Monday, June 4, 2012

Pentecost Mission Trip: Day 3

Pentecost Sunday

Sunday morning we slept in a little after such a long drive.  The bell rang at 8:30 to gather for breakfast.  We first gathered in the prayer room for the blessing which began with singing.  It was awesome to wake up and start the day off praising God and giving thanks in song.  Joy overwhelmed me once again as I looked around the room and smiled.  The tears began to well up again.  This group was amazing!

After a quick breakfast of cereal and milk, we gathered back in the prayer room where we read the Sunday readings and gospel in English before walking across the park to the church for Mass.

The church was absolutely beautiful.  Some of the Mexican children came around and passed out "mini-missals" for us to follow along.  I love the fact that the Mass is the same in any language.  Without knowing any Spanish, I knew exactly what was going on all throughout the Mass even though I didn't actually know Spanish.

Emily had passed out at the beginning of the Mass, so after Mass we went straight back to the Mission House while some of the others walked around the town.  We fed her and let her rest for awhile.  When she felt better we headed out for our first home visit with Sidney, FMC's Cajun Missionary, to deliver one of the wheelchairs we had collected and brought with us.  The kids and I laughed as we watched Travis and Sidney try to put the "legs" on the wheelchair without bothering with the instruction manual.

Mmmmm... maybe like this???

Eventually, they figured it out, and the lady was able to sit in it for the first time.  The look on her face and on the face of her daughter who was her caretaker was priceless.  There are no words to describe the joy I felt seeing their faces.  We do not speak any Spanish, and Sidney is just learning, so we did not understand very much of what they were saying as they spoke to us, but we didn't need to know the language to know how grateful these women were.  We knew it in our hearts.  I could feel it in my soul.

Our family (minus Isaac) with the lady and her daughter

We decided to walk back over a little footbridge to the Mission House.  This was the bridge that the young lady would now be able to wheel her mother over to get to town.  My heart continued to grow with joy as we walked the path that the elderly lady would now get to take once again.

When we arrived back at the Mission House, the lunch bell rang.  We gathered for prayer and then sat down to another delicious Mexican feast including homemade tortillas and freshly made salsa!  After lunch, we gathered back in the prayer room (It has an official name, but I can't remember it.) to be prepared for our first evening of "rancho visits." We practiced a few Spanish songs and then split up into groups.  I was asked to give my testimony that night.  I panicked a little not knowing what kind of a "testimony" to give, but then surprisingly I didn't worry about it much on the trip to the rancho.

The trip itself was an adventure to remember.  Our leader was given some vague directions and got a little lost. We ended up riding in circles on an extremely bumpy road in the middle of a private field until the road ended where two Mexican ranchers stood waiting to find out why we were "joy" riding in their field.  Thank goodness our leader looked Mexican, and his first language had been Spanish.  He was able to explain our situation and ask for directions.  The unhappy farmers gave him directions off their property and to the rancho, and we were off again.We arrived at the rancho a little late, but we gotten to know each other and had bonded during our "joyride".  We were now ready to preach and teach together as a team.

The first thing you do upon arrival at the rancho is ring the chapel bell.  The kids took turns ringing the bell for a solid minute.

After ringing the bell, we went out to knock on the doors of the homes to personally invite the people to join us for prayer.  We practiced the words several times.  "Somos misioneros Catolics. Les invitamos a la capilla por oracion." But we ended up letting the Spanish speaking missionaries do the talking this first time.  We were very disappointed to find many of the houses empty and abandoned and to hear that many had to move away because of the poor conditions here.  We were worried that no one would show up.  We gathered back at the chapel and rang the bell once more, and then waited for the people to show up.

We had been told not to worry because we were on "Mexican time" which meant that people do not rush to anything.  They finish what they are doing and come when they are ready.  We were told that everything usually begins later than planned in Mexico.  So what do you do while you wait for the people?  Play on the playground!

Finally, a few ladies started to come up the road, so we headed back to the chapel to ring the bell one final time.  The inside of the chapel was so simple yet so beautiful. 

We greeted each of the women that came with a handshake and a kiss on the check and then began singing some of the songs we had practiced at the Mission House.  No, we hadn't learned them all that quickly.  We had GIANT cheat sheets.

I had no idea what I was actually singing, but I can assure you that I have never been so moved by the Holy Spirit as I was at that moment singing in a foreign language in a foreign country with strangers.  It was so powerful to see and feel the faith of these women.  Next, one of the FMC missionaries gave a teaching on the Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. 

Dana is an awesome person that I quickly grew to love and admire!

Then it was testimony time.  Three of us were going to give testimonies that evening.  I had volunteered to go last, of course.  It was very difficult to speak to a group of women that did not understand what you are saying.  I had to keep stopping to wait for Luis to translate.  Each time I stopped, I lost my train of thought.  If you know me, when I get going (or when I'm nervous) I speak fast and talk with my hands especially if it's something I'm passionate about.  It was very hard for me to slow down and keep still, but I managed to talk about how I learned to "Let Go, and Let God."

I shared about how being the oldest of four and the only girl, I always felt the need to be in charge and take care of others.  I told about how that need to control and "fix" things followed me into adulthood, into my marriage, into my job, into raising kids, etc.  I talked about how I had finally learned that I can't control what others do, how they think, or how they act.  I shared how once I began to let go of all the situations I couldn't "fix" and let God handle things, everything seemed to work better and life became less stressful for me.  I shared how it was then that my life began to take a different path---a much better path for me and for my family.

Next, we invited the ladies to share.  One lady that was visiting someone at this rancho got up to share with us.  She told us that each time she visited this particular rancho something was going on at the chapel---either missionaries showed up for a prayer service or there was a communion service.  She then told the ladies how lucky they were to have the missionaries come to pray and worship with them.  Then she thanked us for the sacrifices we had made to be there.

Afterwards, our leader invited the people to come up to be prayed over.  All of the women began to come forward.  (It's very rare for men to show up.  Please pray for the men.)  We were broken up into two groups.  Luis would come to each group and translate what the women were asking and then the group would pray over them.  Our family was put into a group by ourselves.  I panicked a little.  We had never led prayers over people.  We had participated in Laying of the Hands before, but were never the ones doing the prayers aloud.  What if we did it wrong?  But there wasn't anytime to think.  The first lady was there counting on us to pray over her.

Luis told us what she desired and left.  All six of us laid our hands on this beautiful lady and then the Holy Spirit took over.  The most beautiful prayers poured out of my husband's mouth.  It moved me to tears once again.  (Yes, I cried a lot on this trip.)  Then he looked over at me and nodded for me to pray.  Once again, the Spirit moved in me as the prayers just rolled out my mouth without a second thought.  One after another the ladies came to be prayed over and each time the prayer became more beautiful as our kids began to join in.

The girls then joined another missionary group as a small girl asked for prayers for a stomach pain.  I later found out that my girls jumped right in and led prayers over this sweet girl.

Emily, the little girl that asked for prayers, her friend, & Olivia
Once everyone had been prayed with, the ladies began to leave and make their way back to their homes.  But these little girls hung around hugging all of us especially our girls.  No one was really ready to leave.  There was only one thing that we could do that everyone would understand.....PLAY!

We all headed back to the playground to swing, see-saw, climb on the monkey bars, slide, and GIGGLE.  I have never heard so much giggling in my life.  Smiling and giggling is the same in any language.  We all returned to the mission house a little late, but so full, so blessed, and so genuinely happy. 

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