A letter from Mamie Broadhurst in Colombia
August 16, 2010
Sheets like fiberglass, hearts like gold
For parts of June and July Richard and I were traveling in the Presbytery of Urabá, getting to know the churches here better and listening to the stories of Presbyterians who have been affected by displacement and violence. Urabá is the most rural and least economically well off presbytery in the IPC, but it has a gracious spirit to it that seems like its own miracle, given the atrocities people there have lived through.
Richard and I had visited Urabá before, so we had an idea of the conditions we would be facing, but we had not done so pregnant ... and we were prepared for me to have to leave early if things were too difficult. And it was not simple. The accompanier apartment in Urabá was superb (air conditioning and all!), but I am convinced the mattress was made of granite. When we began staying in the communities themselves we encountered sheets that actually felt like they were biting us, maze-like pathways to get to outdoor bathrooms, and a heat that followed us as closely as my growing belly.
Literally to get to one bathroom (three times in one night, of course), I had to find my way out from under mosquito netting, search for a flashlight and toilet paper and key, make my way through a dining room to the locked gate that kept folks from entering the church, walk across a patio to the toilet, which required bucket-flushing, and do all that in reverse to get back to bed. Needless to say, I had a lot of extra opportunity for thinking and prayer as I worked to fall back asleep each time. All this we could have predicted, but ...
What we could not predict was the rich blessing we would receive from staying in each of these communities for several days at a time. We had the chance to get to know people and listen to their laughter as well as their pain. We helped women with cookie-making over an open fire and a whole group of folks with their weekly plantain harvest — both projects to raise money to support the church. More extraordinary were the little things — a little girl who brought us lollipops, a pastor who gave us soup with chicken meat while she ate it with the legs for flavoring only, members who brought fruit to “Mani-cito” (Peanut, in Spanish) as a special treat, a little boy who rode 2 km. to get me a chair to sit in, and much, much more.
We relish the blessings of our time here, of connecting deeply with the members of the IPC and accompanying them in their walk of faith and dignity and justice. We are truly grateful for their hospitality and welcome, and grateful in turn that we can share these stories of overabundant blessing with you, for you to use and share in your community of faith. It is wonderful to be in the work of sharing what the ever-generous Spirit is doing among us.
While we have not had the chance to put up much about our time in Urabá on the blog, we do have other stories and pictures there.
We appreciate your support, prayers, actions and blessings during this not so ordinary time, and remember that we’re always up for a visit! It was good to see you, Chicago Presbytery, and Westminster Presbyterian in Dayton, Ohio!
Want to spice up (or skype up) your Sunday School?
We are very interested in connecting Christians here in Colombia with Christians in the United States. And technology like Skype allows us to do just that — have a conversation between people in two continents — without the plane ticket! Would you like to have an adult education series on world mission or Colombia or another theological topic — and have participants from the Global South join you? Would you like to have mission workers as a part of your next Vacation Bible School or Sunday School program? Or would you like to experiment with different forms of worship from around the world — right in your sanctuary? It is all possible. Let us know if you want to join in the fun ...
- Continued prayers for the family and community of Rogelio Martinez Mercado—for their loss and comfort, for their safety, and for the recuperation of the land they have been fighting for.
- Gratitude for the continuing support and assistance of people at the PC(USA) in World Mission, Peacemaking, and more. We are richly blessed.
- For positive changes in Colombian policy and actions with the installation of the new president, Juan Manuel Santos, Saturday, August 7.
- For a positive response to the displaced farmers in Pjojó as their request for land languishes in the Ministry of Agriculture.
- For the people of Urabá Presbytery who treated us with such kindness and hospitality in our visit there in June and July. We learned a great deal about hospitality and generosity in their midst.
- For us as we enter the last month and a half of pregnancy and look toward September 21 and the emergence of a new Peanut!
Supporting Churches (help us add to the list!)
- First United Church, Oak Park, Ill.
- First Presbyterian Church, Pampa, Texas
- Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Ill.
- Highland Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem, N.C.
- Oxford Presbyterian Church, Oxford, Ohio
- Park Presbyterian Church, Streator, Ill.
- Terry Community Presbyterian Church, Terry, Mont.
- Westminster Presbyterian Church, Medford, Ore.
- Westminster Presbyterian Church, Odessa, Texas
Mamie and Richard
The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 293