This will be long...but a lot has happened in the last 24 hours.
Yesterday...was a long day. I knew I was supposed to preach in San Juancito since the group had to cancel. I had a sermon prepared, but in English, and did not have time last week to do another one...besides, the one I had seemed rather appropriate. However, I thought I better translate it ahead of time just to make sure there were no big differences between the Spanish and English translations, etc. So I spent the entire morning doing that, polishing, etc. We were out the door just after lunch, and off to Talanga in both Fords (Valerie and the kids with me....Oscar in the Blue Ford, and Julia and friends in their Land Cruiser with kids and cakes for the celebration....although they went straight to San Juancito.) Why take the Fords to Talanga first? There were "some people" that wanted to attend the services, knowing that Celeo (former pastor San Juancito) who is working in Talanga was previously working there. We pulled up about twenty minutes before we were supposed to be there....and I saw some people waiting in the clothing store.....and then like thirty people stormed out of the garage across the way and immediately into the bed...plus a few up front with us. Wow! I knew the meetings there were going well, but wow! Then when Oscar came about the same amount got in his truck.
The service was great, and although my sermon was long (although once I saw the order of service I scrambled to cut what I could...down from 45-50 to around 30 minutes) it was not the reason that it went around four hours. The special songs, the dramas done by the kids (some from San Juancito, some from Cantaranas) and just....well, there were probably 20 songs or more total if someone had counted. Let us look at some more pictures shall we?
Here is Gloria with the chicken she received as a gift as she walked in...but of course.
Here is a fairly good shot of some of the pews donated from Brazil Indiana via Carmel Indiana that were put together....they look great...and more importantly after four hours....felt even better. They have kept the plastic chairs....and for good reason, it was standing room only. I could see they let the kids play outside, with some adults standing out there as well.
My dear sister-in-law said she did not like Soren's hair cut. However, he made an instant friend in the service by finding someone of similar ilk. They liked the fact they had the same "do"
I also wanted to make sure to include a picture of the Land Cruiser as it went into service with Jonathan (pray for his driving skills as well....there is a long funny story there that involves me, the kids, and a couple police stops and u turns in traffic) with the carefully color coordinated bars on the back, and taking the stronger rims off the Mitsubishi before we sell it and putting them on this application. I had a chance to drive this vehicle....it was a rare type for its day, that is for sure, with the two fuel tanks, the AC, the five speed trans....I guess ol Pepe (the political candidate who is running for president this November) ordered her up just as he wanted it when he bought it new in '95.
So yesterday was a great celebration....a rejoicing of what God has done and continues to do. Today Oscar was working through how to help the clothing stores....including Talanga, San Juancito and Cantaranas. They got word that a dear sister, Simona, the one who had lent the building for the Church in San Juancito for so many years, finally has gone to be with the Lord. We will be going tomorrow for the funeral.
Then word came this afternoon....Miriam, the women who helps at the clothing store in Cantaranas, and has helped with almost every short term group that has done corn in that area, her three year old son was eating a piece of fruit, a mamon...the kind you pop out into your mouth, suck off the fruit, and then spit out the seed. He swallowed the seed....and died. I am not sure this is him in the picture...but I know that is Miriam's daughter. I have been to funerals before....for children before, but two funerals in two Churches in one day tomorrow will be an experience. Obviously we are praying for the Churches...and especially because in these times the world around us is especially careful to watch and judge the Church by how it responds to such crisis. Where is the faith? Is it alive, or dead?
As was shared yesterday in the service....times of suffering, of discipline come, God is encouraging us to keep running our race because we have been taken a hold of by him....he lifts us up, he picks us up....he hugs us and cries with us in times of sorrow. And in times of celebration when I saw people in their eighties jump up in joy last night after four hours of service to continue singing and praising God even as the service was over (some of you might remember the lady that lives at the top of San Juancito...Eva, with her glasses and all the work she helped do on the Church building...and other women as well) and helped get people back home that invested nearly 9 hours to praise God through the service between walking, buses, the pickup bed, and more walking in the pitch black night.
On one level I am hesitant to bring it up...but here you see people in the Church on the whole deal with tragedy after tragedy, all the more proclaiming God's sovereignty and love, and I know so many in other areas of the world that when the smallest inconvenience or problem arises...be it a job loss, the color of the carpet, or simply not being entertained enough by Church...they abandon what they formerly proclaimed. But I suppose that is a blog for another time.