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In defense of Words

I wanted to share a little bit of Eduardo Galeano, I have heard a lot about him in the economic circles I peddle in doing research and have started reading his book “Open Veins of Latin America”
Here is a section at the beginning of his book that is actually from a previous book called “Days And Nights of Love and War” title In defense of words:

Great changes, deep structural changes, will be necessary in our countries if we writers are to go beyond… the elites if we are to express ourselves in an incarcerated society, free literature can exist only as denunciation and hope. We are what we do, especially what we do to change what we are…
In this respect a “revolutionary” literature written for the convinced is just as much an abandonment as is a conservative literature devoted to the contemplation of one’s own navel…. Our effectiveness depends on our capacity to be audacious and astute, clear and appealing.
I would hope that we can create a language more fearless and beautiful than that used by conformist writers to greet the twilight.
In Latin America a literature is taking shape and acquiring strength, a literature that does not propose to bury
our dead, but to immortalize them; that refuses to stir the ashes but rather attempts to light the fire perhaps it may help to preserve for the generations to come… “the true name of all things.”

Eduardo Galeano, 1978
translation by Bobbye Ortiz
from Days And Nights of Love and War

This was written in 1978, I’m no expert historian on Latin America but it hit me that this is just as important today, if not more so. It also saddens me that 40 years have passed since Galeano wrote these words and writers and reading a still entirely by the wayside in Latin America. Books are incredibly expensive, and hard to come by even. And reading is not encouraged in schools. Illiteracy might be diminishing in many parts of Latin America, but this has only done service to Facebook and WhatsApp. It also is a sad reality that much good and especially specialized literature is just not available in Spanish at all.
We hope that here in Vida Juvenil, the Church’s after school program, where we have been able to obtain a small library; having kids start reading little books regularly, hopefully soon they will start reading slightly longer more interesting books, this will be able to leave a planted seed in Jardines del Inca.

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A call to prayer.

As the peace accords and the other negotiations in Colombia have advanced there have obviously been many people that are in favor of the steps forward and also people who feel like not enough has been done to forge a lasting peace and there are also people who have felt betrayed that injustices have occurred and true justice has not been served. Throughout this entire process there has been violence along the Colombian-Ecuadorian boarder. It has been a place where gangs, drug loads and defectors from various rebel groups have been able to, it would seem, do as they please. There have existed tense times between the two countries, particularly because the involvement and happenings initiated by many of these armed groups, especially since most (but not all) of them have been Colombians.

Over the last several months violence has increased in the area, especially along the coast and in particular violence against civilians. This all came to a head a few weeks ago when three Ecuadorian journalist, who had gone to the area to investigate and report on the increased violence, were kidnapped by a narco group that split off from the FARC, led by an Ecuadorian known as El Guacho.

On Friday the 13th of April the Ecuadorian government stated that they had no way to prove that the kidnapped journalist were still alive and announced that they would start new coordinated military and police interventions in the area together with the Colombian Armed Forces.

In response to this the three Ecuadorian Mennonite conferences have produced the following statement in favor of peace:

PRONUNCIATION OF THE MENNONITE CHURCH IN ECUADOR

The Mennonite Church in Ecuador, which has been working for over 30 years in favor of the most disadvantaged people, whose mission is, “To pray and work to promote justice and build peace, inspired by the life of Jesus “, in view of the acts of violence that occurred in our country on the northern border with Colombia, we sympathize with the relatives and friends of all the victims; We ask that God comfort them and give peace to all who have suffered these losses. And in the midst of the pain that you are experiencing right now, feel that the best way we have to honor their life and their memory is to work for a more humane world, one that respects life and values ​​peace and justice as precious goods, so that these cruel acts are not repeated in our country and in the world.

As a Mennonite Church, heirs of an Anabaptist theology, which promotes nonviolence, peace, reconciliation and justice:

We strongly reject any form of institutional violence, wherever it comes from, that wants to destabilize the harmonious and peaceful coexistence that has existed in our country, and for which, we must unite as brothers and sisters that we want a country in peace, that is inclusive, welcoming, free of violence, united in solidarity and without discrimination. We believe that one of the fundamental riches that Ecuador has is its people, its culture and its liberating history and its ability to promote constructive dialogue that sees the other as a brother or sister, never as an enemy.

