Read letters from Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer
Winter 2014 - Letter of Introduction
Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer
Mission Co-Workers in Guatemala since 2014
Serving at the invitation of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala
Brian and Sandi are in the US until April 2014. Email them to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer's Ministry: Guatemalan women, particularly those of indigenous origin, struggle to have their voices heard in society, churches, and families. The National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala (IENPG) has invited Sandi Thompson-Royer to help Guatemalan women develop leadership skills. She will serve alongside the Women’s Synod Union, an organization of the IENPG. In addition to facilitating leadership development opportunities, she will work with leaders of the Women’s Synod Union to strengthen relationships with IENPG institutions and will aid the work of the local committees of the women’s organization. Sandi will also help build relationships between the Women’s Synod Union and sister organizations such as the Presbyterian Women of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She will be assisted in her work by her husband, Brian.
Country Context: Guatemala is the most populous and the most industrialized country in Central America. It is also by far the country with the highest percentage of indigenous population. During the colonial period, Guatemala was an agricultural region in which the Mayan majority served the colonial estate owners. Guatemala gained independence in 1821. The country has been ruled by the military for most of its history. The intense concentration of wealth and land has left the indigenous population and other rural poor almost totally disenfranchised. This was the principal cause of a civil war, which began after a democratically elected government was toppled by US-backed insurgents amid US claims that the Guatemalan government was influenced by Communists. In 36 years, the war displaced 1 million people, and more than 200,000 people were killed or disappeared. Peace accords were signed in December 1996, but the country continues to struggle with violence, corruption, impunity, and global economic challenges.
About Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer: While visiting Guatemala in 2008, Sandi encountered some powerful imagery while watching women weave. It became an enduring mental picture that she links to the experience of Guatemalan women.
She observed the loom’s warp bear tremendous stress as it produced multiple colors, patterns, and textures that formed a gorgeous fabric. “Colors you would not imagine even going together but once you see them it’s incredible,” she says. “A powerful lesson and metaphor for me is weaving is a skill not easily grasped; neither are the lives of the many women I encountered and who shared their time with me. I have extreme admiration for the women who are determined to continue weaving and work towards change with many obstacles facing them.”
Sandi and Brian have a long history of helping women in distress find hope. “Brian and I have been offering refuge to women and children leaving abuse over 25 years ago,” she says. “Their stories are part of who I am and have given me the energy to work towards peace, justice, and nonviolence.”
Her professional career has been spent working in programs aimed at preventing domestic violence and/or sexual assault and helping survivors. “This work has also been part of my faith journey and what it means to follow Christ,” she explains. She has lent her expertise to the Presbyterian Church through her service on the leadership team of the Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network.
Since visiting Mexico at age 20, Brian has had a desire to live in the region south of the US border. In the ensuing years, he made numerous trips to Mexico and Central America. He was impressed by the “miracle of the walk of faith and hope among peoples who had been so marginalized.”
When Sandi and Brian’s presbytery, Inland Northwest, began a partnership in Guatemala, Sandi became involved and started serving in a program called Women Walking Together. As part of that program, she and other women from the United States experienced in domestic violence work traveled to Guatemala to train women in advocacy and community organizing and to build relationships with them. More than 300 women have been trained through their efforts.
Eventually, Brian got the opportunity to go with her and “saw the radiance and depth of faith she experiences while working with Guatemalan women.” Brian and Sandi began praying for a long-term service opportunity in Guatemala.
In addition to her experience in social services, Sandi managed Jubilee Global Gifts, a fair trade store in Leavenworth, Washington. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where she focused her studies on women’s issues, fair trade, and community organizing.
Brian has worked in non profits on affordable housing, community and economic development. He has been a real estate appraiser, an energy conservation specialist, and worked with people with developmental disabilities. Prior to entering mission service, he served as executive director of Upper Valley MEND, a faith based, non-profit group in Leavenworth that provides affordable housing, food bank, and social services. He has studied at the University of Washington and Western Washington University/Huxley Environmental College.
Both Sandi and Brian have served on numerous community service and church-related boards and committees. They are members of Bethany Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington.
Knowing the value of companionship in the walk of faith, Brian and Sandi invite others to join them on their journey in Guatemala. They begin their service encouraged and challenged by a teaching that Jesus shared near the end of his earthly ministry: “While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.” John 12:36
Brian - August 14
Sandi - November 10