“Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the children of God”
In May we held our annual La Casa De La Paz Leadership Conference in Chichicastenango. This year it included 48 women represented a dozen of our communities. We were contacted at that time by an anonymous donor, who heard of our work and offered to cover the costs of our entire conference including hotel rooms at a high end hotel in Chichicastenango with meals included, plus free transportation from Panajachel for all our ladies. This came out of the blue, and we give God all the glory because we weren’t sure if we’d even have a conference this year at all.
The presence of the Holy Spirit was certainly with us as our theme for the conference this year was, “What is the Holy Spirit saying to us? As leaders, are we truly taking to heart the 11th step of our program, “We seek through prayer and meditation to focus on the words of Jesus, coming into a more intimate relationship with God, praying only for the knowledge of Gods will, and the power to carry it out.” How does this practically work in my everyday life outside of La Casa de La Paz meetings and those relationships in my own home. Socially speaking, as the times are getting darker and more pessimistic, is Christ as the light of the world shining through me?
Caption for dining room photo
This is the type of hotel (economically speaking) that in Panajachel, our ladies walk by every day of their lives and yet would never dream of entering into it personally, but enter in they did. We’re so grateful to our gracious Lord for hosting our conference, also for our anonymous donor that payed for it all, and for the Hotel Casa del Rey, and its wonderful staff who made every one of us feel special.
Caption for the conference guest speaker photo
We had a wonderful Christian Psychologist, Kimberly Canil as our guest speaker for our leadership conference. Her strong commitment to Christ, coupled with her background in psychology, allowed Kimberly to give our ladies a fresh perspective on the practical issues facing mental health care workers even such as our ladies themselves. She spoke of being aware of our own mental health needs as well as caring for others. We hope to have Kimberly come to Panajachel to give a one day work shop for our ladies in the future.
Our latest community was born this June. It’s being organized by several ladies who have attended our community meetings in Panajachel. They wanted to start a meeting in their own community closer to home. Given space, it’s amazing how the Holy Spirit creatively organizes these meetings apart from any outside help.
Poverty, Ignorance and Violence in Rural Guatemala
Maria S. is 40 years old and has been attending La Casa de La Paz meetings for three years. Growing up both of Maria’s parents were chronic alcoholics. Her family was very poor and all of her family members did field work on local farms. Maria never attended school nor has she, or any of her family ever been to a doctor. She started to do field work as soon as she was physically strong enough to qualify for a salary. (Even a healthy adult only makes three dollars a day here.) Of the children, Maria was the oldest of eight girls along with one boy who died in infancy. The father was very macho, and with the birth of every baby girl was increasingly frustrated. He and many of his neighbors would consider his family cursed for being so large and yet having no boys. As Maria grew up her parents continued to binge drink and then sleep in between binges for long periods of time. This resulted in there being no work or food at home. At this time the father (so called) took 3 of his young daughters up into the mountains “to do the work of men” as Maria describes it. Returning home from work daily and not having enough to eat, they died from over work and hunger, their diet being mainly coffee and tortillas with salt. Because Maria was the oldest girl, she was spared going up into the mountains to work. This was so she could work for her parents at home overseeing her younger sisters, as her parents were incapable of doing so themselves. Every aspect of her entire life has been overshadowed by alcoholism, violence against her, specifically as a women and food insecurity.
By this time her four surviving sisters were growing older and more capable of managing the house themselves so Maria was told by her parents it was time for her to move out. They said they had arranged a marriage for her, she was sixteen at the time. Actually she was completely unprepared to do anything with her life, much less get married. She knew nothing of the man, they had never met before, he was 25 years old and it turned out (also like Maria’s father) he was a chronic alcoholic and physically abusive. She remains married to this same man today and also shares her house with an alcoholic son and an alcoholic son in law. All of her other sisters were also forced into arranged marriages, all to alcoholics.
A year ago, all of the sisters decided to join Maria and attend La Casa de La Paz meetings. Up until that point none of them had any contact with their mom. Today a year later all the sisters are reconciled with their mom, who is now sober. Also one of the five husbands has now given up drink and is a Christ centered father faithfully providing for his wife and children. Please pray for every remaining family member a hunger for the love of Jesus, finding in Christ a love that passes all understanding. There is nothing rational or reasonable about their pasts to be understood at all, except to say it was all sin, it has been brought to the cross where the supernatural power of sin is broken, that place where the past is now the past. There is such a thing as overanalyzing our past and trying to make reasonable, things that were never rational to begin with due to substance abuse.
Here is how you can help our dear sister Maria
Maria lives with three alcoholic men. This includes her husband, her biological son and her son in law. Pease pray that Maria would exemplify and channel the holy authority of Jesus Christ in her own house unhindered, with all humility, patience, grace, and wisdom. That her entire house would be so transformed and so filled with the Holy Spirit and all it’s fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, that there is no longer any room for the agents of chaos of any kind to dwell in her house. We believe with our sister that God will make a way for her where there is no way. We have seen many impossible situations transformed by God.
2.INVEST BY SUPPORTING HER ARTISAN WORK BUY A CLOTH NAPKIN FOR $10/ea or $35/four
Since Maria does quality weaving, if you would like to support her, she makes beautiful napkins as well as beautiful indigenous blouses we can send you state side. We’re enclosing some photos of her work and prices. Maria works alone in the mountains, where she earns only three dollars a day, that is when work is available. She does quality piece work but the numbers she is required to produce every two weeks are considerable. This puts a lot of stress on her, especially with all the chaos at home. It all amounts to sweat shop labor, it’s just country style. Even though she works alone, unlike the big sweat shops in urban areas it is just as demanding.
Helping our Communities in General
3.PURCHASE A FOOD BASKET $25/FAMILY
Our food distribution budget was cut in half over a year ago with several of our newer communities get no food support at all, even for those in dire need like Maria’s family. If you have a heart for our food ministry we invite you to allocate your donation towards this needy part of our ministry. The only peace of mind Maria has or knows comes through the unconditional Holy Spirit inspired love of God principally coming through our relentless sisters of mercy here in the mountains of Guatemala. Simply earmark your designated donation for our food pantry below at:
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