I feel like this is one of the questions that many people are asking about my trip at this moment. It has been a while since my last post, and that is somewhat of a good thing because I have been so busy with work here I haven’t had many chances to write.
The common understanding of missionary abroad is that they are there to convert people and to assist with the growth of the church. During orientation for this journey we were told that we should not think like this; that we are going abroad to help in any way we can. I have embraced this to the fullest and take any opportunity I can to assist. This includes construction, painting, helping serve diner at the weekly Bible study, tagging along for pastoral visits, and simple communication with the members of the congregation. I am slowly becoming a man of all trades. I am now an expert at mixing concrete (by hand), and have majorly increased my painting skills. This past week we built a concrete walkway next to the church. My first task was to rally the troops, a job that ended up being much harder than expected. It took about a week to finish this project and three out of those five days of work I was a one-man army. My determination to help gave me the strength to move over a ton of materials by myself.
Going back to the old perception of a missionary, growth is something that is very important for the church. Although I am extremely unqualified to preach the Bible, I have found ways to assist with growth that really has nothing to do with the church. The way I can do this is by building relationships. In my last post I talked about the role of youth in the church, and the need to expand this young presence. The easiest way to do this is to bring people in with activities that don’t directly have to do with the church: movie night, a day at the beach, bowling, dancing at the local club. Once relationships are formed the churchy stuff can follow. The goal of this method is to not scare people away by overloading them with the Bible. Let them find out for themselves that the church is a place of community, and let them investigate religion in the way that is the most comfortable for them.
Another thing that I have been doing is tagging along with Reverend Aurelio for pastoral visits. He aims to visit everyone in his congregation at least twice a year. This adds up to about 300+ visits a year. During these visits I do not say very much: I let him do all the talking. But just by being there I have the power to assist with the impact of the visit. It is not very often that people have an American visiting their house. This is work that is very rewarding for me because it allows me to initiate an individual relationship with each member of the church.
Well that is all for now. In closing, I have realized that I am in the country of rainbows. I have never seen so many rainbows in my life. I am sure that to the Cubans I seem like the double rainbow guy from YouTube (you need to Google that one) but this doesn’t stop me from pointing them out.
This post is sponsored by: John Shea, Kitty Nardiello, Michael and Petrea Poler, and James and Jeannie Kohm. Thank you all for your support.