Only 3 1/2 months after we arrived on the field and while we were both still in full-time language school, Steve was asked to be the main teacher/speaker for the all-day Good Friday services at a large Quichua church in Cachigalguay. Hallelujah that Juan Miguel Delgado, a fine Christian young man in Cuenca who is fluent in English, was available to go with us as Steve’s translator. Here is the report I typed later to our prayer partners).
Steve spent every available minute on preparation for today during this past week, and it showed. He had plenty of material, and it was all eagerly received by the church FULL of people who came. We were surprised by the number of young people and children who were there. In God’s providence, our son Matt has been preaching a series of messages on “The Seven Last Words of Christ,” so he shared his sermon notes via e-mail with his Dad, and that provided lots of research and background information.
When we first arrived, the pastor encouraged everyone to spend time on their knees asking God’s blessings on the lessons. It was very moving and reassuring to hear those people whispering their prayers all at once in Spanish.
THEN, a group of young men led in a time of praise and worship music. Well, the main verse that kept coming to my mind was, “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing,” because that’s pretty much the way the music sounded . . . . at least to MY ears. I’m sure it sounded much different to God. Sincerity and robust singing were abundant. Rhythm, however, was noticeably absent. Bless their hearts. People really TRIED to clap to the beat, but, sadly, there wasn’t one! Oh well. It definitely didn’t dampen the Spirit in any way.
After Steve and Juan Miguel had been teaching for several hours, the pastor called a break for lunch. He surprised me by asking me to say the blessing!!! I prayed SOMETHING in Spanish — don’t ask me what. Everyone went to the basement of an adjoining building and sat in chairs placed as closely together as possible. Then, in an amazingly short period of time, the deacons served everyone a big bowl of rice with lots of vegetables and pieces of chicken mixed in and a big choclo (corn on the cob — sort of). All of this was eaten with a large serving spoon. While we were balancing this dish on our laps, the deacons came back around with cups of warm orange Kool-aid. Then, a couple of minutes after that, we got a bowl of pear-sauce (as opposed to applesauce) and a giant flat roll. It was a trick to manage all of those dishes, but it was quite tasty, and the crowd seemed to be most appreciative.
Steve’s afternoon session also went well. At the end, they began to ask all kinds of questions, and he had to politely remind them that he was a veterinarian, not a theologian, but he certainly did the best he could. Fifty-five years of listening to sermons and thirty-plus years of teaching Sunday School came in mighty handy for him. Psalm 37:4 was answered very powerfully for my husband today. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” For a long time, the “desire of Steve’s heart” has been to be able to spend countless hours studying God’s word and teaching it, but he had to earn a living. God’s gift was in giving him a way to earn a living WHILE studying God’s word and teaching. And, hopefully, the Quichua people were the real beneficiaries today.