Hola! We began our day with the call from Elisa to “encourage someone.” Several of our lovely team members really lived this today as they worked alongside volunteers from Iglesia Metodista Samuel Culpeper, encouraging them to try the reciprocating saw, learn a new woodworking technique, and join in the excitement of working high on the scaffold.
We entered the day a bit unclear about what we would be doing given the fast pace of yesterday’s demolition, but Pastor Eric provided new challenges and many church members joined in the work. We met new Associate Pastor David, who brought carpentry skills (and a very useful pickup truck) to the “party” and we appreciated Nicole’s wonderful translations as we tried to be sure, across a language barrier, that we are working toward what this congregation needs and wants from their revitalized space.
Jerry and Elisa were especially glad to reconnect today with Bishop Ortiz and his assistant Carmen Perez, whom they had met on the initial scouting trip that was the genesis of this service week. They met our crew and discussed the partnership with Resurrection going forward. When the Bishop came by my work area, I was reluctant to shake his hand because mine had rather more bat guano on it than is generally acceptable. He saw the mess–but he did not flinch. This was the right kind of encouragement at the right moment.
After lunch, a light rain highlighted the need for work at Samuel Culpeper. As rusty water poured in through the roof and ran down the walls, puddling on the ceramic tile of the sanctuary, it was as if God was reminding us of our purpose and offering encouragement saying, “Yes, your attention and presence are truly needed here.” We filled the most obvious cracks with expandable foam to stanch the flood and then moved on to the next tasks: bleaching a little mold, fixing the AC, working on the roof, closing in the belfry, removing broken windows to make way for hurricane resistant replacements, and securing the open building for the night. Pastor David graciously lent his pickup truck for debris and he was generously repaid by a nail we’d left behind that flattened his tire. Not to worry, God is good: apparently you can get a flat fixed in 3 minutes for $3 in Hatillo (pastor discount??)!
For a fourth day, we enjoyed delicious meals prepared fresh for us by Mirna and lots of cold drinks brought by Heidi and the church members. We have been so warmly cared for in every possible way and I hope that the Samuel Culpeper congregation feels the love we bring with us in the work of our hands – some more skilled than others, but all worn and sweaty in much the same way.
During our evening devotion and reflection, Bonnie’s passage reminded us that when we work in a group we may have different purposes, goals, backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses, and ways of proceeding. In those moments, God asks us to eschew anger, gossip, frustration, and boundaries and to choose encouragement, patience, kindness, love, and openness. These are the gifts of the spirit. We reveled in these gifts today.
As we say goodnight to the sounds of chirping frogs and the friendly “still getting to know you” chatter in our bunk room, I am immensely grateful for our team of leaders who follow and for our leaders guiding with grace. To be on this trip with my parents and sister is such a profound gift and to be a part of this group of patient, interesting, generous, witty, funny, skilled, loving, and encouraging workers in Christ is, well, beyond.
Muchas gracias & buenos noches,