"Do not restrain the Spirit."
(1 Thessalonians 5:19)
Santa Rosillo is a little pueblo which lies along the main highway. Being perfectly average, it lacks any defining features to catch people's attention...
Why did it keep catching our attention???
Each time we passed, we'd exchange glances and say, "We really ought to do something to help them. Look at their church."
Unbeknownst to us, the Holy Spirit was moving in other people's hearts as well. A couple weeks ago one of our animadoras explained her desire to help Santa Rosillo and wondered if we might be able to mobilize the youth. When we approached our priest to discuss our ideas, he immediately affirmed our plans as being Spirit led because he too had been praying about how to assist this community. When the teens in our village eagerly offered their services, we knew that the Lord was working through us all.
The animador, who is elderly, tired and chronically ill directed us to the woman who he said, "opens the church for me".
After unlocking the rusty deadbolt, her daughter asked, "Mommy, who are they?" She whispered, "They're missionaries, baby. They're here to help us." I could barely hold back the tears as we entered their humble place of worship.
Cynthia, "the one who opens the church", explained that their biggest problem is that rain fills the chapel every time it rains because there is nothing covering the windows.
(1) we had to stay within our budget
(2) it had to be completed in one day
They sketched and talked, talked and re-sketched. After visiting the carpenter, they assessed costs and determined what supplies were needed. All praise be to God, they were taking ownership of this project and hardly needed my help. The scripture verse from Acts 11:12 comes to mind, "The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating." Filled with gratitude for all the Lord is doing in the hearts of these teens, I assumed the roles of chauffeur and supervisor.
When our animadora's husband stopped by Santa Rosillo's chapel he noticed large cracks in the walls and offered to fix them all for free.... before the kids arrived the next day.
On Saturday morning 15 teenagers arrived at our home excited to work. We loaded Burrito Gris with paint buckets and ladders, window coverings and fresh drinking water. After the kids climbed in and found space around our supplies I tried to pull away, but Burrito Gris isn't powerful enough to carry this big of load. Before I had the chance to say a word, five guys jumped out of the windows and pushed until we really got going (to an impressive speed of 5mph). Everyone cheered as the "Gringo-mobile" SLOWLY made it's way through town. The same pit crew made it possible for up to make it up onto the main highway. Every other moving vehicle passed us as we crept along to Santa Rosillo filled with faith, hope and love!!
Upon arriving, the kids proved that they needed very little from me.
They unloaded all of the supplies, mixed the paint, divided up into teams and got started....
First up was painting the outside of the church white.
Within 20 minutes Linda (a girl that has become a good friend of Katelyn and Anna's) was already covered in paint... little did I know, that this was a foreshadowing of things to come.
When the buckets got low, the kids worked together to empty the bags of paint (yes, paint is sold in bags).
Then they began adding water.
I went searching for something to stir the paint with, but returned to discover that they had all they needed at the ends of their arms.
"How do you know how much water to add?" I ignorantly asked. They laughed at me and said, "Until it feels like paint."
Although we had music playing, what could be heard most loudly was the sound of laughter and silliness.
As one group was working on the white base coat, another group was busy painting the window covers and doors that the carpenter had made for us.
At first I felt a little anxious about the care-free approach the kids were taking....
How are we going to get all the paint off the floor?
Are their parents going to be upset that they're getting paint all over their clothes?
Is the animadora going to wish we never came?
I'm glad everyone's having fun, but are they doing a good enough job?
As I looked around, I realized that I was the only one concerned. Everyone else was having a great time. By the grace of God, I recognized the devil's attempt to jeopardize this amazing effort. I renounced the evil spirits of fear, judgement and doubt. Immediately, I was filled with Jesus' love and could enjoy all that He was doing - not only in the church, but in the hearts of each kid that volunteered to come.
Each one took a turn recapping the day's events in rhyme. Although I couldn't understand all that they said, it was super funny and exactly the break everyone needed.
I'm continually amazed by how effortlessly the folks here throw together meals for large groups of people with no advanced notice. I'm also constantly blessed to see how truly grateful everyone is for whatever has been prepared.
They graciously accept a chicken head when the person next to them received a succulent thigh and leg. I beg the Lord for even a fraction of their gratitude.
As we ate lunch the carpenter hung the window coverings.
It was really starting to come together!!
Finally, it was time to put on the color.
Michael had SO much fun painting because he didn't even have to worry about drips!
The elderly animador gave the kids permission to choose whatever color they wanted.
As the lime green was taking over, we all prayed that the community would love it as much as we do.
Sometimes, people ask why we like living here so much.
It's hard to describe....
...but I know one reason is that the people are super laid back and really know how to have fun!!!
This is Espranller and Jherson, two of our beloved Lost Sheep.
In between the paint fights and wrestling matches, the church got finished.
The paint-covered kids made their way to the canal, where they splished, splashed and scrubbed themselves clean.
Cynthia and I washed the rollers, brushes and paint buckets in the canal upstream from the kids. They all thought it was hilarious that the water they were swimming in was green instead of the normal brown.
Before leaving we made plans to visit the following Wednesday for our first community gathering. EVERYONE was super-duper excited... especially Cynthia!!!
A few days later we all piled into a camioneta and headed up the road to Santa Rosillo. When we arrived they split into groups and headed into the community to invite everyone to church. Within ten minutes the church was full.
Chris kicked things off with praise and worship.
Next, one of our animadoras (the same one who originally approached us about fixing up Santa Rosillo's church) shared a bible story and reflection.
As we loaded back into the camioneta to leave, the kids excitedly asked in unison, "So, what's next?"
My heart bubbled over with joy as I said, "Whatever Jesus wants."
I keep thinking of 1 Thessalonians 5:19
"Do not restrain the Spirit."