A Letter from Cesar Carhuachin, serving in Colombia
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Dear sisters and brothers in the United States. Greetings from Barranquilla, Colombia!
I hope that all of you are doing well in this pandemic time. We trust in God that in the next months, the whole world gets a vaccine for COVID-19. In the meantime, we continue working from home, using a mask, and keeping social distance.
Of course, the pandemic is a real issue that is affecting all of us. As you know, the U.S. is the country with the highest number in the world of positive cases of COVID-19 with 7,860,452 (at time of publishing). Colombia is fifth in the world of positive cases, with 924,098 cases recorded. Barranquilla has recorded 39,177 positive cases. In Barranquilla, we are permitted to go out any day of the week, but some businesses are not opened yet, like theaters, bars, gyms, and long-distance bus service. Airports are open, but the number of flights has been reduced.
Regarding worship services, the Colombian national government has given some directions for this, and local governments have been following them. There are several requirements that congregations need to meet, such as filling out an application, having the building inspected by the city government, and then (maybe) receiving the formal permission to gather with a limited number of people. Despite these provisions, our church partner, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, has elected to continue to worship virtually. This is true for all the three Presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia.
However, several members of our church partner have become sick with COVID-19, and some are still sick. Some of them have died. In one family in the Presbyterian Church of Pital (Coastal Presbytery), the father, mother, and one of the sons have died while another son is in ICU. This son is Jairo Coba. He is a ruling elder of the church and a housekeeping worker at the Reformed University. Elkin Pereira, the pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Apartadó (Urabá Presbytery), died recently of COVID-19. This news may not be too exciting, but it is the reality of our churches’ lives during this pandemic. Please, pray for the Coba and Pereira families; and also for both congregations suffering these losses.
As you know, the current president Ivan Duque doesn’t support the peace agreement between the Government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and the former president Alvaro Uribe Velez neither. Please, pray for Peace in Colombia. This country needs politicians engaged with the Peace in Colombia.
I continue to perform my daily tasks from home. After seven months of working remotely, I have gotten used to it. But the truth is that some days my connection with Teams (Microsoft Office 365) does not work very well. For example, some days I have sound, but the camera doesn’t work. Other days I have video, but the sound doesn’t work. I discover that this happens when I connect directly using the Microsoft Teams application, but I have no problem when I use Microsoft Teams through the Office 365 system. Something similar happens when I use Zoom for the weekly mission co-workers’ virtual gathering. Some days the camera does not work well, and some days the sound doesn’t work. What I have learned in these situations is: firstly, patience, patience, patience. Secondly, ask others that use the same application. Thirdly, if there is no solution to the problem that day, don’t worry, because I did everything I could in that situation. Next time the application will work well.
These days, I am writing a chapter titled “An Interpretation of the Transformations of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia” for a book about the Churches in Latin American. I accepted the challenge because it will allow me to learn much more about our church partner here and about the work of the first missionaries who arrived in Colombia in 1856. I learned that the first missionary Rev. Henry Barrington Pratt, served as Pastor Supply for two years in a congregation in Charlotte Presbytery, which is my home presbytery. Rev. Pratt began the longtime relationship between the Presbyterian Church in the United States and the Presbyterian Church of Colombia. So, I am excited about this. I would like to visit the Presbyterian Historical Society to read about him next time when I am in the U.S.
During this pandemic, I want to thank you for your commitment to God’s mission and your support of my ministry. That is what allows me to serve here in Colombia as a mission co-worker. If you want to read more about my ministry, please visit my PC(USA) World Mission page: presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/rev-c-sar-carhuach-n/. If you wish to contact me, email me at email@example.com.
Please, keep yourselves and your families safe.
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Tags: An Interpretation of the Transformations of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, COVID-19 in Columbia, peace agreement between the Government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), Presbyterian Church of Apartadó, Presbyterian Church of Pital, Rev. Henry Barrington Pratt, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia
Tags: César Carhuachín
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