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The Call of the Waters

A letter from Chenoa Stock, serving in Bolivia

April 2018

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Though he was in a sleepy state, we know he heard every sacramental word spoken by the pastor, Rev. Randy Bush. Perhaps the words were a bit above his comprehension level at the time, but we know they were taken in and he will continue to grow in understanding as he matures. Maybe the water placed upon him, causing a semi-startled reaction and face, felt like tubby time, but we know that that holy water represents a commitment he will nurture and embrace in his daily life and community.

Our son, Leandro Aiden Claure, was baptized into the community and love of Christ on his two-month birthday, March 4, 2018, at East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA. We celebrated the birth and baptism of this child of God between the time of Christmas and Easter — Jesus’ birth and his resurrection. Leandro was born as we of the church studied and meditated on Jesus’ life in and impact on the world. He was baptized as we pondered Jesus’ revolutionary ministry, that which questioned the cultural and religious norms of the time and inspired Jesus to preach of unconditional love. Our son moved to Bolivia as we contemplated the sacrifices Jesus made to live out God’s Word and ceaselessly/unceasingly teach those around him by example.

I have been a mother and co-parent with my amazing husband (who is also an amazing father) for four months now and I only hope I can be a presence of unconditional love for Leandro as God and Jesus are for us. With a son in my life, my spiritual world has been turned upside down as I learn so much more deeply about love, joy, and peace, that which runs through me just with one of his smiles or laughs. With sleepless nights, my patience has been stretched thin, but has grown exponentially as well. In not being able to “solve” my baby’s tears at times, I have learned about gentleness, both with my son and with myself. And in knowing that I will not get everything right in this world of parenting, no matter how much I read, I have experienced a deep humility that has allowed me to grow and become a better mother and person.

As is the case with most mothers, Leandro has been my world these first months. But even with growing families and babies who take you through every emotion in the span of an hour, the rest of the world continues to turn. And we must turn with it.

In March, we returned to Bolivia as a family. We settled in and tried, as best as possible with an infant, to develop a routine with our newest family member. In April, with the call of the baptizing waters fresh in my mind, I returned to the call of the waters in Bolivia and the work and service with the Joining Hands Network, UMAVIDA (Joining Hands for Life). Though I never lost touch with them or the continuing mission while I was in the US, being present always makes a difference. The work did not stop in my absence, nor did the environmental issues in Bolivia.

While attending UMAVIDA’s General Assembly in March, discussions included the volatile political situation of the country. The government continues to crack down on environmentally-focused organizations, while it turns its head and money toward the gas and mining markets, as well as the construction of hydroelectric plants. Even though the Constitution requires consulting the potentially displaced indigenous communities and villages before construction begins, no consultation was carried out and construction is well underway.

Organizations such as UMAVIDA now must walk a fine line in expressing grievances to the government and in defining their work focus in general. We continue to work, though, focusing on the issue of water and advocating for environmental rights and justice. Our campaign is no longer solely focused in the mining center, Oruro, and on mining contamination, but also looks to address water contamination issues in the sister cities of La Paz and El Alto. The specific focus there is on a water treatment plant that is not able to adequately treat all of the wastewater from the surrounding areas. The affected communities have spoken out for change for years, and now UMAVIDA members will be joining the struggle. Our goal is to work locally, but eventually to move toward a national change in water norms and regulations.

Again, my spiritual world grows in being able to accompany this mission work. Walking with our global partners here sparks love and joy. Long-term mission requires patience and gentleness. Small victories move us towards peace. Taking cues from our partners — their knowledge and experiences — humbles all those who suggest it can be done otherwise.

Just as my motherly world creates great vulnerability within me at times, we are in a vulnerable state as a network as well. We must walk carefully, but never forget the lessons we have learned along the way, the gifts we have acquired and our revolutionary call as Christians and people to be a presence of unconditional love and to speak out for just change.

Isn’t that what Leandro and all of us are baptized and called to be and do in this ever-turning world?

Thank you for heeding that call and walking with me and our partners of UMAVIDA through your financial gifts, prayers and correspondences of support. With your partnership, we are stronger in our mission and in our commitment and faith to make a change.

If you want to continue in that support, another Matching Gift Challenge is upon us through May 15. When you make a financial gift toward my mission service today, other friends of Presbyterian World Mission will match that gift to support the sending and support of all mission co-workers. If you contribute by check, please write my Mission Co-Worker giving number (E200335) and “Spring Match Challenge” on the memo line. If you give online, please write “Spring Match Challenge” in the comment box. This is one way of many to support God’s mission around the world.

I give thanks for you, for the UMAVIDA mission, for my son and family, and for the chance to daily grow as a servant in my ever-changing and evolving spiritual world.

With peace and joy,

Chenoa


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.

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