Sunday, June 5, 2011

Missions Part Eleven

After our treacherous and LONG trip winding through unrepaired mountain roads, we got to our destination quite late.  Da bus wouldn't make it up the steep, winding trail up to the hotel on top of the hill, so we loaded onto a small, open truck and trundled up in the dark.
In the morning, I awoke and peeked out the window - this was my first view of the town - stunning!

This is the truck that took us up and down the hill as the bus couldn't make it.  I'm waiting until last because I happened to wear a dress that day.  The other option to get down to the town was to walk down the stairs.  I don't like down, but we did walk UP, many, MANY steps!
Wherever we went, the churches that we worked at fed us.  It was a great sacrifice for them, and the food was always wonderful.  Here are some native musicians - friends - that traveled with us.

And this is a pic of the four mothers!  As an Americana, I have four kids.  The momma next to me has three, the one next to her, one, and the one sitting by her, two.  Their national average is only two kids.  Kids are expensive.  Thank you, Lord, for my kids!
 Me and Tania.  We both have three boys and can really enjoy each other.  She was a dentist, her husband a doctor.  They both gave up their professions and moved themselves and their three BIG boys into a very small place to take care of an old man.  Why?  Because they were called to lead a church.  They have made huge, HUGE sacrifices that would fill a book to follow our Lord.  How much less can I do?  Very humbling.
 Ah, the ever-present Spanish/English problem!  I'm continuing to work on my Spanish and getting better with each passing week.  We actually communicated pretty well, and this was a posed shot - a joke between us because sometimes our Spanglish discussions were pretty hilarious.  By the way, this country has one thing right - their musicians and artists are paid higher than other workers!  We've got two professional musicians here.

Goofing around.  There's always time for that in my book. :)  It's all about working on relationships and building friendships.  I consider these three sillies my children.
This is the front of the church, as you can see, a Baptist (Bautista) church.  It's incredible to me how small it looks here - it was really quite huge inside, and the evening we held our service 1,300 people came.  It was an incredible evening, and once again, a good number of people became Christians.  Praise GOD!!
While we were preparing for our concert, I peeked outside the church window, and this is what I saw.

 And this.  Everywhere I looked I saw beauty.  The first time I went to this country, I was struck at the people's poverty and lack of not only wants but real needs.  They have a serious problem with their physical needs not being met.  It was very difficult for me to see past that.
This time my eyes took in something entirely different.  First, I must stress two distinct groups of people; non-believers and believers.  I'm pretty good at making people smile, but failed big time with people on the street that are not Christians.  Their eyes are vacuous, empty, and reflect no hope whatsoever.  It's very sad.  But it's true.  They have no hope.
However, the second group, the Christians, are what I really saw this time.  I couldn't seem to even find their poverty or lack of anything, because they are so filled with hope, so ready to sacrificially give anything they have, so satisfied with what they do have, and so very rich in their knowledge and standing with the Lord.  They are also unbelievably rich in deep, close ties with family and friends.  I envy them this.  No, I think perhaps it is we who are lacking.  Lord, I pray for OUR country!  Draw us close as you have drawn these people close to YOU!

 There was BARELY enough room to contain us on this stage, but of course, the Lord paved the way, and that didn't matter.
 This was the view in the other direction out the church window.  They simply sat in their doorway for their evening's listening pleasure.  We were witness not only to those who filled the church to overflowing, but also to those around the church.
 These are several views of the inside of the church.  I told you it was deceptively small-looking outside!
 Rapt attention.  God was working in their hearts.
Services could go on for two or three hours.  And they were so wonderful, I never wanted them to end!

 I love this picture.  They really are such beautiful people.  I love THEM!
 It was really nice to have singers helping us lead.  The Americana in white taught singing in each place we gave our musical expos while we were teaching instruments.

 This young native, Junior, traveled with us and helped with all the technical stuff all week.  As you can see in the middle ground, there's a young man signing.  I was impressed that they had quite a nice sized group of hearing challenged people.  One woman was in charge of signing during testimonies and the sermon, and she did such a beautiful job!  I would love to be able to tell you how it looked different from American signing, but I really can't.  Her hands just did a gorgeous dance, quite different from our signing.  She also let others take turns and she would sit back and help them if needed.
 Our fearless leader and conductor.  Testimonies and a sermon would be interspersed throughout the musical selections we played.
 Our row of flautistas.
The reason I have ANY pictures from this concert is that one of the pastors took my camera and walked around with it while we were playing!
 A typical scene in the countryside.
 When serving food, presentation is everything.  They know this too, and really laid out some beautiful stuff.  Much tastier than ours, too - I expect their soil isn't depleted like ours, and 'organic' is, well, everything they grow!
 Goofing off at lunch...
 This is the kitchen that produced all our lovely food.  Be thankful for your stoves and dishwashers, ladies!  I am!
 Well, we all know what this is...
 We had a few hours one afternoon to walk around town (or go to the hotel and rest).  It's not in my nature to take a nap, so... walking around town!  This particular town is famous for its quaint, pastel-colored buildings, and the walk was delicious.

 By the way, the days were always hot, and the clouds were always pretty.  We drove through a light rain at one time, but they are pretty desperate for rain, too, and the drought has hurt them.  Just this week a friend I correspond with told me that they're finally getting much needed rain now.  Praise God!  Now, we'll have to continue in prayers for rain in TEXAS!
 Down at the water with friends.
 The ocean is wild at this place.  Definately not a swimming place!

Wild and free, unpolluted and dangerous.

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