Monday, May 17, 2010
Chat night at the cafe...
Monday nights at El Sendero are what I call my “open hours” night. I reserve a couple of hours just to talk to people, to pray with anyone who asks, and also to one day do Bible studies with the volunteers.
So, I thought I would share with you tonight’s happenings.
When I first arrived at the cafe, I was greeted with an exuberant hug and kiss (kisses are customary in Ecuador) by Maude. Maude is the Belgian exchange student who volunteers frequently at El Sendero. She is very open to hearing me discuss my love for Christ and she also comes to the English faith nights on Sundays.
She was just the person I was hoping to see, and so I greeted her as exuberantly as she greeted me. However, the chat I was hoping to have was not to be. Maude was with her friend (beau) and so I needed to find someone else to chat with.
For a few minutes I helped out in the kitchen. I made an order, cleaned off a few tables, and brought some dirty dishes back to the table. While drying some clean dishes, I noticed a gringo couple with a child come in. I had seen them several times before and was curious to know who they were and what their story was.
Every other time, I was too busy to chat, but today was my declared “chat day”, so off I went to talk to them.
In Ecuador, being foreign does not mean you speak English. After several embarrassing times of going on in English, only to be told, “I am sorry, I do not speak english”, I have learned to ask.
Fortunately, this couple spoke enough english that we could communicate with a cross of English and Spanish.
They were a missionary couple from the rural area. Independent missionaries which explained why I had not met them yet. They are Swiss by nationality but have been missionaries for many years. First in Panama where they adopted their son, and now in Ecuador. I was really happy to finally meet them!
After that, my friend from church, Jenny, came by. She brought a friend and her friend was in tears. This was not a job for me and my mediocre spanish skills. Vivi took the girls to sit, talk, counsel, and pray.
I took Vivi’s place in the kitchen so that she could not worry about work not being done. While I worked in the kitchen I prayed for the girl and for Vivi. I saw them all bow their heads to pray, and I thanked God for the opportunity He has given me to watch and to be a part of this ministry.
Later, I ate a snack of humita; brought to the cafe by taxi. We don’t serve humitas (typical Ecuadorian snack made of sweet corn flour) at El Sendero, and every once in a while, the staff gets a hankering for it. So Melissa ordered it and we had a taxi pick it up and bring it to us!
I also snacked on Ceviche, another typical Ecuadorian food. Ceviche is a cold soup, usually made from fish, but Gloria used chicken for hers. And- I am pretty sure I saw some very strange chicken parts that I do not typically eat (like necks, and feet, and such).
At one point, I made a meal for Jugo, a child who comes into el Sendero for a free meal. I love this child to pieces and was thrilled to see him. However, by the time I finished making his meal, Jugo was sound asleep. It only took me about two minutes! Poor Jugo. I watched him as he slept was overcome by this beautiful child who had worked all day, both in studying at school (he has a learning disability), and by selling candy on the streets just to survive. When he woke up, I placed my hand on his head and prayed for him. “God please bless this child, fill him with everything he needs. Fill his belly with food, his head with knowledge to survive, his spirit with the knowledge of your love for him, and his heart filled with love for You.”
Later, I chatted with another missionary about the difficulties of language learning I drank a coffee, which will keep me up all night, and I arranged an appointment to donate blood tomorrow.
Jastin has begun to bleed again, and he needs more transfusions (please pray for him).
Later, I went to the porch, stood at the railing and watched the people who were attending a concert in the square. This is my favorite time to pray. So many people standing right there, drinking, partying, and having no thoughts of God or His place in their lives.
And there I am, above them, filled with only the thought of sharing what I know of God with them. I love those times for reminding me of why I am here. It renews my vision for El Sendero, and shows me how important the ministry is. At sometime during the night, those people will get hungry, and those who are not in the mood for street pinchos (shish-ka-bobs), will find there way into El Sendero.
Not all of them, but many of them that do order a meal at the cafe, will wonder about the things they see and hear, many will see the sign for our English ministry and come back. Many will see that we have a contest going on for our volunteers and they will ask about it. Some of them will see the tables full of people playing games and they will return a week from now with their friends.
Sometimes quickly- more often slowly, a relationship will be built.
and if, for some reason, you wonder if these relationships are important...
I wish you would ask
And so many others
Because- these people met Christ because of a relationship started at a small coffee shop, on the second floor of a building, overlooking San Sebastion Square, in Loja, Ecuador.
Perhaps, tonight, I started a relationship with someone who will one day bow their head and give their life to Christ.
So--that was my night tonight. Both the everyday things and the things I don’t yet know, but pray for.