If you want to get to know someone in a short time spend 10 days with them doing mission work. When I first read the list of names of the 14 volunteers from the South Reno team I could only guess what kind of people they are. After reading their biographical sketches I had at least a small window into their lives. Now after working with them I read their names again and feel a warmth and fondness, like we are part of a big family.
We invited the team to work in La Jagua, a small settlement of former sugarcane cutters. We worked on building a small apartment for the local pastor, teaching the children in vacation Bible school, and assembling and distributing solar ovens. Here are two verbal snapshots:
Construction: We had to move hundreds of cement blocks from the street to the second floor where the apartment is being built. Next door to us is a place that plays music loud enough to change the barometric pressure and that attracts young boys to hang out. They watched us moving block and sent over a couple of reps to make a deal to move the block for us. As older men we gave it some thought, maybe 30 seconds worth, and decided that “yes” we would allow these young energetic boys to share the load and would happily pay them their price. We are not lazy but neither are we blind to a smart win-win opportunity.
Christian Education: Carol Oliver from the Reno team has been working on her Spanish and was looking forward to putting it to use. The team was teaching the children the stories of Jesus healing the sick. Carol took great pains to explain the story to a young girl from La Jagua. In her best Spanish Carol said, “Jesus healed the sick.” The word sick in Spanish is enfermo, but Carol used the word enfermero, just slightly different, which translated is male nurse. So what the girl heard was, “Jesus healed the male nurse!” This did not make any sense to the young girl who then emphatically told Carol, “No te entiendo por nada!!!” (I don’t understand you, AT ALL!!!) As she said it she made a gesture with her hand as if casting words out of her mouth. Carol stood corrected but with a smile on her face.
These were two lighter moments in a week filled with a lot of hard work in an impoverished community. By the end of our time we were exhausted but also invigorated by sharing life and love with the people of God in La Jagua.
Our sincere thanks to Cheryl Eckert, Dawn and Dennis Blundell, Eleanor Raispic, Annie Hodge, Dave and Carol Oliver, Gay and Boyd Jeffrey, Bob and Ellen Thomas, Susan and Bill Boon, and Margery Marshall. It is a blessing to be working with you in mission.