All posts tagged El Salvador

Mission’s Meltdown, Day 2

Hang with me friend. Questioning God isn’t wrong. Learning to listen and wait is the hard part. Here’s part II for today:

I remember the instant I knew I was in trouble. At church one evening before our trip, we had a team meeting. After I left, someone made the comment that we’d have to be ready to share our faith at a moments notice.

“I grew up doing that. I won’t have a problem.” My words dripped with arrogance.

It was true. Growing up as an OB (Officer’s Brat) in The Salvation Army, you get used to flexibility. I sang the alto part in my first duet at age 7. I stood kettles for the Army soon after that and each Sunday, we traipsed out to the street corner for what was called the “Open Air Meeting.” To a teenager, it was the “I’ll hide behind my horn in case my friends see me, Meeting.”

We’d march out with our instruments, gather in a circle and begin to play. The instruments were to attract attention. And it usually did. Both good and bad. Several times we listened to a drunk rant and rave. Sometimes, local children would make fun of us.

Then my dad would give a short gospel message, I might be called on to give my testimony or pray or even sing, and then we’d march back to the Army for the night meeting. If someone were interested, we’d invite them back to hear more about Jesus. It was impossible to be shy.

I also grew up giving gifts and time to poor people. I received a degree in Social Work at Asbury College. My whole life was filled up with service and testimony.

So when I heard we would visit people and share the gospel, secretly I thought, I’ll be good at that.

Fast forward to Sunday morning in Honduras. The building was to be dedicated. There would be many people attending and the place was packed. Again, the people worshipped and prayed with passion for a long time. Again, Lorenzo translated the message of the Lord for our pastor. It really was amazing.

After the service, the local ladies cooked for all of us. About 300. Over an open fire. The kids played, the adults ate together and talked. But, I couldn’t stop crying.

Why are we doing this? Why do we think we know anything? Are we really doing any good?

I retreated to my room. I flunked missions.

I tried to read a novel and couldn’t. I was drawn to God’s Word. David’s Psalms encouraged me. I asked the Lord to help me. “I flunked Missions 101, Lord. I know that you have answers. Please help me.”

I cried out to my Papa. And He answered with His Word.

Danielle Kreloff came into the room. We talked and I shared with her how weak I was. “I think the Lord wants me to share my weakness with the rest of the team,” I said.

That night on the porch, people shared one praise after another. I remained silent. There was a pause, like we were going to end. I knew that was my cue. So I shared my doubts and questions and that I’d flunked missions.

Mike Schadt encouraged me with God’s Word and then all of the team gathered round me to pray. Joe Tro led them. The scriptures he used were some of the very ones that the Lord had brought to mind. One of them was the father in Mark 9. He said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

Another passage the Lord brought to mind was in John 6. Currently, I’m writing a Bible study titled, “Bread of Life.” I’m stuck on day 10 that deals with the end of the bread of life discourse.

Jesus tells the people that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood or they will have no part of Him. Many who followed Jesus left at that point. Jesus turns to the tweleve and says, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”

Of course Peter responds. His response was my response. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

My crisis wasn’t over, but I knew where to look for answers.

More tomorrow.

Mission’s Meltdown, Asking God Questions

I’m moving in less that two weeks. I’ve been reminiscing. Some good memories, some not so good. All important.

Over the next few days, I’d like to repost a series of blogs I’ve titled “Mission’s Meltdown.” A Crisis of question in my life where God showed Himself faithful as I questioned His goodness.

In my study of Scripture this year, I’ve noticed many saints questioned God. Habakkuk for one. David for another. Even Jesus asked if there was another way.

So as I prepare to leave Florida, I thought I’d repost blogs where I share my heart and God shares His.

His heart is much bigger and broader than mine. His grace greater than my sin. His love deeper than the ocean.

Mission’s Meltdown, Part I:

On Saturday, I wrapped my ankle with an Ace bandage and got on the bus. We drove about a mile away. We were weighed down with sacks of snacks, water bottles, Christmas presents for the children and adults, props, and Gospel of John tracts.

The plan was to drop the team off at the bottom of a mountain, we would climb it, visit a village, visit another village and wind our way back to La Esperanza.

Except, that our bus driver wanted to come with us. We noticed a home slightly down the mountain and drove the bus there. We’d made arrangements to pay the inhabitants to watch it for us, and we would pick it up later.

Except the bus got stuck on the way down. Our team prayed a lot, and this was no exception. All of our strong men tried to pull the bus out, but had no success. Finally, we waved down a local with a truck and he towed the bus out.

The driver, Rene, who is a big part of our story, drove back to the church, and we marched up the mountain. There was a middle-aged woman and a young girl headed that way with some food, so we followed her.

I almost died. And, for 52 years old, I’m in pretty good shape. When I reached Tom at our first resting place, he was on all fours, trying to breathe. (Of course he was carrying about a 50 pound pack, mine was about 20.) People under 20 were fine, but the rest of us could have met Jesus and been okay with that.

The local woman and girl just stared at us.

We arrived at the village, and it was like a UNICEF infommercial. We walked in small groups down various footpaths to huts made of sticks and mud. When we approached with our Dum Dum suckers to entice the children, we saw movement. Half-dressed and dirty, the children peeked at us curiously. They were beautiful.

Basically, when we entered each footpath, it was as if we were standing in their living/family/dining/bed room. Most huts had an open fire just outside. Many women were either nursing young ones or cooking tortillas. There were a few men around, so I assumed many were working in the corn fields we’d passed on the mountains.

Beautiful roosters and chickens surrounded the yard, while mangy mutts weaved in and out of our sight. I thought of my puppy, Sam. I fed him the best dog food, and he even had toys. More toys than any child I saw.

After we invited them to a Celebracion de Navidad, we regrouped in an open section of the village. The program began. Diego, a believer from Jacksonville translated for us. We did a few skits, acted out the Christmas program, gave a few testimonies of how we had come to believe in Jesus, and then we handed out small presents for everyone. We marked their hands with a smiley face to show us who had received gifts.
That bothered me, and I refused to do it.

We did the same at the next village.

I was choking inside.

These were the thoughts that ran through my head: These people are so isolated. They will never leave here. They’ve probably been here for generations. They have no chance to have anything different.

Then I moved on to questions: What if there is sexual abuse in that small hut? Who would help them?

Then I accused God: Why did you create these people? Are you cruel? Are you good? Are you even there?

That night on the porch, everyone talked about how blessed they were to be involved. I was glad for them, but inside, I despaired.