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Central America Travel

September 15, 2012

Mark and Beth left September 5th to begin travels throughout Central America and Peru on behalf of the Wesley Heritage Foundation and Instituto Estudios de Wesleyanos-Latin America.  We arrived in Antigua Guatemala, a beautiful colonial town offering language study and a welcoming point of re-entry into the Latin American culture. The country of Guatemala has been in full celebration mode in anticipation of Independence Day, September 15.  A wave of patriotism sweeps the country, a contagious unifying force with a heartfelt authenticity unrecognized by these North Americans.  In the midst of Mid-Eastern anti-American sentiment and volatility, we find a country and people who are welcoming of our presence.  This past week we will have visited with people respresenting four different churches: the Wesleyans, two branches of the Primitive Methodist church and the Nazarenes.  All have been most hospitable and excited about talking with us, listening with us and educating us on their particular backgrounds.  Our vision for this journey centers on active listening and discernment; an exercise in learning through a geography and culture of grace* where and how we can best interact and work with our Latin American brothers and sisters. (*Reading the book “Geography of Grace by Kris Rocke and Joel Van Dyke has provided thoughtful complement to our processing of experiences).  Discoveries thus far have centered on common needs for pastoral education, resources and assistance with solidifying a Wesleyan identity.  We have distributed the CD version of “Obras de Wesley”, a gift gladly received.  We are surprised to find a separation and division of churches with such similiar backgrounds and doctrine, although not in an antagonistic way.  With all suffering from minimal financial support and resources, we have to wonder what could be accomplished with joint efforts.  Both Primitive Methodist churches (one identified as “National” and the other as “Association”) offer strong schools with the John Wesley name and Methodist foundation in the same locale in the rural Mayan community of Quiche’.  Leadership of these churches have expressed willingness and interest in working together in the exchange of ideas and sharing of resources and welcome the opportunity to dialogue about challenges, visions and dreams.  Conversations have been open and dynamic and all have expressed appreciation for the visit.  As always we find the people of Guatemala to be extremely hospitable and gracious.

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