"The joy of the harvest is so great," said Jesse Brandow (alumnus, '13) during his public lecture on Mayan Orthodoxy at St. Vladimir's Seminary. Sponsored by the SVOTS Student Council, the lecture was held on May 18th and drew people from throughout the tri-state area. Mr. Brandow described the explosive growth of Orthodoxy in Guatemala and Mexico, where tens of thousands of Mayan Indians have converted to the Orthodox Church. Mr. Brandow compared this astounding growth to a joyful "harvest," using imagery from the Parable of the Sower (Mk 4:3–9) to explain the history of Orthodoxy in Guatemala and the future challenges.
Throughout the lecture, Mr. Brandow recounted stories from his own experiences in Guatemala. In 2009, he served as a short-term missionary at the Hogar Orthodox orphanage in Guatemala City, and in 2012 he worked for a full summer in the Mayan communities that have converted to Orthodoxy. Now Mr. Brandow is preparing to serve in Guatemala for two years as a long-term missionary through the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), and he was inspired to make that commitment because of the tremendous challenges that face the Orthodox villages in Guatemala. He described those challenges during the lecture, sharing stories of decades-long poverty and explaining the acute need for theologically trained missionaries who can catechize the people. After describing both the struggles and the joys that he witnessed in Guatemala, Mr. Brandow urged the broader Church to stand with the people of Guatemala and support the missionaries who serve them.
A time for questions and answers followed the lecture. Members of the audience asked questions about religious dynamics in Latin America and inquired about how to participate in the growth of Orthodoxy in Guatemala. Deacon Sandro Margheritino, president of the Student Council, thanked Jesse for his "inspiring" words and called on people to support all the missionaries working in Guatemala. The lecture was recorded and can be downloaded or streamed at Voices from St. Vladimir's on Ancient Faith Radio. 
Jesse Brandow currently is seeking parishes that will help him begin his mission work in Guatemala. To invite him to speak at your parish and raise support, contact firstname.lastname@example.org . For updates from Jesse Brandow on the growth of Orthodoxy in Guatemala, "like" his page on Facebook , or visit Mayan Orthodoxy  to learn more about the whole missionary team serving in Guatemala.