This day began early when Adolfo and his family picked us up for the ride to Champerico (about 1.5 hours away) for worship. It is customary for the churches to go to this area for special worship and baptisms. Adolfo’s daughter, Jaqueline, was baptized today. She is 15 and a beautiful young lady. So we jumped in a van already packed with 14 people, including Adolfo’s pastor, Juan Pablo Ajanel.
The baptismal service took place in the middle of three pools at this center. It’s acutally a sizeable recreation center with beautiful tiled picnic area, stages, pools and even a few animals for viewing. It is called Espranza – or The Hope. It is often on Sundays that it serves as gathering place for many churches.
Pastor Juan has served in this church for about 35 years. He also serves as the President of the National Methodist Church, which in our terms would be equal to a Bishop. He was very kind and invited me to say a message of greeting to the church. It was very humbling to speak on behalf of Franklin First United Methodist Church. Chester was a champion, as usual and translated since my Spanish is still greatly lacking.
After the service a long picnic ensured during which we were offered much hospitality and great food. The whole experience is on Guatemala time. This is a celebration day for an important visible and public decision Jacqueline has made in her journey with Christ. Eight people from the church were baptized today. There is much to celebrate and nothing to rush. It is an unforgettable day for this family – and I am thankful to be included. Patience is not always my greatest virtue and today God reminded me that families and memories are built by taking time to honor and celebrate life together. Even if it’s hot!
Around 3pm we made our way a few minutes down the road to the beach. It is an old port that only serves for recreation now. So all I can say about this is that these moments were a huge gift for me. My soul needed to see and feel and walk by the ocean. I needed to feel the breeze and take in the beauty. I needed to hear the crashing waves of the Pacific coast and remember how big the world is. I needed to sink my feet into the sand and be thankful for life. God is so faithful and just takes care of me.
It’s the end of day and I’ve stopped sweating. Today was a day for making more memories and learning about a culture that has our fingerprints very lightly laced in places we can’t really know or imagine. But more so, the people here have left their fingerprints on our souls. There will come a day when all nations, ages and races will be worshipping together with nothing to keep us apart. Today I was close enough to smell the incense of such worship.