I was really blessed yesterday. The First Baptist Church of Chalchuapa has a little House of Prayer a few doors from our house. They have a prayer service on Monday evening and a Bible study on Thursday evening. They have a relationship with the Missouri Baptist Convention who has sent a medical mission team to El Salvador for the past couple of years.
Last year they provided exams and medication for El Refugio at our church. This year they performed their services at the House of Prayer. Last year I received a shot and some medication for my arthritic ankle that enabled me to resume running. This year I needed something for the cough that Margarita lovingly has shared with me. I also found out that my blood pressure was quite high despite my running and health-conscious diet. The doctor, who remembered me from their last visit, gave me a bunch of medication and a prescription for the latest blood pressure pills. Later on, we had some good conversation. I got to meet his son and daughter-in-law, recent graduates from medical school.
Earlier, I had helped to set up the two canopies they’d brought to shade the nurses taking vital signs and the evangelists who spoke to and prayed with the crowd that took almost four hours to service. I was happy to help in the translating for my neighbors who seemed to have more confidence in me than my own church brothers and sisters. Having more medical knowledge than most “civilians” helped me to ask the right questions to determine how best the doctors could help.
I also spent some time with the women who provided toys and games for the kids while they waited for their mothers. They also had an evangelism program entailing questions and colored beaded bracelets, each color having significance in the path to salvation. I started by translating questions such as “Do you know Jesus?” and “What does He mean to you?” God gave me to words to go beyond by asking about their church membership and attendance. My thirty years of teaching experience enabled me to get kids who were timid or were unsure of their feelings to open up. For me it was the best part of the day. I was surprised at what I was able to accomplish in an area I’d never entered before. A gift of God is a terrible thing to waste.
Another surprise came when I’d circulate among the stations to talk to the missionaries and I learned that people had been telling them good things about me. I’ve felt rather disconnected from the kids and the community since our church school closed and the current leadership has been ignoring the administrative and educational skills I came here to use. They are more interested in my tithe than in the intangible gifts I brought to freely share. I am never a seeker of praise and honors but I was blessed after a while when people whom I didn’t know were coming to me for advice or information calling me by name. Such trust is greater compensation than even the words, “thank you”.
When everyone had been helped, some mothers approached me to help them get vitamins for their children. I told them they needed the paper work which they’d already turned in to the pharmacy their first time through the process, but they worked on me as only Salvadoran’s can and I asked the nurse if she had undistributed children’s vitamins for a few mothers. She worked it out and the mothers thanked me.
It was a day of good feelings. This is why I left the U.S. and came to El Refugio. I came not to send someone to the university, although I help kids get through the National Institute. I can’t send some sick person to the Mayo Brothers Clinic in the U.S., but I can provide medicine and first-aid supplies to families who haven’t the cash to buy them. I can’t save anyone. Only accepting Christ can do that. But I can plant the seed or nurture the seedling by citing scripture and by the example of my life. I can’t finance all the desires of the various ministries and projects of my church, but I can teach the leaders how to reasonably manage the funds we have. As slash and burn agriculture is self-defeating for the farmer, earn and spend is disastrous for a small church.
There is opportunity for more good feelings, ones that could be shared by people with good intentions but who lack the skills and experience to organize and implement them in a practical, logical manner. May God bless those who seek to serve God before serving themselves! May He remove from authority those who prevent others from His appointed service!