We woke up early but we left our hotel with heavy hearts…knowing today was our last day in La Toma. Before we left the parking lot we were belting out the chorus of “Hosanna”…the specific line that says, “break my heart for what breaks yours”. We acknowledged before we ever arrived at the church and school this one truth: it’s OK for us to let our hearts break when God is in it. And so we went…willing for our hearts to break and knowing that somehow in the breaking, we are being molded into the image of God.
At the church Pastora Myriam finished the women’s sessions with another powerful lesson. Part of this teaching included the shattering of a clay pot and the creation of a cross from both the broken pieces and a variety of items that symbolized the week.
The teachers of La Toma gathered with us as we made presentations to them, and they to us. The friendships between the Tennessee teams and the school at La Toma are long lasting. This week they were extended further…as they will be with the next team and the next team. It is so much fun to see new people added to this connection. And isn’t this so precious? The SHARING of God’s grace…one new person after another.
Olivia shared her voice during those presentations as she spontaneously sang a solo to the teachers, “Welcome to this Place”. Michael shared his music by just picking up his guitar and adding some ambiance to the heat and squeals of children playing. Bonnie carried feathers just looking for the right moment to add them to the mix. Kristine Kline (a member of FUMC that sent a gift) added handcrafted bookmarks with Christian symbols and messages in Spanish. It goes on and on….a dance of God’s grace.
Our last moments with Pastors Felix and Manuel were so powerful I hesitate to describe it with words. I want you all to know about it, but also to know I am so limited in sharing it in a way that you can know fully what it was like in those moments. The children had crowded in on us so tight we had to make an exit. They just kept coming.
So here we are standing outside the church. Pastor Manuel was on his motorcycle about to leave and we asked him to stay. (In Guatemala when a friend stops you and asks you to stay, you stay. You would never look at your watch and say “I don’t have time”). So both pastors are standing there and the team has assembled. We are literally covered in kids…maybe 30 or 40. We said words of thanksgiving for the time and then we presented each of them with soccer balls so the churches can use them with their youth. We know that playing soccer and learning to be a team can be a powerful way to share the gospel with the children. And then…it was Ashley’s turn to share.
Ashley presented Pastor Felix with her guitar. She shared with him how it was given to her by her parents…her first guitar and how much it had meant to her life. Her prayer had been that it would mean even more to the life of the church in making music for God’s glory. All of our tears were flowing as we watched this 17 year old child of God present Pastor Felix with this gift.
Later, when we were standing at the altar with soccer balls, guitars, posters, feathers and the cross piled on high… Pastor Manuel said he was looking forward to Pastor Felix becoming a guitar playerJ Several years ago…Jeff Blum left a guitar in the hands of Pastor Manuel and he also began to make a joyful noise in the house of the LORD. It changed his church. We lay hands on these two pastors as we gathered around this altar for prayer. We remembered the words of Jesus when he said to Peter, “ on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hades will not overcome it.”
We did not say “adios” as we drove away from La Toma today. We simply said, “hasta luego”.