Monday, September 12, 2011

An "unusual" way to love us.

So, last weekend we attended our church, that we have been attending for about 6 weeks. 6 weeks ago we were the only "gringo" family in the church but we felt very at home immediately. Since that time we have invited several other new students to join us. Last week there were equal amounts of Ticos (Costa Ricans) and Gringos (us white folk) in the church, which the pastor loved. He made a point to tell his congregation that they could NOT practice their English with us. He, essentially ordered them to speak to us only in Spanish. We do not mind this in the least bit, as our purpose in being here is to study the language. The only issue is we have is when we think we understand something and we don't!

Back to last week Sunday- at the end of the sermon the pastor looked directly at us and informed us that we would need to participate in the sermon next week. We understood that he wanted us (all the white folk) to play a game with the children, because they were planning on celebrating children's day, which is BIG here. No problem, we figured we could handle that.

Fast forward to this past Friday- As we were talking about which game to play with the kids, we decided that we should confirm our idea with the pastor. That would be the polite thing to do in the states. We sent him an email and attempted to call without success. Saturday night at 6:30, 15 minutes before we expected guests we received the following email:

Hi Eric! Yes in fact tomorrow all of you'll have to participate in the church. For instance: one of you will be the coordinator of the program: greeting the congregation at the beginning, do the praying and give to the musical group the part. Then you'll have a paper where it explains or gives the following steps: someone of you again will read a bible, then another one or two will take the offering, maybe the teenagers ADRIAN AND SABRINA or the little boys. On the other hand, Eric you can choose somebody to preach and a translator will help you while the person is speaking. One of the pastors who are missionaries. Do you have communication with them, right? So if you do you can tell to the person you chose about the preaching.That all the task. If there's any doubt please call me at home.

If you followed that email, you realize that we were sorely mistaken in what we thought we had to do! I was waiting for the sentence at the end of the email that said, "Just kidding!" It was not there! :) We immediately called the pastor and asked if he would be willing to preach and we would take care of the rest. "We" meaning the gringo families. I thought for sure none of the other students would show up after we called them - they are all first trimester students and are in the "overwhelmed" state right now - however they stepped up to the plate and did extremely well. The church even combined the children's celebration with a remembrance for the families of 9/11.

This morning I related this story to my tutor, who has been working with "gringos" for 30 years and understands our mindset. He then said, "You realize that the pastor asked you to lead the service because he loves you?!"

In my gringo mind, I did not realize that. Asking someone to lead a service the night before in the states increases stress, not a great way to portray love to me, however, looking at it from our pastors perspective, it is a way to honor us missionary students. He was willing to give up control to allow us to participate, even if it was awkward at times and our pronunciation was bad.

Hmmm....... Perhaps I need to rethink my perspective on showing love to others. I wonder if I should pass my homework on to another student to demonstrate my love and trust for them! Just kidding!!! :)

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