Presbytery of Des Moines
Our Sister Parish

our sister parish stories 

Seeking New Mission Co-worker

Our Sister Parish is seeking a full-time designated mission co-worker in El Salvador. To apply please send a resume, cover letter, and three references with contact information to osp@oursisterparish.org . Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Please direct all questions to osp@oursisterparish.org as well. The following position announcement is available for more information regarding the organization and position.
Download: Position Description

From the Pastoral Team

Living the Message of Social Justice

The Pastoral Team members in Berlín have dedicated many years of their lives to promoting social justice and cooperation between the communities served by the Our Sister Parish mission. In their own words:

 “This social justice, where each one contributes according to their abilities and receives according to their needs, is the fruit of a unity of thought, and of their feeling to have a single heart and a single spirit. This sharing is born of an inner conviction, is not imposed by a law or by an internal force.” What does this look like in daily life? Every 2 months, community representatives gather for a meeting where, together, they share their successes and challenges, work to solve common problems and discuss how they work with each other. For many years, they have had an agreement that communities receiving fertilizer or seed through OSP partnerships, return a portion of the crop produced to the group. Those receiving help, in turn, help others.  This year, the terrible drought has hit everyone very hard. At a recent meeting, the Pastoral Team suggested that communities forego returning the customary portion. As a body, the representatives protested, saying, no, they want to collaborate. That’s how strongly they believe in social justice.
FOURTH MEDICAL DELEGATION  TRAVELED TO EL SALVADOR
 in  OCTOBER  2018.
SEE THE DELEGATION STORIES AT:
 HTTP://MEDICALDELEGATIONELSALVADOR.WEEBLY.COM
Well done, good and faithful servant[s].
"...I want to stop here and make sure you understand who all comprised this TEAM I’m referring to.  It wasn’t just the physicians, nurses and support staff from the states. It also very much included Simei, the Salvadorian doctor who took time off to join us; the seven Salvadorian translators who made it possible to communicate; the members of the Pastoral Team who provided sage advice, counseled patients, registered patients, fixed our lunch at each clinic, drove us to the clinic sites, bought medications and medical supplies locally and took care of us back at the Pastoral House; the leaders of each community who organized our patients, prepared the sites where we set up our clinics and helped with various needs during the clinics; and local Salvadoran “health promoters” who helped set up follow-up visits or  further consultations or treatment for those who needed it..."
Mike Bassett, Moderator
Our Sister Parish

Written in June of 2016
By members of the Pastoral Team. 
Rediscovered August, 2018

Alexandria is a hamlet formed by families from 2 cantons: San Francisco and Concepción. These families are far from these cantons. We are from the municipality of Berlin, Usulután. We are 52 families and we grow coffee, corn, beans and fruits.
 
Like all poor families in the world, we have different problems; lack of water, lack of employment, pollution problems and others.
 
The families of our hamlet struggle every day to survive like everyone else. But it is very difficult to face the big problems described above.
 
We want to invite all the families in the world to stop for a moment to be able to see those around us; how we are, who we are, what we are doing.  See and think.
 
We are in a world where peace, equality, solidarity, justice, freedom, respect for human rights, food, medicines, education, love, etc. are needed. It is sad when we see that the poor are becoming poorer every day and the rich richer while so many governments claim to be improving the lives of human beings.
 
The vast majority of women and men are being manipulated by those in power. They have divided us, they have materialized us, they have dehumanized us, they have robbed us of peace, freedom, they push us to buy what they want, we consume what the big companies propose. They have managed to forget that the great majority have the power to change; to create a more just and more humane society.
 
Every day we are called as human beings to unite our hands, to make possible the change in humanity; putting into practice the intelligence, wisdom, and love that God has given us.
 
We want to invite governments, religious people, pastors, doctors and teachers, parents, people who are part of any religious, political or economic group, to remember what qualities or values we should have: love, solidarity, rectitude, humility, compassion, commitment, honesty, authenticity, fidelity, friendship, discipline, gratitude, patience, prudence, responsibility, sincerity, courage, kindness, justice, respect, kindness, freedom ...
 
