can turn them out and churches can discipline them.  Culturally they are taught to endure silently what comes their way.  However, what I love about this picture is that it asks us to risk all of that.  If we do not stand up for ourselves, then nothing will change.  I go back to the women who for centuries before me fought for something different.  Women lost their lives for those changes.  I know it can be simple for me to take this posture; I’m not risking everything.  However, I hope with proper ally building, women will see that they are not alone.  They maybe risking their current life but in risking what exists, something new can be born.  The world is transformed through this dying and birthing.  If women are supported sufficiently and widely by allies then the risk is diminished.  We are called to stand by those who suffer not only to comfort them but also to seek justice so that the suffering does not continue.  Being change agents is not an easy task, but we must dream and hope and work for something better for all.  I am called to share the Good News so that God’s children may all be free!

Some of my favorite pictures from the rally.  You can see more at Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations facebook page.  Thank you Bruce Reyes-Chow for photographing this important moment.

presbyterians for peace and justice mundo sin violencia justice not impunity

Let us not be silent when we need to talk.  Let us not look the other way when someone needs help.  Let us lift up our voices for a different world – one that values women and girls for what they are – created in God’s image to celebrate the life God has given.  We are equals in God’s eyes – not the same – but equally loved.  Let us think about how to learn to share that love.

Resources to use this International Women’s Day -

1.  Check out what is happening at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.  This year they are looking at issues of violence against women and girls.  Something very timely for Guatemala.

2.  Research resources listed through the United Nations Women2000 and Beyond series.  The series began in 1992 under the title Women2000 to promote the goals of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women. In 2002, the title for the series was changed to Women2000 and Beyond.

3.  Visit the Presbyterian Women in the PC(USA) Facebook page about up-to-date events and resources.

Peace and blessings to you.  I thank you for wanting to accompany our many sisters in faith.  It is in walking together we can take small steps forward.

Posted by: amandacraft | February 12, 2013

By God’s grace…

Motherhood is not something that has come easily to me.  I have always hoped for a family – one with several children.  But, dreaming about something and living it are very different.  Daily I am challenged by balancing the responsibilities at hand – family, work, and school.  This is not unlike many mothers, but it appears that others handle it with grace and patience.  Living in a culture where women are born to be mothers doesn’t necessarily make this challenge any easier.

My oldest son is now 3, and is vivacious, extroverted, and smart.  He is also a child who is demanding of others’ time, since he doesn’t quite like toIMG_2413 entertain himself.  I know this because it is never a mystery to what he is thinking (going back to the vivacious and extroverted part).  I struggle to provide him with an environment that allows him to grow and develop without stifling his over-the-top personality.  Many times as I review the day in my mind, I lament about the many moments in which I failed to do so.  And then the worry sets in.  Am I leaving lasting scars?  What will he remember from his childhood?  Oh, how could I have done that better?  In spite of all of this, he is extremely aware of the world happening around him.  He is constantly absorbing things even when he seems distracted.   Then there are moments of reassurance that calm my worries.

We were playing on the swings the other day – an activity my son LOVES.  He is chatting about this and that, and I’m only half paying attention to what he’s saying thinking about the number of things I need to get done that day.  I then realize he’s stopped talking and looking at me.  Oops, he’s waiting  for a response.  I ask him kindly to repeat the question.  He does so – he’s asked who has put the many little stones on the ground below the swing set.  My mind is racing to come up with someone – the groundskeeper, other children, our neighbor’s dog.  In my silence, Ale answers his own question, “It was probably God, wasn’t it, Mama?”  I’m thrown back into the moment.  “Yes, Ale, you’re right.” It is really all I can say.  And then I am acutely aware of the Holy Spirit moving among us.  My worries are settled knowing that in the midst of my shortcomings, Ale is growing up just right.  Through God’s grace, he is learning the rights and wrongs of this world.  His imagination, creativity, and understanding are not being stifled but are blossoming with God’s help.  The Divine walks with us correcting my mistakes and ensuring Ale he has a loving and nurturing place to grow.  It is through his innocence and honesty that I can see God’s purity at work.  Whew, I can rest well tonight knowing we’ll both survive.

