Sunday, July 27, 2008

Going to church or being the Church....

or both?? I need to do a better job at being a member of the Lord's Church, not just going to church. Can you truly imagine if truly every day of our lives we Christians took to heart being the church and doing the good works of Christ in the name of his Father? Today I sat in a beautiful clean church building and worshiped God with other Christians, we sang beautiful songs, prayed, listened to good teachings, took the Lord's supper, listened to announcements, and went to Bible class, we also spent time chatting and visiting with our Christian brothers and sisters. All wore nice, clean clothes, came to worship in a vehicle and went home to a house/apartment...most probably at least a 3 bdrom 2 bath home with a garage, etc. Many (including myself and many others members from our congregation that we ran into there) went out to eat on their way home and probably if you are like me...overate and got more food than your bellies truly needed. Then, as is tradition in our family, went home and took a Sunday afternoon nap. That was THIS Sunday, but LAST Sunday..........We were blessed to join members of the Buenos Aires Church in a service project they had planned. We happened to be around when they were discussing the plans, and asked if we could join them. On Sunday morning we met at the church bldg at 8am. This small congregation had been collecting their extra clothes for some time and had planned to take time to go and deliver them to some very poor families in the mountains of Trujillo. The group from Goodwood had left clothes with us they had used while in Honduras (West Metro did the same, but they went to some other needs) and a few ladies from the congregation helped me by washing them so we could add them to the bags they had already collected from those in their congregation. When we arrived at 8am they already had it sorted into labeled bags so each would know in general what was in the bag they carried like "boys", "girls", "pants", etc.
Now, my first mistake...I worried about what I wore. Thad questioned when I got dressed that morning, but I have always had it in my head and am working on getting it out of my head that all women in Honduran wear a dress to worship, and I should not do otherwise.... But doing as I thought I should as we had been told we would be worshiping, I wore a long (lined - you women will appreciate that as it was sweltering) skirt and of course you must have coordinating shoes...what good woman on Sunday morning wouldn't wear shoes that worked with the outfit?? So I wore my best flip flops...they were black patten flip flops (read...they are very slippery and impossible to walk in if wet). So Thad, John Mark and I (MK had spent the night at her friend's house and they worship with the Eduardo Castillo congregation) arrived at the building to find the congregation's women working on organizing the bags and they looked like this.....
some had on shorts, most had on jeans...most had on a hat, those that didn't had grabbed one out of the bags from Goodwood, and then gave them away along the trip (we were going into mountainous jungle areas after all turns out)....I was getting just a CLUE of what was to come. I considered running back up the hill to the house to change, but didn't want them to wait on just me so I thought "Oh I'll be fine" And we headed out, along a wooded path guided by a man with a machete. After a short walk we came up on a river that we had to cross..note to self....patten flip flops are not good for river crossing nor is a long lined skirt...but I made it!
We wound around these little trails way off the road and over the rivers til we came up on these little stone houses built by the European Union (you can see a bit of the sign on the house in the picture above to the right of the door). The houses were well built, but basic, built to serve needs not to be luxurious. Generally just one room with entire families (including grandparents) living in the room together. After going house to house, praying with, studying scriptures with and digging through bags to find clothes that were good for the members of each household, we moved on along the trail. More river crossings, and up the mountain we went...up and up and up carrying bags of clothes with us. Somewhere where hiking shoes would have been helpful as footing was challenging. There were places that were washed out mountainsides from mudslides in the rainy season. In the end, I made it up - we get by with a little help from our friends, right?! Thank goodness for Waleska's helping hand, she is such a sweet young girl! We got up over the top of a high point to realize we were at a house that had one of the most amazing views (see below...taken at the corner of their 'yard')!!! only for Thad to say "I know this family" it was the home of a little boy named Angelito (sp?) that he had met when he was working with Bobby from the Goodwood team with some special needs children out at Little Hands Big Hearts. It was amazing to see what they endured to get down to town to receive the help their child needs. The house was mud and thatch and dirt floors with again the most spectacular view ever and as clean and neat as can be inside. They had very little, but you could tell took care of what little they had! We took a rest up there, after studying with his Mom, ate some mangoes from their trees and drank a bit of the Coke that had been brought along. Thad even did some of the stretches he learned from Bobby with Angelito and he just smiled and smiled. His joints were so stiff, I thought for sure he would cry as Thad slowly stretched him, but he didn't he just looked at him and grinned. We continued up and down and around for 4+ hours total that day, stopping from house to house and studying, praying, singing and delivering clothes. At one house we found a girl that had come down the mountain and gone to Trujillo Christian School until she graduated. At another a little girl that had her picture on the wall from her school picture last year from the school. A long hike for these children each day to even get to where a road would easily get them to the school. At many homes they knew Fernando, the minister at the church, as he had visited before. After 4 hours we headed back down coming down a different way and crossing over a deeper part of the river with no good place to find rocks to step across...it was essentially a swimming hole. And low and behold we look down and there is one of our kids from the school (Enrique FYI Spencer family who sponsors him!) enjoying a dip in the deep waters on a hot afternoon.
This crazy gringa just took off her horrid unsensible shoes, hiked up her skirt walked across enjoying the cool mountain water after a long hike! As Fernando said that night at worship, it was an exhausting day, but a happy one. Each family was very thankful and appreciative of the clothes given to them. And the Christians we were with were so encouraging and kind to be around. The children joined in the scripture readings and worship with the adults just as they do in worship in their building as there is no separate room, just a little concrete room with wooden benches to sit on. No bathroom...no place for children's church...they just are a part of the church right alongside their families. They sing all the songs even generally the youngest ones. Not just quietly but loudly, not worrying about a melody, worrying only that they are praising!

