(An email to our children February, 24, 2004).
Tonight was another one of those times when I really felt like a missionary.
A few years ago, your Daddy and I bought one of those inexpensive, 13″ TV/VCR combinations, mostly to watch when we were exercising on the treadmill upstairs on the landing. I never imagined that it would be used to show the Jesus video to a roomful of Quichuas. But, that’s exactly what happened tonight.
We left the apartment about 4:30 this afternoon to follow Linda (our fellow missionary in Cuenca), her mom and friends currently visiting her from Washington State to a new ministry community, San Bartolo. We were in the truck and stopped to pick up the Quichua pastor of Santa Barbara and his wife along the way. They were such a sweet couple, but their Spanish spoken with a Quichua accent proved to be an extra communication challenge. Linda told us there would be a TV and VCR in the home where we were going, but I offered to carry our little set “just in case.” We finally got to our destination about 6:30 p.m. Our hostess for the evening, Rosa, was a strong-looking woman whose husband and sons have gone to the States, leaving her to raise the daughters and all the grandchildren by herself. She had swept and tidied a bedroom and had arranged chairs all around the edge. These were straightback chairs she had obviously borrowed from somewhere. Then she put a TV and some kind of machine on a table against the wall. It was a good thing we took our TV/VCR because what she had would not have played our tape.
Shortly, Rosa had supper ready. You guessed it — roasted cuy (guinea pig), papas (potatoes), and mote (like hominy). Then, bread and molasses for dessert. Since I am trying to stick to my low-carb diet, I ate a few bites of cuy and then passed my bowl to the pastor, who grinned broadly at the sight of more food. As usual, the guests (meaning us) were served separately from the family. We’re always given a full plate of food and a large serving spoon as the only utensil. No napkins. Cuy is very greasy, so I was glad your Daddy had a clean handkerchief!
By 7:30, I had concluded that no guests were going to show up — after all, it was the last night of Carnival, and most people wanted to party one more time before the beginning of Lent. But, when we started the movie at 7:50, there were 14 Quichuas in the room, and within 30 minutes, 24 were watching. They sat in those uncomfortable chairs, shoulder-to-shoulder, with rapt attention, and 11 were even crowded together sitting on the bed. We gringos were off to the side since we wanted as many of them as possible to have a view of that tiny screen. Satan tried to use 3 cats that enjoyed walking in front of the TV, dogs barking, and a baby who started crying during the Crucifixion scene to distract them, but he was not successful. I was in a good position to watch their faces. We found out from the pastor later that at least 10 of those who were there were unbelievers, and I think I could probably pick them out. They were paying intense attention. I prayed for several faces in particular that appeared to be seeing and hearing the story of Jesus for the very first time. At the end, I had some gospel tracts and Linda’s friends had gum and small toys for the children. I can’t tell you whether or not anyone received Christ for the first time tonight, but I do know that they each had a clear opportunity to learn the Truth, and I know that we are working hard to provide follow-up times in that same location.
When we took the pastor and his wife back home, we got out of the truck briefly and were treated to the sight of at least a million stars brilliantly lighting up the top of the mountain where we were. It was a good night to be a missionary.
I love you,
“Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders. And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.” Psalm 72:18-19