Today was a day I had looked forward to. Blessy told me a lot about her church here. We had spent a lot of time praying for them. But I realize that I have a new appreciation for the term, “boots on the ground.” It is one thing to be told of the needs of a people and quite another to see their faces. I was telling Blessy tonight that I have the ability to pray more specifically for the needs here. I have seen the hurts and abuses. My heart has been broken over them. And one more time I find myself so thankful for my church and that they preach the word, and encourage knowledge and discipleship. Could there be more? Absolutely. But we are light years ahead of the church here.
And so we begin. The worship is segregated. Men on one side and women on the other. Women cover their heads here. For the whole service! Blessy did prepare me for this. As the music began, my thoughts drifted to Woodside Bible. Not because they were anything alike. Mostly I was doing a mental comparison. And the song that kept filling my head was, “I'm coming back to the heart of worship.” There was one man on the bongos and another with a tambourine. This made up the whole of the band. There was no bass, electric or acoustic guitars. There was no piano accompaniment. There was no pre-service practice or warm up. But the people sang! They raised their voice and they raised their hands to offer their worship in their tongue. And I kept thinking that sometimes, it is necessary to strip it all away and simply come. At one point the power went out. At WBC this would have been a nightmare logistically. But these people where totally unfazed by it. I on the other hand felt like going to my knees and beg God to restore the power. It was hot and the only thing propping me up was the 12 ceiling fans on high. They don't run without power. It eventually did come back after a half hour or so. But again, no one seem fazed by it.
Another contrast was the length of service. We started our worship service at 10am. Things wrapped up about 1:30pm. Yup! You read that right. Wowzer. My children will never complain of being bored in a WBC service again! Not that they regularly complain, but now they have a whole new appreciation for a one hour worship service. Ed and Abe both gave great messages. Blessy and I both shared a few minutes as well. What is funny is Blessy and I had not spoke about what we were going to say and in essence, we shared a very similar word. When we first arrived, there was a Bible conference at the church. And I remembered looking up and seeing all the lights on in the church. The church is positioned on the top of a high ground. So I immediately began thinking that it would be appropriate to remind them of being light to a dark world in desperate need of Jesus. Blessy shared the same verse. May God put that verse into action in these people!
Just before church let out it began to pour. And I mean pour. Throw in some thunder and lightning too. The thing is – I knew it was going to pour the night before. There was a ring around the moon. I was taught in Brazil that a ring around the moon brings rain in the noon. Sure enough. The other thing is I prayed that God would restore the water in Papa and Mommie's well, since we were using up so much with 10 extra people showering and laundering. I told this to Papa and he laughed! The other blessing that the rain brought was people milled about after church to talk with us but mostly Blessy since this was her home church. I guess when church lets out here – it is a ghost town within 5 minutes. Another major contrast between WBC and here. Guess we brought a little WBC with us! As is the Roden and Philip way – we finally left the building about a half hour after church let out. We walked to the pastor's house for a very nice lunch. I could really dig living that close to church. We walked up a flight a steps to get to church. About 20 steps to the pastor's house then reversed to get home. Forget something – no biggie, just run home and grab it. Be back in one minute. That would be cool. But alas, tis not my fortune. I must drive 10 minutes in orange barrel land. So note to self, don't forget anything!
The rest of the day for me was restful. I am having a real hard time with water retention. I am trying to drink plenty, but the change in diet along with the heat is causing some real hardship. The rest of the day I spent with my legs elevated. I should drop about 10 pounds of water when I get home. My biggest fear is that my ankles will look like raisins. Fun Times!
To my church family who is at this minute worshiping, I love you so much. I am praying for you and can't wait to worship again with you all.