We have returned temporarily to the United States where most assume we are now contentedly relieved in this “comfortable home country” of ours. True to a degree, but truer still is the pungently bittersweet fact of the transition.
I love being with our three young adult sons again, other family and friends, the house God provided for us, and the anticipation of many things, but I miss the people, the relationships, the village, and our ministry in Oaxaca. As I sit here with carpeting under my feet instead of cold tile floors, towering oaks instead of lofty cypresses, and a flat view of sky outside my window instead of a full mountain range, the memories come; some with a smile, others with a sigh, and a few with sorrow.
From our ministry blog, a recent and fond memory:
May 7, 2012
Hosting a missions team recently, we committed to minister among remote indigenous communities in Oaxaca’s coastal region. The plan was to offer a VBS during Semana Santa (Easter break) to two distinct communities. Palm Sunday was to be the kickoff service, with the entire church participating, then Monday through Wednesday would be kids only.
We arrived in good time on that hot and sunny Palm Sunday morning. While our team, together with the nationals, reviewed plans and resources, I sensed the Holy Spirit whisper, “Prepare a message.”
I confess I don’t like public speaking or preaching to a crowd. Not a few times have I quipped, “My husband preaches from the pulpit, I preach with a pen.” I prefer less painful events like women’s Bible studies, visiting homes, natural child-birth, writing articles, or having a root canal.
I groaned inwardly.
As a veteran missionary, I should have known better, should have expected all along that the pastor would ask someone –in this case, me, since hubby was off working construction with another portion of the team– to preach to the adults. After all, it is Sunday morning, and though the churches “in the city” may kick off VBS with everyone together in the sanctuary, this traditional pastor would see to it that his adults received a sermon.
Within ten minutes I had a brief outline scrawled in the small notebook I always carry, and torn paper to use as bookmarks for the passages that I (or rather, the Holy Spirit) had picked.
Within fifteen minutes the pastor arrived, walked over to me and said, “Hermana, would you bring God’s Word this morning to the adults?”
I did. Outside under a mango tree that randomly dropped its fruit, I preached to the standing gathering of a dozen or so adults. We had four languages represented: English, Spanish, Zapotec, and Mixteco. I included salvation testimonies –which were powerful– from two of the team members.
Later that day, after we drove an hour to the second church plant of the same pastor, he again invited me (unplanned, but not unexpected this time), from the pulpit, to please come up and share God’s Word.
I did. Inside under a single lightbulb that hung three feet over my head and was swarming with wasps, I preached to the seated audience of another dozen or so adults. I used the same message and the same two testimonies.
Glory be to God! That day four adults prayed for forgiveness and committed to follow Christ, neither a mango fell nor did wasps sting, and this impromptu preacher experienced again the mercy and mysterious power of her Lord.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13