Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Today was both my favorite day on mission as well as the most exhausting. The day started when the alarm went off at 5:15 AM and ended when our heads hit the pillow after 11:00 PM. Before I get to the night’s marriage event, which only solidified what I believe God is calling Darin and I to do on a global basis, I want to share some brief mission highlights leading up to Coffee for Two.
Wednesday was a repeat of the medical outreach, workshops, and programs of the day before but delivered at CDA Lucero Alto School. True to my word, I let Darin lead the workshops. The parent attendance was lower than at Cazuca, which I felt led to rich dialogue with the audience. The leadership workshop attendance was also lower, because most of the men had jobs in this community. We were forewarned to expect push-back from 3 white-haired community men, who were supposedly going to teach us what leadership was all about.
Soon after the leadership session started, the spokesman of the 3-men group stood and emphatically expressed that leadership was a position and only leaders have these positions, because they know what the people need. After putting his leadership stake in the ground, we respectfully shared our views of servant leadership. As we said, “…everyone is a leader because everyone has influence,” the women in the audience adamantly shook their heads up and down. You could feel the energy of empowerment build in the room, and soon enough, the older spokesperson chose to sit silently.
I enjoyed spending time with the triage group [my sister-in-law Siovhan, her sister Stephanie, and my niece Sarah] as they took medical histories, vitals, and conversed with the families grateful for medical attention. After the medical outreach and workshops, many of the mission team had fun playing basketball with other CDA staff and students. This 56-year old woman in boots got on the court but was taken to the grown on a foul while shooting a basket. [Darin got it on video, so if you want to see a laughable moment I’ll send it to you on request.]
After some souvenir shopping, Darin, Brigitta, and I were once again whisked away by car as guest speakers at the marriage strengthening event. As darkness settled, our driver delivered us to a door in a very questionable part of the city. Passing across the door threshold, we were once again surprised to see a huge room with lots of couples sitting around tables, laughing, and snacking. As the saying goes: you never know what goes on behind closed doors.
Pastor Daniel Guasca and his wife, Pastor Adelaida, of Ministerio Altar de Fuego Y Fe introduced us to their family, told us about their church marriage ministry, and explained the night’s agenda. Fifty couples (100 people) were downstairs eagerly awaiting the start of Coffee for Two. There were a number of non-Christians attending, and 20% had never been to this church. As we sat at our little table in front, the pastors kicked off the event with some marriage messages, praise, and worship. We took the stage for an hour and a half, unpacking marriage vision, mission, love languages, needs, communication, and conflict resolution. Through the generous donations of our family and friends, we were able to gift each couple with The 5 Love Languages in Spanish. The couples were thrilled and broke out in loud applause.
Pastor Daniel closed the event with a final marriage message and prayers. We were asked to join the pastors, who walked around the room laying hands on the couples, praying for them and their marriages. Couples were hugging and crying. Some shared how they had achieved breakthrough that evening and gained greater love and appreciation for their spouse. As we tried to pack up and get back to the hotel, the couples kept coming to the stage to thank us, hug us, and ask for a photo with us. These people don’t have access to the resources as Americans to improve their marriages. We wished we could have stayed longer, but we will be back. Perhaps next time, it will be bigger and better.
Although this journal entry doesn’t capture the fullness of the day, a few reminders from my experiences were:
- Sometimes people need to be told they are empowered for them to believe they can influence change
- You can’t force your opinions or ideas on others; you need to just lay out your words and let God do the work on others
- When you don’t speak the language, play sports; it’s a universal language
- When you serve people with what you love to do, people are changed