Members of the Baptist Church at Zapata. Pastor Humberto is the one in the orange t-shirt. Eleazar is the young man in front of Humberto and beside grandma Rosa.
Food shared at the table
Ten kilograms of corn were prepared every day!
The girls from Tacuba and Ceiba cooking tortillas and scrambling eggs
Lindberg receiving materials for the camp.
Group discussions on migration
Prayers, tears and commitments.
Mariano, Eleazar and Boni going back to the seminary at the back of the pickup.
…and then he sang!
And then he sang! Lindberg, a young Mayan man from Tacuba, reconciled with the Lord and today, the last day of the youth camp, sang for the Lord before 300 people. He sang with his heart moving us all to praise.
Youth everywhere! More than 150 young Mayans together amidst the
highlands of Chiapas at Eleazar’s hometown, Zapata; engaged in understanding
the reality of migration that harm them and the truth that there is a God that know this
reality and works with them to change it. Migration was the theme the youth
selected for this camp and it was the first time that our local Mayan team, students of the seminary coordinate and lead it. And oh boy it was a tough theme to develop with
its political, economic, social and heart breaking issues!
Yet, we thought we wouldn’t make it. Just 3 weeks before, Zapata and
Tzajala were involved in a confrontation that threatened to spark a regional conflict.
Zapata, a Mayan Tseltal town of about 500 people lies 45 minutes uphill from Tzajala. The municipality of Yajalón was paving the road from Tzajala to Zapata, but it was taking forever. For over 6 months, delays in materials, politics and corruption kept the road from completing and difficult to travel. Then a family of Tzajala was harmed in an armed robbery, two were killed. Allegedly the culprits were people from Zapata. In retaliation the people from Tzajala closed the road, asked for a tax to every vehicle going to Zapata and set up vehicles to moved people and cargo from Tzajala to Zapata charging incredible fees. This created hardships to Zapata that felt the shortage of food (trucks would not pay the tax nor the fee to transport goods to Zapata) and even when they started moving the goods from Tzajala to Zapata by foot and mule, there were things too heavy to carry uphill.
So, in reprisal, Zapata cut the water going to Tzajala. After 3 days without water the people of Tzajala was ready to invade Zapata. Enraged and armed they gather hundreds at the community center. Word was given to Zapata and a representation of six went to talked with the authorities of Tzajala. Among them Humberto, a Baptist pastor and father of Eleazar, was selected to talk in representation of Zapata. He represented several parties hard to unite; Zapatistas, people from the different political parties and denominations – recognized in Humberto a mediator.
And so, they went. They found over two hundred people, angry, shouting and threatening to lynch them all for what they did. Humberto, keeping his own group in calm, gave the word of wisdom and peace. He talked to the authorities making them realized their own fault at punishing Zapata as a whole for the crimes of people they even did not know who they were. He talked about the family relationships that keep Zapata and Tzajala united, they were one family. He also talked about the government, the true culprit keeping resources from the indigenous communities and making them fight for the crumbs.
He invited them to make a united front and go to the municipality’s governmental office to pressure them to finish the road. They agreed. The free pass and the water were restored, and both communities worked as one. It took them two weeks to get things done from the government and calmed those few who didn’t want reconciliation to take place.
This was two weeks before the camp! We asked some of you to pray. Meanwhile, we prayed, we hoped and we believed the word of Humberto that everything will be ok. We trusted Humberto and the leadership of Zapata for we have worked with them, we have shared food and house, and we have become family. The team coordinating the camp shared this strong feeling that we all will be in good hands. So, we risked and went to Zapata with all of these young men and women. And, we saw God at work in astonishing ways.
The camp finished. But the touch of the Spirit lingers, and keeps us all talking and sharing the good things that happened at the camp. Many reconciled, others came to Jesus, yet others recognized and affirmed their call to ministry. Our young leaders, student of the seminary, the fruits of previous camps excelled! Bonifacio, Mariano and Aurelia became extraordinary preachers. Eleazar and Matias were extraordinary organizers. Susana, Maria del Carmen, Noe and Pedrito directed worship and devotionals. Joselyn and Adrian, two short term Puerto Rican missionaries accompany the youth and gave us a much needed pair of hands! We all received blessings because peace was achieved at this place.
Peace could be elusive at times. But Peace also calls us from the depths of our faith, faith in Jesus, in those in our care and in those who care for us. Peace is a song amidst the conflict that hopes. Peace calls for faith in us and in our coworkers; in our Christian family. We praise God for you; for you are part of the wonderful Mayan, Puerto Rican, American and World family God has given us all, to share, to nurture and to care.
Thanks for your great love, a love that brings forth astonishing fruits! Thanks for your prayers, God did miracles!
Dios sk’oltaesh ta amatanik! God bless your gifts!
Doris & Ricardo