Greetings in Christ,
Last Tuesday I arrived here safely with only minor delays in luggage. The dulcimers made it soundly without any damage – a mercy for which I am very thankful.
This first week has been a whirlwind of joyful reunions with old friends, meeting knew faces, making music, and sober reminders of the suffering in this life. Yet in every laugh and tear which has accompanied my first week here, I have sensed the nearness of God as He rejoices with and in us and as He weeps for and with us. Though I am already missing family and friends, I am so deeply grateful be here and see God at work at this place.
Teaching music has already started off with a bang, a bang that has often left me with a bit of a headache. J There are about 25 men and women from Verbo churches in remote villages along the Rio Coco who are here for the month of January to learn piano and guitar so they can lead worship in their local churches. Some of them traveled up three days to get here. This is a unique opportunity for these men and women to develop their musical gifts and enable them to lead others in worship with instruments. Right away I was asked to help teach piano. There was only one man here (Eimar from the worship team) who was trying to teach an entire room full of students to play piano within a month. Though there are three keyboards that they practice on, Eimar could only help one or two at a time: thus, having another teacher has greatly increased the learning pace and I’ve also been able to fill in for Eimar when he had family emergencies. While I have greatly enjoyed helping to teach piano, I must admit, it is not a pleasant experience to hear six people banging out six different chords on three pianos all at the same time in the same room for six hours. J Both Eimar and I have had to step out of the room on occasion due to headaches. But it is definitely worth it! The students are so excited to be learning and most of them are making rapid progress.
Although I have not started official music lessons with the kids yet, I have had many informal lessons and begun regular lessons with a few people. One of the ladies who works on staff cleaning and cooking here has a 16 year old son, Snayder, who comes every evening to pick her up and bring her home. I met him last week and got chatting with him about music and I mentioned the violin, which he had never seen before. I offered to show it to him and brought him to my room to have a look at it. He was enthralled with the instrument and when he picked it up he seemed to have a natural talent for it. I offered to teach him, and he was thrilled. As I began to correct his hold on the bow, I realized he was missing a good part of most of the fingers on his right hand (probably a machete accident). At first my heart sank and I wondered if he would be able to play at all, but as he repositioned the bow in his hand he found a way to hold it. I’m really excited to see his progress with only two lessons!
In Addition to teaching music, I have really enjoyed getting time to spend with the guys at the orphanage. Last Thursday, after an evening worship service in the church, I wandered into the Discipulado (the teenage boy’s home) and found a room full of loud rambunctious guys who were all just goofing off. In the corner, on one of the beds there was a young kid that no-one recognized. He was curled up and seemed to be crying. I asked multiple people what his name was but no-one knew. Finally one little guy came in the room and told me that the boy had just arrived at the orphanage that evening and that his name was Lucas. I have only seen a few kids arrive here and experience the shock of a new place and being away from whatever home they had known before coming here. There he was, just lying on the bed and quietly sobbing, in the midst of the raucous of all the other teens. I was in shock and didn’t know what to do. I had no idea what he had just been through and why he came to the orphanage. Should I try to talk to him here in this loud, bustling room? Does he even want to talk? In my desperation I prayed to God for wisdom and decided to ask one of the caretakers if he could spend his first night in my room away from the noise and teasing of the others. The caretaker agreed and I took Lucas back to my room. Although I still felt lost for words, I sat with him and asked him where he had come from. He told me that his father had left him and his mom when he was young and that his mother had died more recently. His grandmother had brought him to the orphanage. After we talked, I offered to pray for him and he agreed. He said he was not a Christian, but that he wanted to be. I explained the Gospel to him and asked if he would like to pray and ask Christ to forgive him and be his savior. He prayed, perhaps for the first time. Although he prayed in Miskito, I could sense that he was talking to God, and not just speaking words to the wall. Please pray for little Lucas, that God would comfort him as he morns the loss of his mother, gets used to being in this new place, and most of all that God would water the seed that was planted and give me more opportunities to love, buildup, and encourage this new little brother in the faith.
Sorry this post is getting ridiculously long… but just one more story. J Last year I met Benjamin, a young man who became a Christian by coming regularly to the Verbo feeding center and worship services. He volunteers at the feeding center, helping to prepare and serve the food to the now 600 children who come for a meal every day. He struck me last summer as a very kind, and humble servant. This year I found out that he is now sleeping at the feeding center every night because of his hard home situation. Yesterday he showed me his bed – a mat on the concrete floor of the storage room. Hot tears pressed behind my eyes as I saw his humble room and his broad smile as he showed it to me. Also, he doesn’t know how to read yet, so I plan on inviting him over regularly to my “home” to chat with him and teach him to read. I am looking forward to getting to know him better and being build up by his humble and joyful presence. Please pray for Benjamin, that he would grow strong in his faith and that I would be a blessing to him.
So many other needs and stories, but I must stop for now. Thank you all so much for your love and prayers!
In the love of Christ,