Ryana Says Hola
Posted on March 7, 2019 | Posted by Annie Saunders
Ascension’s own resident missionary, Ryana Holt sends an update from Santiago, Chile. Read what’s she’s been up to these past few Chilean months!
The annual leadership retreat is where I headed to at the beginning of January with leaders from all congregations.
Guided by two Argentinian pastors, we learned techniques to appropriately carry out pastoral visitations and to write reflections for devotionals and sermons. I found the material to be useful for me and for a church lacking pastors for some of their congregations, who continue to function without one.
It was also a special moment for me to be surrounded by people I have grown to know and love from four regions. It was a testament to my time in each of those places and helped me recenter my accompaniment process with the IELCH.
At the end of January, I traveled south to help with the youth retreat with youth ages 13-20. It was a blast and a rejuvenating couple of days to be with the youth who are part of the church, many of whom I know well from my classes. We engaged in topics of Lutheran identity and political advocacy, taking well deserved time to swim in the lake and play games.
EPES International School:
The foundation Educación Popular en Salud (Popular Education for Health, or EPES, an ELCA supported org) has held an international school every summer for 10 years. In January I participated in the 10th school, “Crossing Continents,” along with participants from over 10 countries, including a group of individuals sponsored by the ELCA who work with ELCA supported projects in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Cameroon, South Africa, Madagascar among others.
My expectations were high. I wanted to learn more about community project planning and execution, something that EPES has done with great success for 35 years and I am just learning about.
My expectations were exceeded. It was an empowering, profoundly educational and interesting 10 days. In the school, EPES not only equips the participants to develop community projects based in popular education to promote health but also has the participants carry out community action projects in Santiago and present project proposals for their own contexts to implement their learning once home.
In the International School we dug into many topics including language justice (it was held in English and Spanish), popular vs formal education, health access and rights, project planning, and participatory evaluations. All the information is useful and applicable, even in my work accompanying the IELCH now in their community life and as an English teacher. I left inspired to implement my learning in these last 5 months in Santiago, hopefully on the topic of migration. After all, language is an important tool in human movement and the IELCH is hoping to get more involved in supporting migrants arriving to Chile.
I am grateful to the whole EPES team for their efforts and energy in creating such a tremendous, well-run, and enjoyable school on popular education for health. I am also grateful for each participant who offered their lived experiences, knowledge, good humor and perspective. If anyone is interested in future EPES International Schools or wants to know more, please let me know.
Crisis in Venezuela:
My closest friends in Concepción are my two Venezuelan roommates, Sonia and Ale. Our friends were Venezuelan. Neighbors, store cashiers, some of my students. Although all of us connected as foreigners in Chile, we are away from our homes for very different reasons.
I’m sure the crisis in Venezuela has made news in the US. Here in Chile, it is also reality as Venezuelans have become the number one immigrant group here. There is discrimination, struggles, triumphs, and everything in between.
As you continue to hear and pray about Venezuela, consider not only the angle presented but the angle being silenced, and the underlying motivations. We pray for peace and safety so that those who want may return to their families and a safe home. We pray for all countries who receive immigrants that they do so with respect and to work hard to analyze discriminatory comments being shared about these groups of people before believing them.
Ryana’s Prayer Requests:
For those working in community projects to do their work in ways that engages with and empowers the communities. For us and the church, and our failure to be love in this world. For all LGBTQI+ who experience discrimination & hate, especially from churches called to love. For parents with new babies, especially my cousins and their little Rekn as he faces hard medical conditions.
Want to hear more about Ryana and her missionary life? Check out her blog at https://ryanaholt.wordpress.com/