So, Greasy and Grubby went around knocking on doors in El Salvador. Do you remember how it began?
You might want to review the story about the birthday party, which gives a little history about this visit to our sister church community which began with a call from God to get up and go, so the two of us got up and went.
That "get up and go" vision included instructions from God which were pretty specific: Go. The two of you. Don't make a bunch of plans. Don't take a bunch of stuff with you. Go knock on doors.
That was it.
We thought about Jesus sending out his followers, two by two without an extra cloak -- it's pretty hard for us to travel with nothing. We thought that maybe taking the Word of God door to door might be a good idea, so we did pack a few hundred Spanish copies of the Gospel of John. As we were preparing for our trip, we also had a VBS (Vacation Bible School) happen at our church. Our kids had "Jesus Loves You" t-shirts with big red hearts on them, and, because these same shirts were also available in Spanish, the kids gave funds to purchase shirts to send with us for the kids in our sister church.
So, armed with the Gospel of John and love shirts, we went. And, carrying the Gospel, we knocked on doors. Well, mostly, we rattled barbed wire gates or hollered into the yards, "Hola ... con permiso?"
" ¡Pase, pase, por favor!" Come in!
One of our first visits was with a large family. The grandma seemed very old. She had a long, long story to tell. I did not understand any of it. We stood, we sat, we listened, we hugged, we cried, we hugged some more. She did not want to let go. I remember thinking, why am I here? I feel useless. I do not understand Spanish, my poor friend Greasy is struggling with hers. At the end of all those tears and hugs we made a circle, and our pastor prayed. Then, the adults were given the little Gospels as gifts of love.
Another one of our early visits was to the store lady's house. We have always called her the store lady because she runs a little tienda right near the church. She invited us in, had us sit down in the shade outside of her house. She was very distraught because her son had recently died, and was not active in the church. She gave a long explanation of her son's involvement in what were clearly bad activities, and it took us a while to get it because we did not understand the word for witchcraft. Our pastor quietly turned to us and said, "Halloween" and then we understood. Her church had not offered any hope of salvation for her son, because of his recent activities, and she was beside herself.
She had raised her son in the church. He strayed. And while lost, he died. Mom was left hopeless. Yet in those moments of despair being poured out at our feet, God put the most perfect words into my friend's mouth. She uttered a message of pure grace and comfort, like a salve on the mother's wounds.
This experience, of being given the right words at the right time happened again and again. When it happens in English, we sometimes notice it and thank God for it. When it happens in a language with which you are struggling, it's like an outrageous miracle that sends wild shivers through you when you realize what has happened. You can't help but take notice and give thanks.
Each visit ended in the same way, with a circle of prayer and sharing the Gospel of John - the Gospel of Love.
In God's mysterious way, he sent two unlikely ladies on a door-knocking mission. Why in El Salvador? Why not in our own neighborhood?
To be continued...
(Photo note: This photo was taken at the home of the large family. Most of the adults in the household could not read. The older boy took the little gospel and said he would read it out loud to his grandma.)