A letter from Chenoa Stock serving in Bolivia
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I am thrilled to be writing to you all after the recent press release that highlights the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) World Mission exceeding its 2015 fund-raising goals. Hallelujah! I want to personally thank all of you who were a part of that giving process to support PC(USA) World Mission, and a special thanks to those who contributed to my specific mission service in Bolivia. You all have been a part of this journey and I of course could not be here, nor continue here, without your prayers, encouragement and financial gifts. So I begin by sharing my deepest gratitude with each of you.
In the press release Tamron Keith, World Mission associate director for administration, emphasizes that “The true impact of this blessing will not be known until the April 2016 Presbyterian Mission Agency Board meeting, when the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s 2017-18 budget will be deliberated and approved. At that point we will know how many mission co-workers our budget can support.”
So though we celebrate and recognize the victory in this moment, the reflection on the future of the Presbyterian Church and its mission continues. Perhaps this is timely as we begin the Lenten season—a time of deep reflection to draw ourselves closer to God.
During Cuaresma (Lent in Spanish) I will be reflecting on how I will thank you and share our ministry with you during my Interpretation Assignment in the U.S. this April and May. In my role as Companionship Facilitator—the bridge of communication in global mission—I hope to share with you the ongoing mission work of UMAVIDA (Uniendo Manos por la Vida—Joining Hands for Life), the Bolivian Joining Hands network.
Perhaps Bolivia and South America seem like another world to you. If so, this is your opportunity to invite me to bring God’s mission in Bolivia to your church, congregation, youth group, adult studies, community, presbytery, synod, etc.! There are so many ways to share, and the possibilities of how we can arrange our time together are endless! I would be honored to help your church and/or community discover the Bolivian Andes, the issues that grow out of the mining industry, how campesinos must struggle for water due to glacial melting, and how UMAVIDA is organizing to confront environmental injustice and to accompany affected communities that do not have a voice in the government.
I will be on Interpretation Assignment from mid-April (including Sunday, April 17) through the end of May and am ready and willing to adapt my presentation to your community’s interests and experiences. Whether you know nothing about Joining Hands or are an expert, there is always more we can learn together!
Please contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through Skype (chenoas) as soon as possible to schedule a visit. In order to be a good steward of time, money and my carbon footprint, I will try to schedule visits according to travel time and location, and on a “first-come-first-served” basis. If you can help me connect with other churches or interested groups in your presbytery or synod in order to more widely share about God’s love and mission, I would be grateful!
Just some notes for our planning together:
Though participating in the Sunday morning worship service is possible through a sermon, “Minute for Mission” or children’s message, it is also beneficial to have another space for sharing in greater depth and focus and learning together about the work and mission in Bolivia. I’m happy to preach, visit your Sunday school class (any age group), speak at a mission dinner, share with a confirmation class, youth group or young adult group, talk to men’s or women’s groups, share with a prayer breakfast, present a program at a retirement home or nursing home, visit an elementary, high school, college or seminary classroom, present a program to a campus ministry, or share with a mission committee, session, presbytery or synod meeting. These months in the U.S. are completely dedicated to this sharing and interaction with you all, so midweek and evening engagements are also possible.
A note on expenses:
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) pays my salary while I’m on Interpretation Assignment, so I neither need nor expect any kind of honorarium. My food, lodging, and travel expenses are not covered, however, and I will need your support in meeting those needs.
We can discuss specifics as we plan, but please know that I will try to group my visits by region and share the cost of airfare or car rental among several churches or organizations. I am also happy to work with you if you have frequent flyer miles to donate for airfare, or can provide a borrowed car, bike, or metro pass for transportation in your area. If you would like to invite me but cannot provide for my travel, please consider working with other churches or groups in your area to combine activities in the same week and share costs. If that is not possible, let me know and I can direct you to other ways to cover those expenses.
So today we celebrate! The grace of God has been shown through your time, talents and treasures and your commitment to mission around the world. Gracias a Dios! Thanks be to God! I cannot wait to personally express my gratitude and joy with your congregations in April and May and together give thanks for God’s mission and love around the world.
During the time before Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season, we here in Bolivia also celebrate, but in a bit of a different way—Carnival! The moods of all are lifted up by the energy of this annual, folkloric festival celebrated with dance, costumes and colors. Throughout these days the streets will be full of school parades, costumes, water balloons, and music. What a celebration!
So as I enter into a time of reflection and preparation for our time together in April and May, I lift up the Bolivian culture and heritage and my Presbyterian heritage and give thanks for the opportunities I have to celebrate them both every day.
Thank you for your continual accompaniment and I hope we can celebrate and share together soon.
RECENT PC(USA) NEWS (February 2016):
For more info:
- Joining Hands Program: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/joininghands/
- Joining Hands Bolivia—UMAVIDA profile: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/joininghands/bolivia/
- Presbyterian work in Bolivia: http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/global/bolivia/
- Chenoa Stock profile, funding, past newsletters: www.pcusa.org/chenoa-stock
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 53
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