International Ministries

Gemini crickets, chapulines are good!

November 17, 2014 Journal
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To my surprise, crickets not only taste good, they are good for you, too. This is only one of many lessons I learned on my most recent trip to rural Mexico last week. As I was leaving, Josefa gave me her phone number and, for my family back home in WA, a bag full of roasted chapulines (crickets), a great source of protein that she gathers from the fields surrounding her beautiful mountain home in Oaxaca. She and her husband generously opened their home and welcomed me to their table. Along with the chapulines, I feasted on fresh tortillas, salsa (that I got to help make), beans, cheese, roasted pumpkin seeds, coffee, warm milk and cookies. I sat near the cooking fire savouring stories of God's provision and grace, demonstrated in their appreciation of the natural resources that surrounded them. In the song of clucking chickens and turkeys held in pens near the home, the humming of fresh corn being milled into masa for tortillas, and the loud speaker announcing an incoming telephone call for a neighbour (all creative and sustainable income generating projects maintained by the family) I heard HOPE. I witnessed wise and beautiful resilience in their lives and can't wait until next year when I get to spend more time learning together with them. 

Another lesson I learned from my new friends was that the stakes are higher and much more dangerous for them than me to speak out against injustice. Part of my work throughout Latin America is to raise awareness about the devastating effects of exploitation and human trafficking. I speak strongly and passionately about our responsibility as people of faith and believers in the dignity of all to speak out against systems of death while proclaiming good news, God's design for life, shalom and redemption. Although some may consider my comments too taboo to speak out loud in church or outright disagree with my perspective, up to this point, I have not felt threatened or that my life was in danger. This has not been the case for some in Mexico. In late September of this year, 43 students from a rural teacher's college in Ayotzinapa, Guerreo Mexico disappeared on their way to a demonstration protesting government corruption and repression. Believed by many to have been murdered, their parents and friends are holding out hope that they are being held somewhere in order to be silenced.  A Mexican proverb says, "They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds." Those who take life may think they have silenced the dissent, only to have planted seeds that speak louder than life. I heard these seeds shouting in the multitudes who march in public squares, refusing to forget the names of the disappeared,  in protest art that pops up all over the Mexican landscape as well as on Facebook, and especially in the peaceful public fasting at the Zócalo in Mexico City by Baptist seminary students and leaders. One of my planned meetings with seminary leadership had to be cancelled because of their participation in this important, yet risky witness.

While spending the week with IM colleagues Keith and Debbie Myers and Chuck and Ramona Shawver, I was blessed to learn about the rich and complex history of Mexico and meet their friends from the Baptist Seminary in Mexico City and CICEM, the Council of Rural Indigenous Evangelical Churches of Mexico. Next year I will work with CICEM, traveling to three different indigenous communities to do region wide workshops for women exploring how faith intersects with creativity, resiliency, empowerment and trauma recovery. 

This past year I have had abundant opportunities to learn about and practice the use of the expressive arts in trauma care and recovery. In April of 2014 I received training in the use of the Healing Arts Toolkit created by Arts Aftercare and have since been developing a beautiful relationship with this cutting edge NGO dedicated to provide resources for trained arts therapists and artists of all kinds to engage in the healing process with at-risk youth and survivors of extreme trauma. An emergent development is the Creative Communities of Care, designed to engage in group art processes for self-care, share resources and adaptations, practice facilitation techniques, and provide mutual support. Part of the vision includes the development of regional gatherings facilitated by CCC coordinators. I was able to co-facilitate one of the first regional gatherings in Mexico City with Shabrae Krieg, Regional Support Coordinator for Arts Aftercare. We engaged in all of the aspects that Creative Communities of Care seek to promote and I was inspired. In 2015, I look forward to co-facilitating a number of  Healing Arts Toolkit trainings in Tijuana and Managua with the amazingly creative Ruth Yeo Peterman, Arts Aftercare Director of Mental Health and Program Development. These new partnerships will allow me to learn and lead even more while using the arts to uncover beauty in the brokenness. 

Thank you for being a part of what allows me to witness hope, healing and wholeness for and in our world,