Buenas Tardes de Guatemala

Houston stopoverThe 2011 DGFUMC delegation to our sisters in UPAVIM has arrived in Guatemala City. After an early morning flight from Chicago and a brief stopover in Houston, we landed safely in Guatemala City (with all our luggage) just after 1pm. Although it was a bit cloudy, we were able to catch glimpses of the beautifully verdant Guatemalan hills before the plane did its final bank north before landing. Having studied Google maps before leaving, I am fairly sure (although not everyone is convinced) that I saw the UPAVIM building on our final descent, a surprisingly large structure dominating the surrounding community. The community of La Esperanza is west of the airport, on one of the elevated fingers (mesas?) that extend south of the city, so it should have been visible. When we landed, it took us a little while to decide what the immigration forms were really asking us, and we should definitely remind future delegations to make sure they know the address of Sister Parish before they leave.

UPAVIM WelcomeWe were then greeted by a number of UPAVIMAs, including several who visited Downers Grove in 2009, waiting patiently outside with the Sister Parish coordinator, Ellen Moore, who we were meeting for the first time. The value of our hermanamiento was once again demonstrated by the warmth of their welcome, whether renewing past friendships or meeting new faces. This is a relationship that is enriching both communities, and we are excited that it is being refreshed once again.

We were driven to the Sister Parish center, which is a few blocks from the central square, where the cathedral and presidential palace is located. We will be seeing those tomorrow, as well as passing the monument to Bishop Gerardi, one of many courageous people who gave their lives to establish a more just society here. That is a still a work in progress, as we will learn during this trip. Ellen and Julieta, who has come from El Salvador, have prepared an exciting program for us over the next week. We travel to UPAVIM on Friday.

As I write, people are preparing dinner, after which we will open one of the many letters of support that you have provided during a time of reflection. Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes. It's a privilege to be your representatives here. We will try to keep you updated, although I can't guarantee that we will be able to write every day.

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