Sometimes life comes at you unexpectedly. Without warning, it slaps you in the face. And all you can do is hold on for the crazy ride. This happened to me last week. In multiple ways.
The first unforeseen event occurred on Monday morning, when after getting ready for the day and eating breakfast, my stomach started aching really bad, and I got the feverish chills. I had felt a bit bad the past Saturday, but it had gone away the next day, so I thought nothing of it. Now what was this?! I didn’t go to class the next few days, and after going to the medico it turned out I had gastritis and a throat infection. Ick! Thankfully, it only lasted until Wednesday and now I feel much better. These days definitely gave me time to think more about what my purpose is here in Ecuador. I realized that I have been focusing too much on “doing” and having a busy schedule full of programs. It’s only my second month here, so I can’t expect myself to have accomplished anything huge. After talking with my supervisor, I can now see the importance of these first few weeks being easier and more for me to learn about the culture and people here. It’s ok to not have a bunch of things to “check off my list”, as I normally do, but God can use me simply through “being” with the people here, experiencing what their lives are like, and sharing ideas about how we can be the body of Christ.
Another thing I have experienced several times now is the different way of viewing travel here. It is totally normal and acceptable to hitchhike here, whereas in the U.S. we now see it as dangerous and risky. Of course, I would never try to catch a ride by myself with someone I do not know, but… On one occasion, another missionary and I were running super late for a kids’ program, and we hopped in the back of a pickup truck in order to more quickly reach the end of a small dirt road. The driver didn’t mind at all, and didn’t even charge us (usually you tip the driver a bit)! Public transportation here is another matter entirely, which I am going to dedicate a separate blog post for (coming soon!).
Also unexpectedly, two weeks ago the pastor at the church where I will soon be working asked me to preach! At first I thought she was joking, but she was serious. Despite my doubts and fears, I agreed to do it, though I begged for more preparation time (to which she conceded). I finally got over myself, or rather, my initial fear of preaching (in Spanish!) and decided on the passage in James 2:14-26 on the importance of putting our faith into action. This had been a message on my heart a lot lately, and I felt like it needed to be shared. So after many days of preparation, I gave the message. Although I did fumble in Spanish a few times, it went really well. I hope that people were inspired by the message to really live out their faith. The key point of these verses is that faith without action is dead. But equally, good works without believing and knowing why we’re doing them is no good either.