Monthly Archives: July 2014

Update on Changes in Our Assignment

Greetings in Christ from Guatemala!

I send this letter to update you about our work here. As most of you know, Bacilia and I end our assignment with Presbyterian World Mission of the PC(USA) at the end of July. We are grateful to PWM for opening this door four years ago and for all of their support.

The Presbyterian Church of Guatemala (IENPG) has invited us to continue serving with them, and we have agreed to do so. As Partnership Coordinator for PRESGOV, much of my work will remain the same. Additionally, I will direct the emerging Presbyterian Complex in Cobán, and will work with the Presbyterian Seminary to coordinate the indigenous theological training program there. Our family already has moved to Cobán to be closer to this work.

I continue as a PC(USA) teaching elder, and my position with the IENPG has been validated by my home presbytery, the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee.

The focus of Bacilia’s mission service will be our family, help in hosting groups, and assisting with the new Presbyterian Church that is under development in Cobán.

The IENPG has offered to provide a salary that is in keeping with that of other IENPG pastors. We are so thankful for this! However, this will not cover all necessities, such as insurance, pension, education, social security, travel to the U.S., etc.

Some people expressed their interest, or the interest of their churches, in supporting our ongoing work with prayers and support in meeting uncovered expenses. The Outreach Foundation, a highly-respected Presbyterian mission organization with partners around the world, will administer support for our work in Guatemala. Any gifts should be designated “Beisswenger,” and sent to 381 Riverside Drive, Suite 110, Franklin, TN 37064.

Please contact me with any questions you might have about these developments.

For regular news about our mission assignment, subscribe to our blog: https://pbpres.wordpress.com.

This is an exciting time for Christ’s mission in Guatemala. We solicit your prayers that all things work together for good according to God’s call, and look forward to more opportunities to serve in partnership with you in the future.

¡Bendiciones!

Philip & Bacilia Beisswenger

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South Alabama & Chiséc Presbyteries—Kindred Spirits

Bonds keep building between the Presbytery of South Alabama and the Chiséc Q’eqchi’ Presbytery, with groups Worship Semuc Champeyrepresenting these partners converging in Cobán in recent weeks. Not only did they make amazing progress in construction at the Presbyterian Complex of the North. They drew from one another a kindred spirit of Christian love, joy and faith.

An 18-member presbytery-wide team, led by Samford Turner, visited on June 21-28. Most were “Teens for Christ”–from a two-year leadership program for Presbyterian youth. Their visit began with an adventuresome outing to the Semuc Champey National Park (See terrific photo of worship there by Judy Stout) For the rest of the week, they were joined by nine Chiséc youth leaders at the work site. After a ground-breaking ceremony for the complex’s administration building, buckets, hoes and shovels started to fly. During three days, most of the building’s concrete foundation was poured, and much of the surrounding terrain was leveled.

Next was a day-long gathering of Alabama and Guatemalan youth at the village of Limon Sur, where three Presbyterian churches thrive within a stone’s throw of each other. The day was packed with devotions and singing, soccer matches, a talent show, plenty of home-made food, and a dip at the local swimming hole. It concluded with a grand worship celebration featuring dance and musical presentations by each youth group. A pageant was held to choose Señorita Chiséc Presbytery Youth. So as to not exclude anybody, there were two señoritas—one representing the Chiséc area and the other for Alabama. (See photo of the winners—Ali Gosselin and Elvia Pop)DSC01876

The following week (June 28-July 5), a 20-member mission team from Trinity Presbyterian Church of Fairhope, Alabama kept the momentum going. Led by Stephen Davis, their motto was “Go Guatemala!” After a day-trip to the nearby Sachichaj waterfall for swimming and devotions (see photo), DSC01880they rolled up their sleeves, completing the concrete slab, assembling the building’s metal frame, and leveling dirt and rocks. Each day big crews of Chiséc volunteers came from outlying villages to work side-by-side in partnership. (See photo) DSC01881-1DSC01851Matthew, Manny and Stefi enjoyed participating as well. (See photo) A highlight was a visit to the La Patria Norte School, where students and teachers displayed their local dress and dance, along with special skits.

The Chiséc Presbytery received both Alabama teams enthusiastically, showering them with hugs, prayers, meals, gifts, and greetings to carry back home. Chiséc Presbytery Secretary Filipenses Flores provided masterful hosting coordination. For their part, the South Alabama teams showed how to combine generous hearts with willing hands. Alabamian Valerie Harden served on both teams and provided invaluable help as translator. Alfredo Cisneros, our charming bus driver, won over both teams with his road (and shoveling) skills. Like many others, I can’t wait for these partners to get together in Guatemala again.

 

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Becoming Cobaneros!

After four years in Guatemala City, our family has transplanted to lush, beautiful Cobán, DSC01891about a 4 ½ hour drive north through the mountains. It was a hectic, crazy move, in part because we also hosted visiting teams at the same time. Many thanks to Kingsport FPC and South Alabama teams for so graciously cutting us some extra slack!

Living In Cobán, we’re better positionedto offer direct, ongoing support to the different facets of the Presbyterian Complex—the new church development, the construction of the new campus, and the ongoing theological education program for indigenous leaders.

For the time being, we’re living in a simple 2-bedroom house right in the neighborhood near the Presbyterian Complex. (See photo) Work will begin soon on a manse on the complex property where we’ll reside long term. We’re grateful to Richard and Debbie Welch, mission co-workers in Cobán that have generously let us use a spacious shed for storing lots of furniture and boxes till the manse is ready.DSC01837

Our children are enrolling at the Colegio La Patria Norte in Cobán, a Presbyterian school that will be part of the Presbyterian Complex. This will mean some adjustments for them from the American School in Guatemala City, since instruction at La Patria Norte is only in Spanish, and it’s on the Guatemalan academic calendar—January thru October.

Some other news:

  • So long, Jesy! The final day of our move, we sadly bid farewell to Jesy Ordoñez, Bacilia’s niece who lived with us for the past three years. She came to be like a daughter to us. She’s returning to Honduras where her mother and siblings still live. Memorable moments included her baptism at Central Presbyterian Church, graduation from cosmetology school, terrific meals that she prepared so often, and her frequent help with homework. Many blessings to you in Honduras, Jesy! (See photo of good-bye hugs)
  • Visit by First PC, Kingsport, Tennessee. A team of Presbyterians from Kingsport spent a week in GuatemalaDSC01825 City with their friends at Iglesia Presbiteriana Bethel. Together they worked on remodeling Bethel’s Sunday school classrooms, and also enjoyed many fellowship activities. By common agreement, the focus of a future visit is to be a joint outreach project into the community surrounding Bethel. (See photo of work on Bethel classrooms)
  • Called Synod Meeting. The IENPG Synod met again on June 24-25 to finish leftover business from its ordinary session in May, such as setting a budget and electing officers. I couldn’t attend because of scheduling conflicts. A new IENPG moderator was chosen—Pastor Laurence Barrios. PRESGOV and the International Relations Committee—both on which I’ve served the past four years—were merged. I was elected onto the new PRESGOV committee.

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