Early Sunday morning we sat in a large cement meeting area covered by a metal roof. The plastic chairs were circled up so each individual attendee was a part of a whole. As normal here, we waited each in our own chair until it appeared the majority had arrived. The start time was 9 but the event really started around 10. This down-time is used for planning, chatting and just settling in for all the day has to offer.
A couple of songs were played on a guitar as the many different tribal groups sang in their 2nd language - Spanish. Sun stained hands clapped with joy and the harmony of praise echoed off the cement and metal. Then, 3 men and 2 women proceeded to share their stories. Stories of redemption and rescue. Stories of lives lived for the world, for selfish ambition, for survival. Some of the stories were of a zig-zag Christian walk, others of a life of separation from God only to be connected recently.
The theme in all the stories was the same
- we are weak and He is strong
- we serve a God that lifts us out of the muck and mire
- we must walk together
- we need each other to help us walk well with God
All these stories were translated from Spanish to tribal tongue to ensure the deepest understanding of what was occurring. One man, whom we have had the honor to encourage and disciple, asked forgiveness of the group for his poor testimony and then asked the group for support to walk well. Wives modeled forgiveness of husbands and husbands sacrificial love for their wives. Powerful!!
Much to our joy the very intense and significant morning was followed with great fun! 10 chickens were cut into pieces for the fire. An offering was taken for the purchase of plantains and green bananas. The food was cooked by the older women while football teams were formed for a little friendly competition. The women battled it out and this gringa held her own amongst the formidable skill of the small indigenous women. Those little feet move quickly!! Chris played with the men in the scorching Amazon sun. Laughter and sweat broke whatever tension and pain remained from the morning.
Cups were filled with watered down Tang and plates with huge portions of plantains and bananas. Then, each plate topped with a piece of fire-cooked chicken. Some got the neck, the feet, the spine. Sitting again in the plastic chair circle each bone was sucked dry and each belly full. We wrapped up the time with a prayer and distribution of the prize for the winning teams - a whole raw chicken. A machete was used to divide up the chickens amongst the teams. Smiles on each face.
So we march forward together. Expectant that God will continue to raise up and refine the indigenous church.
We stand in hope that our brothers and sisters in Christ will learn to share their brokenness and, in turn, shine a bright light on the wholeness of Christ. May others see the supernatural exchange of His strength being made perfect in our weakness.
|A competitive game of futbol|
|Resting in the shade before returning to battle|
|Meal prep for about 60 people|