We began talking yesterday about the mid-week service that I attended at Pasteur Wesley Lane's Dominican church in Jarabacoa on Thursday evening. If you missed the beginning, you can read it here, because we are not going to review, but will, instead, jump right back in.
They sang a few more congregational songs that I didn't know and then it was time for Bible quizzing. Everyone got real happy. Wesley set up the rules. There were three verses that they had obviously discussed previously. This was pretty easy to follow. They reviewed them. The verses were these:
1 John 5:7 - "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."
8 "And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."
9 "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son."
...except in Spanish. :)
Then folks could take a try at reciting them from memory. If you got one verse correct, you got a small wrapped caramel. For two verses, two caramels. And if you could say all three from memory, you would receive a full-sized American candy bar.
You would have had to give away a new bicycle in a Bible challenge in the states to generate that much enthusiasm. And maybe not even then.
Now, I haven't mentioned until now that the makeup of the congregation was largely young people. The church was filled with older teens and young adults under thirty. There were some middle-aged folks, but I don't recall anyone who I would call elderly. I don't know if that means much to those not in the ministry, but there are pastors in the states who would be tempted to do something illegal to have a church made up of those demographics. A youthful church usually equals a healthy, growing church.
So, bunches of these young people were sitting right up front and enthusiastically participating in the Bible challenge. People from all over the congregation were anxious for a try. Lots of candy won and happy people. One young girl quickly and correctly recited all three verses and then took the candy bar right to her proud, smiling momma sitting in another pew. I asked Mel about it later, and she told me that the girl had chosen her mom's favorite. Makes me cry just writing of it, I can see it so clearly. Precious!
Next, Wesley spoke for several minutes, and every once in a while I heard him say 'Bárbara'. Then he stopped talking and gestured towards me. I turned to Melina and in a whisper asked her if he wanted me up there. She laughed and nodded in affirmation. This language barrier stuff is for real.
I went to the pulpit and introduced myself. My interpreter was Bernadette's daughter, who had volunteered for the job. She is a sweetheart, and at thirteen she speaks three languages fluently. That is not as a result of some advanced academic program, but is of necessity. She uses all three languages daily in conversation, and that's all she's ever known. How in the world she doesn't get them mixed up is an amazement to me!
Now Wes' monologue while throwing my name around had me a little unnerved, since I hadn't a clue as to what he was saying about me. Huge disadvantage. If he said something mean I didn't even know to get him back! I joked about my vulnerability and then gave my testimony just a sentence or two at a time, pausing for Melissa to interpret. She did an awesome job, and the congregation was attentive and engaged. Sweet people.
I ended and sat back down in my place. Wes took the pulpit back and spoke several sentences, to which everyone looked at me and laughed. You're killing me here, boy. This time I turned to Melina and asked her what he had said. She told me that he had said how relieved he was that I had not told any bad stories about him.
Rats! I need a do-over. I have plenty!
We will finish up tomorrow. :)
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