John Mark in the very first house we went to noticed a shirt of his being given to a child...my kids tend to attach to things and I wasn't sure what to expect. Sure enough he looked up at me in a bit of a panic and said "Mommy is that MY shirt?!" I said "yes son it is, what do you think about that?" and after a minute truly not knowing what he would say (and honestly scared of a meltdown over a shirt and praying I would handle it wisely and not die of humiliation if it happened) he looked around the one room house with no kitchen, no bathroom, only one small rope bed, and in another corner all of their possessions, and said "I think I have a lot more and they could use it more than me" It was a moment that I hope/pray to repeat.

Then I told him a bit more about who he was serving alongside that day. You see, one of the families in this congregation who had added their extra clothes to the bags, and who walked from house to house were a family that Nadine, Stephanie, Keith and Vickie worked with for 2 weeks working on improving their home for them. But this family had extra and knew some didn't and helped plan this event to share what little they had with others who had less....
I pray I can be that kind of person, I pray that I can do better about not getting attached to things or wanting pretty things, wanting my house to be just so...or worrying about what shoes I have on or if my clothes are just right....and instead that I can focus on being the Christian that I need to be, getting down and dirty (literally or figuratively) for the Lord and doing what I am called to do. That I am sharing what I have as I have been told to do. Not just the knowledge that I have. the Message is of course important, but going beyond that as well.....I learned a lot about myself on that 4 hour hike. Stuff I didn't like very much.
Sitting in church this morning in that beautiful building I struggled remembering where we had been at the same time just one week prior.....two very different worship experiences. Two things that are good, two things that are needed...how can I in my life incorporate the two? Will I be the church tomorrow? What will I do each day to make a difference. What will I sacrifice so that others do not have to be without? I have lots of extra, will I be like the family that went with us and gave what extra they had so others had their needs met? Will I go places that make me uncomfortable so that I can help others? So much to think about, so much on my heart.....

3 comments:

Adrienne H. said...

Rachel,
I am really glad that you posted that blog. I had very deep feelings when I came back from Honduras and I am glad to know that this is apparently normal. :) I was really glad to get the opportunity to meet all of you and I really admire your courage to bring your whole family along. You are an inspiration to me more than you know.
Adriana

Pablo y Raquel said...

Thanks for your kind words Adrienne, I really hope we are able to spend more time together in Trujillo next year!!

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