Let us ask God to pity the suffering ones of humanity, those in pain, the crucified poor and the creatures of this world overcome by human ambition and power. We ask you, Lord, give us the strength and the light that we need to move forward. May our struggles and worries not take away our hope.
 
Amen

scholarships

Eighty middle and high school students received scholarships in 2018; that’s down from 91 in 2017 and slightly below 2016’s total of 84. Iowa congregations provide scholarships to those students within their communities who need financial help to attend school. This support typically lasts until they graduate, as long as they meet the academic goals laid out when they receive the scholarship. The number of such children in a given community tends to fluctuate from year to year.  Having a degree not only improves their chances of escaping poverty, but also prepares them to serve as leaders in their communities.

As the local Berlín communities become more organized and self-reliant, they have formed “commissions.” These are small groups of five to six people from neighboring communities. Every other month, representatives from these 25 socioeconomically impoverished communities of Berlín meet to discuss common issues, vote on policies and procedures, and share successes. “Actas” (official minutes) record the verbal agreements, decisions, and assignments of the group and are signed by all to create accountability. With this organization, communities self-determine their most important needs, communicate and collaborate with the Pastoral Team and other organizations to implement projects, and maintain and monitor projects the community has received.
Much work was accomplished this past year and we are proud to share it with you. That being said, there is so much more to do, won't you join us!

BUY COFFEE

OUR SISTER PARISH MISSION STATEMENT
Our Sister Parish brings hope and development to the poor of Berlín, Usulután, El Salvador through committed relationships of solidarity between US churches/organizations and our Berlín brothers and sisters. Faith will grow and the love of God will be profoundly experienced for all involved.

Contact  US

 

COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT
"actas" in  ACTION

As the local Berlín communities become more organized and self-reliant, they have formed “commissions.” These are small groups of five to six people from neighboring communities. Every other month, representatives from these 25 socioeconomically impoverished communities of Berlín meet to discuss common issues, vote on policies and procedures, and share successes. “Actas” (official minutes) record the verbal agreements, decisions, and assignments of the group and are signed by all to create accountability. With this organization, communities self-determine their most important needs, communicate and collaborate with the Pastoral Team and other organizations to implement projects, and maintain and monitor projects the community has received.
Much work was accomplished this past year and we are proud to share it with you. That being said, there is so much more to do, won't you join us!

Fertilizer

Berlín soil is horribly depleted from years of overuse, making it impossible without fertilizer to grow the corn and beans that families need to sustain themselves. Often, families must either borrow money at high interest rates to pay for them or risk harvesting little to nothing without them. Fertilizer provides already hardworking people with an essential component they need to successfully feed their families.  Don Justo Coffee proceeds and corn donation sales funded fertilizer for 450 families in unpartnered Berlín communities. 820 families in partnered communities received fertilizer funding from their sister congregations in Iowa. In total, 1,270 families were more able to feed themselves.  

Covenant relationships

What exactly is a Covenant Relationship? You could define it technically: it is a partnership between a church, a Berlín village, the Pastoral Team, the Mission Co-Worker, and the OSP board. The actual three to five year “contract” that we all sign outlines the roles and responsibilities between all these entities. This was written by and agreed upon by all parties and is a living document. It can be amended and/or renewed or dissolved by mutual agreement.
But this covenant – alianza in Spanish – is much deeper than its definition. It is a promise. A promise that brings hope. A promise that requires commitment from all involved. It can be work. It can be difficult at times because partnerships can be difficult when not all parties initially agree or there are different visions of what can or should be accomplished. We are all human. But the goal is always to act with brotherly and sisterly love and work together. Our covenants help to strengthen our solidarity. Our covenants are based upon faith, trust, and love.
God made covenants with us. Jesús walked in solidarity and broke bread with the poor. Those are good models to emulate!
Micah 6:8, Matthew 25:40.