A letter from Sarah Henken, regional liaison for the Andean Region, in Bolivia
Greetings from La Paz, where we’ve been enjoying some warm spring days. It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since I first moved to Bolivia and began my work as regional liaison in the Andean countries of South America. God is good! Thank you for being part of the journey through your support and prayers.
At the end of every three-year term of mission service, we’re asked to spend several months in the U.S. visiting churches to share about the ways we’ve been participating in God’s mission in our part of the world. This means I have the blessed task of preparing for a season of visits to churches, presbyteries, and other groups from April to August 2013, before returning for another term of service in the Andean region. It’s been a joy to build on long-standing relationships and also get to know some of you long-distance through letters and online communications. I would love to come for a visit if you would consider inviting me.
If you’re interested in inviting me to share with you, please let me know as soon as possible so I can work out a schedule.* I’ll do this on a “first come, first served” basis, while also trying to be a good steward of time, money, and fuel by grouping visits together geographically. If you can help me connect with other churches or interested groups in your presbytery or synod, I’ll be extra grateful!
I’m both a pastor and a musician at heart, so I love to participate in worship leadership—preaching, celebrating communion, giving a “minute” for mission or a children’s message, teaching a song, etc. When possible, it’s best to have space other than (or in addition to) Sunday morning worship to share with greater depth and focus, and give a fuller picture of what God is doing in the Andean region.
I’m eager to share about my role in Presbyterian World Mission and the wonders God is doing in this part of the world. That said, my work as regional liaison is broad and multi-faceted, and your community’s interests and experience are unique, so I’d be delighted to work with you in planning what topics and format(s) would best suit your situation. Here’s something of a mix-and-match menu of ideas—but these are definitely not the only possibilities!
- Sunday school (any age group)
- Special church event (potluck or otherwise)
- Choir practice (if the director is willing to give up a rehearsal!)
- Confirmation class
- Youth group
- Young adult group
- Clergy Bible study
- Men’s or women’s groups
- Prayer breakfast
- Retirement home or nursing home
- Classroom (elementary, high school, college, seminary)
- Campus ministry
- Mission committee meeting
- Presbytery or synod meeting
- Church camp or vacation Bible school
Topics (I can focus on a couple of these, or give a broad overview of Presbyterian World Mission engagement in the Andean region):
- One of our “Critical Global Initiatives”:
- Addressing the root causes of poverty, especially as they impact women and children
- Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, through discipleship and theological education
- Seeking reconciliation amidst cultures of violence, including our own
- Doing mission in partnership with the global church
- Advocacy as Christian witness
- Environmental ministries
- One of the countries in the Andean region where I work:
- Socio-cultural context (particularly appropriate for a class on geography, political science, Spanish language/culture, etc.)
- Opportunities for mission service, short- and long-term
A note on expenses:
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) pays my salary while I’m on interpretation assignment, so I neither need nor expect any kind of honorarium. My food, lodging, and travel expenses are not covered, however, and I will need your support in meeting those needs.
We can discuss specifics as we plan, but please know that I will try to group visits by region and share the cost of airfare or car rental among several churches or organizations where possible. I’m also happy to work with you if you have frequent flyer miles to donate for airfare, a borrowed car available for transportation within the area, etc. If you would like to invite me but cannot provide for my travel, please consider working with other churches or groups in your area to combine activities in the same week and share costs. If that is not possible, let me know and I’ll look for other ways to cover those expenses.
Thank you for your faithfulness in supporting me with your prayers, notes, and financial gifts. They are truly essential in making my work possible, and I look forward to sharing the story with many of you in person next year!
In gratitude and hope,
* It’s easiest to reach me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Skype (saritasings). If you prefer to talk by phone, please contact Marisa Bustamante in the Latin America and Caribbean area office at the Presbyterian Center (switchboard line 800.728.7228) to request my U.S. phone number (which forwards to my Bolivian mobile phone).
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 2
Blog: Andean Journey
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