Day Five. Sunday number one for our group. Father’s Day. After breakfast, our entire team gathered at the apartment to pile into the twenty-one-seater bus that awaited downstairs. Our driver, José, steered the streets well and we eventually ended up at the correct church after stopping to ask for directions. I guess it is kind of normal to get lost when someone gives you the wrong address for your destination. But get there we did with no bones broken, and filed into a crowd of very welcoming brothers and sisters in Christ.
This church, Iglesia Fundamento, is located in a poorer part of town, less safe and speckled with more tin roofs and more trash than what we had so far seen. But the church itself was cheery and bright and clean, all four stories of it, and the people were so very loving and immersed in the beauty of Christian fellowship. It was all different, but I think we as team felt at home in a sense, too. We worshipped together with great joy and learned from Scripture with glad song and simply enjoyed the communion of “foreign” “family”. Despite the drip drip of faucets, despite the doubling up on toilet flushes, despite the dearth of air conditioning and the surrounding scenes of poverty, we were blessed and with people we loved because they loved God, too. The church kindly sang songs that were likewise in English, and put the English lyrics side-by-side the Spanish ones. Everyone chose their language and sang, sang with life.
Then Dad came up to preach on Ephesians 2:1-10, a heart-stirring passage that you absolutely must read to once again relish the grace God has showered upon us undeserving sinners. The team sat upstairs, near the fans and basking in the yellow light bouncing off the sky-blue walls. Sure, it was hot, and, sure, the whirring of the fans made translating difficult, but Josh and I and the team worked together to hear God’s word and were blessed.
After speaking with some of the members there and being passed cokes and chocolate (they are very kind to foreigners), and after a good degree of baby-holding, we traipsed back into the bus to eat at Viscaya, a favourite Dominican restaurant with strong Spanish (Spain Spanish) roots. We were twenty-one people, not to mention all the fathers who were eating out to celebrate Father’s Day, so the food took a while to come, but that provided ample time for good conversation. Half of the fun and growth on these trips comes from getting to know the other members of the team itself, and this provided us with the perfect context for that. The food came in rounds, first Spanish tortillas (think omelet or quiche-minus-crust laden with potatoes), then baskets of garlic flat bread, then a grilled assortment of meats, then a round of fish, then rice and beans and tostones (fried green plantains), maduros (ripe fried/baked plantains), fried potatoes, and finally avocados. It was a feast, wrapped up well with a dish of flan (a sort of custard) and strong Dominican coffee laced in its own creamy foam. Yum. One experience I doubt team-members will forget was having bites of Dad’s favourite mondongo, a dish of stewed beef tripe. It was hit with some of us (great for GAPS!) and not so much a favourite with others. But everyone ate something they liked, and walked away very, very satisfied.
Now we are gathered at the apartment again, waiting for news about Jorge Daniel and relaxing before evening service begins. Tonight we will be attending IBNP, something about which we are all very excited because we know people there and it will be nice to see the place we painted buzzing with believers. And the music. And the preaching. And everything a church is about.
(please excuse typos)
Thanks for remembering us in your prayers!