A few weeks ago our Team from Oklahoma to the Diocese of Uruguay returned from our second Vacation Bible School Mission Trip. Learning from our 2017 trip, we decided to concentrate our efforts on a VBS in one city instead of two. So our team traveled to Salto in the northern part of Uruguay. We partnered with Fr. Enrique Delgado and lay leaders from San Lucas and Espiritu Santo Parishes. Over the course of the week, we saw about 50 kids age 6 to 17. Our teachings focused on Jesus parables and how we can put his teachings into practice as the Body of Christ.
Three of our seven were returning members of the 2017 team, and four were new in 2018. Jeff Birk of Bartlesville, Nancy Scott of Muskogee, Fred Byers of Pawhuska, Angela Helt of Norman, Rosalia & Javier Pecina of Yukon all joined me this year. Below are some of their reflections on the trip. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Uruguay, getting more of our clergy and laity involved, and finding new partnerships with Uruguay. There is much we can learn from the Church in Uruguay – particularly how to do ministry in a secular culture. Uruguay is as secular as any Western European nation… I pray the United States doesn’t follow down that same path, but I think that is more and more of a reality. Uruguay also has much to learn from us – particularly through some of the resources for Christian Education and lay/clergy training. We will see what the future holds for this partnership and how we can continue to build on the work that has been done! “The experience of the Uruguay Mission Trip was a mixture of building relationships, strengthening community, and sharing cultures. Our small group from Oklahoma was welcomed with open arms and fantastic hospitality. We led a Vacation Bible School (VBS), which was a wonderful way to get involved and get to know a small part of the community in Salto. We held VBS for the younger children in the mornings and then spent a couple of evenings during the week with the older youth. All ages were a joy to be with. While there is no specific moment that stands out from the trip, overall I was grateful to be there and have an opportunity to share in the lives of the people of Salto and the Diocese of Uruguay. It is in the building of community and relationships that we can see God’s work. Although they are few in number, the people of the diocese are longing to strengthen their relationships with the larger church community. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the 2018 Uruguay Trip and look forward to the possibility of more opportunities to build this companionship.” - Angela Helt, St. John’s Norman“I attended the Salto, Uruguay 2018 trip and it was magnificent! I was able to work with the kids in several ways like: one on ones, team building and even leadership skills. I loved when I would give a couple of them ‘duties’ like handing out crafts, or cleaning the tables after eating and even help with the younger kids. They seemed to enjoy that. Something that definitely stood out for me was it didn’t matter if it was breakfast, lunch or just a snack that we’d serve the kids & youth, they would wait for the ‘go ahead’ from an adult. They would just sit there and chat laugh and play, until we would tell them “you can eat now”. They had great table manners!When a boy asked when we were leaving and I told him we’d be leaving on Thursday which was two days later, he said “you’re not coming back for the rest of the year?”, that touched my heart. I could tell he wanted us to be there longer. The connections we made with father Enrique, Alejandro & Milagros, the kids that attended and each other… were priceless.” - Rosalia Pecina, Yukon, OK“It was rewarding to reconnect with the kids who participated in last year's VBS, and to get to know the new ones. Although it was a challenge to keep their attention and to hold down the noise, it was well worthwhile.Because Bishop Pollesel retired and Bishop Gilberto is on sabbatical, we were not able to reconnect with them. And because permanent replacements have not been identified, I'm afraid that little progress was made to strengthen relationships at the Diocesan level. However, we were able to reconnect with several parishioners in Salto, which was enjoyable and beneficial.
God's grace was apparent to me through one little girl in particular. Last year, although she attended VBS every day, she didn't seem to enjoy it. I never saw her smile, she didn't interact much with others, and she didn't seem to willingly participate in crafts or games. This year however, she interacted, participated and smiled quite a bit. Although I don't know, I'm optimistic that God has brought more peace and stability to her family situation, which is being reflected in her actions. And, I pray that God helps the other families of Barrio Fátima in a similar way.” - Jeff Birk, St. Luke’s Bartlesville
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