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The Guatemalan Missionaries

Home Safe and Sound !!

From the Rev. Dana Corsello, August 7, 2016:

Let me begin this short synopsis by thanking everyone who supported the mission with financial gifts and Evergreen Fair donations. Your gifts allowed us to bless an academic and nutritional program for at-risk children in a beleaguered town where families barely scrape by eating not more than flour tortillas and beans.

This program was located on the second floor of an Episcopal Church in Chimaltenango an hour's drive from Antigua. We worked with the kids, played games, shopped for food and helped prepare their lunch every day.

Art Swanson did a terrific job repairing the church's roof (he must have been a gymnast who excelled on the balance beam in a former life) while we cleaned and spiffed up the dreary space.

Of the two sisters in the Bible we were more Marthas than Marys. Our last night in Antigua was spent with Padre Miguel and dinner with his vestry.

From there we drove to another town and treated a family to lunch and gifts. Lucrecia Sparks has a friend in Chiquimulilla who is raising her four grandsons after her son and his wife succumbed to a double suicide. The oldest boy, Carlos, is 13 years old and is having to work the fields for a farmer to support his brothers. He got teary-eyed when he realized that he was going to get to eat a hamburger and fries at a "real" restaurant with us. The family lives in a lean-to with walls made of plastic. We left the boys and their grandmother with money for food for three months, clothing, books and toys. Tears and hugs all around.

After one night at the beach, we made our way through a pastoral countryside of mountains and valleys--I had no idea how stunningly beautiful Guatemala is--to Panajachel on the banks of Lake Atitlan.

It was here that we met with the fire chief and bomberos and gave them a gift of $3000 for a new wall to be built at the back of the station so that their equipment would no longer be stolen. (The government and local municipalities do not support their first responders!) Art Swanson had put out a call to his professional contacts and colleagues and they had came through with generous donations. Our last stop was Guatemala City where we spent time at a home-orphanage with a living saint who gave up her lucrative law practice to rescue and house abandoned and throw-away children. I will share more in my sermon about this woman and her ministry.

The mission trip was a spiritual exercise in sharing our privilege, living in communion with other Anglicans around the globe, and living out God's call to serve. As you know, Jesus never placed geographical boundaries on spreading Gospel love and feeding and housing widows and orphans and those in desperate need.

Faithfully, Dana+

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Some Background......

St. Luke's 2016 Mission Trip to Guatemala

July 24 - August 3

St. Luke’s is partnering with St. Alban’s Anglican Mission in Antigua and the Rev. Phyllis Manoogian, a Deacon Missioner from the Diocese of California. We are assured fulfilling work with children in need there and in Guatemala City - and the time is here! 12 members of our community are ready to travel to Guatemala to help children in need.

The Mission Team: Rev. Dana, Rev. Margaret Trezevant, Birgit Jacobsen, Art Swanson, Tom Hensley, Elaine Foreman, Brett Elebash, JT Munz, Lucrecia and Michael Sparks, Emma Sparks, and Sophia Hagen. All team members have been commissioned for ministry. They will leave July 24th and return August 3rd. May God bless their good work and keep them safe.

The Rev. Eric Metoyer will be on duty for services and pastoral emergencies. His contact information: phone = 415-869-7810. email = ericm@diocal.org

The St. Luke’s team’s focus will be to provide support to children in need through organizations and individuals who are actively serving children of all ages who face poverty, tragedy and abandonment.

Guatemalan Women's and Children's Mission:

Phyllis Manoogian, Chimaltenango

Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/phyllis.manoogian)

The Women and Children’s Mission of Chimaltenango Guatemala provides daily education and nutritional programs to the children of indigenous families. The mission team will provide support in the kitchen and classroom. The center’s nutritional program is introducing the people they serve to healthy food alternatives and we will help with daily trips to local markets and eager hands in the kitchen.

Asociacion God Bless the Children:

Cynthia Vallejo, Guatemala City

Facebook Group: (https://www.facebook.com/groups/125338587203/?fref=nf)

The God Bless the Children Association’s vision is to provide health services, education, food and necessary care to children declared abandoned in Guatemala. The children are welcomed into a home that provides them with a dignified life. The goal of the Orphanage is to become a model for Latin America. They are a non-profit organization that helps these abandoned children through self-sustainable projects.

Orphan family support, Candy Gonzalez de Dardon, Chiquimulilla

Candy feeds and clothes 4 children who tragically lost their parents to suicide. The children live with their grandparents who are elderly and are no longer able to work. The children’s home consists of cinder blocks and plastic sheeting and Candy has reached out to us for our support. The mission team will visit the children and deliver much needed food and clothing.

