Monday, October 19, 2009

Dirt, Doors and Treasures in Heaven

Well I've been back in Nauta for a week now from Lima and the states, and it has taken me by surprise in some ways. First of all, I was glad to be back. I was (rationally) afraid that if I went back home to the states that I wouldn't want to leave again, and even now it brings tears to my eyes to think of my Gram in her mentally weakened state, and not know if I'll see her again this side of heaven. The time with her, my Mom, Dad, sister and her family was a rich and sweet sweet blessing. And part of me now doesn't even want to call them, for it makes me miss them even more. But I did come back, and there were places in my heart that were glad to be back, not only in Lima, but in Nauta - even irrationally. This is indeed where I am to be. It was so very good to see the kids again - as soon as I got in I put my luggage down and we traipsed over to the "ministerio" to play a short game of soccer in the heat of the afternoon. Some kids were as openly delighted to see me as I to see them, others wouldn't even turn look at me when I first saw them (Patrick and Omar), but then came around later to get a hug, chat and came to the kids club service in my home that next Monday.

I came back to find my house in one piece, though quite dirty. Nothing had been stolen or broken, except the back door, which I am extremely thankful to Cesar for repairing when I didn't even know where to start. Even as a single gal in the jungle, God provides what I am lacking. The house is big and quiet without Chris or the other gals here, but last night it was filled to the brim with neighboring kids as Jovita and I made and decorated cakes for the pastor's wife and son's birthdays. I've been out visiting twice since coming back, and haven't taught in the church once - both of which I'm grateful for for different reasons. I was a bit burned out on teaching in a pastoral setting - not my strength, nor my long-term purpose here. On Tuesday I got to see Neima, who we met last year (2008) when we found out her daughter had died in a playing accident, and she had almost lost her prenatal baby due to the shock. She named her newborn son Bryan, after my last year co-leader and he is big and fat now, with big eyes and a bright smile. She is leaving this Saturday for Lima to meet up with her husband who is working there. If I hadn't gone this week, I would have missed her - and I had the chance to share the grace of Christ with her brother-in-law and to pray with them before they left. Thursday I saw Mayquel's family, if you remember the young man who accepted Christ earlier this year, and talk a bit to his Mom who has been out of the church since she was 16 or17 and met up with Mayquel's father.

Pastor William and his wife Clementina and I have covenanted to meet together twice a week to pray for one another, for the institute plans, and for the other pastors and churches here in Nauta. There is a large event happening at the end of this month called Explosion, put on by YWAM from Columbia, and the church has been slow to mobilize. There were only 5 of the 20+ churches represented at the first pastors meeting I attended on Wednesday, but this morning (Friday) there was a early-morning fast for the churches starting at 6am, and a much better turn out, with a gentle but direct and honest message about unity by one of the young pastors here in town, and a good spirit of willingness on the parts of those attending. Please continue to pray for growing love and unity among the pastors. It breaks my heart to see Christ's beautiful body so at odds and divided.

One thing I fear in confronting here is the message of a prosperity gospel. That spiritual maturity and earthly goods somehow go hand in hand, that material blessing is a sign of approval from God and that poverty is a curse of sinfulness as well as a diabolic imposition of the Catholic church are attitudes that I am constantly encountering in this not-rich place. How do I, poor according to American standards, but lavishly wealthy according to Nautinian standards (the average professional pay rate here is 1000 soles/month, or 330$/month), bring the truth that I see in the gospel, that Christ alone is to be our treasure, our eyes and hearts set on something far more lasting and less physically tangible to our 5 senses here on earth? I am convicted of my own hypocrisy, wanting to hang on to my safety and my chance at comforts (how will I get back home if I don't have enough for airfare saved?) while others aren't sure if they'll have enough for food for the coming day. I cannot very well tell anyone that "blessed are the poor" while I hang tight to my riches. Please pray for discernment in the multitude of requests that come my way - I recognize that creating dependency and not self-realization is a grave error too - and for a generous heart after the heart of God. I feel that I fail more often than I succeed at following Christ well (today was fraught with examples) and am constantly reminded of His incontrovertible and ever-captivating grace.