Scripture reflection – Luke 18: 15-17 (NRSV)

15People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. 16But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 17Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

Prayer:

God I have so many shortcomings to confess, worries that overwhelm my mind and heart.  However, I come to you today to thank you for your faithfulness and guidance.  You work among me even when I am not aware.  You correct my many mistakes with grace and love.  My I learn to come to you as a child – with innocence and honesty.  It is you who puts the little stones in place in my life.  For this I am grateful.  Amen.

Posted by: amandacraft | February 6, 2013

International Crisis Group work in Guatemala

International Crisis Group is a non-profit, independent NGO dedicated to ending conflict worldwide.  This group is renowned lgo_icgfor its study and reporting on situations of violence and of reconciliation and peacemaking.  The following is a report about peaceful protest turned violent in Guatemala’s highland region and the ongoing problems with Guatemala’s weak police force and the exclusion and marginalization of its indigenous peoples.

Totonicapán: Tension in Guatemala’s Indigenous Hinterland

Guatemala City/Bogotá/Brussels  |   6 Feb 2013

The killing of protestors last October was a tragedy foretold by those who have long warned against Guatemala’s use of the armed forces to maintain domestic peace.

Totonicapán: Tension in Guatemala’s Indigenous Hinterland, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines how using the army for law enforcement and to maintain public order in a country with extensive economic inequalities is especially perilous. The danger became tragically clear on 4 October 2012, when soldiers apparently opened fire on a march protesting high electricity prices and demanding affordable education and recognition and promotion of indigenous rights in the highland Maya town of Totonicapán, killing six and injuring more than 30.

“Tensions are high in many indigenous areas over issues such as mining and access to land, education and electricity’’, says Mary Speck, Crisis Group’s Senior Guatemala Analyst. “This makes it all the more urgent for Guatemala to build civilian security forces trained to manage demonstrations without resorting to violence”.

Protests, especially among the desperately poor indigenous population, are on the rise, as a multitude of issues fuel conflict in many rural areas. The recent past makes such unrest particularly dangerous. Between 1960 and 1996, the country suffered one of the most brutal counter-insurgency campaigns in Latin American history, during which an estimated 200,000 people died, most of them from Maya communities in the western highlands.

Although initially sceptical that soldiers had used lethal force, President Otto Pérez Molina did the right thing by allowing prosecutors to conduct an investigation that has so far resulted in charges against an army colonel and eight soldiers. He has also promised to refrain from sending armed soldiers to demonstrations, though his government continues to use the military to supplement the deficiencies of civilian police who are overwhelmed even by ordinary street crime much less the drug cartels that now penetrate Guatemala.

The government needs to give indigenous populations a voice and a stake in the formulation and implementation of policies that affect their culture and livelihoods. It also needs to make police reform a top priority, establishing a timeline and benchmarks for transferring law enforcement duties away from the military, as required under the 1996 peace accords.

The Congress needs to establish an effective legal framework that allows indigenous communities to resolve legitimate concerns about the environmental and social impact of hydroelectric and mining projects. Investors should cooperate with indigenous and environmental activists to implement extractive industry best practices designed to protect local interests. Finally, leaders from across the political spectrum should work to ensure that indigenous peoples – who make up half or nearly half the population – secure the representation they deserve within the country’s political institutions.

“The onus is not on the national government alone. Local and communal authorities, as well as organisations that represent indigenous and rural interests, need to negotiate in good faith to reach democratic compromises on how to manage natural resources”, says Javier Ciurlizza, Crisis Group’s Latin America and Caribbean Program Director”. “Investors should perform environmental and human rights due diligence, focusing on the special needs and challenges faced by indigenous communities”.

