A Letter from Eliane Menezes, serving in Guatemala
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I was at the Miami airport waiting to board my plane for my childhood home of Brazil, where I would be visiting family and friends. When I saw that I had received an email from the PC(USA), my heart began to race.
I was being invited to interview for the position of Intercultural Encounters Facilitator with the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA) in Guatemala!
Passing through the security point, I thought, “WHY NOT?”
I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. Since attending seminary, I have been looking for ways to connect with world mission. I remember the missiology class I took in Connecticut in 2003 that invited me to learn more about the dynamics of other cultures. I enjoyed visiting the Presbyterian Center to meet and talk with mission personnel about their experiences in the places they were serving. Moreover, God has been equipping me during my faith journey to experience this moment. In serving as a pastor for multicultural churches, I built meaningful relationships with people from different places, languages and flavors. During my years working with people from different backgrounds and cultures as a chaplain in a detention center and various hospitals, I learned the importance of being open to listen and share our life experiences with others.
In my various positions in ministry, I have had the opportunity to interact with people from Guatemala and to listen to the stories of their lives, culture, and customs. Their stories moved me. I remember meeting a young indigenous lady from Guatemala in a hospital where I served as chaplain. She shared about her entire family living around a lake in the most beautiful countryside of Guatemala. She said they made a living by selling arts and crafts in the market. The way she described her interactions with her family and her community, and the love and care they had for one another, really made me consider how great it would be ministering with such warm and hospitable people!
During the two weeks in Brazil reconnecting with family and friends, the possibility of moving to Guatemala as a mission co-worker was never far from my mind. I was thrilled that I might have the opportunity to learn much more about the culture that I had heard so much about!
After my time in Brazil, I flew to Miami, quickly dropped my bags off at my brother’s place, and rushed back to the airport to fly to Louisville for the interview.
I felt good about the interview, and as I flew back to Miami, I realized that this was the opportunity I had long been waiting for!
Two days later, on Friday at 3 p.m., they offered me the position. They gave me four days to respond.
At that moment, I decided to spend the weekend discerning whether I was being called for this particular ministry. I asked my friends to pray for me while I was locked in my apartment talking to God and praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
As I thought about the invitation to be the Intercultural Encounters Facilitator with CEDEPCA, I became excited about the opportunity to serve with other Christians in Guatemala. CEDEPCA’s program “designs and facilitates experiences of encounter, reflection, dialogue, and mutual service between people of the United States and Canada with Central American communities [who seek] a more just, tolerant and equitable world” (cedepca.org). I connect with CEDEPCA’s mission, especially the fact that they are very inclusive in terms of their call to serve others. I felt in my heart that I would love to live and learn with them and facilitate interactions with those coming from the United States and other cultures.
Needless to say, I was moved by the Holy Spirit to accept the call. I anticipate that living in a new community and adjusting to a different way of life will be a huge transition. At the same time, my heart is filled with peace knowing that I will be working to build up the body of Christ.
Therefore, I’m counting on you to keep me in your prayers and thoughts, to support this ministry with your gifts, to subscribe to my mission letters, and to consider visiting Guatemala to see for yourselves what God is doing in this beautiful land.
Thank you for your interest in God’s mission.
I hope to welcome you in Guatemala.
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