But the reality is, that country and village have stolen my heart. Just in case you hadn't gathered that yet from my writings. Today I want to share with you about the church.
Right now, the church meets under the cabana, where all the community activities are held. (The building we are working on now constructing will become their church once it is complete.) They arrange the chairs and set up the alter table at the front of the cabana. The pastor preaches from up front, just like in any church.
What may be different there is that everyone attends. I mean by that that the kids are all there, the youth, the adults. Some would find the kids distracting, but they are loved on and it is important they have a place to be, too. There isn't a structured "sunday school" like what we have here. Not right now, anyway. Once the church building gets built, there will be more classroom types rooms where the kids will have their own space.
But they meet together.
It reminds me of the early church, to be honest. The people gathered where there was a space for them. They met and prayed and read scripture and encouraged one another and sang songs. In Brisas, I cannot say that it is much different. And honestly, that is a beautiful picture to me. I hadn't really thought of that the first time I was there, but when you go a second time, you see a place differently, even though it was that way last year. One can only take in so many experiences in a week, so to return a second time a little over a year later, the eyes take in new aspects of the tiny village.
I loved the worship service. Pastor Javier did not preach; he let Pastor Ed preach. But Pastor coordinated the events of the service. The time of "sacrifice" which is a time for people to come forward, presenting items representing sacrifices made for the community, for Christ.
The communion, which he asked Gin and Chris to help with the serving of it.
The common takes place with everyone filing a line, coming up front, while music plays, and taking a piece of bread (which Chris held and broke off for each person) and then dipped into the juice (which Gin held the cup). As one takes communion, it is said "The body of Christ broken for you, his blood shed for you." It's really a beautiful moment.
My favorite part of the morning is the worship. I always enjoy worship time in church. They had the lyrics printed out and so while I didn't know the song, I could sing along and learn. I loved joining voices with them. But my favorite moment of worship was when we sang "Open the Eyes of My Heart." That song was sung a lot during my high school years, so the words come easily to me as memorized lyrics. And the others knew that song too. So, as they sang "Abre Mis Ojos" we sang "Open the Eyes" and two languages were intertwined. The same song, different language. Maybe it's because I love languages, but this moment never escapes me. It was one of my favorite moments of the week.
I wept as we all raised our hands and sang "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!" There is no language to God. he understands it all. And our voices blended and we were not separated by that barrier. That is worship. That is love. That is a picture of the beauty of the church across the world. We are connected. God sees no lines between, no differences. He hears it all, loves all, embraces all. That is what life is about. And in that moment, it did not escape me how significant that is.
Tears fell down my face, but tears of absolute love and joy. It was a moment stamped in time for me. People closed their eyes, raised their hands, sang out and loved. Once again, two cultures blended as one.
That little church that meets in the open air under a palm leaf thatched roof structure knows what it is all about.
I referenced in an earlier blog about the staff to Pastor Javier. Pastor was not there last year when I was in Brisas. He has only been there since January. But he is doing a great job in that little village. His love for those people is evident in his interactions with them. He has a vibrant personality, with so much energy. Sometimes he helped on the work site, he was invested with the kids and their food program, he interacted with our team, and he is passionate about serving God.
I can see some changes he has implemented and his way of going to the people is the idea of what love is all about. He does speak some English, in fact, he works very hard to learn the language so he can communicate with us, but also so he can teach the people in the village the language. Every 15 days he walks to the neighbor village to pastor them as well. He oversees a few different village/communities in that way. The love of Jesus shines in him and I am privileged to have been able to work alongside him.
The church is Brisas del Mar is growing. They are full of love, even though they have seen more than their share of destruction. They desire to learn. They work hard. And they are no different than any of us here. In fact, I have learned much from them in my short 2 weeks I have spent there in the last two years.