Each day begins with a delicious meal at the Mission house. We pack ourselves and our materials, water bottles, and other necessities into the van and are chauffeured to La Iglesia Metodista in Cuidad España where we meet our precious new friends. How blessed we are to receive such tender and constant care from our hosts, our partners, and God, Our Father.
We are similarly blessed by the Holy Spirit working through Sandy, Emi, and Danilo, who are our drivers, our translators, our cultural guides. Emi, who proclaims, “I have God with me – His mighty power will never fail us” – even when the police stop the van to check/who what she is transporting; even when other drivers “sneak” into her lane of traffic at high speed, even when she is forced to confront someone with an opposing thought or opinion. Her faith is a light to all of us; she built her house on God!
What does a day at the Juan Wesley School look like?
The ESL (English as a Second Language) team (1) spends the day teaching English; the construction team (2) has been painting, painting, painting!
(1) Teaching English/Learning Spanish
Our first order of business on Tuesday was a quick review of concepts presented the day before, then we practiced a Bible verse from the book of Matthew: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Our students (teachers at the school) were delighted to repeat, and practice voicing this verse, but even more to locate it in their own Bibles, and read it with all the heart and intention of true Christians. They learned to sing, “I Will Make You Fishers of Men,” and their raised voices and happy expressions blessed and energized our team. We added a new verse, Matthew 7: 24-27, to their repertoire: “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine, and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” We sang the song that matches this passage and soaked up the sunshine radiating from the faces of our group.
We introduced “The Lord’s Prayer in English” – by pronouncing the words, repeating and practicing them – but more importantly by discussing what Jesus might have meant with the words he taught us to pray. Like sponges, our participants absorbed words, their meanings, and the powerful legacy of what Jesus gave to us – the power of prayer. This lesson was long but so meaningful – our “schedule” suffered. Our flexibility tested, we adjusted and insured that having explored only the first half of the prayer allowed everyone to “dive deeper” and to recite the prayer with sincerity, and meaning, and intention. What an incredible opportunity for transformation!
The remaining hours we spent learning about time, dates, months and days of the week. It was an energetic lesson, full of movement, fast paced activities, and a raucous “Schoolhouse Rock” rendition of “Counting by Fives. How fast can you count by fives to one hundred? I suspect our students could give you a “run for your money!”
Before lunch, Dan becomes the “Weather Man” to teach some key phrases and words to describe the weather. He leads us in prayer and we break for lunch. What a pleasure it is to join our students for a meal – it promotes friendships, respect, and the growing bond we are building. A sandwich with a side of laughter fuels us all for the afternoon ahead.
After lunch we watch a selection from the movie, “The Gospel According to Matthew.” Both the participants and the missions team enjoys the part of the day. The video depicts Matthew as a dedicated, loyal, patient and wise man. Jesus is as human as any of us – he has a sense of humor, he is compassionate, he is kind, he is inspiring; but he is also formidable, tough and commanding. Imagine what it might have been like to have lived, and learned in his presence!
Conjugation of the verb “to be,” vocabulary related to occupations, articulating their own birthdays (month & date), and listening to dictation and writing the sentences correctly in English – what a lot of learning for such a short amount of time. We have very high expectations – our students are meeting or exceeding them all. Amazing!
The day ends at 3:00 following some additional review, discussing homework assignments, students completing their evaluations of the day, a closing prayer, and hugs all around! We are blessed to end the day in the same way we started it . . . . . . . genuine expressions of building relationships as God has directed . . . . . . THIS is why we are here.
(2) The Painters are practically perfect!
With determination and skill, our team of four painters are brightening up the walls of the high school classrooms. They added color and refreshed the walls in the classrooms in the sanctuary, as well as the interior and exterior of the new high school addition. They do all the strenuous work with never a grumble, complaint, or protest. We know they have sore muscles, stiff fingers, and even some scrapes or bruises, but they have truly embodied the belief that their suffering (in service to others) is a joy. How cool are these 4 servants?!!
(4:00) We load the van with bags, water bottles, and very tired volunteers. The return trip to the mission house is never quiet, and the one-hour commute is over before we know it! We can smell a delicious dinner prepared for us as we enter the building and we hungrily assemble to pray, eat, and decompress. We share our celebrations and observations from the day. We relate our own experiences to those of the rest of the group as we strengthen the relationships amongst ourselves. There is a lovely and maturing bond between us all. This connection is flourishing as we develop a sense of trust, respect, and reliance on each other. We know that this is a group brought together by God, for a purpose directed by God, and resulting in increased and renewed faith in God.
(7:00) We convene in the lower level of the mission house for Devotionals. Our spiritual leader, Wayne, leads us with gentleness and strength to deeply examine our beliefs, to share our concerns, and sometimes to raise questions that have no answers. When we end with a prayer, we gratefully head off to our assigned bedrooms, where we find comfort and rest in the minimal furnishings. Hotels with scratchy sheets, or “less than fluffy” towels, are really not problems. We are grateful for a thin mattress, a simple blanket, and a shower that sometimes has warm-ish water. Our gratitude for these amenities is real – God wants us to remember this!