Posted by: amandacraft | September 6, 2012

The Richness of God’s diverse world

A few days ago I found myself sitting in the lobby of Kentucky Refugees Ministries  in Louisville, KY.  This day happened to be the first day of fall English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for recent immigrants.  The lobby was abuzz with the excitement of these new students.  I was struck by the splash of color, language, and smells.  Each person who entered greeted each other and me.  As I sat there I became overwhelmed with the goodness that one can find in this world.

While I reflect later on this experience, I am reminded of why these individuals find themselves in KY.  They have been threatened by, witnessed, and/or are victims of unthinkable violence.  The upheaval of their lives and homes brings them to Louisville, not by choice but by necessity.  And yes the excitement I saw that day was real.  They are excited about this new adventure and new opportunity.  However, I cannot imagine the bittersweet emotions that rush through them as they embark on this next step as they must leave behind so much.  Although I do not have a chance to speak to any of them in great detail, I am certain that the majority would have said that they did not necessarily want to leave their home to come to this foreign place.  They would be grateful for escaping their situation, but they would probably all miss home, family, and friends.

We still have much to learn about how to live respectfully with one another and to understand that our diversity is a strength and richness that are God’s gifts.  This experience reminded me of two opportunities to reflect on the need of peacemaking and about celebrating the peoples of the world: UN International Day of Peace and World Communion Sunday.  September 21st is celebrated by the UN as the International Day of Peace.  The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations has provided numerous materials and resources to assist church communities commemorate this day.  World Communion Sunday is celebrated the first Sunday of October – Oct. 7th this year.  These two events offer faith communities the opportunity to remember the violence that exists in the world and the desire to bring God’s love to the brokenness.  Through the act of communion, communities come together to make a commitment to celebrate and respect one another and remember Jesus’ promise of a life renewed.

Scripture reflection (taken from World Communion Sunday) Mark 10:23-31.  The piece that touched me most strongly was this:

“Jesus looked at them [disciples] and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible'” (Mark 10:27 NRSV).

Prayer:

Dear God help us remember that all things are possible through you.  We often neglect to remember or recognize your power to transform this broken world.  May we be reminded during this time of prayer and communion.  It is you who will protect us; it is you who will forgive us; it is you who will love us; it is you who will save us.  AMEN

 

 

Posted by: amandacraft | August 13, 2012

Our responsibility as storytellers

This past week I had the unique privilege of being in community with about 25 other mission personnel who are just returning for interpretation assignment or are just finishing interpretation assignment.  For someone who is only finishing her first term as a mission co-worker, it was extremely beneficial to have time to learn from and to share with others who have decades more experience in the field.  Their wisdom and insights helped me to think more deeply about my own ministry in Guatemala and how I can be a better partner while accompanying the women of the Union Sinodica.

During our time together, we also worked on how we share our own stories and the stories of our partners.  As part of that time, we watched a video clip from a presentation done by Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, “The Danger of a Single Story.”  I have embedded the video in the previous link, but it is a bit long – just over 18 minutes.  If you have the time, I strongly encourage you to view the video.  Many of us take on the responsibility of telling the story of others, but we must be careful.  Ms. Adichie explains the dangers that come when we share only one perspective, one side, one story that is meant to represent a people or a culture.  So as we think about interpreting mission experiences may we be aware of what we’re projecting and how to be as honest as we can about the story we’re telling.  May we also be aware that we are not telling the entire story but only a small snapshot of the overall experience.

It will please God and God’s people if we remember that we can share in the joy and struggles of others, but that we can only understand bits and pieces.  We should share but be honest about how we do that.

Pictures from our closing worship

Posted by: amandacraft | May 25, 2012

The “missionary” dilemma

I often blog about best mission practices to help others create a mission experience that is a faithful and life giving response to the injustices we witness.  However, it does not mean that as a person living and working in the mission field that I do not get caught up in the messiness of mission, too.  This earthly world is one that contains unspeakable inequality, and I, too, find myself wishing for and wanting those quick answers.  The following story I share from a recent experience during one of my travels.

