Seeing People in New Ways

The timing of a day is an interesting thing when you are on a journey like ours. It seems there is much more than one could ever possibly think could fit in 24 hours. Maybe that is because there is a heightened awareness of taking in so much that is new.

Today, we headed to Granada, a beautiful city that continues to carry the look of the Spanish who landed here some 500 years ago. Of course, that landing was a mixed bag. Seems when the Spanish landed they saw property more than people.

But here has been the gift of the spirit for us so far. We have seen people in new ways. Especially as we have gotten to know people from Iglesia Misión Cristiana our view of what church is has expanded and changed. Could it be that this is what happens when worship has Spanish and English woven together into some kind of strange Pentecost symphony? Could it be that when you sing songs with motions like “Radical Man” with its fist pulling down response to the lyric “oh, oh, oh, YES!, the rabble rousin’ Radical Man” and people of another place join with you, that you realize something larger than the sum of the parts has invaded your experience? Oh, oh, oh, YES!

Sometimes, the gift of shared worship is that you learn motions to new songs, the words of which you don’t understand, but the spirit of which is crystal clear. So we sang a song of our partners with motions, touching our toes and our knees and swimming with our arms in mid-air. What we discovered was delight. It is true that you can sweat and have goose bumps all at the same time.

Then at the at end of the worship, our hosts, whose church we learned was in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Managua, offered us crackers and juice. Food for the journey to our home (or was it communion which they shared?) where there was one more surprise awaiting us – a birthday surprise party for one of our group, Ashton, who turned 18. And so we were all blessed there at the Emmanuel Center, the God-with-us center, for God certainly was and is with us. Oh, oh, oh, YES!

Our partners helped us remember that in the Christian life, the Third day, is always “Yes”! The timing of a day is an interesting thing…

¡Dios te bendiga!

Dave and the Team

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New Perspectives

Hello Friends!

Greetings from Day 2, or is that 3? in Nicaragua. It is Tuesday Morning and we are back at the offices of the Iglesia Misión Cristiana. Because we are here in the office, we have access to a computer and the internet and so it seemed like a good time to post another blog.

There is an interesting thing that happens when you travel into a different part of God’s world. Not only do you see things a bit differently, you also have your sense of what is possible reframed. So the attached picture answers a very important question: How many mission team members does it take to change a light bulb?

Here’s the back story…at the Emmanuel Center where we are staying, there is large area with a tin awning where we eat our meals. In years past this was a thatched roof, but something about volcano gravel seems to have not been good for that kind of coverage, so tin was a good answer. Underneath the tin is one fixture for two four foot fluorescent lights and one other tiny fixture. It’s not a lot of light, if both fluorescent bulbs are working. But just so happened they were not. Only the tiny fixture was breaking the darkness. So…we thought easy fix. Just go get new fluorescent bulbs and pop a little more sunshine into our lives.

As in all things light bulb, however, this was not as easy as it may sound. For as the picture tells the story, the fixture was attached to the awning at a height demanding a ladder. No problema as Carlos, one of our Nicaraguan friends would say. Off Carlos went to get a ladder. Only thing was, this ladder was straight with no support. Carlos positioned the ladder beneath the fixture and almost before we knew it started to climb, presuming that somehow the ladder would magically stand up straight. It was at this point we discovered our calling, be the support for change. Or maybe better put, if you want more light you’ve got to work together and trust that God will offer more than seems possible at first glance. So obvious the miracle, so overlooked much of the time… By the way, it takes five people to change a light bulb in situations like this.

That was today’s learning… along with learning how to grout. The picture captures the work we are doing alongside our partners as they build an office that will eventually have [you guessed it] air conditioning [who can blame anyone
for this?]. It will provide a space for leaders to meet at the office when they come from all over the country. Did we mention that there was rain? We mean lots of it [some thought converting our bus into an ark might be a good idea]. There was also the visit to Church #1 to see their after school ministry [like extended care] for 200 children, a visit to the new Allende waterfront park, complete with a boat trip on Lake Managua that gave us a new perspective on the city. But truth be told the whole trip so far has been like that…new perspectives, new ideas, new stories wrapped in a story of love which strangely overcomes even my poor Spanish skills and offers more light than we could have ever imagined.

Internet from here on out may be a bit less available, so we will write as we can.

¡Dios te bendiga!

Dave and the Mission Trip Team

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Day 1, June 22, 2014

Sometimes the journey starts early. So it was for our group as we assembled at the airport in Columbus at 4:30 in the morning to be ready for our departure for Nicaragua by way of Miami. The flight from one city to the next was an interesting experience in and of itself. From 10,000 feet most cities look alike. It is only when one gets closer to the ground that one realizes the nuances of a new and different place. Though I have been to Nicaragua before, for many this was their first time. For some it was their first time out of the U.S.

So it was that we landed in Managua and were met by our gracious hosts, Hermana Sonia, our translator Joel, our mission partner, Magyolene, and another member of IMC, Carlos. Their excitement at our arrival helped us all to feel a sense of not only welcome, but also being more at home in a new place. The trip from the airport to the Emmanuel Center of the Iglesia Misión Cristiana was about 50 minutes of immersion into contrasts: horse-drawn carts being with fruit were pulled in front of Burger King. Vibrant colors stood in contrast to shacks barely able to stand up. All around, the energy of life pulsed and we realized that we had entered another of God´s great places.

At the Emmanuel Center again we were graciously received, as our lunch was awaiting our arrival. A time to rest in the afternoon gave us the boost of energy we needed in order to leave to join church #21 in its evening worship. Though the language was Spanish and made it hard for most of us to understand, the spirit was love and that seemed to transcend everything. We were invited to sing some songs, but not before I discovered that I had not retuned my guitar after loosening my guitar strings for the trip down. It took a while to retune, but it was in the retuning that God spoke to me. I wondered what might be the ways that this time in Nicaragua might help to retune our lives? What might be the necessary adjustments God might be calling us to make as we engage this pilgrimage?

After worship and supper we gathered, to process the day. We observed together where we found Christ present in those we have already met. We sang and prayed and paused to realize that this new view, this new place is already a gift to us, for already we are beginning to see the world a little bit more clearly as God sees it. And this, it seems, will be good news for everyone.

¡Dios te bendiga! (God bless you!)

Dave Long-Higgins and the David´s UCC Mission Team

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