Peace at all times, in all ways. Give to the Peace & Global Witness Offering

Partnerships, Presence and Change

A letter from Sandi Thompson-Royer serving in Guatemala

March 2017

Write to Sandi Thompson-Royer
Write to Brian Thompson-Royer

Individuals: Give online to E200334 for Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507581 for Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

“During our time in Guatemala we were invited to be compañeros, friends, partners, and to walk in their shoes.”—Kathryn Moran, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Portland, Ore.

“Pray for us. Spend some time with us. Don’t have fear. Be with hope. The church preaches only God is good. Yes. God is good. We need people to become good.”—Pastor Osmundo Ponce, Guatemala

It is a privilege to introduce our partners in the U.S. to our life in Guatemala. We encourage groups to come and listen, learn, and understand the reality of life here. Rather than come and “do,” we ask our visitors to be open to meeting the people we work with and love. Believe me, I understand that it’s not easy when we see a room that needs painting, windows that need replacing, lack of books in a school, or children who need food in their bellies. By opening our hearts and trying to look at life through a new lens, we can begin to understand and build relationships and then decide on ways to work together for change. We are grateful for the way the PC(USA) sends mission co-workers to places where we are invited. In the beginning we are asked to walk slowly. We try our best to follow this model with our U.S. visitors. We started 2017 off with hosting three groups plus the Guatemala Network Meeting in Guatemala with both U.S. and Guatemalan partners. We are lifted by words from those who came and we know that new friendships were made. Please open your hearts as you read their words.

“After the Maya Quiche Presbyterial presented the banner to us, a sweet young girl named Sarita came forward. She was 3 or 4 years old and was dressed in her beautiful, colorful, traditional indigenous dress. She carried a basket and said she also had something for us. She was the only child in the room and yet she walked confidently around our circle handing each one of us a handmade worry doll. In many ways Sarita’s courage, strength and generosity was symbolic of what we saw in every church group and every community program. On this day and every other day of our trip the Guatemalan people captured my heart with their deep love, inner strength, resilience, warmth and smiles.”—Jane, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Portland, Ore.

“It seems to me the greatest gift given and received during our visit was the reality of sisterhood. There we were in one room, separated by language, customs, education and life experience. Yet as we added our stories to the stories of Scripture we connected as spirit-sisters with common hopes, obstacles, commitments and fears. Once that connection was made, parts of our spirits that had been hidden or dormant opened up before the Holy Spirit. Through our sharing, God’s Spirit was able to find our vulnerable places and enter into them with healing, strength and courage. We are good for each other, as sisters ought to be.”—Pastora Leanne, Flint River Presbytery, Georgia

“Experiencing Guatemala through non-touristy means was wonderful. There are several ways I am contemplating my return. This experience was life-changing for me and I hope I can sustain a relationship to Guatemala as well as my perspective in global health issues.”—Sue, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Portland, Ore.

“What touched my heart during our time in Guatemala? Open arms and warm smiles. Strong faith and deep, authentic prayers; sharing stories and finding commonalities in our lives; receiving encouragement to be strong and courageous in our own country; hearing invitations to walk with immigrants and refugees here at home and offer sanctuary and protection; and meals prepared for us with love and opportunities to eat together.”—Kathryn Moran, Portland, Ore.

“While in Guatemala we learned to link arms, stand unified and strong, speak truth to power, and pray. We also heard that people often felt fear. They said, ‘We felt the fear and we walked forward and stood up anyway.’ We heard: don’t let fear win. Look for the opportunity! We may feel fear and yet, as we link arms and stand together, we look for the opportunity to make changes and let the fear fade away.”—Kathryn, Portland, Ore.

“Our group had the privilege of attending the very end of the Men in the Mirror retreat in which a handful of men shared the insights they had learned in front of women in the Directiva (leaders of the Sinodica/Presbyterian Women) as well as in front of us—Presbyterian brothers and sisters from the U.S. We immediately felt like we were standing on holy ground as the men openly acknowledged the sin couched in machismo as well as their longing for a new way of being. That much honesty, that much energy in the room could only be attributed to the Spirit. Our group left with great hope that God is on the move! ‘There is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus’ (Gal. 3:28).”—Pastor Betsey Moe

“We are writing with joy in our hearts at the responsiveness of the nine Guatemalan presbyteries in attendance at the Hombres in Espejo (Men in the Mirror) retreat. We commend the 66 men who participated and for their willingness to tackle the tough subject of the role that machismo plays in our lives as men. We give thanks to the valiant women leaders of the Sinodica (Presbyterian Women in Guatemala), the leaders of the IENPG (National Guatemalan Presbyterian Church) and our sister presbyteries and churches in the United States who have supported this ministry. We extend to you our heartfelt thanks for the partnerships that have been made and those initial first steps toward greater wholeness as God’s people and as God’s covenant community.

“We ask your continued prayers for the success of our brothers in Guatemala who now face the challenge of implementing this curriculum in their own lives and in their own congregations.”—Brian Thompson-Royer and Rev. Kevin Frederich’s organizers, writers, and facilitators of this curriculum

Thank you, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portland, Ore., Flint River Presbytery in Georgia, Newport Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Wash., and Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Wash., for your willingness to come and be present with us. We felt lifted and loved by you all. Thank you for those who supported Men in the Mirror. Brian worked with you for over a year to make this happen. We are grateful for every dollar and prayer that is sent to support us!

I leave you with Kathryn’s question: “What does it mean to be a good neighbor today in Portland and in the U.S.A.? Where can we get in the boat and cross over to the other side like we did that morning on Lake Atitlan? Who needs our support and our strong voice right now?”

May God’s peace be with each of you.

Sandi & Brian

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?