October 18, 2015

Remember the Sabbath day - A Day of Rest

Bramalea 2015 HANDS Team:

When we arrived in Belize on Friday, it was already raining. By Sunday morning it had been raining for 3 days.  Not raining DURING 3 days, but rather raining CONTINUOUSLY for 72-hours straight. Sometimes  a light shower, at other times a downpour, but always rain. By the time we had our breakfast, the rain had finally stopped, at least for now.  

Our plan was to have breakfast and then Mario would pick us up at 8:45 a.m. so that we could join them for the service at New Life Presbyterian Church where he is now the pastor. In the afternoon, we had arranged to take a small cultural excursion to The Xunantunich Mayan ruins in western Belize. Such opportunities are an important part of the EduDeo HANDS structure in order to help the team gain a better understanding and learn more about the country where they are serving. It is a great opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of our hosts and to spend time with them outside the context of the school and all the work that happens there. As our plans had been to work both Saturdays while here (although by now, we should have realized that that what we planned was seldom if ever going to be what happened while here) Ruth and Mario had graciously agreed to arrange schedules so that this could happen on Sunday afternoon. 

As they arrived to pick us up for church, we came to understand that while it had stopped raining in Orange Walk, the effects of the constant rain over several days was having its effects in terms of significant flooding. The government had issued a flood warning across most of the country and as a result church had been cancelled.  While Ruth and Mario had been in touch with most of their congregation to check up on them and let them know that church as cancelled, there were several families that they were unable to reach. So they were heading out to drive to ensure that all their flock were safe and cared for. After the events of Saturday with the break-in at the school, as a team we had already decided that Ruth and Mario needed a break and that we would cancel the Xunantunich Mayan excursion to give them a chance to rest and recover. However, they were using this time to continue to serve others and this level of pastoral care epitomizes the servant's hearts that Mario and Ruth demonstrate in all aspects of their lives, family and ministry. 

So as a team, we unexpected found ourselves with a full day and no plans. This was quickly realized to be an incredible opportunity to truly celebrate a Sabbath Day of rest. Amazing! 

We gathered in one of our rooms and organized our own church service worshipping Jesus through singing, sharing and prayer. As part of our preparations for the trip, EduDeo had provided us with some material including a series of video presentations called Helping without Hurting (https://www.chalmers.org/when-helping-hurts) which is a challenge to look at the whole concept of poverty and the poor in a true and non-North American way. We huddled around the small i-Pad screen and battery powered speakers and started to watch some of these videos and a very interesting discussion ensued.  

What became clear to us is that once again, our plans were being set aside for something that God had already pre-ordained for us to do. What came out of these initial discussions was a "kernel"  of an idea, perhaps a seed that has been planted about what we could do with the reality of the poverty and broken relationships that exist all around us at home in Brampton.  We covenanted among ourselves to continue this discussion as a team once we return home and to seek God's face as to what it is that he is calling us to do. We'll see where God ultimately leads us and Bramalea Baptist Church in this regard, but we were excited by what God did with the "found time".  

The rest of the day was spent resting. Just resting. This was a very unique experience for all of us and allowed us time to rest, pray, worship and mediate on God's word as individuals and in adhoc groups. In the evening we organized dinner for ourselves at a local restaurant patio so that our hosts could take some time for rest themselves. Following that we gathered again for our evening devotional time and John led us through a study in Nehemiah which was very appropriate as we looked at how this humble servant and captive prisoner of the Persian King Artexerxes became the architect of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It's an amazing story of what God can do with ordinary and broken people. We again enjoyed a great time of discussion as we gathered around God's Word and looked forward to the our own building project at New Life School.

As our time ended, we reflected on what a blessing this Sabbath day had been and were again left wondering, what would tomorrow bring? We had some ideas of our own, but we were excited to see what God would do knowing that his plans would be taking precedence.

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