May 11, 2009

Loving God with Alternative Energy

About a year and a half ago, we met a woman selling plants in the local street market.  Her name was Marta and when she learned that we were missionaries with the Catholic church, she glowingly smiled and said, "Well, you can teach us how to make solar ovens then!". (Hmm, we thought... what an odd assumption.)  We continued the conversation with Marta, who is a native Aymaran woman who, like many of her indigenous family and friends, has left her land in the interior of the desert in search of an education for her children.  However, along with education, she has also found dirty, crowded city life filled with materialism and a disconnection from nature.  She explained that her people have a long history of respect and love for the earth, water, plants and animals.  She lamented that her children were losing that special relationship with the earth and asked for our help in teaching them.  This afternoon conversation was the impetus for us talking with another lay missionary, who is the coordinator of the Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) office here in Chile.  We wanted to offer a simple workshop to the people of our community, where they could learn about solar energy.  We knew there would be interest because of the abundant poverty and the high price of gas, which they use here for cooking and heating water.  Plus, Marta was right - we are losing our connection to God's great creation and by losing this respect, we are also killing ourselves and other life with contamination and abuse of resources.  The JPIC coordinator was excited and promised to look for some resources.

The resources were found and the fruit of Marta's concern for her children began this past weekend, where we started a course teaching not just about solar ovens, but also about other alternative energies and encouraging our small Christian community to lovingly care for all of God's creation.  The facilitator of the course started us off with the "Cocina Bruja" or "Witch's Oven," named so because it allows you to cook with seeming magic.   The idea is to get a pot of food to the boiling point on a stove, and then to place the pot into an insulating container, where it continues to cook with no direct heat, simply by maintaining the hot temperature. Here's a video of what we've learned so far:

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