Sunday, Februrary 26th, Day Four:
Sunday. Today was a day of rest off from work, but a day still packed with activity. We arose early and went to the church and helped set up for service. We transported their sound equipment out to the covered area where they hold service. That is the one thing about a church plant that would be hard to me is having to completely set up and tear down for service. It makes me really appreciate having everything in its place at CW.
The service was very good. I thoroughly enjoyed worshipping with the people there. They have a certain warmness; they didn’t seem like strangers at all. Overall the service was very similar to ours in the states other than one thing; the greeting time. At CW there is the standard: greet three people in front of you and three people behind and then sit down and it lasts maybe two minutes. Here in Mexico it is quite different; they walk all over the place saying hello and greeting friends and they actually get into conversations with each other and it lasted about ten minutes or so!
After church we helped tear down and then decided to walk around in downtown Bucerias to find someplace fun to eat with Pete and Selena. Selena led us to a very authentic Mexican experience at a tostada stand. Tables and chairs are set up in the street and they make the tostadas right there in front of you. One thing I did not anticipate was so much seafood. In my mind I always thought of Mexican food being strictly quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, nachos and so on and using either pork, chicken, steak or hamburger. Now through this trip I have learned that Mexican towns on the coast like this one love their seafood.
We had a very relaxing afternoon strolling around amongst souvenir stands and through various parts of town. We all got homemade Mexican ice cream and sat in the warm sun enjoying it. Poor Ann’s ice cream melted the quickest for whatever reason, but it definitely was amusing watching her race to eat it before it disappeared onto the pavement. My favorite part of the day was actually just our walk home because we got to walk on the beach at the water’s edge and enjoy the beauty of the Mexican coast.
La Fuente ministers to both English and Spanish speakers. The morning service was in English so in the evening we went back and partook in the Spanish service as well. To be honest, I enjoyed the Spanish service far more. There is something special about how the Spanish speakers worship. They aren’t afraid to express themselves or show how they are feeling. They just lay themselves out there for God and the world to see. I think if we as Americans could afford to be a bit more like them in our worship we’d be the better for it. While at the evening service there was a group of children sitting in the front row that caught my eye. On the end there was a beautiful little girl in a red dress that had the sweetest smile. I started to take her picture from where I was and she caught me in the act and smiled even bigger. I motioned for her to hold her pose and took another picture and gave her a thumbs up. She gave me a thumbs up back. Then she told her friend next to her that I was taking pictures and her friend and she posed again for me. This time I just came over closer and took several pictures of the children in the row and showed them to them and they loved it! It was so fun having a time of simple human connection with these children despite the language barrier. We later learned that these children are all orphans from the local orphanage which we are hoping to visit later this week. Hopefully I can find my new friends once we visit. As we left church tonight I was walking past my friend in the little red dress and she stopped in front of me, smiled and blew me a kiss. So precious.
One of the things I love most about this mission trip experience is that we are continuously working with the same group of people and so are building relationships with them. Each day we work with them I get to know them better and I love the prospect of getting to partner with their ministry more in the future. God is doing exciting things here among this church and it is such an honor to get to briefly be a part of it.
P.S. While this didn't happen on Sunday, there was a little adventure Saturday night that I'm sure you all would like to hear about. After a delicious dinner, Ann and I went to the church to hang out and catch up on our facebook and emails. As we sat there updating our internet lives Ann jokingly said to me, "We better make sure we don't leave too late, we wouldn't want to get locked in the church". I laughed and responded, "Yeah, that would be ironic". We sat there joking each other, I was giving her a hard time about the bugs she kept felt bumping into her face but that we could never see, she was telling me updates from people on facebook. It actually has provided nice time for Ann and I to bond. But as we finally went to leave the church, we were locked in. The fences all around the building had barbed wire and we didn't have any way of contacting anyone outside of the building. I was ready to try to climb the fence and face the wire but Ann wasn't too keen on that idea. It was just bizarre because as we were sitting in the main room earlier, the youth group was meeting, and all at once a group of teenagers came running in, took about ten mops and brooms and ran off. We assumed we were safe to stay there until the brooms and such were returned but clearly this was not the case. Finally, we found that we could push on the entrance of the gate just enough to squeeze me through, but we still needed to free Ann. I ran back to our house and alerted our teammates of Ann's entrapement. They thought I was joking. I wasn't. We then ran and found John-Mark (our church contact who lived nearby) of the situation and begged for poor Ann to be released. After laughing, and wondering how she had locked herself in, he graciously gave us the key to her freedom. Now Ann continues to claim that it is my fault we were locked in, but don't you believe that for a second, for if she hadn’t been teasing me via facebook, none of this would have ever happened, and that would have been a shame indeed. :)