Returning to Guatemala long-term, by God's grace and your love

Dear friends, near and far:

I'm about to take a big step in my life, and I'm really excited to share this with you. On March 14th, I was officially approved by the Orthodox Christian Mission Center as a long-term missionary candidate to Guatemala. As many of you know, this has been a long time in the making.

With three of the Guatemalan priests during a trip to Tziscao, Mexico, in June 2012

I first traveled to Guatemala as a short-term missionary in 2009 and then returned in 2012 for an entire summer. During that summer, I fell in love with the Mayan people who have come into the Orthodox Church: their resilience, humility, and beauty. These people are begging for teachers and missionaries who can guide them as they grow in their newfound faith. Since 2012, I have been praying to God about moving to Guatemala to help answer their need.

Now, after almost two years of further discernment and evaluation by OCMC, I am ready to take the plunge! I am officially a missionary candidate, and I'm already beginning to travel to parishes to raise a team of regular, monthly supporters who will enable me to get to the field. Even though I'll be traveling to raise support, I still plan to continue my current work (hospital chaplaincy) through August. At that point, my full-time support raising will begin. I have to raise all my own funds, so it will be a long process, but my hope is to move to Guatemala in the first part of 2015.

With two other Guatemalan priests and Fr. John Chakos (second to right), the missionary team leader

Because this is an exciting step for me, I wanted to share the news with all of you. Thank you so much for your love throughout the years, and for all of your support as friends, family, and mentors. If you would like to follow my steps as a missionary, you can like my support team page on Facebook or you can follow my new blog right here on Mayan Orthodoxy. To subscribe this blog by email, click here.

Again, thank you so much for your love and friendship. I never could have come this far without you, and I still can do nothing except by God's grace and your love. Please pray for me as I begin this new journey.

With love,

Fr. Andres Giron—memory eternal!

Note: This post was originally located on the author's seminary blog and is now reposted here on Mayan Orthodoxy for background info.

Many of you have been keeping Fr. Andres in your prayers, along with all of the people in his flock in Guatemala and Southern Mexico. Thank you for your prayers. With a heavy heart, I now give you this final update. Fr. Andres passed away in the Lord yesterday morning in the hospital in Guatemala City. His loss will reverberate throughout the hundreds of Mayan communities that he upheld as a shepherd and father. Thousands of people have lost their beloved leader who fought for their most basic needs, such as land and food, and guided them towards Christ. I am so thankful that I was blessed to know this man of the people, and I am heartbroken to lose him. 

While this will be a sorrowful time and a difficult transition for the people living in Guatemala and Mexico, we also must accept that it is the will of God. So many people have been praying for God's will in the time of Fr. Andres' sickness, and God has chosen to receive Fr. Andres into his arms in the blessed hope of eternal life in His Kingdom. I am confident that Fr. Andres will always stand before God in tears and supplication for the native people he loved so dearly. Please stand there with him, before God, by praying for the Mayan Orthodox people who have lost their leader. And pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Andres Giron. What a man, so full of love and joy. May his memory be eternal!

Two articles from Guatemalan news sources concerning Fr. Andres' passing:
"Fallece sacerdote Andrés Girón" on Prensa Libre
"Muere sacerdote Andrés Girón por complicaciones médicas" on Soy 502

Stand with the Guatemalan Church in Fervent Prayer

Note: This post was originally located on the author's seminary blog and is now reposted here on Mayan Orthodoxy for background info.

Dear friends,

This post comes after a long pause, but I write it with an urgent request for prayer.

As most of you know, I spent summer of 2012 living in Guatemala with the Mayan Orthodox Christians in the mountains. I fell in love with the leader of the Mayan communities: Fr. Andres Giron. This man has spent his life fighting for the rights of the Mayan natives, traveling by car and by foot through horrible mountain roads to visit the villages, and even facing assassination attempts for his defense of the native people. He is a father to thousands of natives, and he became like a father to me during my months in Guatemala. I cannot describe this man's love, which shines with joy through every wrinkle on his weathered face.

