Sunday, February 3, 2013

Finding comfort in our troubles

In a culture that places a high value on friendship and community, I find myself listening more and talking less than usual. As I reconnect with church leaders in remote and rural settings, I am able to hear their joys and heartaches while visiting them or even while talking to them on a cellular phone. Their trust in God and their willingness to continue to spread the Gospel despite hardships and trials encourages me to persevere when I face my own disappointments and difficulties.

My dear friend, Santos Watson, is one of those brothers in the faith who has blessed me in such a way.  Santos and his wife, Griselda, are part of the Ngobe people group who live in the southern tip of Costa Rica. The sweet couple has three children and they minister to other Ngobe families who speak Ngabare in neighboring indigenous communities. The last time I saw them was last spring after they had attended a follow up session on Bible storytelling approximately two hours away from where they live near Paso Canoas. I visited their humble home in the middle of luscious plants and wild birds soaring by. The visit was particularly special because I was able to watch Griselda ride the only form of transportation they have, their beloved mare. She and Santos depend on their horse to get to places as much as we city folks depend on our vehicles to get from point A to point B.

I was by no means surprised when Santos called me on my mobile phone last Friday. He and I speak to each other regularly as Santos travels to a less remote area near his home in order to get a cellular signal. “Hermana Laura, my horse died and now we don’t have a way to get around,” said Santos in a matter of fact tone. Before I asked him what happened to his most treasured possession, I took the liberty to tell him our family’s van had stopped working and was now in the shop to be for an unknown amount of time until it got repaired. Unfortunately, Santos’ horse had been stolen by a couple of drunks and in their attempt to steal the mare, it fought back and the men decided it would be best to kill the animal. The heart-wrenching story left me speechless.  “Hermana Laura, we have a lot in common. I have to walk; you have to walk. I can’t travel far; you can’t travel far. However, if God wants me to have a horse again and if God wants you to have your van again, He will allow it. There is nothing too hard for God,” replied Santos ever so confident over the phone.

I will be seeing Santos and Griselda along with many other Ngobe leaders in a few short weeks. Our reunion will be filled with countless Bible story telling hours, the singing of stories from the Old and New Testament, dramas that involve children and youths in the telling of parables, etc. It will be a grand time to say the least. But most importantly, our bond will not be bolstered by our strengths but by the weaknesses we share. To serve out of my so-called strength would mean pride but to serve out of my weakness allows me to empathize and become a better friend.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Griselda and her horse near their home
Santos at our spring Bible storytelling training
Santos talking on his cell phone