It is Friday afternoon and I’m sitting in the courtyard of the Lutheran Center in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It is currently 80 degrees and absolutely perfect in the shade of this patio table. I’m very excited to be reunited with my wife and family tomorrow, but, to be honest, I’m trying not to think about the winter that will greet me upon my return.
My work here is done, so I have a few minutes this afternoon to reflect on this past week. If you’ve been following my journey, you’ll remember from my last post that I spent my first week studying Spanish in Antigua Guatemala and painting in that beautiful city. See this post for that story.
This week I have had the opportunity to work alongside Pastora Karen Castillo, the bishop of the Iglesia Luterana Augustina de Guatemala, and her son, Diego Gil, as we led leadership training workshops for the pastors and ministry leaders from different regions of Guatemala.
The first group was here on Saturday and Sunday. I led two sessions on Luther’s Small Catechism and preached in worship on Sunday morning. We had a break on Monday and I was able to do some artwork (see below). The second group arrived Monday evening and we repeated our sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. One of the many things I love about teaching is how the same session can be completely different between two different groups. In the first group we spent a lot of time talking about why Lutheran doctrine only has two sacraments and why marriage is not a sacrament. This is a really big deal here in Guatemala. The second group was more interested in Luther’s context and I ended up doing a crash course in church history. It was so much fun.
One fascinating aspect of this experience for me is to realize how similar the context here in Guatemala is to that of Martin Luther. The traditional Roman Catholic Church is a dominant force here, especially in the rural areas where most of the ILAG churches are located. Additionally, the Evangelical/Pentecostal Church is a powerful presence with its own version of pietistic legalism and decisional theology. The Lutheran pastors are trying to grapple with the concept of grace and the freedom of the Christian in light of oppressive legalism from both sides. This, combined with the oppression and discrimination that the indigenous people face from the majority of Guatemalans, makes the work of these church leaders challenging.
It has been an honor and a humbling experience to be allowed to share with this wonderful group of church leaders. Please pray for their safety and growth in the coming months.
My work was done on Wednesday evening. So, Estuardo and I took an overnight road trip to Panajachel yesterday and returned this afternoon. The last time I was there was in 1981 with my parents when I was 12 years old. Lake Atitlan is beautiful.
Thanks for praying for me on this trip. My flight home is scheduled to leave at 7:00am tomorrow. Please enjoy my gallery from this week below.
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It sounds like you have had an amazing trip. So glad you were able to go.