Thursday, June 25, 2015

Called to the Lencas

 The following is my articles for this month's newsletter. I want to share this one a little broader.

As I sit down to write this Chronicle, it has been two days back from our trip to Honduras, so the Lencas are still central in my heart and head.

One of our leader’s goals for this trip was to prepare all of us first timers to lead trips in the future. And there are plenty of projects for us to help with. Finishing the guest house, adding indoor plumbing, adding tanks for water and engineering runoff into those tanks…I could go on and on. But more than any of these things, there is one thing that must be a priority for our church. That is what I would like to begin to talk to you about.

Pastors Angel and Claudia are deeply called to serve the Lencas. Claudia initially felt this calling, and you just look into this woman’s eyes and can feel her love and respect for these people. She is an amazing cook and loves these children as if they were from her own body. She leads the women, mentoring and teaching them to care for their families. And when she sings, the birds stop to listen. And you couldn’t ask for a better set of gifts in a man to work with Lencas than Angel has. A skilled welder by trade, this man can fix just about anything that breaks. He can play guitar and preach, but even more so he has a humbleness that draws men to learn from him. Their respect for the Lenca culture shines through in all they do.

Currently, Angel and Claudia ride a motorbike 4 hours up to El Pinar on Fridays and back down to their home in the capital city on Mondays. This makes for a complicated life, a split life. It also limits their ministry to Saturdays and Sundays. They do a lot with those 2 days…they teach 95 kids in 3 classes on Saturday. Some of these kids travel by foot as far as 3 hours away. Then on Sunday, they lead worship services. But it is only 2 days. Claudia and Angel’s major goal is to train leaders and missionaries among the Lencas. Angel would like to eventually start teaching his trades to the Lenca men. But all they have to do this is 2 days a week. 2 days! The Lencas need their leadership more than 2 days a week.

We can build and engineer all we want on that mountain, but the biggest resource we can give them isn’t buildings, it’s Angel and Claudia full time. To give up their jobs in the capital and live full time among the Lencas, Angel and Claudia would need a salary of $600 a month. Every month. It’s not a one time gift. It would be harder than building. But the most important things are never the easiest things.

I shared with our team, and I share with you, I don’t know how to get Angel and Claudia on that mountain full time. I just know it is what needs done. So I am praying that God will make a way for Angel and Claudia, and that somehow he will use us in the process.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Equality in Missions

“We are all the same, We are all different.”                   Team Member, Honduras Mission Trip

            One of the deepest learnings of our group in Honduras, was that people are people no matter what culture or class they are from. 

Kids are shy with strangers. They like to be tickled. They climb trees and howl like coyotes. There are some that stay back to help the  80-year-old up the mountain and lead the others. Kids everywhere get restless sitting in long church services. 

And adults, though we are different are the same. We take pride in our work and skills. We laugh about passing gas. We try to make things better with the resources we have. We struggle in our marriages, and in using our gifts. We grieve. We celebrate. 

Those are some of the lessons we learn in visiting other cultures. That though we are different, we are the same. When we go to serve in another culture we grow by seeing not only the joy but the struggles of those we go to serve. 

And that is why it seems a little unfair to me that mission trips go only one way between our church in La Fontaine and our sister church among the Lencas. They only go from us to them. We don’t share how our church struggles, we just share our resources. 

If I were them, I would not know how frustrating ministry can be in the United States. I wouldn’t know about the cultural shifts that have happened, and that millennials are missing from most churches. I wouldn’t know that every year here, churches struggle to provide vital ministries like VBS, not because of finances, but because we can’t get enough adult volunteers. And because I wouldn’t know these things, I wouldn’t pray for God’s presence and work among those in churches like La Fontaine. 

As we worked on a building that will be used for economic development, I couldn’t help thinking about the Trustees meetings and the projects back home. I thought about our parsonage garage roof that will need replaced in the next few years, and the old things stored in the rafters that need cleaned out. As I met the kids, I couldn’t help but wonder about our VBS program still in limbo. I couldn’t help but think, what if Hondurans came to the US for a mission trip? Even more than what could get done, what if we actually were equals…not those who had everything to offer, but those humbled by receiving? I shared this dream of mine with Pastor Jorge Pinto, and he immediately saw the beauty in switching it up. 

So, what would it take to make this happen on our end? Well, just as Nick and I had to raise money to go to Honduras, we would have to raise money to get Hondurans here.  This is really the biggest hurdle. Then comes the fun stuff. Feeding and housing them here. And projects to do here.Who would come and when.
So this is me putting out feelers. 
Who thinks this is an idea worth trying? 
Who would be willing to put money on it?