Good News, 09.03.09

Friends:

At some moment we did answer Yes to Someone or Something and from that hour we were certain that existence is meaningful and that therefore our lives, in self-surrender, have a goal.  To say Yes to Life is at one and the same time to say Yes to oneself.  Yes – even to that element within one which is most unwilling to let itself be transformed from a temptation into a strength.  Dag Hammarskjold

This Saturday from 8:30 – noon we will host a faith based/interfaith Support Group/Workshop for unemployed people. In these difficult times we need encouraging resources.  Please invite friends to attend.  Our thanks to Joan Michel-Lehman for creating this workshop in response to so many heartfelt needs expressed.

Our St. Francis Animal Blessing and Festival Committee if off to a solid start.  Co-Chairs Tom and Hannah Grossman are especially asking for a team of people to coordinate our Silent Auction for the day on October 4.  The event will go from Noon – 3:00 pm.  Reservations have already been submitted by horses, goats, fish, birds, dogs and cats.  We need you to assist with the day, distribute flyers to pet businesses, donate silent auction items and invite friends.  Will be a marvelous day!

Gun Johnston will host a Reception for Wise Ones in her home on Wednesday, September 16 from 10 – Noon.  All are invited.  Your RSVP is helpful.

Please keep Mike Shimansky and Margaret Bender in your prayers.

Founder’s Day at PLTS Seminary hosts Dr. Martin Marty on September 23.  The Keynote Address is at 10 am with worship and lunch following.  You are invited to register at:  www.plts.edu/news.html.  A celebration for Seminex’ 35th Anniversary ( the seminary I attended) will follow in the afternoon.  Check out the Kiosk for details.

This Sunday our Partnership Committee will lead worship with wonderful tales, images and experiences from their recent journey to Nicaragua.  Here are some insights learned while on their trip:

Things I Didn’t Know Before This Trip to Nicaragua

  • Grace is good at milking goats; Arlene shows promise. (We have pictures to prove this.)
  • Goat milk is dramatically more nutritious than cow milk.
  • One woman who lives in Laurel Galan has a goat and people line up to pay a premium for her goat milk.
  • Cows cost more and produce less than goats.  Cows eat half their weight per day in forage and produce up to 4 liters of milk per week.  Goats also eat half their weight per day in forage and also produce up to 4 liters of milk per week.
  • Most families in Laurel Galan have cows.  These cows were given to them by well-meaning Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) or the Nicaraguan government.
  • You cannot buy a goat with the proceeds you would get from selling your free cow.
  • Sometimes well-meaning NGO’s and governments hurt more than they help.

What We Have in Common with Our Friends in Nicaragua

  • They want their kids to be educated, get good jobs and be better off than they are.
  • Within their community there are different levels of affluence.
  • They like watching soap operas.  The most popular TV show in Nicaragua has a title that translates to With No Breasts There Is No Paradise. (Seriously.  There is no way I could make this up!)
  • 20% of the community will be engaged in any given project and 80% will watch them be engaged.
  • Like us, all of the people in Nicaragua who we met, are staggered by the amount that Little Bobby Winter can eat.
  • They enjoy a good game of Tug of War.
  • They like clowns.
  • The 9-12 year old boys in their community are mischievous and full of energy.
  • They are as interested in our lives as we are in theirs.
  • They like to play baseball.
  • They are inclusive and welcoming of different religions and sexual orientations.
  • There are differences in political opinion that are held firmly enough that people don’t discuss those differences.

Bev and I leave for Israel this Sunday where we will travel for two weeks.  Please keep us in your prayers.

Below is the Community Letter sent to Laurel Galan which you will appreciate.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Dear Sisters and Brothers of our Hermanamiento in Laurel Galan,

We greet you with love and fond memories of our time together in July.  It was so wonderful to be with you and your families – to pray together, play together, talk and eat together.  Thank you so much for your always-loving hospitality!

As you may remember from our final dialogue, we from Peace stated that the most important elements that we wanted to bring back to our church congregation were the following:

We wanted to help the congregation understand how the charity model (though from good intentions) doesn’t work as solidarity means a true partnership where each partner contributes to the well-being of the other.  We wanted to share how our brothers and sisters of Laurel Galan have helped us to grow in so many ways – through faith, compassion, understanding of God’s plan for peace and justice, awareness of policies that create injustice and poverty, etc.

We wanted to more fully inform and involve our congregation in our partnership with Laurel Galan and also with AKF.

We wanted our congregation to realize that delegation travel and regular communications were essential to deepening and strengthening our relationship.

Since returning home, all six of us on the delegation have met to plan how to further accomplish these goals.  To this end, we have done the following:

On Sunday, August 3rd, we shared some of our experiences with the entire congregation during worship service at Peace.  Christy explained about the Farm School and Grace told what Fr. Fernando Cardenal shared with the delegation about his conviction to uphold a promise he made long ago (to fight/help the poor and to uphold justice) and how he has kept his promise to this day.  I talked about your secondary school – your commitment to education, the sacrifices you have made to educate both adults and youth, and your pride in accomplishments.

We have made C.D.s and enlarged pictures from our times with you that we are sharing with the congregation.  We will also include articles in our church newsletter.

The Partnership Committee is making plans to do the entire worship service on September 6th.   It will focus on our Partnership and our experiences with you so that people in our church can get to know our brothers and sisters in Laurel Galan.  We will tell you all about this in our next monthly letter.

We are committed to re-energizing our Partnership Program and are inviting many new people to our next Partnership Meeting on September 9th.

Christy writes: “We started a compost pile with the hopes that we can produce good fertilizer/soil and plant some more fruit trees in our yard and have a vegetable garden next spring.  We are not “gardeners” and, frankly, while he’s willing to go along with it, my husband, Bob, is wondering what got into me.  Additionally, I made Gallo Pinto for dinner last night along with our BBQ’d chicken.  My recipe needs work so I’ll keep trying different variations on it.  I think I need to use different beans.  I used pinto beans and they were too big and red.”

Grace and family already have a compost pile and are doing organic gardening and I have this very high on my “To Do List”.  My brother grows earthworms and I plan to do so, too, as we know how important they are to enriching the soil.

We really want to hear how you are doing with your plans.  Have you set any priorities?  Among other thoughts, you mentioned the need for potable water, a communal house for meetings, greater hopes for education, a bakery, etc.   We also are wondering what you thought about the Farm School that Isaura, Aura, and Marvelis visited.

I read in my journal that during our evaluation on our last day together you and we made a commitment to develop our plans, encourage each other to achieve them, and communicate regularly regarding our progress in our plans.

We so look forward to hearing from you!!!  Do know that you are always in our thoughts and prayers.  May God’s Spirit nourish you with wisdom, courage, and strength as you work toward the fulfillment of your goals.

Much love to each of you and to your families,

Grace, Elisabeth, Christy, Bob, Allison, and Arlene

And also Pastor Steve and all your brothers and sisters of Peace Lutheran Church in Danville, California.