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A letter from Dennis Smith in Guatemala (moving to Argentina)

August 30, 2010

Dear friends:

The boys and I have just returned from 10 days in India. Mari was to have joined us, but she came down with dengue fever two days before departure! Thankfully, she is now fully recovered — but we missed her sorely.

Dennis Smith holding a certificate and standing with another man holding what looks like a proclamation.

Dennis Smith being recognized for his service in Guatemala.

Why India? On August 6 in Chennai, India, I was one of six people granted a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, by the Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration. World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) General Secretary Randy Naylor and I (I'm currently president of WACC) were honored for our contribution to the ecumenical movement.

Randy and I also led a seminar on Communication, Theology and Ecumenism at Gurukul Lutheran Theological College & Research Institute in Chennai. As we spent a scintillating day with faculty and graduate students from three different seminaries, we were reminded why South India is a global leader in the conversation between communication and theology.

These were moments to reflect on my faith journey and to thank God for all who have been my teachers and all whose lives I’ve been able to touch in some small way. If you’d like to see the paper I presented, it is "A Latin American Pilgrimage Towards Ecumenism."

What a wonderfully complex world we explored in India! From sites in Chennai commemorating the ministry and martyrdom of St. Thomas, Apostle to India, to the Taj Mahal, elegant mosques and vibrant Hindu temples, we encountered a world of great diversity and great religious fervor.

Now that we have returned home, the countdown continues for our move to South America. In January we will move to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I will become the PC(USA) Regional Liaison for the Southern Cone and Brazil. (Down here, “Southern Cone” means Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Look at a map and the “cone” will be easily visible.)

The new job will include tending to the PC(USA)’s historic mission partnerships, walking together with fellow mission co-workers and being at the service of the many mission partnerships that have been developed by presbyteries and local churches in the region.

I’m especially thankful that my years of service in WACC have permitted me to develop strong friendships throughout the Southern Cone and Brazil. This will provide a solid foundation on which to build. So much to learn! So many ways to celebrate how God's Spirit is moving in the midst of God’s people!

After 33 years in Guatemala, the next few months will be filled with endings and beginnings, planning meetings and travel. I’m finishing up my few remaining projects at Cedepca, while gradually assuming some responsibilities related to the new assignment. Lucas and Benji finish the Guatemalan school year in October. Mari is figuring out what stays and what goes with us to Argentina. We’ll spend the Christmas holidays here and will vacation with my folks in Oregon the first part of January. In Louisville January 17-26 we’ll all participate in orientation to our new assignment — then we’re off to the land of the tango.

Please note that PC(USA) has assigned us a new Extra Commitment Opportunity number for designated support to our new ministry: E052106. (You can always find a link to the ECO under Give in the left column of the page —Ed.) Just make sure that this number appears on any check you send for our support.Thank you for continuing to believe in what we do. Your prayers and financial support sustain us!

Under the Mercy,

Dennis Smith

The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 277

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