Thursday, July 31, 2008

Me Siento Diferente

The man came out, weeping.

"Why are you doing this? Why are you here? Why would you do this for me? I have done nothing to deserve this!"

This was our first encounter with the family we were to build a house for. The father went on to tell us how his daughter was sleeping in the car because there was no room for her in the small house they lived in. He was very fearful for her safety and couldn't comprehend why we had come to help him.

"We are here because God has loved us, and He has asked us to love others."

Throughout the week, the man worked as hard as anyone else on the site, a growing curiosity in his eyes. Then, on Friday, he approached the site supervisor - "I've been having dreams. In my dreams, I see heaven and I see hell. Someone is telling me I have to choose. The Jehovah's Witnesses came to my house yesterday. I told them about my dreams. They say there is no hell. What do you say?"

The Supervisor told him, "There is a heaven and a hell. There is only one way to get to heaven, and that is by knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour." The supervisor went on to tell the man that God was speaking to him through his dreams, and asking him to make a decision. The man responded, saying "I want to become a Christian today!"

As we gathered around the man and his family to pray over them and to dedicate their new home, he stepped forward and accepted Jesus as his saviour. Weeping, he repeated over and over "me siento diferente! me siento diferente!" - I feel different! I feel different!

What a testimony - the only thing we did was show up. God had cultivated the seed, and brought it to bear. We were simply in the right place at the right time. We will continue to follow up with this family and to get them connected into the local Christian community and church. The amazing thing about this story is that Oaxacan men do not cry. They do not show emotion. They are stoic and reserved. But when God's spirit falls on us, we cannot help but to weep as we consider His great love for us.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sentir & Sentar - worlds apart

I drove one team up on Saturday, spent the night in San Diego and drove another team down on Sunday. This is quite exhausting! The days can be long and the nights short, with hard work in between. It's fun and I love it, but I also get tired.

After driving the team back down on Sunday, we stopped at Papa Ruben's for an "all-you-can-eat" taco dinner. Everyone LOVES Papa Ruben, and his awesome food at Pollo Loco. I helped him with getting the orders and the food out for 60 people. Afterward, as people milled about visiting outside and looking at the little ladies' stuff, I sank down into a chair and said to Papa Ruben:

"Oh Papa Ruben, tengo mucho sueno - que bueno sentirme. Muy bien a sentir, no? Puedes sentir tambien."

On and on I rambled...all the while Papa Ruben looked at me quizzically. Finally, Mama Lupita leaned over and whispered "sentarse!" I saw the light of understanding go on in Papa Ruben's eyes.

Suddenly, it all became clear - while I thought I had been saying:

"Oh my Papa Ruben, I am so tired. It feels so good to sit down. You ought to sit down too, we've worked hard! Doesn't it feel good to sit down and rest?"

When in fact I had been saying:

"Oh my Papa Ruben, I am so tired. It feels so good to feel. You ought to feel, too. Doesn't it feel good to feel?"

Yes, I did. Sentir is to feel, while Sentar is to sit. So close - and yet so very far away. We all got a good laugh and I was humbled and reminded how much further I have yet to go with my Spanish...

Small Seeds, Sown in the Dust

A few weeks ago I was down in Mexico once again. Summertime is a busy time, and I've been running almost non-stop now since April. I have to admit that it is getting harder and harder to come back to the States! I love America, but I feel that my calling is outside of her borders...whether in Mexico, Guatemala, Fiji or elsewhere, there is something deep within me that comes alive when I am doing God's work amongst the nations.

As you may or may not know, Sierra had the opportunity to go to China for 3 weeks to minister and work there with a group through YWAM called King's Kids. While she was away in China, I was down in Mexico for a few weeks, leading home-building teams. Seven homes were built in the 2 weeks I was down.

At one of the houses, there were a multitude of kids...they were running all over the place causing general mayhem everywhere they went. I was doing my best to add to the mayhem by plying them with candy every time I came by. When I hand out anything in Mexico, I explain to the kids how important it is to receive well, and to maintain their God-given dignity by using their manners and not giving in to pushing, shoving, etc. I explain that they must say please at the beginning and thank you afterward. If they do not use their manners, they do not get a candy. If they start to push or shove, the candy is put away and everyone loses out. They're smart kids - they get it quickly. Well, one day I get to the house and about 25 kids surround me, hoping for a piece of candy. Soon, they are all chanting in unison - "dame un dulce, por favor! dame un dulce, por favor!" - "Give me a candy, please! Give me a candy, please!" It was pretty funny, all those little kids chanting this over and over! I felt like a mama bird with all her little birdies around chirping for some worm!! I took out my bag and said "una fila!" - a line! - and they all lined themselves up, smallest to biggest, to receive their candy. As they come up for their candy, I am able to speak value into them with the smallest of gestures - "What's your name? What pretty hair you have! I see you are a strong man! I like how gentle you are with your little sister!" Such little words, but they have a huge impact.

I was visiting with the family and several of the kids were inside. They have 6 people living in a block building about 10' x 8' square feet. Outside dust swirled around and got into every pore of our bodies. Inside there was a refrigerator, a table with a 2 burner cook stove and two wooden structures that we could sit on, that doubled as beds at night. This is the sum of all their earthly goods. As I visited with them, I asked the kids if they liked to sing songs. Boy! Did I ever hit on a goldmine! They LOVED singing songs. For the next hour I sang songs with them. Mind you - I only have two Spanish kids songs memorized. We sang those songs every which way you could imagine - loud, soft, silly, deep voice, baby voice. Those kids just couldn't get enough. I remember thinking somewhere in the midst of it, "this is what it's all about" - sitting there, singing my two silly little songs with these kids - somehow knowing I was right where God had me for that moment. It was a sweet feeling. Every time I saw them afterward, they wanted to sing more songs.

I'm proud to say that my repertoire has now grown to four songs - I've doubled it!

It's amazing to me that in those small moments, seemingly insignificant, that God's light shines the brightest. It is there that the smallest of seeds are sown, in the dust of a forsaken place, where ony He can cause them to burst forth into full bloom. What a privilege I have to take part in it!