Sister Care Eases Pain of Loss

This article first appeared in Mennonite World Review July 8, 2013

Latin American women, Mennonite Women USA support traveling workshop

By Linda Shelly Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite Women USA

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — Five months had passed since the assassination of Diana Sandoval’s pastor, but her insecurity remained.

In small groups, participants responded to the questions, “What is the mask that I wear, and what do I hide behind it?”In small groups, participants responded to the questions, “What is the mask that I wear, and what do I hide behind it?” — Photo by MC USA and MW USA

Josefina (Chepina) Rempening Diaz, a Mennonite pastor, and three of her relatives were murdered in December in Cuauh­témoc, likely by drug traffickers, while on the way to a funeral.

Not until she attended a workshop called Cuidándonos entre mujeres (Sister Care) did Sandoval experience release.

The Sister Care workshop series in Latin America is a joint project of the Movement of Latin American Anabaptist Women Theologians 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.

May 24-26 in Chihuahua, 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 cultures, including Hispanic, Germanic and Tarahumara indigenous. They found sisterly similarities and mutual support.

Rosy Guillen, a mission worker in Chihuahua, did a dramatization of the Samaritan woman with an emphasis on how Jesus helps women 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 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. After the Sister Care seminar, Keener and Heggen provided individualized training for Piedrasanta and Garcia, to prepare them to serve as facilitators in Chihuahua.

Women who participated in Chihuahua are leaders in their churches and anticipate reproducing the workshop.

The women also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Movement of Latin American Anabaptist Women Theologians, recognizing its roots in the 2003 Mennonite World Conference assembly in Zimbabwe.

In addition to follow-up in Mexico, Sister Care workshops are scheduled in Colombia in August and in Bolivia in November.

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