Day 31: The Privilege of Ministry

1:30am- The guys are sleeping outside in our hammocks and it starts sprinkling on us. The sky had harbored storm clouds all day long on Friday, but they did nothing more than float overhead. Well, now they were slowly falling on us.

It was a light enough rain that I wouldn’t have minded to just keep laying there huddled in my blanket, but pretty soon we were taking down our hammocks and carrying them to the porch after all. Within a few minutes we were laying down again.

Sleeping in Hammocks5:30am- Oh, how thankful I am that we moved! It was raining hard now! I was on the edge of the porch, but I was able to keep dry. Only a few more inches and I would have been soaked. 5:30 was still to early to be waking though, so I fell back asleep.

8:00am- I woke up, and all the other guys were gone! I walked into the house where everyone was getting ready to eat breakfast. Danae told me that some of the girls had been up since 5:30 waiting in line to use the bathroom. Eita! I can’t even imagine…

DevotionsFor breakfast we ate French rolls with scrambled eggs, papaya, bananas, and hot milk. After breakfast we all sat down on the porch and Uncle Jim asked the kids what they had studied from their devotions that morning and how it applied to the themes we were emphasizing over the weekend.

Next up was a game of “killer ball”, a version of dodgeball that isn’t actually as violent as it sounds, and they absolutely loved the game. I took pictures during the first round as Uncle Jim dominated the game, and I joined in for rest of the rounds.

After awhile we went into the house for a break and enjoyed cheesy muffins and pineapple juice that Aunt Julie and Danae had prepared. It was getting to be a fairly hot day, so we cooled off on the porch, ate our snack, and then pulled out some table games like UNO and Rummikub.

As I was finishing up my game of Rummikub, almost everyone else had gathered out on the lawn to play Ninja. I think the game was imported by a church from Rochester that had brought a group down to work with the Leonard’s a couple years ago. This was the same group that helped do some electric work in the chapel.

I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Ninja, probably because sometimes it seems like it’s overplayed, but it’s still fun. So I jumped right in, and boy did I have a fun morning! I won the first two rounds I played, and Danae came outside in time for the third round.

NinjaUnfortunately I had a brain lapse during the third round and wasn’t even paying attention when the person next to me got me out. But it was okay because Danae eventually won that round. I won the fourth round, and by this time everyone was afraid of the “Americanos”. So what did Danae and I do? We joined forces to eliminate the opposition, of course!

Halfway through the fifth round we had to stop for lunch, so we reluctantly laid down our arms and went inside. Lunch consisted of rice, beans, lasagna, bananas, and pop.

When I went through the line I teased one of the guys who had been teasing me as well. He got his rice and before he could put the beans on his rice, I was using the rice spoon to sweep half of his rice onto my plate, causing him to burst out laughing. Then when we sat down and got a chair for himself, I was already sitting so I set my feet on his chair as a foot rest and thanked him in Portuguese, causing him to laugh some more. It was so fun!

Following lunch we all sat down and shared what we had learned over the weekend together, so each person had a chance to tell us how God had challenged them.

All these kids have been in the church’s Bible club, so the last thing we did was a game of charades, demonstrating a story from the last semester of Bible club. The boys formed a team and the girls formed two teams, and we gave them a few minutes to decide what to do. Uncle Jim, Aunt Julie, Danae, and I were the judges.

Samson and Delilah StoryThe guys re-enacted the story of Israel in the wilderness, and the funniest part was when “Moses” hit a rock (the ones we brought back from the quarry the other day) and water came out of it! The boys had pulled a water hose around to the rocks, and when Moses hit the rock, another boy turned on the water! It was SO creative!

Both girls groups chose the story of Samson and Delilah, and they also did well re-enacting the story. It was so funny to see everyone wrapped up in blankets and hammocks to imitate the clothes worn by the people of days gone by.

At about 2:00 we wrapped things up, took some pictures together, and returned the kids to their homes. It was kinda sad to see them go, but man, we were exhausted! I guess that means we did our job!

Danae and I rested a little and then we received word that we would be playing music at a church in the evening. First Regular Baptist Church in Crato celebrated its 65th anniversary, and to commemorate the occasion they had a conference with the theme of Christ’s return. They invited their six daughter churches and church plants from the city to join them for the weekend, and the Leonard’s church is one of these congregations.

Well, Danae and I were given the privilege to play our instruments for them, so we practiced a trumpet piece that we had been preparing, and I also practiced my favorite piano arrangement. For supper we quickly ate some grilled cheese sandwiches and then off we went!

Danae Playing TrumpetDanae played the offertory and I accompanied her and then I played the postlude. In these churches, the prelude and postlude are an important part of the service, not just filler music as people are entering and exiting. The service begins, and the prelude is a time of meditation.

At the end of the service, everyone sits and listens to the postlude and then they get up and leave. This is one cultural difference that I personally think is much, much better than how we do things in our American churches. It’s rare to have people in a church who can play music like Danae and I, so people appreciate it more. Back home, we are spoiled with good music and we mindlessly hear it in the background as we file in and out of our pews.

BaptismAnother neat experience was watching the baptism of twelve people, nine from First Baptist and three from one of the daughter church plants. I always enjoy watching baptisms because it’s a good indication of a growing church that is reaching out to the lost!

The special speaker for the weekend is the pastor of the church in Iguatu that I first visited when I came here a few weeks ago. He spoke from 1 Thessalonians about how believers should live in these last days as we anticipate the coming of Christ.

At the end of the service, the pastor asked Danae and I to come back and play in the morning for communion. He asked us to play a trumpet/violin duet as the elements were being served, and Danae and I excitedly agreed to this unique endeavor.

The pastor is actually one of the most if not the most musically-trained person in the church. He plays the piano well and sings extremely well, so it was a privilege for them to have Danae and I there for a couple days, playing some music that the church never gets to hear.

Back at home Danae got busy on her computer, arranging three simple duets for us to play. I told her to do whatever she wanted for the violin part because I figured it would be just fine. She’s a music major and has learned the basics of violin, so she knows what she’s doing. Especially for communion, the music only needs to be simple and meditative.

I went to bed for the last time in that room, enjoying my air-conditioning for one last night…

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