Saturday, March 30, 2013

90 degrees and in JEANS!

Culture shock comes in many forms. We expected their clothes would be different from ours. Roxie, Lizzie and I made sure not to bring shorts or sleeveless tops and we each had a least a couple of LONG skirts on hand. The guys also had to adjust - no shorts. Did I mention it was at least 90 degree's every day, with humidity often in the the high 90's? Hot, steamy, and in jeans...yeah. But we didn't want to offend anyone, so of course we happily adjusted our attire as best we could.

Ulysses Danial & Kelly
Our group included some friends for the Region who are currently stationed at the local seminary in  Guatemala City. Ulysses Danial and his wife Kelly, and Roger joined us on our adventure. Ulysses Danial and Kelly oversee Discipleship, Evangelism  Sunday School Ministry and Women's Ministry for their region which includes Guatemala and 3 other countries. Roger, as best I can describe him, is a technological "Macgyver". If it has a cord and is broke, he can probably fix it. Roger spent
most of his days repairing the equipment from the district office and area churches - re-sauteing  re-connecting, re-wiring...he told us "when your stuff breaks, don't throw it away, bring it to me and we'll use it here." Simone was our interpreter and Ruthie also jointed us while in Guatemala City. Amazing sisters in Christ! I am so blessed to call them friends.

On the bus trip to Fray, we began to learn about the country, the culture and the people. This area has very strong gender rolls. Women did the cooking, cleaning and most child care. The men worked, HARD. All the pastors are bi-vocational, preaching and shepherding while also working another full time job to pay the bills and keep the family clothed and fed. The women of our group would not be doing ANY of the physical labor, EVER; a man would not be seen in the kitchen. There are no women pastors here. It's just not done.

There was one "grocery store" in Fray, but it was very small. It is comparable in size to ...well it was larger than a Circle K or 7/11 but smaller than an Old Navy. Not nearly as big as a Walmart, or Fry's or Kroger or Hyvee. The markets were AMAZING. So many colors, smells and sights. A trip was made to the Church of Fray. What a special treat. The local church women were preparing the afternoon meal. The food was fresh, and completely organic. I wish time could have allowed for me to stay and learn a few things from these amazing chefs! I was reminded of home when we noticed that many of the "things" in the kitchen were labeled with the churches name and seal.  I guess people "borrow" stuff from church kitchens all over the world :-)

We visited the district office compound; it was square with open area in the middle and the entrance gate off to one side. All the doors were steal construction, and all of the windows had strong (yet decorative) iron bars. At the front was the living quarters of the district first family, and in the back were the "dorm style rooms" for pastors (or pastors in training) who would come to the
compound to take course of study classes. Along the sides were class rooms and meeting rooms and the district offices. There was even a district bus!  There is lots of teaching, training and straight up New Testament discipleship going on. Many new Christians are responding to the call of God on their life. Praise God! Praise God! We began to hear about the extensive efforts to raise up
missionaries and pastors in this area - for this area. Culture is everything.  In presenting the life saving news of Jesus, we must be mindful of the audience. Paul was a master at this. He knew how to clue in on who he was speaking to and what they were about. Paul, and the people of Northern Guatemala gave me a good reminder about reaching people where they are. I am a messenger. I need to not distract people from what God is about and who God is. I need to do His work, but not get in His way. This week, that includes not wearing shorts, or helping carry boards. It means loving on the children and offering a smile where I can. It means slowing down to see who's near the path. It means moving to the back of the bus, so there are seats in the front for the stragglers we pick up along the way. I was a straggler once. Thankfully someone, noticed where I was and made room for me.

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