December 18, 2012

Catie in El Salvador

Here at Vox we partner with and support overseas organizations in Central Asia and India, which comprises some of our global missions efforts. In addition, we remain connected and support in various ways several Vox community members currently living and serving overseas. Catie Johnston — who has been a part of the Vox community and served on the Vox music team and missions committee — will be leaving in 2013 for El Salvador. Join us in praying for her time there. 

I am excited to announce that on January 5th I will be going back to El Salvador to spend a little over 5 months working with an organization called US El Salvador Sister Cities.  Sister Cities works to connect and strengthen movements for social justice in the U.S. and El Salvador by sharing accompaniment, experiences and advocacy.  Although you probably didn’t know it, Austin’s sister city in El Salvador is a rural community called Guajoyo, located in the San Vicente region, and has been for over 20 years.  A group of justice-seeking Christ followers that call themselves the East Side Group has been living this relationship, which has taken many different forms over the years, and has invited me to spend some time in Guajoyo as a volunteer.  This is the first time that a volunteer from Austin will be going to share in community with Guajoyo, and the excitement is mutual from both ends.  The ESG has funded countless projects from building a school, to buying materials for chicken fences, to funding scholarships for the community’s youth to go to high school and even college.  Some projects on the horizon that I will be helping out with include community leadership initiatives with the youth who receive scholarships, human rights advocacy campaigns in Honduras, and maybe helping to get a community bakery started.  My main role as a volunteer will be to immerse myself in the community and the issues they face, because as we often remark, we are relational beings, and we can only hope for international peace and cooperation if we see one another as neighbors and friends.

Going into this experience, I can’t even begin to guess what it will look like.  How will I spend my days?  Who will I be working with?  What are the ways I can serve Guajoyo and what are the ways they will serve me?  The best answer to these questions is the peace of knowing that these steps are taken with God’s direction.  You, the Vox community, have nourished me more than each of you individually can know, and I hope that even after I leave you remember me in your prayers from time.  Please pray for the struggles faced by this rural farming community such as the current drought, climate change, and the intrusion of foreign mining companies that destroy the land for a profit.  Pray for the strong spirit of the Salvadoran people.  Pray for the increased incidence of gang violence in El Salvador, and for the youth who face the option of joining those gangs or not.  I will certainly be remembering you all in my prayers too.

[Written by Catie Johnston]

[Photo by Aëla Labbé @ Flickr]

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