Muchas Gracias A Dios
by Kathye Hamm
I’ve just returned from a fabulous trip to Guatemala with Thomas. We were visiting our daughter, Hannah – who basically served as our tour guide as well! Hannah is volunteering there for eight months with an NGO which works with social impact entrepreneurs who work with local Guatemalans.
We fell in love with Guatemala! It is a beautiful country filled with warm and welcoming people – who were very patient with my Spanish!
Whenever I am on vacation or get away for a spell, I usually receive two gifts:
- I am reminded how beautiful our world is, and how fascinating people are from different places and countries than my own
- I am able to slow down from the frenetic routine and work of my life to be able to thank God for all of my blessings
I love church architecture and being in worship spaces, so every church and cathedral we saw, I always darted into it! Thomas and I would find a pew to slide into for a while and pray. Every time I sat down, I found myself awash in gratitude for all of God’s blessings.
One of the blessings which has been on my mind a lot lately, is the collegiality and friendship I have with Laurie Gaumer. For the past three and a half years, we have been the synod staff at the Burlingame office. I am glad that she will still be doing some work in candidacy with our synod. I will have the opportunity to see her now and then; however, the day to day involvement in ministry will be no more. I am so sad about that, and I already miss her. She has been a faithful servant of the church and has inspired me in so many ways. In those centuries’ old churches, I lifted that up to God.
When we were on Lake Atitlan, we visited the pueblo of Santiago. While we were there, we visited Holy Trinity Parish where we learned about “Padre Alpa”. Originally Father Stanley Rother, he was from Oklahoma, and then moved to Santiago to serve as their priest when the Pope called for priests to go and help the people of Guatemala. He learned Spanish and the Mayan language of Tzututjil (there are 23 other Mayan languages!) so he could say Mass in their languages, and he supported the people during the Civil War of Guatemala by arranging for family members of those who had been killed in the war to live at the convent in the church. He ultimately was murdered in his room and is considered a martyr for the faith. The people of Santiago revere him as a saint.
As Thomas and I stood in Padre Alpa’s room, we both quietly spoke about the faith of this priest and wondered if we would have been as brave as he was. It was humbling to be sure, and we gave thanks to God for his ministry.
There is so much to give thanks to God for in our lives. I hope and pray that you are able to take some vacation weeks or even moments – to be empty, and to be free to lift up your grateful heart to God. And may you know the blessing – of standing on sacred ground.
God’s blessings upon your ministry – you faithful servant of God,
March 31, 2020
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