Last November when I went to visit many of the amazing leaders of ILAG, I was greatly impressed and inspired once again. On my first day, Pastor Karen Castillo asked if I was interested in joining her for a "little prayer service." As it turned out, before long, I found myself sitting next to Karen in the chancel of the downtown Cathedral with the archbishop of the Catholic Church of Guatemala! The archbishop, along with a group of other bishops, had gathered for an ecumenical prayer service commemorating the 20th anniversary of the signing of the peace accord. I felt like the only reason I was there was that I appeared to be Karen's personal bodyguard!
On my second day I was again blessed to be included as Karen and Beatriz went to meet with two other Lutheran leaders, one of whom is with the Lutheran World Federation and the other is the pastor of a German speaking congregation. They were gathering to discuss plans about how to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. There is a distinct possibility of having a statue of Martin Luther erected downtown - how cool would that be?
On Saturday, with the leaders from the rural churches having arrived for their retreat, we began with a procession and then focused on Martin Luther's life and the history of the Reformation. Their excitement to learn and ask thoughtful questions is why I refer to these leaders as "the confirmation class that every pastor I know would love to have." That evening the leaders showed their tremendous appreciation for Pastor Esther as they serenaded her while we celebrated her birthday.
Sunday morning included a beautiful time of worship, more learning, eating tortillas, and fellowship followed with some emotional leavetaking as we said our goodbye's.
Every time I am able to go, I leave impressed and inspired - it is a wonderful gift to have such a wonderful partnership in the Gospel with these faithful, gracious disciples.
The Rev. Jonathan Zielske