This is the third and final part of my account of the Thursday evening service at the Dominican church in Hispaniola. You can find part one and part two here if you need to catch up, because there will be no introduction.
After I spoke, Pasteur Wesley asked for testimonies from the congregation. There were many who stood and shared what the Lord had done for them. There was much joy. Even though I did not know what was being said, it made my heart glad.
Now it was preaching time!
I now know what it was like for my kids when they were little and I expected them to sit attentively in 'big' church and listen. I'm talking preschool age. I always knew that they understood little if any of the preaching, but I explained to them that this is one of the ways we can show God that we love Him-- by stilling still and being good during preaching time. I figured if they could sit for Mr. Rogers and Barney, they could sit for God. And they did.
I didn't expect them to be perfect, but they were not allowed to draw or play. Not even when Nona was sitting on the other side of them, tempting them. :) I did let her slip them small candies if they could eat them quietly and I pretended like I didn't notice. They thought they were pulling one over on me. Lol!
So now it's preaching time in the Dominican church, where every word is spoken in Spanish except for mine. And I am long done with my speaking and am sitting in the pew. I understood little to nothing of what was being said. I heard and recognized Jesus' name go by my way a few times. And at some point Pasteur Wesley was preaching on 'plastico' with a plastic bottle in his hand. That I got.
Now, I couldn't recognize a single word surrounding the word 'plastico', so I made up my own message quietly in my mind. It was about fake, plastic Christians. It was really good. I should have written it down. It would have made a great blog post.
But I couldn't write because in my head I was that little kid sitting in 'big' church. The pew was huge and I was tiny. My legs dangled, not touching the floor. I couldn't write because I needed to be respectful to the Lord and pay attention, even if I didn't understand what was being said from the pulpit. That's how I could show God I loved Him. :)
Sorry, children of mine. That was harder than I thought. I must not have damaged them too bad though, because all five are in church and serving the Lord today as adults. It's because of God's faithfulness and not my own wisdom, and that is for sure!
I spent a lot of my time just watching and listening to Wesley as he preached. I had lots of time to think. I was brought to tears more than once. I marveled at him, up there preaching his heart out. I marveled at his people, and at their obvious love for the Lord.
I knew that for most of them, he or Mel had led them to Christ and they were being discipled by them. The Lanes were working hard to teach them to live in a way that was pleasing to the Lord. That's a difficult task, as there is not a lot of family structure in the Dominican. Many of those young people had babies in tow and difficult family situations. But they loved the Lord because of that man standing before me preaching and his dear wife. Their preacher loves them, and their love for Pasteur Wesley and Melina was obvious.
The service was a couple of hours long. Even with not understanding the message, the minutes flew by. Our home church didn't know what a clock was back in the day, so this just felt right to me. Comfortable and like home.
Suddenly, Wes stopped preaching and people began standing. Mel explained that we were now breaking off into prayer groups. She was taking all of the English speakers. Melina, Zelma, and I had a sweet time of prayer with a lady originally from England. Then, after our prayer meeting, we were dismissed.
A young man came to me and scooped something out of a pan he was carrying and put it into my hand. It was a delicious homemade coconut candy of some type. I wish I had the recipe.
Many sweet folks came by and loved on me. I assumed that they were saying nice things because they were smiling and acting like they liked me. If they were being critical or mean I didn't know the difference, and so I hugged them and said 'thank you' anyway.
Sometimes something happens in your life and you come to see something from the Word of God a little differently. I think of Paul's letter to the church in Philippi, and I see it in a more personal light now. I've told you before-- I love easily. I tend to see folks a little more through the eyes of God than most people. I'm not sure why. I know it's the Lord and not me.
But I long for those wonderful people who I met that Thursday evening. And I can say with Paul, in Philippians chapter one:
"Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
I could go on. I love that whole chapter.
Lord willing, I will be back some day. But even if not, as I told them in my testimony, this I know-- that one day I will rejoice around the throne of God with these sweet people. My Dominican friends!
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