Monday, March 31, 2014

First-World Problems…

Our village is only three hours from the state capitol of Chiapas, Mexico. But they’ve only had electricity for about 30 years. It’s crazy to think that in my lifetime this village didn’t have lights.

We’ve been living in Pine Hill for almost a year and I can’t tell you how many times we have had brown outs or black outs. For the ZK people, it’s really not that big of an issue. Most of them cook over fire, or maybe a gas stove. No one has an electric stove, so cooking isn’t an issue. And I’d be willing to bet that the ZK ladies could roll out tortillas in the dark faster than I ever could, even with the lights on!

But, for us who were born in a First-World country, we are annoyed and frustrated when there’s no electricity! It interrupts our plans. Or it makes it more difficult to study. Let me tell you…when it’s cloudy and there’s no electricity, it is inconvenient! I lit candles at 3pm the other day and was using a flashlight so that I could read to the kids! (I only have 3 windows in my house, so there isn’t much natural light.)

Two days ago we came home from a trip to the city to find that the lights were out…and the cell phone coverage was gone. Again. The interesting part to me is that we moved to the village knowing there was no cell phone coverage or internet and that electricity was sketchy at best. After living in these conditions for 8 months, we were ecstatic to finally have cell phone coverage. And the library received internet! How quickly we became re-accustomed to “modern” technology!

And as I reflect on the “inconveniences” that I live with, I’m reminded of missionary heroes like Hudson Taylor, Lottie Moon, and so many others. They left their home country with little or no expectation of returning. They gave their lives to their mission of taking God’s Word to the ends of the earth. They wrote letters via snail-mail to let people know what was happening and how to pray. It could take 3 months for the letters to be delivered. (There are some amazing similarities to where I live…)

 But alas, I serve a God who is bigger than any first-world problem. He knows my needs before I ever realize them. And He is putting things in motion for His glory. Pray for the people of Pine Hill, that the Light will shine in the darkness. (John 1:5)

Village Sunday School

Sunday mornings are always a unique adventure. Most weeks we have “home church.” It’s a simple idea that dates back to the book of Acts. Originally, it was our family of six that would gather in our living room. We sing a few praise choruses and then tell a Bible story. Then we ask a few questions about the story. Everyone participates together. Occasionally, one of the kids will tell the story too.

A few months back, people starting showing up on Sunday mornings. Our friend RW is there every week! Sometimes his girlfriend Berta comes with him. Rod and Ceci and their four boys have come a couple of times.

One week RW showed up with a new friend, Pedro. Pedro is a ZK believer who lives about an hour further up the mountain in the village of St. Paul.  He shared his testimony of how God brought him out of alcoholism and into a position of leadership in the church. About 14 years ago, a church was built in his community and he was given the responsibility of preaching.  He had been discipled and was ready for the task. At one point he had 20-some people attending. Today, it’s only him and his wife and they have been very discouraged and lonely.

 We have been invited to preach and teach in his community! Currently, our goal is to spend two Sundays a month in their community. The first Sunday, I decided to attempt to teach Sunday school for the children. (Those who know me know that this is not where I would prefer to be! But there is a huge need.) I had no idea how many children would arrive, how long I would need to entertain them, or exactly what would be available.

Clay, using a Bible story to teach the Truth!

The kids and I found a piece of concrete to sit on, but it was rough and dirty.  I told the story of creation. I was surprised how many of the kids hadn’t heard this basic story in an area where the Catholic Church maintains a stronghold. After telling the story and asking some questions, I gave the kids crayons and a color sheet. At first, they tried to color on the ground, but before long they were using the wall as their easel.
The perfect Sunday School location?

The kids LOVED coloring...

...except for Matthew.
He was more interested in the dirt pile!

The next week, Clay decided to use the story of creation as his lesson for the adults. I thought it could be good for the kids to sit in church and listen to the story again. While I know my kids were listening and participating in the questions, I’m not sure the other kids did.

 Please pray for me as I make a commitment to teach these children! Pray that I will speak the lessons clearly and concisely. And pray that the lessons and God’s Word will touch their hearts and lives will be transformed. Pray for the community of St. Paul, that the people there will humble themselves, and pray, and seek the Lord’s face. Pray for Pedro and his wife Teresa, that they will be encouraged to fight the good fight and remain faithful.