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Executing Our Mission; Our Outreach to the World

The following is a summary of St. Luke's Philippines Mission trip experience, as shared in October, 2104:

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On Sunday, October 5, 2014, Melissa Villa joined us during our 11am coffee hour, along with the stalwart travellers who made their way to Manila this summer with Project Pearls, for a presentation on their trip, their experiences, their revelations, and their changed hearts. The group viewed their photos, heard their stories, and were treated to wonderful Filipino food prepared by Melissa and her family; all in attendance really felt like they were there too!

Project Pearls is the story of unimaginable human suffering and the triumph of one person’s vision. It is the story of how that vision can spread and transform a community of volunteers who spread hope to a community that had no hope. It is truly the stuff of miracles, and a message we need to hear today, when problems seem so large and insurmountable. Come along and be inspired to find your own passion for ministry.

Some Background Regarding Our Mission:

In 2014, St. Luke’s commissioned and sent a team of missionaries to Manila, Philippines. They were there from April 29 to May 8, providing disaster relief, comfort and love to those impacted and devistated.

“Home after an intense trip. Feeding and playing with the children of the charcoal factories in Ulingan, the garbage dumps of Tondo, distributing food and emergency supplies to the communities around Tacloban. Learned a lot. Hope we did some good. Inspired by the people met along the way. We have been in the presence of greatness.” Rev. Margaret Trezevant

News from the Mission Site Upon Arrival : April 29

Our team arrived at 4:00 a.m. Thursday and were out volunteering later that morning. Here are a few of their first impressions: "We had the chance to work with amazing children today at a school run by Project Pearls in the poorest section of Manila. Despite living in unthinkable circumstances, these children are full of joy and energy and amazed us all."

"First day at Ulingan charcoal factory in Manila. 300+ families foraging on the garbage dumps for subsistence. Gracious God, grant that we may never accept systems of injustice that allow for such suffering."

"A few tears for volunteers and many smiles from the kids. They are incredible . Project Pearls is the best!"

Keep our volunteers in your prayers this week, and many thanks to all of you who have helped support this important work,

Rev. Dana Corsello on behalf of the MissionTeam

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As previously mentioned, for this Mission, we partnered with our former Parish Administrator, Melissa Villa, and her ministry Project PEARLS (Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love & Smiles) to bring supplies and luggage full of love and hope to children living in the most destitute slums of Manila.

The children and families supported by Project PEARLS have no choice but to live with soot, garbage, mosquitoes, flies, and vermin day and night. They derive their livelihoods from the charcoal factory and or scavenging the dumpsite one which they live. The average earnings are between $2-$4 a day, forcing children as young as three-years-old to work in the charcoal factories as coal packers or garbage scavengers to supplement their parents’ income. A few parishioners have asked why an international mission trip and not a domestic trip when so many American children live in poverty? I speak from experience as I have led international missions to Honduras (twice), Kenya, and Sudan (twice). There are many reasons. First and foremost, towards the end of Jesus’ earthy ministry he commissioned the disciples to go beyond the borders of Israel to baptize and share God’s love: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). The love of God in Christ and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit knows no boundaries.

Secondly, an international mission trip is not an exotic vacation. It is hard hands-on work (emotional, spiritual, and physical) in circumstances that force one to get outside of one’s own head and comfort zone. It also forces one to experience how others around the world survive in the most deplorable conditions that would never exist in the United States. Even in Appalachia and the Navajo reservations of the Dakotas (where I have led and supervised mission trips) the children living in poverty in those areas have access to food stamps, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), Medicaid, WIC TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), Medicaid, WIC (Women, Infants & Children) federal assistance programs and access to a free public education. These types of services rarely reach third-world countries except through faith-based missionaries and NGOs. I assure you that churches of every ilk take domestic missions everyday of the year because they are more affordable and accessible.

And finally, we become missionaries to fortify our own commitment to Christ, to one another and St. Luke’s Church. This is a religious pilgrimage; we will worship twice a day and rely on God for daily substance and strength. Because we will experience shocking conditions we learn very quickly to lean on one another, to help process it, and that it is okay to be vulnerable and overwhelmed. This doesn’t happen nearly to the extent when the trip takes place in one’s own backyard. They actually live the Biblical tableaus of fetching clean water, praying for the sick when there is no medical care and when food is scarce. It is my experience that foreign missionaries return home more committed to their faith and to their church.

Dana+

Rev. Dana Corsello

Rector

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