God has been gracious toward us and meeting our every need, even if our prayers are answered as "wait." Mike continues to serve through the pain from shingles, Ed continuously battles an ear infection and side affects from medication, Teressa developed a severe cold, Anita manages the discomfort from a swollen hand, and all of us are sleep deprived. Even though our prayer for complete healing has not occurred, our God is good and meets us where we're at. Our weakness draws us to our loving Savior in complete dependence so that He is ultimately glorified...a valued reminder for independent and determined musicians. 😊 Your continued prayers are greatly appreciated!
Each day we're here it's one day closer to the Uruguayan summer, so with that comes higher humidity and heat. 😎 The first day we arrived, our host purchased a canopy and we are most grateful for the shade it provides in the heat of the day or during rain. A mid morning concert and brunch was held at a Bookclub member's home. Beautiful setting for an outdoor concert. There were approximately 12 retirement aged men and women in attendance and several of them remembered us from 3 years ago. They were most grateful that we returned to Uruguay and felt as if they were given a private showing. Our hosts and others on the team have been attending bookclub for several years laying a foundation of trust for these well educated, worldwide traveling and living upper class professionals. Our hosts held their first Thanksgiving meal for the bookclub members as well as those in the Reflection Group - beginning to bridge multiple groups. Most had never experienced a Thanksgiving meal and so our hosts introduced the purpose and "traditions" of our faith. As part of that experience, they prayed with them for the first time. Significant step of sharing our faith traditions. They loved it and respect our hosts even more. It's been said more than one time to us, "Uruguayans are not quick to trust, so if you mess up, they don't forget." Continue to pray for this lovely group of people who need to know Jesus.
Later that evening we played at the local YMCA. The community director was excited for our return. Even though the attendance was not as the director hoped for, several within the audience heard us earlier in the week or saw the poster announcement and returned for the concert. Our IW's had opportunity to speak with them. Positive community relations exist between the YMCA and the IW's due to their desire for excellence and follow through. They've proven themselves therefore they can be trusted. Please pray for continual opportunities for the IW's to plan quality community based programs (i.e. English CamP) that facilitate in roads for the Gospel.
Majority of the day was spent learning Uruguayan history while visiting historical sites in Montevideo, but that also included shopping for souvenirs in local artisan markets or street side vendors. 😊 The IW's gave us instructions on how the shopping works in Uruguay and then let us loose to try it on our own. Many vendors did not speak English so, if after trying to communicate, we came up needing assistance we called in the translating calvary. The calculator became our best friend for currency conversion.
Remember us mentioning the young couple who owned the nursing home and café? Friday evening we had the privilege of playing outside at this venue. There are several food related businesses in this corner lot, so lots of people were milling in and around the area; many taking advantage of listening to this very unique group of musical instruments. People came as well since they could hear us in the residential neighborhood. Older children would walk near us to watch what we were doing. They especially liked standing near the keyboard and electronic drum pad. Very entertaining! Parents expressed interest in the instruments. We enjoyed conversations with people in attendance. General music class is taught in the school system, but private instruction is required for students interested in taking lessons on a specific instrument.
Pray that this young, influential couple reengages in Reflection Group. Their lives represent many of the middle and upper class so to seek out new friendships may not always be desired. This couple is dynamic, caring, and influential within the community.
Sandwiches anyone? Immediately after breakfast we assembled 100 ham and cheese sandwiches for our morning event at a poorer community near the airport. Previously in the week, 100 bags of candy were put together for this group as well. The IW's contacted this communities' Assemblies of God Argentinian pastor and his wife's to see if they would be open to an early evening concert in the town triangle (park). We were also willing to assist with their morning outreach to the children within this community. This younger family chose to live within this particular area and also send their children to the local public school. Significant step of trust, but when called to ministry, we want to respond. When they moved in several years ago, they quickly learned that their neighbors were either drug dealers or thieves; however, over time, this community has accepted this dynamic, humble family and protects their property which also houses the church. Prior to that, they were vandalized multiple times.
We had the privilege to love on the children through personal interaction (even though most didn't speak English), as well as through a puppet presentation and illusions with biblical emphasis (Thank you, Steve Green, for your Bible through Spanish song CD!), introduction to a few brass instruments and food. Organized chaos, but the children ate all of it up...literally! This couple pours Christ's love into this community and it's making a difference. They built a space behind their "parsonage" for the people to gather and for food prep. It has a mid-size refrigerator which held the sandwiches and drink we brought for the children. The church also recently experienced renovations - from dirt to tiled floor, painted side walls, a drop ceiling, and two ceiling fans. Significant improvements...and the town respects the pastor/wife and protects the property.
The pastor's wife and core church group women walked throughout the community to collect the children to bring them to their weekly Saturday morning event. Providing for basic physical needs is paramount to the Gospel being heard. The pastor's wife was amazing in leading the children in singing...loudly. During our puppet presentation the children couldn't get close enough to us. They're curious minds wanted to see what was happening behind the black curtain. Kids are the same everywhere.
Later that day, we returned to the town green space (small triangle/island with a few pieces of playground equipment) for a concert. This small church has developed a solid team of loving adults who pour into their own community. Tons of people walked by this area and heard the music; however the crowd was limited. BUT those who needed to be there were there. This venue was quintessential of what we typically do...music amidst chaos. Following our musical presentation the pastor shared the Gospel message and 5 people prayed to receive Christ and one recommitted their life to Christ. Praise God! The pastor said that when the one person in the family chooses to follow God the rest of the family is reached as well. We are confident that the pastor and his wife WILL followup with these people and disciple them. Nancy, the pastor's wife, contacted us thanking us for investing in them and blessing their ministry. God is at work. We were privileged to join them in the journey.
SundayOur morning began with devotions led by our IW - setting the stage for our prayer walk on the beach. The Uruguayan Alliance National President shared with all the IW's his reflection on the three primary spiritual strongholds within Montevideo: materialism, unbelief, and freemasonry. As we prepared to pray, we were reminded of what the scripture teaches us regarding prayer and distinguishing between selfish prayers related to personal gain versus seeking God's will in our prayers and believe that He will answer. We do need to dream big with God for spiritual awakening for this city who is in spiritual darkness. We prayed to that end.
This afternoon we're experiencing an Asado at our IW's home along with a newer-to-the-field couple. An Asado is a traditional style of cooking that the people of Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil all enjoy. While many foods can be cooked over an open fire the term Asado typically refers to grilled and barbecued beef.
This evening we will conclude our concert tour by playing during A Spiritual Greenspace comprised of IW's as well as locals who they've made contact with - seekers who might not recognize that they have a spiritual need. Families and individuals are invited, but if they get a "better offer" from their own family members or friends, they won't come. It's another opportunity to invest in them...if they come. Pray people come and continue to come. IW's in this city continually face rejection, so we pray for spiritual stamina. They are "called ones" to this field that many times is known as the "death field" so we ask the Father, Son and Spirit to equip them and develop "spiritual fortitude."
Thank you for following this blog and for praying for us as we conclude our time here. Tomorrow as we pack and prepare to return home to our sense of "normal," we're asking God to remind us of the things He's taught us along the way and to infuse them into our everyday living.