Guatemala Travelers Report 1

September 6, 2011 - Leave a Response

The team has arrived safely and are getting settled into a church hostel. They are tired, but comfortable following a long day of travel. Fortunately, everything in the airports and customs went smoothly and following that they were taken to enjoy a delicious homemade lunch of soup and beef tortillas. This afternoon they drove to Palencia to survey the construction site and plan for work later in the week. Tomorrow they travel to Izbal province. I will talk to Fred tomorrow evening at 9pm, so please let me know if you have any messages you wish to share with members of the group.

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Update from NEST 3/2011

March 7, 2011 - Leave a Response

From: “Mary Mikhael” Subject:

RE: Update on NEST Greetings to you and every good wish.

 We had to postpone the seminars (for Iraqi leaders) till July when we have our Continuing Education Seminar for our former students, and when Dr. Bailey will be the speaker. We hope funds by the PC(USA) will be secured by July. We continue all our activities as normal as possible. Early February we had a special consultation with a group of German scholars (13) for four days discussing the theme of “Teaching Religion in the Presence of Others”. The consultation ended with a celebration of our (11th) Anniversary of the special Program for European Students. Thursday January 20th we had a public event to discuss “Family Values in Christianity and Islam”. And last Thursday we discussed “Monotheism and Political Order”. Tomorrow we will discuss the Gospel of Barnabas; “Authentic or Apocryphal?”. As you may know that (some?) claim it as authentic. So we will clarify. As for the Lebanese situation, we are still with a “care taker government”. May God Almighty give peace and stability. Much love! Mary ————————-

Mary Mikhael, Ed. D.

President Near East School of Theology 

website: http://www.theonest.edu.lb

Domestic Response to the Crisis in Haiti

January 25, 2010 - Leave a Response

A Letter from John Robinson, National Coordinator for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance regarding the domestic response to the crisis in Haiti…

Dear Colleagues in Ministry,

 A few of you have inquired about the availability of PDA assistance in responding to the needs of the Haitian communities in the US in the wake of last week’s devastating earthquake. 

 PDA considers this both a domestic and an international disaster.  The role of the domestic response is to provide, where possible, spiritual support for Haitians living in this country who have been affected by the events in Haiti.  At this point our approach will be to develop information about Haitian culture and guidance about pastoral care for those grieving the loss of loved ones from a distance.  If the way is clear PDA may be able to develop regional gatherings for those who wish to be active in this ministry of care for those in our midst. 

 At this point returning to Haiti is not advisable for family members.  The international humanitarian assistance programs are working diligently to develop the relief structures necessary to provide safe, sanitary housing, food supplies and medical care.  PDA will be involved on the ground with partners with whom we have worked previously.  Funds will not be made available for transportation for family.

 We are awaiting word from the US government as to the plans for offering temporary status for Haitians with ties to the US to come to this country and under what conditions. So far this seems to be very limited and restricted to those with overwhelming vulnerability such as those with life threatening medical conditions and orphans whose orphanages were so badly damaged that remaining in place constituted an unreasonable risk to their health and welfare.  If some limited evacuation becomes a reality PDA will work with Presbyteries, existing aid organizations and with those funded by the government to provide case management and financial support.

 So far those evacuated from Haiti have been those with US or dual US/Haitian citizenship.  Many of these families are returning to the US without resources to support themselves.  Unless funding from FEMA is forthcoming it is likely that these families will be in need of hospitality and support as well as spiritual care during their evacuation. 

 At this time PDA does not have a plan for distributing funds to Presbyteries for support of the Haitian community in the US, aside from the Care for Caregiver training and information on culturally appropriate ways of assisting those dealing with the grief in the loss and injury of family and friends in Haiti.

We are still in the early days of responding to this crisis.  The areas struck by the earthquake are not yet secure, the systems of providing aid are not yet completely in place and the plans even for the foreseeable future are not clear from either out government or the United Nations and other international aid agencies.  Care must be taken neither to destroy the Haitian agricultural sector nor to replace employment opportunities for Haitian by foreigners as the Haitian people work to get their own economy working again.

 This will be a long process.  We all need to be careful to respond to the immediate needs within our resources without seeming to offer more than is possible to give.  Local ecumenical and non-profit collaboration can guard against duplication of services and exposure of one organization to be overwhelmed.  In long term disaster recovery it is important for those affected by the disaster to be encouraged to make choices for themselves and reconnect with their own means of coping and resilience.  Providing support through prayer services, listening sessions and fellowship can be as important as the provision of physical needs. 

 As we move forward with the involvement of PDA domestically with the response to this overwhelming tragedy, I will do my best to keep you in the loop.  In the meantime, if you know of those who could help in developing culturally appropriate information for those seeking to provide hospitality to Haitians during this crisis, please send the contact information to janet.nunez@pcusa.org.  In addition,  it would be helpful to know whether there are other Haitian community or faith communities within your Presbytery.

 Grace and Peace,

John

Hello from Guatemala

September 8, 2009 - Leave a Response

From: Pedro Palacios [mailto:drdoc123@gmail.com]

Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 12:14 AM

To: Providence Presbytery

Subject: Hello from Guatemala

Hello everybody, Just dropping a note to greet you and to thank you for your prayers. We have been very busy with teams, and we apologize for not writing before. God has been very good to us, and we have been able to see more people than other years, He has blessed immensely with equipment. We are now capable of seeing more patients and blessing more people. Our staff is doing great, they are all excited, a little tired, but very excited to see God’s hands working in our lives and our Ministry. We still have more teams to come, so more blessings to come. We have worked with teenagers, couples, women, children and we feel God has called us to expand our ministry into such areas, and more. All these activities have been very blessed. There is no doubt God has stirred hearts, and fruit will come. There are more plans, more dreams, more to come. Please friends, we ask for you prayers, prayers for strength, for peace, for our budget to be met. At this point we have equipment to help people, we just ask for your prayers for provision, for our yearly budget to be met, so we can continue with this ministry the Lord has allowed us to lead. We will try to keep updating more frequently, but once more, thanks for all the help you provide La Mision with. We feel blessed and honored to have such a great team of people like you praying for us, and supporting this Ministry. Blessings for you all! Dr. Pedro Palacios (Tito) La Mision, Guatemala palacios@lamision.org.gt drdoc123@gmail.com

