Ray Osborn's blog

Called to be Friends

Yesterday morning, Jim and I had a delightful time meeting with Rev. Claude King, the incoming Senior Pastor of DGFUMC. We went out for lunch afterward, walking to a restaurant downtown.

I noticed one of our church members at a table we passed on our way to being seated. She was listening so intently to the friend at her table that I decided not to interrupt to say hello.

Chontolá and Chichicastenango

Weaving at Ruth & NaomiIt doesn't seem possible that our time in Guatemala is nearly over. We have just returned to the Sister Parish center in the heart of Guatemala City after a couple of days on the road. Marta Roja, one of the UPAVIMas, drove us through stunning scenery to Chichicastenango, a famous market town in the Quiché region, about 90 miles northwest of the capital. This is one of the centers of Mayan culture in Guatemala, so the visit gave us a chance to witness the resilience of the indigenous people in spite of the attempts to wipe it out during the civil war. Ellen, our Sister Parish coordinator, introduced us to Pastor Diego, who described how he established the Ruth and Naomi cooperative to help women devastated by the conflict to support themselves. We were taken to meet some of those women, who live on steep hillsides close to the small village of Chontolá, and whose houses could only be reached by narrow footpaths through fruit orchards and corn fields. After days amidst the diesel fumes of a crowded city, this simple walk with breathtaking views across cloud-capped mountains, was truly restorative. Once there, they showed us age-old hand-weaving skills used to produce a range of colorful crafts with designs typical of the region. Since they mostly only speak their native Quiché language, Ellen and Diego combined to provide two-stage translations of their inspiring story.

Buenas Tardes de Guatemala

Houston stopoverThe 2011 DGFUMC delegation to our sisters in UPAVIM has arrived in Guatemala City. After an early morning flight from Chicago and a brief stopover in Houston, we landed safely in Guatemala City (with all our luggage) just after 1pm. We were greeted by a number of UPAVIMAs, including several who visited Downers Grove in 2009, waiting patiently outside with the Sister Parish coordinator, Ellen Moore. The value of our hermanamiento was once again demonstrated by the warmth of their welcome, whether renewing past friendships or meeting new faces. This is a relationship that is enriching both communities, and we are excited that it is being refreshed once again.

Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes. We will try to post messages whenever we have access to the internet. You can follow our progress on the Guatemala blog.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Saying goodbye was so difficult: after just four days, we felt as though we were lifelong friends. Certainly, we had shared a great deal in a short time. We spent the morning talking with the UPAVIM Board about our purpose, vision and mission statements, and deepened our understanding of what our relationship means for each of us, and how it might develop in the future into practical outworkings that "promote quality and dignity of life: in BOTH our communities".

Friday to Monday, July 4-7, 2008

We have very little internet time today, but wanted to let you know that we're all well, and that the weekend has been a moving and extraordinary experience for us, both in our host families in La Esperanza, and in the time we have spent learning about the various projects and activities of UPAVIM.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

After a night in the Las Palmas Hotel, where we failed to dry any of our clothes that were drenched in the previous evening's shower, we set off for ADIVIMA to learn of the tragic history of this region. We met Juan de Dios Garcia, who described with remarkable calmness the terrible massacres that took place in villages around Rabinal, including Rio Negro, where 107 children and 70 women were killed in one day in 1982. The resistance of the indigenous population to losing their land to a hydroelectric project was ruthlessly suppressed by the army.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

During the first two days of the trip, we are being given a glimpse of Guatemala's troubled history with the help of some remarkable people who have been risking their lives to promote human rights and justice in a country still struggling to emerge from a 36-year civil war. In 1996, a peace agreement was signed between the government and the guerrillas, with promises of social justice for all Guatemalans, including the indigenous Mayan population. However, it takes a long time to transform a country that has been so damaged by violence.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We're here! After a very early start, and a change at Houston, the mission team to Guatemala landed in Guatemala City at around 11am local time (one hour behind Chicago). The welcome was as warm as we had been led to expect; and, for those who came last year and for new delegates alike, it was very welcome after the strains of travel.

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