A team from KUCC traveled to Guatemala from June 21-28, 2016, to continue our partnership with CEDEPCA, the ministry and relief agency. CEDEPCA hosted the nine KUCC travelers for this study/service trip. During their week in Guatemala, team members learned about the history and culture of the Guatemalan people and the challenges they face today.
Now we are preparing to welcome two CEDEPCA staff members who will visit KUCC in April. If you want to know more about plans for their stay or would like to invite them to dinner or suggest an activity you could share with them, contact Judy Kamper (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Emily Kuttenkuler (email@example.com).
Caminando con Guatemala
(Walking with Guatemala)
The walk began when 8 women from Kirkwood UCC traveled to Guatemala in the summer of 2012. They went for the purpose of learning – learning about the country of Guatemala, listening to the stories of the people and hoping to find a way to “do mission” in Guatemala.
They found people helping themselves:
- Women who suffered during the armed conflict in Guatemala and came together to form a weaving cooperative to insure the well being and education of their children
- Children and adults with disabilities who learned skills that allowed them to be self-sufficient and contribute to the financial support of their families.
- Adolescents who worked all day in fruit stands or rock quarries and then went to school to learn to read, write and develop vocational skills
- Women who were the victims of domestic violence were learning how to speak up in compassionate ways
- Seminarians who were studying to meet the needs of the churches in Guatemala
- CEDEPCA staff who were traveling to all parts of the country to meet the psychological needs of survivors of natural disasters.
And they were doing all these things with the support of CEDEPCA (www.cedepca.us), the organization that hosted the women from KUCC.
In discussions with Judith Castaneda, General Coordinator for CEDEPCA, the KUCC group learned about being partners in mission. They also learned that, while CEDEPCA has many groups from North American interested in visiting, they only have a few staff members who have the English language skills and understanding of North American culture to serve as guides for these groups. This sparked an idea for partnership in mission – the idea that KUCC could provide opportunities for CEDEPCA staff members to be immersed in the culture and language of North America. After numerous e-mails and Skype conversations, a plan for the partnership developed.
From October 2-9, 2013, Judith and two of her colleagues spent a week in St. Louis, helping plan a 5-6 week immersion experience for two CEDEPCA staff members (tentatively scheduled for fall of 2014). In addition to planning the immersion experience, Judith and her colleagues visited organizations and met with people in St. Louis that do work similar to that done by CEDEPCA (seminary education, responding to natural disasters, working with immigration issues). There were also opportunities for them to learn about St. Louis and share their Guatemala experiences with KUCC.
October, 2014: Ana Paxtor and Luis Sarpec began their month long visit to St. Louis and KUCC. This was their first visit to the city. Ana and Luis are staff members at CEDEPCA (Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America) and they work in the area of disaster relief in Guatemala. During their visit they were able to tour organizations and meet with individuals involved in disaster relief in the United States. Another purpose of their visit was to improve their English proficiency and to develop a better understanding of our culture so they can lead the many North American tours of CEDEPCA in Guatemala. Ana and Luis stayed in the homes of some of the members of KUCC, participated in many activities of the church, and toured the city.
June, 2016: A nine-member team, eight from KUCC and a friend, traveled to Guatemala to renew the partnership with CEDEPCA and to learn more about the communities the agency serves. See photos above from this trip.