Our last post ended with Daddy arriving and announcing that we as a group were going to attend a friend’s church to talk about family issues. While that was quite true, the meeting slowly materialised into something decidedly different from what we had imagined. First of all, Daddy understood that the event would begin at 7pm, followed by a time of questioning beginning at 8pm. We logically thought that 9:30pm was a very reasonable estimated time of departure for going home to sleep.
When we got to the church where the study was to be held, at 6:45pm, we were informed that the meeting actually began at 8pm. Thus, we decided to take life as it came and deal with it well, so for that extra hour we went through our next session on Biblical Thinking. The couple who is helping host us (Ricardo and Evelyn) also took part in the study, for they are interested in learning how to disciple their family. We had a great time hearing Daddy teach and answer our responses to that teaching. Around the 8:10pm mark, people started filtering into the beautiful open-air meeting place. Palm trees planted amongst pebbles and stones and bright flowers sprouting from the greenery decorated the edges of the floor whilst the tin roof up above created a shelter that made music when the rain beat upon it. Instead of walls, we could see the city lights turn on and the stars begin to twinkle as the Caribbean sun set across a gray sky.
Aka, it was purty.
Oh, and this “room” was special not just for its physical appeal. It was special because it serves as the sanctuary of a completely deaf church. Yes, Ricardo’s church has a deaf service that is lead by a pastor whose son was born deaf, and that pastor knew it was his responsibility to preach the gospel to his boy, so he learned sign-language to do so and currently leads a church for many other families who have found themselves in that situation. The cool thing is that his son can now hear perfectly, but God used that to call this man to help deaf Christians. The church has grown so that this pastor’s signed sermons are now translated simultaneously into Spanish, so that the non-deaf members of these families can worship along with their deaf parents, siblings, and children. I love how God uses trials to call us to have a burden to serve Him in a way for which He equips us through the trial.
But back to the people filtering into the beautiful open-air meeting place. We discovered that this church gathering was in reality a weekly couple’s class. The seven of us from the States were the only unmarried people in the room! By 9pm the session finally commenced and Dad began to talk while Josh translated for half of our team as I translated for the other half. I think we all had a blast, and never once noticed the three hours which were flying by.
Daddy presented three concepts to these couples. First, Pilate asked Truth incarnate, “What is truth?” and turned his back on the truth. To face what? The culture: “You have a custom.” The challenge for us was to think about whether we are raising our children based on Biblical truths or based on Dominican cultural expectations. Second, Daddy reminded the couples of the key phrase of Proverbs: “My son.” It is the parents’ responsibility to train and be involved in and guide the lives of their children, in things like choosing a marriage partner (Proverbs 5-7 and Proverbs 31) and other big to small decisions. Third, Daddy pressed home the points of Psalm 127 and Malachi 4:6. In the DR, machoism is pretty big and children are coddled rather than loved and are not considered blessings, as a generality. So Daddy encouraged both mother and father to want children, to want lots of children, and to want godly children. And thus they must incline their hearts to their children first ~ to talk to, listen to, and touch their children to win their hearts (2 Samuel 15:1-6). Finally, he left them with the idea that God calls us to be faithful parents; He does not call us to convert children. We give account to God for doing what He commands us to do; we do not rely on a formula to spin out estimable youth. Basically, be faithful to Him and trust His wise will regarding the results.
Praise God, the time spent with these couple was excellent and, I think, encouraging to both them and us. Joshua and I translated for the three hours of conversation. When we heard that the clock had struck midnight, I think all of us were rather shocked.
For about two minutes. Then our bodies started registering and clamored, Yeah, you, it is late. Get to bed. So we did.
The next morning, this morning, found us rushing off to a church where Daddy was to teach in person the church leaders whom he normally trains via Skype every Monday night. Again, Josh and I translated this three-hour marathon on Christology, and we all learned bunches and came out refreshed by a deeper understanding of who our Beloved Prophet, Priest, and King is.
After all the goodbyes were said, us kids trooped off on foot to our apartment, played elevator vs. stair games while we waited for Dad to come with the key, grabbed some cards and my food, and made our way to a very nice house belonging to very nice hosts who served us very good food. Sancocho is a Dominican stew traditionally made with seven meats and local root vegetables that is served with aguacate (avocado), rice, and concon (that toasted bit of rice sticking to the bottom of the cooking pan ~ yum!). It was quite the meal! Can you imagine opening your home to seven foreign strangers just because a friend of your son wants some sancocho? Adds a rather generous dimension to the idea of hospitality, does it not? Yet that is what our hosts, who are not believers, did gladly. How much more so for those of us who have been shown ultimate hospitality by Christ?
Now we are back at our apartment, about to begin another round-table study on the book of 1 Peter. I hear rumours of traipsing the city for some of the DR’s amazing ice-cream afterwards. Wish you were here now?
Tomorrow is offering us a tug-of-war between three churches. I will let you know which ones win and where we end up and how the ice-cream tasted (or how all of our plans changed again), so stay tuned.