Last Tuesday, we went to Julia’s house for a Bible Study.
That sounds pretty tame, except………
Julia’s house is located on the side of a mountain in El Salvador. I mean, literally on the side of the mountain!
And in order to access her house, we had to travel forty-five minutes standing up in the back of a truck. We crawled carefully up the side of the mountain by way of a narrow, winding “road” (I use that term very loosely!)
While we laughed occasionally, engaged in sporadic bits of conversation, and dodged low hanging branches, our main objective was simply to hang on and stay in the truck!
Now I do feel confident that if one of us had pitched head-first out the back or off the side, the rest of the team would have alerted the driver to stop. (Fearful screams sound amazingly similar in English and Spanish.) But climbing up into the vehicle was bad enough. I would NOT have wanted to fall out!
Oh, and because I want you to have a full mental picture, please add these details:
- On ministry days, we ladies all wore skirts paired with a team t-shirt.
- I did follow the suggestion of wearing shorts under my skirt.
- Let me not forget the tennis shoes and socks.
- Nor would I want to leave out the fact that my normally “pouffy” hair style took a back seat to barrettes. These made me look like I was fifteen again – with the addition of wrinkles! (Too lovely to photograph!)
Our first truck was a real, live cattle truck that could only be accessed by placing one’s foot on the bumper (which put my foot somewhere near my belly button). We then grasped the yellow rope hanging from the top rail, and pulled with all our might while trying NOT to yell, cry or otherwise indicate that this wasn’t the way we travel every day of our life! (Yes, it was occasionally necessary to have a husband push from behind.)
We all took pictures trying to capture the intensity of this “upward journey”. But I haven’t seen a single shot that accurately portrays what we experienced on the days we went up and down that mountain.
But I digress –
On Tuesday we traveled to the top of the mountain in order to present a program at one of the elementary schools. The view from their soccer (um, “futbool”) field would take your breath away. Truly incredible!
The children tumbled out of six or eight classrooms, eager to see the Americans. They sat in orderly fashion under an arbor serving as a breezeway in front of the small building.
We danced and sang and performed skits; all the while smiling and shaking hands with the beautiful students. At the conclusion of our “Spectacle Evangelism”, a young national worker tied everything together with a clear presentation of the Gospel. Almost thirty of the children prayed to accept Christ as Savior.
After spending time on the playground with them, we waved farewell and headed for Julia’s house and the Bible study.
The truck bumped along for quite a way then stopped beside a trail leading off to the right. We unloaded and followed the local pastor down the muddy, uneven path.
We came up to a small clearing and a low building. This was Julia’s house.
Our hostess stepped to the porch area and greeted each person with a broad smile. It began to drizzle again so we all crowded onto the covered breezeway connecting the two parts of Julia’s home.
To the right, we discovered Julia’s “kitchen”. A low, dark room with a corn grinder positioned in the center, flanked by an open fire for cooking and a simple cupboard.
Julia graciously invited us to take pictures as several team members tried to turn the handle on the grinder. Not an easy task!
Her toilet facilities were simply an area enclosed by tin just beyond the kitchen. A huge turkey resided temporarily in a pen connected to the outside kitchen wall.
A wall to the left of the breezeway marked a bedroom area. No windows and very narrow. A huge concrete cistern located in the center of her yard served the important role of collecting every precious drop of rain water.
The only electricity comes from a small generator and there is no running water.
We brought our own lunch, of course; and invited Julia and her granddaughter to join us. The heavens opened about that time and a deluge began that lasted almost an hour. Raindrops pounding on the tin roof made a deafening noise. Nothing to do but sit quietly; resting our eyes and fanning flies.
As the rain subsided, the pastor spoke to us through an interpreter. He told that his wife and Julia have hosted this Bible study every Tuesday for the past six months. (It means an hour’s walk up the mountain each week for the pastor’s wife.)
Unfortunately, we were rained out. But we made the most of it with a great time of prayer. And a devotional presented by Molly, our team leader.
Molly taught (through an interpreter) using the story of the wise man who built his house on the solid rock. She affirmed the truth that Julia’s house was not only built on the physical rock of the mountain. Her house is also established on the rock, Christ Jesus.
Julia nodded emphatically and whispered, “Amen! Amen!” We were suddenly standing on holy ground.
As I hugged her goodbye, I knew we most likely wouldn’t see one another again until Heaven. Climbing into the back of that truck took a lot of effort. Heading down the mountain demanded huge doses of courage.
But the real lesson of the day came to me as I got ready for our dinner.
Julia had welcomed us so warmly without any fretting, apologies or embarrassment. And I suddenly thought of all the gatherings I’ve avoided hosting because I didn’t have the right tea cup or appropriate napkins.
It’s a simple change. But one I’ll endeavor to make as soon as jet lag releases its grip. We may not have the finest cuisine or the loveliest china. But come on over! We’ll laugh together, find something to snack on, and share life as good friends should.
Julia would be proud!