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Season of Reflection

A letter from Chenoa Stock serving in Bolivia

June 2017

Write to Chenoa Stock (chenoa.stock@pcusa.org)

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Ecclesiastes 3:1—For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

In a country where many claim that only two seasons exist—dry and rainy—I tend to disagree around this time of year when we have transitioned, in a span of six or so months, from rainy with a ‘to the bone’ cold, to sunny and somewhat pleasant, to the brisk chill of the winter mornings and evenings—the one season of the year when central heating would probably be welcomed in many homes if it existed here. Granted, these changes might not be as drastic as some U.S. seasons, but for me they are seasons nonetheless.

I find seasons to be a healthy way of marking the beginning and end of a period of time, which then allows one to evaluate where one presently stands after that period has passed. I, of course, am no farmer, but I imagine a farmer does this all of the time. How do the crop results of this year compare to last season? What crops would work best after last season’s weather? How is the land this season? How can I improve my crop? I know many Bolivian farmers and families are currently sowing their potato crop, and some are not content with the growth this season. And they ask themselves, “Was it the lack of rain? The soil? How can I prepare for the next harvest to increase my yield?”

As we read in Ecclesiastes, not all seasons are positive. But they ARE always a time for growth and change—perhaps adjustments and modifications to the way procedures are executed, to the way decisions are made, to the way activities are carried out, to the way we build our collegial and personal relationships.

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, the Bolivian Joining Hands Network, UMAVIDA, Joining Hands for Life, has just moved through a personnel transition with the hiring of our new Coordinator. These months leading us to the present moment have been a season for us to regroup, reflect and revive our mission of environmental justice for God’s Creation. Our call never lost its voice or strength, but, upon evaluating our past, adjustments are being made so that this call for sustainable change can have an even stronger voice and impact.

We of the Western world (myself included!) love to take action and see immediate results. It is just in our blood, I suppose. But, as the Ecclesiastes writer reminds us, and as UMAVIDA and the global Joining Hands Program emphasizes in its mission, both spectrums of a season must be embraced: A time to act, a time to reflect.

We of UMAVIDA have been living in that deep reflection and are now beginning to put our reflections into action as we modify our bylaws, our network administrative structure and even how we define our campaign mission. Our evaluation calls us to question how we can include all of our partners’ skills and gifts in our campaign, how we can work together in a more efficient manner to yield more effective results in our campaign for environmental justice, calling for a Water Law that holds companies and individuals accountable in their use of this sacred element, and how we can share our reality and mission with our international partners of the PC (USA) so they can better accompany us in our struggle for long-term, sustainable change.

Many questions like these are, of course, raised throughout this process, but the time given to this season of evaluation has been one that will now allow us to unite as a network and mission, to define our campaign and purpose more clearly and to show us that taking the time, a season, to pause and reflect can only bring us closer to the just Kingdom of God for which we yearn.

I know your spring up north (for some) is upon you and hopefully bringing warmer weather and breezes. I hope as the seasons change, you too can take the time to reflect on this past season and listen to where it is calling you to go now.

If you feel called to join us for the Bolivia Reflection/Action trip this July 22-29, registration is still open until mid-June! Please spread the word and have anyone interested contact me as soon as possible at chenoa.stock@gmail.com.

I give thanks for all of you who support me through your financial gifts and prayers and would ask that you continue to do so. The reality is that I could not be here, walking alongside our Bolivian brothers and sisters, without your faithful support for God’s international mission. We are able to reflect and act because of the seeds you sow daily.

Peace be with you as you continue in your own reflection and action this season. How can we learn from the past to move into the future as renewed disciples of Christ? Only this next “season” will tell.



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