Ecuador, Religion and Spirituality

Mark at the pulpit

Jocelyn roped me into going to church on Sunday morning – which, for those of you who know me, involved me swallowing down quite a few demons – and they asked me up front after the service to talk about MPIE. J-La asked me afterwards to type it out, so here it is.

“Good morning to all of you, and thank you to Fernando* and you all for inviting us her today. Thank you also for all the warmth you’ve already shown us. My name is Mark, and I belong to the organization Manna Project International – or, in the Spanish which I’m still learning bit by bit, el Proyecto Internacional de Maná. I imagine that some of you have already seen us, walking around the neighborhood, giving surveys, or maybe lost like two of my friends were last night after they left here.**

“I’m here this morning for three reasons: first, because Jocelyn made me. Although I’m supposedly the boss of this group, we men with titles know that it’s women with strength that make us do things!

“Second, I’m here to explain a little bit about our organization. We are a young organization, made by young people, nonreligious, apolitical and nongovernmental. As an organization, we believe that global communities, like those here, already have the resources, abilities, and ancient and modern knowledge that they need. As a result, let me say that we are not here to “help” you, because we don’t see you as people who need help. We are here to build upon that which you are already doing to advance your communities.

“Because of this, we talk of our work in terms of three axes: empower individuals, strengthen institutions, and build networks. With respect to the first, we’ll be offering courses like English and women’s exercise that Jocelyn talked about yesterday. With respect to the second, we’re working, for example, with Aliñambi to help them open up their clinic to the entire neighborhood. And with networks, we hope to connect local individuals and institutions with both national and international resources.

“The third reason I am here to today is to meet you. We believe, myself personally and we as an organization, that at the heart of any positive change are individuals and personal relationships. My goal is that we would see each other not as “others” but as brothers and sisters – or, given our gringo-ness, at least as cousins.

“Thank you again, thank you very much for the invitation to come here. We look forward to working with you all.”

* The pastor’s name was actually Francisco. Oops.
** Jocelyn and Serena had gone to church on Saturday, then gotten lost on the way home.

——

Buenos días, Buenos días cono todos. Les agradecemos a Fernando y todos ustedes por invitarnos acá este mañana, y por todo el cariño que ya nos han dado. Soy Marco, y pertenezco a la fundación Manna Project International – o, en el castellano que aun aprendo pite pite, el Proyecto Internacional de Maná. Creo que ya algunos de ustedes nos han visto, andando por acá, dando encuestas, o tal vez un poco perdidos como se encontraron dos de mis amigas anoche después de salir de esta iglesia.

Estoy acá esta bonita mañana por tres razones: primero, porque mi amiga Jocelyn me mandó. Aunque supuestamente el jefe de este grupo, los hombres que tenemos títulos sabemos que a veces son las mujeres con fuerza que nos mandan!

Segundo, estoy acá para explicarles un poco de la fundación nuestra. Somos una fundación joven, hecha por jóvenes, no religiosa, no política, no gubernamental. Como fundación, creemos que comunidades globales, como estas acá, ya tienen los recursos, capacidades, y conocimiento antiguo y moderno que necesitan. Por eso, dejadme decir que no estamos acá para ayudarles, porque no les vemos como gente que necesita ayuda. Si estamos acá para fortalecer todo que ya están haciendo los de acá para avanzar sus comunidades.

Por eso, hablamos de los tres ejes de nuestro trabajo: empoderar a individuos, fortalecer a instituciones, y forjar a redes. Con respecto al primero, vamos a armar clases como los de ingles y ejercicios de que habló ayer Jocelyn. Con respecto a instituciones, estamos trabajando, por ejemplo, con la escuela Aliñambi a abrir su clínica de salud a todo el barrio. Y con redes, esperamos conectar individuos y instituciones locales con recursos internacionales y nacionales también.

La tercera razón para que estamos acá hoy día es para conocer a ustedes. Creemos, yo como persona y también nosotros como fundación, que al fondo de cualquier cambio positivo son individuos, y relaciones personales. Mi fin es que nos vemos al otro no como “el otro,” sino un ñaño o ñaña nuestra o (como somos gringos), por lo menos como primos.

Gracias otra vez, les damos gracias por su invitación a venir acá, y tenemos ganas de trabajar con ustedes.

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