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Honduras

September 26, 2012

We entered Honduras under heavy storm clouds and lightening, arriving in Tegucigalpa over two hours late.  We were greeted by Juan Guerrero, his wife Alexandra and their son, Jeremias.  Juan, church superintendent, and Alexandra are missionaries from Columbia.  The young Methodist church in Honduras is a mission connectionally related to the United Methodist church.   The church office building in an upper scale area of the capital has spacious accommodations for work teams, pastors from the outer departments and visitors (including us and then UMCOR representatives later in the week).  We arrived late on Friday, September 21 and left the next day for a rural area in the neighborhood of Danli.  Saturday night we visited a vibrant young congregation in the village of Obraje.  This church grew out of a family who had been involved in  worship in another denomination, but felt called to begin a Methodist congregation.  The church building has been built largely by community donations and in kind labor, a fact of which they are very proud.  Services were first held here in March.  The service began with songs of praise and thanksgiving, accompanied by guitar, drums, keyboard and much clapping and dance. This congregation expresses its faith in fervent expressions of joy and emotion, and pastor Alejandro made a quasi-apology/explanation for the exhuberance, acknowledging that if the people did not sing praises, the very rocks would. We spent the night outside of Danli, falling asleep to the same music of crickets singing with the rocks and people in worship earlier that night.  Morning we attended a very different service in Danli Central.  This church is more tradition and staid (at least compared to Obraje), but the people were as welcoming and friendly in their greetings.  Later that afternoon we returned to Tegucigalpa where we experienced a third and still different church service.  This one was held in an area known as Fuertes Unidos, an area high above the city in an especially poor and somewhat dangerous section with a million dollar view.  The church was filled with children and we later learned they offered a strong feeding and education program for these the youngest. 

This exercise in listening and discernment that has accompanied our travel has  involved constant re-evaluation and thought in how the Institute for Wesley Studies can best serve and work with the people of Latin America.  At times we have questioned the wisdom of naming it in such a scholarly fashion, when the mutuality of exchange will benefit from a grassroots wisdom.  These Central American churches clearly are interested in, indeed recognize a need for, theological education and well trained pastors.  That need has been made known in every country, in every church.  But at the same time we realize over and over again that the spirit is very strong and present in these churches and while we may have much to offer them, they have much to offer us.  The presence of the spirit in these people is humbling.  Their generosity and love shine in their smiles and embraces and in their appreciation of having been recognized.  See me. Hear me. The meeting of a people face-to-face, one-to-one becomes an expression of mutual recognition and value for what is offered, what is received, and even more, what is shared.  Are we willing to surrender our own perceptions when they are not tangential with those we touch, those who touch us?  What is our mission?  What is our vision?

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El Salvador

September 24, 2012
Oh the wonders of technology! The long post I was in the midst of suddenly disappeared. Must have been too long. El Salvador cannot be easily summarized in a short bit of space. Our experiences ran the gamut of getting an introduction to the young Methodist church to witnessing sites of martyred priests who were killed during a wartime in which the government hastened to quell any possibility of a peoples revolt. In and through all of this weaves the beauty of the Mayan people and culture, a people who h…

ave struggled for survival, for the right to grow food to sustain themselves on land they had lived for generations. The bounty of El Salvador was quickly discovered by European and US capitalistic interests who wanted to make a profit at the expense of a humble and illiterate population. Our host and guide was Juan de Dios, president of the Methodist. The Methodist church is a mere 18 years old founded by a missionary and now under the leadership of Juan, a man of clear vision and dedication to the people of his church. The Methodist church has a strong presence in the western part of the country including a number of congregations in dangerous sections of San Salvador, the capital, nearly controlled by gangs. Juan maintains a careful balance of Wesleyan piety and works of mercy, encouraging small weekly group meetings and regular religious and theological education. The small churches we visited had strong outreach programs which included medical clinics and nutrition and health education. Juan speaks flawless English and was able to educate us not only on the history of the church, but also on the history of the country. His dedication to an El Salvador Methodist church which pays particular attention to cultural diversity and strengths left us with a clear image of just how much the Methodist churches of Latin America have to teach their North American brothers and sisters.

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.

Summer 2012 Newsletter

August 27, 2012

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August 2, 2012

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July 21, 2012

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The Wesley Heritage Foundation was chartered in 1990 as a means of producing a Spanish edition of the major writings of John Wesley. The result— Obras de Wesley— is now complete and today serves as an instrument of the Holy Spirit for renewal and unity of the Body of Christ. The design, first developed by a team of Latino and Anglo Wesleyan scholars and church officials, has now been executed by the Wesley Heritage Foundation as a scholarly ministry and offering to the Hispanic world.