We know that the causes of violence, injustice, poverty and ignorance are structural and are the product of inadequate economic and social policies, which are instead based on profit and markets, where the human being is a commodity and an object. Social polarization, impoverishment and its correlative enrichment, social inequalities, affect peoples and are directly related to the deep roots of violence. Therefore, as long as the conditions that promote social injustice, environmental deterioration and the deprivation of possibilities of a dignified life subsist, structural violence will be justified. Building peace is also reducing poverty.

In this sense:

We call to respect life as a gift from God.

We call to unite in prayer that resists violence.

We call all churches to open their doors, activate solidarity and welcome the most needy and oppressed brothers and sisters.

We call on political leaders to promote fair laws that benefit everyone.

We call to build communities of peace and reconciliation and not only individuals guided by their own interests.

We call to not let ourselves be dominated by the fear that paralyzes us and cowards us and to instead continue fighting for a permanent and lasting peace.

We call to reject violence, discrimination and hatred.

We call to be vigilant of peace and the right to life always and with all people.

We call the Media and Social Networks to handle the information with truth, respect, prudence and restraint.

We call on the Public Force and all armed groups and those who are oriented to violence to assume an active role in preserving peace, within the framework of the broadest respect for the human rights of all involved, seeking new ways to solve the conflicts that do not attempt against the life of the communities that live in those areas. We are convinced that weapons and wars do not bring peace, on the contrary, they multiply violence.

We call on everyone to respect life, nature, and to unite, from solidarity, from social commitment, from faith, so that Ecuador continues to be a country of peace and security.

“But I tell you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

Patricia Miranda

Iglesia Cristiana Anabautista Menonita del Ecuador (ICAME

Pastor Carlos Acosta

President of the Iglesia Menonita del Ecuador (IME)

Pastor Egdy Zambrano

President of the Council of the Iglesia Evangélica del Ecuador (IEME)

Diapers Season II

Second time around for our small diaper project. Although this time we have gotten a slight boost. We are happy to announce that we received a donation through MMN (thanks a lot) to purchase new sewing machines so that we can work with women from the church and refugee project to help make diaper covers, diapers and other items.

As part of the MMN project we are also asking for donations so that we can purchase more fabric. We have received donations of fabric from http://www.diapersewingsupplies.com but we also need other types of fabric and supplies.

Here are the steps you can take to donate and support this initiative.

To give on-line you can got to this page: https://mmngiving.formstack.com/forms/GlobalMinistries , first select that the donation is not for a specific worker, the choose All International Ministries, and then click “yes” to the question, “Would you like to make this donation in honor or in memory of someone?”, there will be a box where you can add a comment, including LA 279 Ecuador Sewing Project.

With this kind of special project MMN retains 5% to cover administrative expenses.

Thanks a lot.

Peter and Delicia

God bless

New wells

We would like to thank everyone for their gracious prayers for this past while. It has been difficult for our entire family, but Ariana is doing much better, so this also means the rest of us are getting along better also.

I have been thinking of words to a song that I have been learning:

En ti confiaré

Tú promesa sigue en pie

Tú eres fiel

Confiado andaré

En tus manos estaré

Siempre has sido fiel

I will trust you

Your promise still stands

You are faithful

I will walk confidently

I will be in your hands

You have always been faithful

I would like to thank Bruce Yoder for the inspiration of the following topic along with Keith and Gretchen Kingsley and the entire Northern Chaco Mission Network team, including my parents.

At Mission Seminar last year Bruce Yoder shared about his work and about previous Mennonite Missionaries in West Africa. He shared a story in particular about an African Independent Church bishop who pushed Bruce on the history of the Mennonite Missionaries. You see the missionaries just supported the local church but never set up a Mennonite denomination. After many years the Bishop confronted Bruce by saying “Why did you never let us be a part of you?” He shares that this took him aback slightly. But then as he reflected on it he realized that even when Missionaries do not “impose” a denomination or particular way of worshipping or believing, the outsider is still “imposing” or being imperial by not offering those things.

I’d like to quote part of an article in the Mennonite that Keith wrote about 7 years ago. He mentions a “book by Gustavo Gutierrez, We Drink from our own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of a People.” Then Keith goes on to say “When I finally read it, the book troubled me, though not because of its themes, which largely confirmed and nourished my Anabaptist faith.

