Greetings from Guatemala
On January the 4th, Church of the Holy Spirit was blessed to have the Reverend Neli Miranda from our sister congregation Espiritu Santo in Guatemala, join us in worship. After the Wise Men brought their gifts to the Christ, Neli told us a little about their congregation and the difficulties they face. On behalf of her congregation, she expressed gratitude for the money we send them each year. As part of their gratitude, she presented a “Hands Blanket” with the hand imprints of many of their congregation, as Neli said, “waving hello from Espiritu Santo”. Neli told us of the difficult poverty situation that her community faces, including many of her congregation. She explained how the money we send is used for things like children’s education, in the hope that education will teach young people of a way other than poverty; for Vacation Bible School, so that the young will learn of God, a learning that will last the rest of their lives, and keeps them off the streets; for rebuilding the Sunday School room, which as Neli told me earlier, “when it rains outside, it rains inside”.
Neli expressed gratitude for the obvious benefits that come from the money COHS sends, but she also told us of another gift that COHS provides to the people of Espiritu Santo – Hope. Over the next couple days, I had a chance to speak with Neli about this. The feeling of many in her congregation is that they have hope because someone cares about them. They have hope because they feel special. And they feel special because they feel loved, cared about, and respected as human beings. When the people of Espiritu Santo receive people who want to help, including from COHS, with seemingly nothing to give, they bring presents, like the present of the “Hands Blanket”. Clearly, our relationship with the people of Espiritu Santo goes much further than the check we send them each year.
In the movie “Evan Almighty”, Noah’s wife is speaking with God, although she doesn’t know it. God tells her that when people pray, whether it be for a loving family (which was her plight), or peace, or anything, God doesn’t snap her fingers and make it happen; God gives people the opportunity to make it happen, again and again. COHS has been given an opportunity to help the people of Espiritu Santo. Each year we send $2000 to provide help and hope to the people of Espiritu Santo. A COHS member has matched our 2015 gift. COHS has seized this opportunity, and through fundraising and prayers, has and will continue to provide help and hope.
Namaste can be loosely translated as “I bow to the Divine in you” or “The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you”. When love stirs us to be with and help others, such as the people of Espiritu Santo, whether through gifts, prayer, presence or in any way, and we treat those people with the reverence due any part of Creation, the reaction of our Guatemalan brothers and sisters of feeling special and cared about is not surprising. As the Wise Men brought their gifts to the Messiah, perhaps COHS is bringing our gifts to Christ, the Christ in another human being; the gift of Hope and Love. Money will be consumed, but the Hope and Love it is part of will last for eternity.
If you have feedback, questions or suggestions regarding COHS and our companioning with Espiritu Santo, see me, or any of the COHS Guatemala ministry team members – Jan Boggess, Karen Mortka and Kip Streiner. Stay tuned, more to come.
We have now disbursed $10,001 in the past five years for partial scholarships and a music ministry for the children, youth, and young adults at Espiritu Santo. This money has been raised by the generous contributions of individuals, families, and organizations dedicated to providing education for all children.
Church of the Holy Spirit, through the sale of UPAVIM fair trade products, is supporting a women’s cooperative of a group of approximately 80 women who live in marginalized communities on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Any profit from our sales is directly deposited into the scholarship fund, thus supporting both groups of people.
Please contact Eric Frankhouser for more information.