This article by Linda Shelly was originally published in The Mennonite on June 20, 2013.
Five months had passed since the assassination of Diana Sandoval’s pastor, Josefina (Chepina) Rempening Diaz in Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, but Diana’s insecurity remained.
Not until attending a workshop called Cuidándonos entre mujeres (Sister Care) did she experience release.
In small groups, participants responded to the questions, “What is the mask that I wear and what do I hide behind it?” Then one by one each woman removed her mask and the group expressed their affirmation to her.
The “Sister Care” workshop series in Latin America is a joint project of the Movement of Latin American Anabaptist Women Theologians (MTAL) and Mennonite Women USA with support from additional churches and agencies. At each location of the traveling workshop, participants’ experiences give a particular focus on the sessions.
On May 24 to 26 in Chihuahua, in northern Mexico, the sessions about losses touched the women deeply. They felt both the loss of a pastor, and the loss of their sense of security. The women came from various conferences and cultures, including Hispanic, Germanic and Tarahumara indigenous. They found sisterly similarities and mutual support.
Rosy Guillen, mission worker in Chihuahua, Mexico, did a dramatization of the Samaritan woman with an emphasis on how Jesus helps women to remove their masks. In small groups participants responded to the questions, “What is the mask that I wear and what do I hide behind it?”
Then one by one each woman removed her mask and was affirmed by the group. Rosario Garcia was thankful both for the helpful exercise and for God’s transformative power.
In February 2013 two of the coordinators, Olga Piedrasanta of Guatemala and Ofelia Garcia of Mexico, participated in the first Latin American workshop in Guatemala led by Sister Care presenters Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener.
Following their participation in the Sister Care seminar, Keener and Heggen provided individualized training for Piedrasanta and Garcia, to prepare them to serve as facilitators in Chihuahua. Rebeca González of Mexico City, who coordinates the MTAL day of prayer, also attended this seminar to prepare to share the workshop with other Mexican women.
Women who participated in Chihuahua are leaders in their churches or conventions, and anticipate reproducing the workshop. Sonia Bojórquez de Dyck said, “I thank God for MTAL. This teaching is deep and I’m glad that it has reached us. Extending the workshop will be a first step … Sometimes I think we are too superficial. We’re not thinking about things within us. I praise God because this movement has other purposes!”
At the workshop the women also celebrated the tenth anniversary of the MTAL, recognizing the roots in the 2003 Mennonite World Conference assembly in Zimbabwe.
In addition to follow-up in Mexico, additional regional Sister Care workshops are scheduled in Colombia during the month of August and Bolivia in November. For more information visit the Facebook pages of MTAL and Mennonite Women USA, and the MTAL blog.