I’m not sure how much sense I can make today. The past four days have been a whirlwind of hosting our friends from the Presbyterian Church in Guatemala. We have been visiting them every year since 1999 and this year they came to see us.
We’re having a festival of friendship in all my favorite ways. If you asked me to design a perfect week of Presbyteriana I would say it would start with my friends from Guatemala and somehow find a way visit my favorite camp: Gilmont. And that is exactly what we’re doing this week. We’re touring just about every ministry Grace Presbytery offers, then cap off the week with a Mission Retreat at Gilmont.
And I now appreciate how much work goes into hosting groups of people. We’ve had to find hosts for seven people. We’ve had to transport them, feed them and show them some of the ways we minister to God’s people.
I got to introduce one of their pastors to my family on Sunday when we worshiped at our old church in Garland. Guillermo preached a barnstormer of a sermon on the unity of the church, just like we knew he would. We had a BBQ dinner at Julie’s house.
Then the fun began.
Monday, we visited about three churches and two interfaith programs. Then we had lunch at another church and toured their Day Care program. We even stopped at a hardware store that specializes in recycling and green living. We went by FPC Garland to hear about their Sack Lunch ministry and to catch our breath and wait out a pretty lively rainstorm. Then we went to Rob’s house for pizza.
Whenever we had time to relax, the conversation would turn to a variety of subjects. After all these years we have deeper communication than ever about the ministries that each group offers, the common problems we have—the difficulties in finding enough volunteers for our ministries.
The experts told us ten years ago that if we ever got to the place where we could joke with each other we would know we had created a real relationship. We got there 3 or 4 years ago. But now we’ve graduated to inside jokes we share within just our group. Miriam braided all the women’s hair, including mine. She is the most nurturing woman I know. Part of it is that she is a nurse by profession. There is an instant intimacy with her. She invites it and accepts it.
Tomorrow is breakfast at Eastminster Presbyterian Church. We will tour a food pantry, have lunch together then visit the Dallas Arboretum and have dinner back at Eastminster.
We’ve spent a lot of time visiting in each other’s homes. They will come to my home on Thursday just before the retreat at Gilmont. They will see my home, how I have decorated it, the physical possessions I value, the way I spent my day when I am at home. They will learn things about me that they never knew just by talking to me. There will be tiny little intimacies revealed. They will meet our dog and cats.
I will get to serve them after all these years of them cooking for me when I visited them. They will learn the value I place on our relationship by how much love and effort goes into making them feel comfortable. I already have the menu planned. But now I know that two of my friends are diabetic and I can make sure they have healthy food at my house.
I keep trying to understand well enough to explain to other people how it is possible to have a relationship with people you can’t even communicate with. While my Spanish gets better with every nearly-immersion Spanish experience, it’s still not up to a real conversation without a translator. Yet it’s one of the most pure and simple friendships I have.
Maybe because it is so simple. We never discuss politics or other controversial subjects. I have no idea where they stand on some of the thorniest issues in the world today. But I know they read the same bible: Psalm 133 is the same as Salmos 133, no matter the language. The grace promised in John 3:16 is the same.
It is not any more complicated than that.
I don’t have any more to say than that for this blog. I’ll have pictures next week.