Written nearly 30 years ago by a Peruvian priest, its point continues to be an important one, that the emerging spirituality among the poor of Latin America is life giving because they are “drinking from their own wells.” Furthermore, the author contends that this new spiritual dynamic holds out life, salvation even, to those of us who drink from other wells, other spiritual traditions.

The Mission Network in all of its years in Northern Argentina never created an Anabaptist church. The way my mother tells the story, Albert and Lois Buckwalter actually started off with a Mennonite church but things weren’t going so well, so they decided to take a more hands off approach walking alongside the indigenous churches. That model continued while my parents were in the Chaco and continues to this day.

A model with some similarities happened here in central Ecuador many years ago and out of this came a new Mennonite conference. Earlier this year the Mennonite Church of Ecuador (Iglesia Menonita de Ecuador or IME) was formed from about 8 indigenous and mestizo congregations from the Andean and Coastal region of the country. One of the longest serving pastors, Jose Manuel Guaman, tells a story of one of the first missionaries. In the 70s and 80s a Canadian Mennonite named Henry Klassen worked with Avant Ministries (formerly Gospel Missionary Union). He taught and served in a newly formed mission school and also planted many churches. Jose says that he was one of the first pastors that was ordained since he knew how to read. Henry Klassen wasn’t a pastor, he was a farmer. But to this day Jose Manuel remembers how Klassen ordained other indigenous pastors. “Like Conrad Grebel, George Blaurock and Felix Manz, none of them were pastors but they ordained each other.”

I have also become good friends with another leader in the new Mennonite conference, Julian Guaman. He is a scholar and a teacher. He is truly in love with Anabaptism and what it has in store for his church, his people and his country. He has fond memories of Henry Klassen although Julian only knew him when Julian was young. He appreciated the work that Klassen left behind, but always wondered why a Mennonite church or denomination was never formed. Later, when Jose Manuel Guaman was part of the Indigenous Evangelical Church Federation (now FEINE), he invited the Mission Board to support theological education. This is when Mauricio and Sarah Chenlo came to work in Ecuador. Julian was one of several Kichwa young adults that were able to study theology and eventually get scholarships to finish their studies at the Latin American Seminary in Costa Rica. He is still in contact with Mauricio and that is how I was able to get in touch with Julian. Later on when the Mission Network sent Cesar and Patricia to continue working with Theological Education, Julian worked with them several times giving classes. Eventually Cesar and Patricia’s work led them to decide to start a Mennonite church in the capital. Today we walk alongside this church.

Several weeks ago when Cesar and Patricia were here in Quito for the inauguration of the new church building Julian asked Cesar, “why did you never let us become a part of your new Mennonite church conference?”

____________

Now when I invited Julian over to chat and have some tea, he beams that they have finally started their own Mennonite Conference. He is also excited because his daughter has been accepted at Goshen and he hopes that he can fundraise enough funds so that she will be able to attend.

Recently, at the end of a workshop that I was giving on Anabaptism using Palmer Becker’s booklets, Jose Manuel told me that finally the Mennonite Mission has come to our church. I thought, well the Mission has been here since you invited them in 1989, but I see how he feels this is special. They actually have a Mennonite church and we are happily participating with them.

Through all of this there are many who are drinking from each others wells: the Mennonites in Quito, and in Colombia (the Colombian Church is the mother church of the Quito Church) and the Canadians who sent Henry Klassen, (who apparently left an Anabaptist seed through much of Chimborazo province in the central Andes). The Evangelical Mennonite Conference on the Ecuadorian Coast and the Central Plains Mennonite Conference who first sent Mauricio and Sarah, and then supported Cesar and Patricia and now our family, the churches in the Chaco, and now also in the Ecuadorian Rainforest and in Indiana, are all drinking from each others wells. Here in Ecuador there is a well that is springing forth with new lively water, excited to share in their indigenous Anabaptist faith with the Anabaptist family they have just become a part of.

We all should trust God and know that God’s promise still stands and we can walk confidently, and embrace these new congregations as our own, knowing that God never failed us.

https://themennonite.org/feature/tell-someone-im/

Traveling

Dearest friends and family,

We just wanted to let everyone know that we are traveling to the U.S. for a week and a half and ask for prayers for travel graces and the different things we need to get done in the US.

