My third year serving as a Franciscan lay missioner with FMS invited me to become rooted in my community here in Cochabamba, Bolivia. And being rooted in this community has opened my eyes to more of the complexities of the marginalization experienced by our sisters and brothers here.
I desire to continue to grow in my relationships with them through a radical ministry of presence that shares the healing work of producing our own food and strengthening our community. To realize this desire, I am pleased to announce my decision to extend my contract with FMS to be a lay missioner for a fourth and final year.
To me, renewing my contract is an affirmation of how valuable the support of FMS and the many family and friends who support me both spiritually and financially is in making that desire a reality.
I am fulfilled in my daily work and relationships here and knew for myself that I wanted to continue to live and share work in this community. The long-term support of FMS’ leadership, staff, and associates that I have received through the financial support of my family and friends was what made the difference in deciding to stay in Cochabamba with FMS.
It’s an exciting time to work with La Pastoral de la Madre Tierra. Within the last six months, we have begun to expand our ministry beyond Santa Rosa to other parish communities, like 20 de Octubre, and participate more in a regional organization dedicated to the empowerment of local farmers and organic production. We are getting connected with many new families who are starting their own gardens and are learning from the families in Santa Rosa who started before them.
As we have grown as an organization, our role has begun to change. Originally, we facilitated the coming together of families in these communities and accompany them as they worked together to produce their own organic food. We are now co-leading the process by empowering the women we work with to take on more leadership themselves.
They are leading the production of vegetables in the parish garden, the sale of those vegetables weekly and the outreach to other local communities interested in doing similar work. It is our role to support their leadership.
It has been a great consolation to watch our work transform as we invest more in local leadership and continue to support their localized vision and expertise. I trust that we will grow in that support role as our team opens up more spaces for the experiences and wisdom of these women to be heard and valued.
I am so grateful for my family, friends, and FMS who have supported me both spiritually and financially in this work. Thank you for the opportunity to invest another year in that support and the value of the Franciscan ministry of presence.
I will be visiting the US from mid-May to mid-June and I would love to connect with you there, to thank you in person and share more about the work that you are supporting. Please feel free to contact me by email if you are interested in getting together.