My first week as an intern
Sunday morning I leisurely rose to prepare for my first day at Fuente de Vida. Church does not start until 11am so I had plenty of time to review my “personal statement” for the congregation that day. I had no idea what to say. So I told them who I was, where I was from and a little bit about why I was there.
I sat alone through the service, behind two blind visitors who are apparently lay pastors for a church and honored guests that week. I scribbled some notes and followed along as much as I could. I think my favorite part is the singing, because I become part of the church when we sing. I can sing along, and understand mostly what I am saying to God but for some reason the significance of the words in these songs have changed. I'm learning that no longer does music at church find it’s strength and foundation in the words themselves but also in the corporate and personal offering it bears.
It didn’t matter that I only understood at best 50% of anything anyone said. It didn’t matter that my skin was white, my hair light, my eyes green or that I am a woman. They said “Bienvenidos” while shaking my hand and kissing me softly on the cheek.
I had a similar experience in South Africa. After 10 days of living, studying and traveling with a handful of South African Theology students I was given the name Owetu. A word deeply rooted in the freedom movements against the powers of Apartheid when citizens would rally together and proclaim Amantla Owetu—Power to the people, power is ours. Owetu means ours. At Fuente I have only committed to nine months and have given two days yet somehow I am part of them.
Day two: I met with Pastor Ruben and we walked around the church campus and began a brief conversation about questions I have. Then I observed as he led a couple in marriage counseling. I left early to join the deacons for a home visit with a woman who had suffered much pain so it is hard to work, and life is difficult. We sang more songs, Miriam read from Matthew 9 and spoke boldly of the good doctor we have in the Lord, we then shared our own prayer requests and offered it all to the Lord in prayer.
Most of the time I feel anxious about wishing I already knew the language, but the grace and support I have received has made me understand they love and accept me where I am and appreciate my commitment to them. But what is most important is that God is with us--guiding, leading and changing us.