Today was our first ministry day. We started out with a delicious breakfast of burritos, oatmeal or cereal. After that, Todd Fink presented culture orentation for both our group and the Canby group that joined us last night. (Canby has the record for coming here to this base for 7 consecutive years!) The main emphasis seemed to be the difference in how we use our time. In the U.S. we are punctual, efficient, and driven. In Mexico however time is unimportant; they seem to put more emphasis on people and relationships. We are trying to keep that in mind as we work together with our Mexican brothers and sisters.
We got our strength and energy up for the upcoming day with a great lunch of fajitas and triple-berry cobbler kindly made ahead for us by Carol. Yum! Condsidering our team's size, we split into two groups. The first group went about 5 miles north to a church on the outskirts of Camalu. While the second group went about 10 miles south to another church in the Leandro Valley. The program at both places involved sharing some of our testimonies, a puppet show, singing the Spanish songs we had learned and doing a VBS. At the south site Shirley and Bob gave thier testimonies for the adults, while Lindsey and I gave them for the children in VBS. At the north site Sarah Patt and Anita gave them for the adults and Gage and Ian gave them for VBS. My favorite part, personally was being with the kids during VBS. They have such great personalities and have such an amazing love for us. Owen said, "My favorite part was after VBS, palying tag with all the kids."
As for mishaps, we did learn that toilet paper does you no good to pack only in the van. You have to remember to take some with you to the bathroom. Yes, you have to pack your own toilet paper here.
You get to hear from more than one of us today. I am writing to tell you a little about the north site. It's a lot like Kirstyn said above. We arrived at the church, and then we broke into groups to do visitation. We went through the neighborhood to invite people to come to the church for the "outdoor" service. The church we are serving is fairly new, so we were reaching out to the community to invite more people. The other team, the south team, they got to do more "prayer time" on their visitation. We will get to do more visitation this week, which I am looking forward too.
We then came back to the church and the services began. We had basically the same schedule as the "south" team, however we did have one distinct difference. At the end of the service both teams were asked to come forward to be "welcomed" by the church. The south team lined up and had each member of the church come by and greet them by hand, or hug, and of course "Dios le Bendiga". What an honor. Carol told me that this doesn't happen everytime, which made me think back to my first trip here at Casa de Luz two years ago, and no it doesn't. Well, at the "north" team we had a similar but different experience. We were called up front to line up, but then asked to make two lines and face eachother. We were then told to hold our hands up to eachother to form a "tunnel" for the church to walk under. Well I have to admit, standing across from Paul holding my hands up to his waiting for the first person to walk through while the music played I felt a bit awkward. I thought to myself, "If I'm feeling awkward, then even the slightly shy must be really feeling weird." Then God did what He always does with those moments if we let Him. I looked down, and saw a tiny woman walking so slowly, trembling....not wanting to miss even a moment of this.... That's when I realized this wasn't so much of a welcoming to us, as a Blessing to them. She didn't want to miss out on a moment of her turn at recieving the blessing there was to recieve of the outpouring of the Spirit. That's when I just started praying....(and down here you don't hesitate to just start praying outloud.) As the music played, as Paul sang because he knew the song, and as each one of those blessed followers walked through I prayed for them, and I praised God that He would chose to send us to come down to be encouragers to them. You see, we aren't that special you and I. We are just people. But in God's hands when we allow Him to use us, He can take an ordinary "London Bridge" type formation and turn it into a spiritual outpouring. He can take awkward and turn it into awesome.
Well, as I sit here writing this to you, I fear Oregon's rain has found us. Hopefully it will be gone by morning. Until then as they say here... Hasta luega!
Darcy~ This is for you...wanted to let you know Emma and Owen are doing really well. Emma is Dan's little "charge".... maybe she's more in charge than he is...as she is on his chore team. She has been blending in with the group well and is being a great socializer. Owen is running around like he's visiting old friends. sorry I didn't send out a note to you earlier but we've been on the run since we arrived. The weather is chilly, the food is abundant and the people are beautiful. Wish you were here! ~Wendy