A Letter from Eliane Menezes, serving in Guatemala
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35On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? —Mark 4:35-41
Living through this COVID-19 pandemic has affected each one of us in every corner of the planet. We are confronted with dramatic transformations to the way we do things and the way we think. We have struggled to change our life’s perspectives, the way we used to see the world, and the patterns we used to follow. We have been forced to see things around us with new eyes, change our attitudes, and rethink our routines.
At this time of uncertainties and struggles, we remember the passage in Mark 4:35-41 when Jesus calms the storm. Jesus was in the boat with his disciples crossing a lake when an unexpected storm came to them, as described in the passage. The disciples became anxious and terrified as the storm hit them, and the water was rising around them. They were afraid, and they feared for their lives. Then, they woke Jesus up, complaining, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are drowning?”
In this very frightening moment, you and I might be experiencing similar stressful situations. In this passage Jesus, assures his disciples, and us, that the storm will pass. We believe that we are not alone in the midst of our difficulty. Through our faith, we know we will find the resilience to endure the storms of life and recognize that God, through Jesus Christ, will sustain us.
In this present life-changing situation, we are still living up to our commitments to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Even though we cannot be physically present with others, we are still serving God by performing the ministry God has entrusted to each one of us. We are learning to do things distinctively, utilizing the platforms available online so that we can communicate with our partners.
The UNMP (National Union of Presbyterian Women of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala) has connected through virtual platforms individually and in groups. We are rethinking the way we can accomplish our goals and maintain our commitment to the Kingdom of God. Sometimes it can be very frustrating, especially when we are unable to achieve the hoped-for results. However, we will continue serving God, knowing that God goes in front of us, opening doors for new service opportunities.
We have been able to meet virtually with the majority of the members of the UNMP. There are times that a few sisters are not able to join the meeting because they do not have a reliable internet connection. Therefore, it can sometimes bring disappointment, not only for those who cannot attend the meeting but also for those participating in it. Nevertheless, we always look forward to renewing our bonds at the next meeting.
One of the subjects discussed in our last meeting regarded theological students. During the pandemic, it has become very difficult for students to travel to seminary. Travel has been restricted, and social distancing is the rule. In-person classes in Guatemala have been canceled, and not all institutions can offer virtual classes.
The members of the UNMP and the Scholarship Committee worked very hard to make sure that the students who were awarded theological scholarship would have the opportunity to study during this time. There are seven students enrolled virtually in theological studies. Four students are attending Juan Mackay Evangelical Reformed Seminary in Retalhuleu, two students are attending Occident Evangelical Theological Seminary in Quetzaltenango, and one student is attending Reformed Seminary in Guatemala City. Unfortunately, some of the students from the north of the country have not been able to study because in-person classes have been canceled due to the pandemic, and so far, there are no virtual classes.
As we continue in our walking of learning and practicing new procedures during this COVID-19 pandemic, let us hold one another in our thoughts and prayers. I pray that all of you will stay healthy and make life-giving choices.
I thank all of you who are supporters of this ministry. If you are not yet a supporter, please consider becoming one.
If you would like to learn more about this ministry, I am available for virtual visits. To schedule a visit, please contact me at my email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and blessings,
35 Al atardecer, Jesús dijo a sus discípulos: «Crucemos al otro lado del lago». 36 Así que dejaron a las multitudes y salieron con Jesús en la barca (aunque otras barcas los siguieron). 37 Pronto se desató una tormenta feroz y olas violentas entraban en la barca, la cual empezó a llenarse de agua.
38 Jesús estaba dormido en la parte posterior de la barca, con la cabeza recostada en una almohada. Los discípulos lo despertaron: «¡Maestro! ¿No te importa que nos ahoguemos?», gritaron.
39 Cuando Jesús se despertó, reprendió al viento y dijo a las olas: «¡Silencio! ¡Cálmense!». De repente, el viento se detuvo y hubo una gran calma. 40 Luego él les preguntó: «¿Por qué tienen miedo? ¿Todavía no tienen fe?».
41 Los discípulos estaban completamente aterrados. «¿Quién es este hombre? —se preguntaban unos a otros—. ¡Hasta el viento y las olas lo obedecen!». –Marcos 4:35-41 (Nueva Traducción Viviente)
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Tags: COVID-19, guatemala, National Union of Presbyterian Women of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala, theological students
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