A Message from the Wheelers in Honduras

August 10, 2009 - Leave a Response

Dear Friends,

 

On June 28th I was in Copan with a study tour.  My plan for the day was to get them to the hotel in San Pedro Sula, a three-hour trip, so they could depart the country the following day.  There had been growing tension in the country due to the presidential plan to hold a survey deemed unconstitutional by the supreme court of Honduras.

 

There are days that stand out in our memory very vividly, like the day JFK was killed.  I remember the day that Hurricane Mitch hit the country at the end of 1998 and the struggle that I had just to be able to get home safely with family in toe avoiding flood waters.  June 28th proved to be one of those days. I could just feel it as if I was living history in the making.

News came over the radio and CNN around 6am that the president had been taken from his sleep by force and flown to Costa Rica.  Seeing a president in his pajamas captured the world’s attention but obscured what had been building up for months and what has been happening afterward.  Almost as a contradiction, the roads seemed eerily quiet and deserted as we traveled that day. I was able to leave the group at the hotel in San Pedro Sula and travel on to Tegucigalpa despite the demonstration in favor of the deposed president in the downtown area.  The ensuing weeks afterward have proven to be anything but quiet.  There have been demonstrations every day in a very polarized atmosphere. Gloria left the next day with a youth mission team for a rural village in western Honduras.  We give thanks that they, too, were able to finish their experience without any problems.

 

Some of the stories are incredible, material for best sellers. There are campesino groups told that the next day they all have to go take over a government building or major roads. There are workers not sure about getting to work and back again, teachers going on strike and others breaking union orders by persisting in giving classes. There are angry parents demanding the opening of schools and classes for their children, news flashes of one sort or another, international community declarations and possible economic sanctions, threats made by pro-Zelaya spokesmen and rumors spreading like wild fire which you choose to believe or not, according to what side you are on.  The “caretaker” or defacto government promised to pay teachers and all government workers even if they hadn’t

gone to work in over two weeks.   One comment made by an analyst seemed

especially accurate.  In this situation, the line between truth and false is the dimension of a gillette blade, (and both sides have found themselves in each position).  In a situation where there is no absolute truth and you never know the whole truth behind reported facts, actions and statements; the climate has been one of chaos and division.  We know of families that are on different sides of the issue making even peace at home difficult.

Talk about new challenges in mission, here they are in the making as we relate to friends, co workers, and villagers.  As missionaries, we do not take sides in the political struggle, but continue to seek how we can stand in solidarity with the people we serve – the displaced, the landless, the incredibly impoverished — all of them rich in spirit.

 

No doubt, by the time that you read this letter much more will have been written about this unfolding story.  Maybe we will know whether the talks scheduled to resume result in an acceptable resolution to this political stalemate, whether tensions have continued to rise in case they didn’t, whether the teachers have gone back to the classroom, etc.  Whatever the outcome, I would say there is hope on two accounts. One, a lot of attention has been focused on the poor people of Honduras and that not much has happened to benefit them during the last 27 years of continuous democratic rule after a series of military governments..  Democracy has only worked so so and only benefited some of the people.  Hopefully, the new Honduras, whatever it looks like following this political crisis will take into account more the needs and wishes of poor people.  Secondly, there could be more adherence to the law in the future.  There has been a lot of scrutiny as to what is legal and constitutional so maybe there will be an improvement in this regard.  Recently, in a much publicized case a government ex functionary was put in jail awaiting trial on corruption

charges. This is a real first in Honduras.    Wrapped up in all of the

Honduran situation is law, both broken and ignored.  In the new Honduras an emerging view is that no one will be considered to be above the law.  Maybe the democratic process will be strengthened as a result of the crisis and everyone will be winners.

 

We think of people who are suffering from this situation and ask for prayers for them.  We ask for prayers for families that may be divided over the situation, children who are missing school, demonstrators confronted by violence, church goers who try to maintain a community of faith, and for people directly involved in the negotiations so that they will put the future of the country first and personal interests last.

 

Thank you for your support and prayers at this time and you’re your ongoing

interest in Honduras and its people as history is in the making.   All of

the mission teams during the summer have canceled their trips.  Some days we are staying home to avoid street demonstrations and road takeovers.

Other days we are at the office and we have made a few trips to rural communities. We watch the news a lot, both local and international, hoping to find a glimmer of hope for a peaceful settlement.  There are communities waiting to move ahead from this standstill, mission teams scheduled to come during the autumn months, elections scheduled for November, and a new chapter of history in the making..

 

Faithfully,

 

 

 

Tim and Gloria Wheeler

People

May 30, 2009 - Leave a Response

Clinic

May 30, 2009 - Leave a Response

Mission team

May 30, 2009 - Leave a Response

In the village of el Limón

May 30, 2009 - Leave a Response

Medical Mission Team is Fine

May 28, 2009 - 2 Responses

Fred Powell called this morning to let us know that our Medical Mission Team was not in the area damaged by the earthquake last night.  He said they were awakened by the earthquake, a 7.1 on the Richter scale with an epicenter near the northern coast of Honduras, but went back to sleep. One death related to the quake has been reported at this time.

Our team finished their medical clinic yesterday and traveled Wheeler’s home. They will be visiting Project Alternatives today.