Three nights of working, two kinds of ministry, and One amazing God!
The evening began with getting dropped off in a downtown kind of area. The location was basically made up of a park surrounded by stores and restaurants. We were told that a lot of people who hung out in this park spoke English, which was good because Pastor Salazar was the only one in our group who spoke fluent Spanish. Grabbing a handful of tracts and a couple of team members we dispersed into our battle field! I headed out with Gene and Adrian.
At first we began to just hand people tracts, but gradually we warmed to our task and started to try to make conversation. Wonder of wonders, there really were people who spoke English! Mostly the ones who spoke our language were college-age students. After a casual greeting we would try to turn the conversations to spiritual topics. So many of the young people to whom we spoke had never really thought about where they were going to end up when they died. They were astonished to find people the same age as themselves that were so sure of their eternal destination. God opened many doors for us that evening, and many seeds were planted in minds that wanted to know something, or anything for that matter, that they could be sure of.
1. Gene and Adrian were awesome witnessing partners
2. Don’t try to talk to an atheist who only speaks a dozen words of English! Just pray!
3. Don’t buy “grass” off of creepy old men in Peruvian parks… it’s not the stuff on your front lawn!
Thursday evening marked the beginning of our last big ministry project. Family conference, here we come! Fourteen Americans got up in front of all the Peruvian families and taught them how to sing “La Armadura de Dios” or “The Armor of God” song. We then sang “The Wise Man Built his House upon a Rock” also in Spanish. This was a new one for the team. I think that it went something like “hmm hmm da da da, hmmm da da da da.” Or something like that. At least that’s what I was singing… very quietly.
After songs and Bible verses, everybody split up and went into separate groups. We were in charge of the kids and the teens. Steven and Elizabeth spoke to the teens, while the rest of us worked with the children. We didn’t have very many – only thirty or so – but God didn’t say we had to reach the whole world at once, so we poured ourselves into the thirty that He gave us. We only had two translators so we split the kiddos into two groups of fifteen and rotated them through crafts, games, and a story. We ended the night with a skit! Pharaoh was just getting hit with the third plague when all the parents came out. End of skit time. “Come back tomorrow to get the end of… Funky Pharaoh and the Ten Problematic Plagues!”
1. Adrian should get an award for how well she ran the kids’ program! With Elizabeth and Steven busy with the teens, Adrian had to step up and keep things moving. She did an amazing job!
2. Flexibility is a good quality to have with you at all times! Half-ended skits and only thirty kiddies might through one’s groove off, but with flexibility… está bien!
3. Hmm, I might want to consider learning the real words to “The Wise Man” song.
The third night commenced with a major step outside of Rutita’s range of comfort! I had learned the songs and Bible verses in Spanish so that if Elizabeth lost her voice someone could teach them to the kids. I was a little apprehensive about teaching anything to the kids; I had never done this before and it is slightly intimidating to teach something in a language that you don’t know. I had learned them, though, and I figured that even if I messed up the kids wouldn’t care.
As we arrived for night two of the family conference it was decided that since we had a piano available we should use it for the songs. The only problem was that Elizabeth was the only one that knew how to play them. No problem, Adrian and I knew how to lead the songs for the kids. We would let Elizabeth play the music and Adrian and I would lead the singing… for the kids. It was then that my comfort zone got knocked so far away I wasn’t sure that I would ever find it again. Yes, Elizabeth would play the music, and yes, Adrian and I would lead the music, but not just for the kids… for the parents too! This may seem like a small thing to some people, but to me… the end of the world was fast approaching!
Somehow I found myself up on the stage in front of EVERYBODY with Adrian at my side and the piano already playing. I knew the motions really well, so I just sang quietly and hoped that nobody would notice. I thought that maybe my zone of comfort was returning sooner than … nope. Somebody handed me a mic and said that they couldn’t hear me. “That was the point,” I thought to myself, but there I stood with a mic in my hand and there went the piano music again. I’m sure that I botched up the pronunciation of those Spanish words, but that room must have been full of a whole lot of forgiving parents. They all just stood there smiling and singing as if nothing was unusual. I actually began to enjoy myself by the end of the song time. I was shaking by the time that I exited the stage, but at the same time I felt like I was walking on air. I thank the Lord for the opportunity that I had that night. God knew what I could handle, and sometimes getting outside of our little boxes of normalcy can be strangely exhilarating.
We again split up into sections with the teens and the kids. The number of children had doubled from our first night, and all of the teens came back for more teaching. Pharaoh finally got what was coming to him and the rest of the night went smoothly. Praise the Lord for another amazing night of the family conference!
1. Double the kids is always fun, but why did we complain about only having thirty?!?
2. I have said things about Adrian for both of the other nights so why stop now. Adrian, thank you for leading the singing with me. Good times! Although I may need to apologize for the look that I gave you when you made ME hold the mic.
3. Think twice before volunteering to be Pharaoh’s servant. I didn’t have a say in the Israelites’ plight, but I still got foamy-shaped boils on me, gnats that looked an awful lot like yesterday’s leftover paper craft bits scattered in my hair, and hail that came in a less-than-frozen state on my clothes. Ha ha! It was still an awesome skit!
So, there you have it… the tale of three nights.
Ruth (aka Rutita), for the team
Elizabeth J. doing the crafts.
Rutita with a very sleepy nino.
Gene doing the games.
Story time! Good job, John, for stepping up and telling the stories while Steven was busy with the teens!
This shot was taken from the roof of the church where we were doing the family conference. This area was only a couple of steps up from a shanty town. In other words, very poor.
Elizabeth speaking to the teens.