Thanks and God bless

Peter, Delicia, Aliyah and Ariana

September is for diapers

September 2017

Dearest friends and family,

 We have been back in Ecuador for a little over a month now and it has been great. We would like to ask for continued prayers in this process of purchasing the new building for the church. We are so very close to the end, and we thank God that we have been able to get this far and also thank the different people in the process, especially Patricia M. here in Quito who has been doing so much of the footwork and meticulous legal work to get this far. Also we thank God for the wonderful people who have donated funds.

 We would also like to request more prayers as the church continues to work together with the pastoral team that has been in leadership for the past 4 months.  Peter has been working with the Ecuadorian Evangelical Church, which is an indigenous Kichwa speaking group of churches that has worked with MMN and MBM mission workers in the past, as they discern about joining the Quito Mennonite Church conference or developing their own independent but fraternal Mennonite conference.  Peter would also appreciate prayers as he starts teaching some classes on Historiography and Thesis writing at an indigenous seminary in Riobamba.

 Two weeks ago the new team of Journey International volunteers arrived in Quito, they are three young women, Quinn, Shannon and Karina, who will be working here in Ecuador supporting the church for the next 10 months. We have received them in our house and have put them directly to work helping Delicia with a new project.

Making diapers!!

 According to smallfootprintfamily.com an average baby that uses disposable diapers (which is about 90% to 95% of the US, and possibly similar in Ecuador) will use an average of 6-8 disposable diapers a day which will in turn create 2,000 lbs. of garbage by the time the baby is 2 years old. This also means that an average family in Quito would spend about $60 – $85 a month for the first 2 years or so which is a total of more than $1,500.

 The reality is that in Latin America and especially refugee families babies don’t get the luxury of so many diaper changes a day, and families will usually just change diapers a few times a day.  

 This means less diapers in landfills and less money spent potentially than in the U.S., but it also means babies are more likely to get rashes and infections.

 Together with the Refugee Project here at the Quito Mennonite Church we have started a small project to supply cloth reusable diapers to refugee families with babies and small toddlers. The plan is to help families by giving them diapers that they can use over and over again, and even pass on to future siblings or relatives, also keep disposables (the Refugee Project had been giving about 15 disposable diapers a month to families previously) out of the trash, and a third part of our approach has also been to give some small employment to a few refugee women.

 Delicia had started several years ago making cloth diapers and covers for Aliyah with Becky, Peter’s mother, and now has been making some more for Ariana, (since a lot of Aliyah’s small ones had been passed on to other babies). As we delved into this new diaper project we were able to get a donation of waterproof diaper fabric from http://www.diaperfabricdirect.com (Thanks so much!!!) as well as good deals on other supplies such as snaps and elastic. The cotton diaper cloth was purchased locally and an Afghani refugee women was hired to sew 240 of those diapers, and another Afghani refugee was hired to sew several inserts. Delicia has been working with the Journey International team and with two women from the church to sew the diaper covers. Delicia was able to give the first set of diapers and covers and the mother was very excited to receive the diapers for her little one.

We appreciate your continued prayers for our work here in Ecuador and for the church.
Peter, Delicia, Aliyah and Ariana

God bless

School supplies for refugee children!!

The Refugee Project of the Quito Mennonite church every year helps refugee children with school supplies, this year they were able to help twice as many children go to school because of many generous donations. Thank You!!

JI Video

Hello,

Here is a video we did of the Journey International team we had in Ecuador.

Peter
God bless

Prayer request

Hello all,
I wanted to share a prayer request:
A friend of ours, Michael J. Sharp, that we did MCC orientation with back in 2012 and later met up with while we were in Africa has been kidnapped. He has been working as a UN official in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We’d ask to please share this prayer request. Here are a few articles on about what happened.
https://themennonite.org/daily-news/united-nations-worker-mennonite-school-grad-kidnapped-drc/
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/united-nations-workers-kidnapped-drc-170313155946024.html
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/american-michael-sharp-kidnapped-democratic-republic-congo-n733176

Growing family

Dearest Friends and Family,
Last week, on Thursday at 10:45 God brought Ariana Naomi Wigginton Bravo into this world. She is a wonderful bit of God’s Kingdom that we are enjoying. Aliyah is really excited about having her baby, as she calls her.  
We appreciate your prayers and thoughts.
Kindly
Peter and Delicia 

God bless