I was visiting a small community of Kekchi women in the department of Alta Verapaz (northeast of Guatemala City).  This group of women were part of a new presbytery joining the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala (IENPG), and I participated in a delegation on behalf of the Union Sinodica to welcome these women into the organization.  However, I found myself becoming overwhelmed by the immediate needs of the families I saw.  It was all I could do to force myself to stay focused on the task at hand.

When the activity ended, I was invited individually to meet with a few select families.  This often happens, that even through I am traveling with leaders from the Union Sinodica, folks want to gather with me separately.  It often is a sign that they have a special project in which they believe I can find funds to support.  I braced myself to give the usual – we really should work through the official partnership channels speech – when I was met with a very different sight.

I walked into the church building to find three families sitting and waiting – adults and children.  I was invited to take a seat.  The pastor (and interpreter) began to explain a graver issue here; the children of these families were sick, and they did not know what to do.  As they started explaining the symptoms, my heart broke.  These children were suffering from effects of malnutrition for various reasons.  The answer to their health problems was seemingly quite simple – they needed access to clean water, access to proper nutrition provided through a balanced diet, and the education necessary to explain the importance of using clean water and offering a balanced diet.  At least this seemed like a simple answer…

However, I knew the barriers that stood in their way.  Finding water can take a day’s work of walking to the nearest spring or river, gathering firewood to build a fire, and then boiling the water.  It takes an entire family’s input to work.  Access to a balance diet means access to available land, out of reach for these families, and the knowledge of growing techniques for types of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and animals that they have lost through various generations.  If they decide to use genetically modified seeds (what is readily available here), they will need additional income for purchasing seeds and chemical fertilizer.  This was not a simple answer after all.

Looking at the solemn faces, lost in fear and helplessness, I understood in that moment that the only difference between these mothers and children and myself and my son is circumstance.  Unfair circumstances that exist due to unjust systems.  I began to feel the tensions in the room of the expectations being formed.  I knew I could not fulfill all of them, especially not immediately.  The feeling of panic set in.  What do I do?  Then the familiar nudge returned – just reach into your pocket and offer them the few quetzales you have for right now.  It may only last them a few weeks, and they probably will not use the money to pay for a medical clinic visit to test their children for intestinal worms or infection, but at least these sad, expecting eyes will be diverted for a moment.  I take a deep breath and realize this nudge is more about me so that I will feel better, not about providing these individuals with lasting answers.  So instead, I took one of the mother’s hands in mine, and we prayed, and we cried.

As we conclude our time of prayer, I promise to be in touch with several other organizations that might be able to help.  Organizations that offer expertise in addressing the problems facing this community so they could provide appropriate, local solutions plus the necessary follow-up to maintain these projects.  It is not easy to work across organizational lines in Guatemala, but I am determined to try.

As we offered our farewells, my hand did the inevitable.  I reached into my pocket and pulled out those quetzales to leave with these families.  It was not much money, and it was not going to change the difficulties facing the families, but at least they could afford food for the next few weeks.  Immediate needs demand immediate response – ABSOLUTELY.  But, I felt empowered with a plan that would also hopefully bring long-term solutions.  Offering the money was no longer about me feeling better, it was about helping these families get through the next few weeks.  Now it’s onto that harder work of finding those answers so the immediate needs do not return.

NOTE: I have lots of pictures to share from this trip and will upload them in another post so you can enjoy them.

Scripture passage for reflection:  1 John 3:16-18 (New Revised Standard)

“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

Prayer:

God we come to you as a people who often seek the easy answers when we know that they will not relieve the pain and brokenness of this world.  Forgives us and have patience with us.  Help us to understand that we are called to accompany each other in difficult circumstances and must be willing to ask the hard questions and seek lasting answers.  Many of us enjoy your abundant gifts and must work constantly to learn how to share in that abundance through just solutions that allow all to live.

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