Starting a New Position in Guatemala

A Letter from Eliane Menezes, serving in Guatemala

April 2019

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As mission co-workers Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer have finished their time in Guatemala, I am stepping in with the great opportunity to start working with the Unión Sinódica Femenil, now called the Unión Nacional de Mujeres Presbiterianas de la Iglesia Evangélica Nacional Presbiteriana de Guatemala (National Union of Presbyterian Women of Guatemala of the IENPG).

This is a fresh start not only for me, but also for the new Directiva (board of directors) of the National Union of Presbyterian Women of Guatemala. On March 23, the new Directiva was elected by almost 100 women representing their respective local presbyteries at the Extraordinary Session of the National Union of Presbyterian Women’s Convention of the IENPG. Through their roles with the Directiva, newly elected women who have never before been part of the National Union of Presbyterian Women will have the opportunity to be voices for women across the nation, and they will address their sisters’ perspectives and concerns. I was moved by the humility and emotion in Moderator María Roselia Gómez’s reaction to her election: “I am so humbled that God has chosen me for this position. I wasn’t expecting this.” Gómez and the members of the Directiva will inspire other women to take a step of faith and be leaders in their churches and their communities.

I was amazed when I saw women in colorful clothing from near and far at the session. I was astonished by the beauty and strength of these women. Although they have experienced being oppressed and silenced by the power structure not only in society but also in religious institutions, in taking part in this special moment they were writing their part in history. Their participation affirmed that they were there to be heard and to be a voice for everyone they represented. I am moved by their commitment to taking part in this moment.

As I introduced myself and got to know the women, they shared with enthusiasm about where they came from, their families, their churches, their work in churches, their visions for the ministry of women in the community of faith, and especially their hopes for the future of the Directiva.

These women were so welcoming, and during the time we were together — in the plenary, while breaking bread together or during informal conversations — they all wanted to share about what God is doing in their lives and families, and in their communities of faith. They did not hesitate to reveal the struggles they face daily in pursuing their calling in their communities of faith. They expressed excitement that I am now part of supporting them in their work.

When it was time to depart, we exchanged hugs and blessings. The women’s beautiful smiles communicated a sense of calling fulfilled. They left the place of gathering in order to take their transportation back home under a fine rain. They needed to walk a short distance to catch their buses. I observed them carrying their belongings, and most of them without an umbrella, trying to cover their heads with whatever they had to protect them from the rain. Some sisters told me it would take hours for them to get home. The scene gave me the spectrum of situations and hard work our sisters from Guatemala have to face in order to serve God.

During our conversations, sisters from the Presbiterial Del Centro invited me to participate in the convention and anniversary of the Pastoral Femenil Presbiterial Del Centro (Presbyterian Women from Central Presbytery) on March 29. This was another opportunity to meet our sisters and to learn about their ministries. We had a marvelous time of fellowship including time for each Pastoral Femenil from several churches to present their report and share about their activities during 2018. Learning about their rewarding work in their churches and communities was fascinating. I was inspired by the many creative ways they are contributing to the Kingdom of God.

I was grateful to be with sisters from different places — many speaking languages other than Spanish — celebrating our time together. It was a unique opportunity to come together to dedicate time to worshipping God, breaking bread together, listening and getting to know one another, and recognizing women’s strength and wisdom. Furthermore, it was a time to remember that we all are here to glorify God in everything we do, acknowledging in each face around us a daughter of God.

This was only possible with your support through prayer, thought, and financial help. Thank you! Please continue to support me as I walk alongside the women of Guatemala.

May God bless you all!

Eliane


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