It’s already been one and a half months that I have been getting to know the community here: the city of Istmina, the San Juan region, and the Mennonite Brethren church and their social ministries which I am accompanying as a Seeder. During this time of transition and learning, one person who has supported me a lot is Yineth, my neighbor and a sister in the church. I interviewed her to hear her perspective on the community and the church.
Can you begin by presenting yourself?
“My name is Yineth del Carmen Moreno Borja. I’m from the Mennonite Brethren Jerusalem Church in Istmina. I was born in Basurú, Chocó and I have lived in Istmina since 1985. I married; I have two children and seven grandchildren.”
What has your role been in the church and the community?
“Well, my ministry in the church above all has been social work. And, when we go to the communities we also do social work. This is my ministry: serve the community in my church and wherever I may be.”
How do you see the role of the church here in the community?
“Well, the role of the church, if I say it’s good, others will say, no, that’s because it’s your church, but we do have before the society in Istmina and in other parts a very good testimony as the Mennonite Brethren. People like the gospel, how we preach it, how we approach people, and when we go to people who are not in the church, we help out, we pray, that is to say, if they are going through something painful or if they need something, we try as a church to go and help the person.”
For the people who read this blog who are not from here in Istmina, what would you like them to know about Istmina, the region, and the church?
“Well, for those who are not from my department of Chocó, I would like them to come and get to know the region, because outside people have a very bad conception of Chocó because they think that here we live in the jungle, but here in Chocó we have very beautiful rivers. I would like them to come in order to have another vision of what Chocó is, of what Istmina is, because here we are very caring people. We are people that embrace whomever arrives with a lot of love, and my church is a very generous church. And as a region also, what we insist on is being generous, in participating in outside situations. As a region we go to the communities, and we want to be support, and we are support in terms of any difficultly that one finds out about, and one can, with the help of the Lord, we try to go and heal a bit the pain or the injury of that person.”
The last question is, how have you seen that Istmina and the region have changed over time?
“Well, in ’85 when I came to live here in Istmina it was still a small city. Relatively, now it has grown too much because there have been so many displacements from the communities, so people come to Istmina, they build their house, and they stay here struggling, working to sustain their family. So Istmina has evolved a lot. And also as a region the Mennonite Brethren has changed because the goal of our work is outward. We don’t just work as churches but rather we work towards the community. So also all of this has helped us to change and improve.”
I want to thank Yineth for doing this interview with me!
It has impacted me to note the commitment of many people, like Yineth, to serve the community and help others. I am also impressed by the desire of many people to share another vision of the region, as Yineth said, in the face of the negative visions of others. With this blog I hope to also show a more complex vision that includes the many riches of this region and its people.