To my deep sadness, I recently received news that Fr. Andres is sick. I do not want to go into details in a public post, but I am begging you to keep this incredible man in your prayers. Please, pray fervently for Fr. Andres that God will heal him, and pass this prayer request on to others who can stand with the Mayan Orthodox Christians in prayer.

Thank you so much!

Fr. Andres Giron:

New Events & Resources in Spanish-Language Orthodoxy

Note: This post was originally located on the author's seminary blog and is now reposted here on Mayan Orthodoxy for background info.

Over the past year or so, this blog has given lots of overage to the explosive growth of Orthodoxy in Guatemala. With that growth comes the possibility that Orthodox Christianity will blossom not only in Guatemala but also throughout Latin America, and among Spanish speakers living in the United States. There are a number of new events and resources that are, little by little, helping to make that continuing growth a reality.

Very recently, the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) launched a Spanish-language version of its flagship internet radio program "Come Receive the Light." Each episode of the new Spanish-language version, called "Vengan a Recibir la Luz," will feature talks by Fr. David Wooten and Fr. Aristidis Arizi, will include hymns and Scripture readings in Spanish, and will also feature a sermon by Fr. Michael Marcantoni. Father David Wooten is a former Spanish teacher who now serves a parish in Miami that is entirely Spanish-speaking. The Rev. Aristidis Arizi also serves in Miami and spent most of his youth in Panama. The Rev. Michael Marcantoni is originally from Puerto Rico and currently serves in Raleigh, North Carolina. Working together, they will help to increase the online resources for Spanish speakers, which already include many resources by Fr. Antonio Perdomo, such as his two podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio: Glorificando a Dios Diariamente and Toda Gloria a Dios. More information on the launch of "Vengan a Recibir la Luz" can be found here.

This coming May, the Antiochian Orthodox cathedral in Los Angeles will sponsor a short retreat for Orthodox Spanish Speakers to help them grow in knowledge of their faith. St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles has a long history of Spanish-language ministry, and every Spring/early summer they sponsor a Spanish-language retreat on a different topic within Orthodox Christianity. More information is forthcoming.

This coming July, a small mission team will be formed to minister to native Aztec Orthodox in San Esteban, Mexico. The inspiration for the mission team comes from a recent exploratory trip that occurred in the region in January of 2013 (more info here). This summer's small mission team will be composed of people who are fluent or near-fluent in Spanish (essential for this region of Mexico), and will aim to present the Orthodox Christian faith in a teaching capacity. For more information, please contact Fr. Ted Pisarchuck.

Finally, OCMC is sponsoring a short-term mission team to Guatemala for this coming summer. OCMC has sponsored a Guatemala team for many years, sending short-term missionaries to the Orthodox orphanage in Guatemala City, but this is the first time that the team will instead be traveling to the Mayan communities in the highlands of Guatemala. The team will work in the same communities that I visited last summer and featured in this blog. More info is available here.

I pray that more events and resources will continue to spring up to meet the need for Spanish-language Orthodox ministry, both in Latin America itself and right here in the United States.

Fr. Andres, leader of Guatemalan Orthodox, visits North America

Note: This post was originally located on the author's seminary blog and is now reposted here on Mayan Orthodoxy for background info.

Fr. Andres, the charismatic leader of the new Guatemalan Orthodox Church, touched down in Boston last week to spread the word about the Guatemalan Church. He spent a week at Holy Cross/Hellenic College (Nov 5-9), where he spoke at the annual Missions Week, organized by the Missions Institute. He was accompanied by Fr. John Chakos, the O.C.M.C. missionary priest who is helping to catechize the newly chrismated Orthodox in Guatemala. Fr. Andres and Fr. John delivered a public lecture on Nov. 8th about the Guatemalan Church, entitled "Mission to Guatemala: Receiving the Mayan People Into the Orthodox Church."

You can view the full lecture and Q and A session online. Take a look below:


The Presentation

The Q and A Session