A person with a name

"The Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of My Barrio"
Hoo boy. I have rarely been so dust-covered as I am today. We set out this morning to go prayer walking in San Bernardo, then we ended up on Serra Gorda, praying over the city, then, after lunch, we went to Jacinto Lopez. San Bernardo's in the north of the city, right in the foothills, and it is incredibly dry and dusty. I have it on good authority that in the rainy season there are some small waterfalls in the hills, but there is nothing there now. It looks so much like Zimbabwe. Brown, dusty scrub with thorn trees. Goats. Then Jacinto Lopez is on a sort of plateau, and there is nothing to stop the wind from whipping through and picking dust up. So, even with liberal application of wet wipes, my face is still grimy.

But today was amazing. I had a terrible time concentrating while prayer walking, because there were so many people out, and because I was trying to take in what I was seeing, and how to get back to the van in time. But it was really fun to run into a little girl from the Saturday Bible study in San Bernardo, then to meet one of the ladies in her Bible study--and, by extension, to talk with one of her neighbors, and her neighbor's family. Before we had to get back to the van, my group walked up to the end of the neighborhood, where the homes gave way to scrub, and we met a couple named Carlos and Sandra. I had felt burdened to give Carlos a Gospel of John, and I ended up talking to them for a while. They live in a house, approximately four feet by five feet, made of wire fencing and plastic, with a yard marked off by car hood liners. I had a great time talking to them. They're familiar with the couple that does the Saturday Bible study, and they were very friendly. I look forward to following up with them.

"What is it that afflicts you, my son? Am I not here because I am your mother?"
This afternoon at Jacinto Lopez was also very interesting. We ended up running into quite a few English speakers, which was surprising. The neighborhood seems to receive a degree of care while simultaneously appearing lost and forgotten--probably because it takes an hour to get there, up a crazy road. But I believe God is working in Jacinto Lopez as well.

As a bit of follow up to yesterday's post, which included a note about the Virgin of Guadalupe, I have included a photo of the Virgin in San Bernardo (above), and of the Virgin in Jacinto Lopez (right). This is only a taste of what people are dealing with. The lady I spoke with yesterday in her store attempted to get me looking at a tract that would lead me to say a rosary to the Virgin.

Yesterday in our prayer walking we encountered another new thing. In one of the small streets, a group of people in the neighborhood had gotten together and paid the church to have a saint come visit them. When this happens, the church brings in the idol, and the people give their donations, and they spend time fasting from food and sleep, singing to the idol--possibly for a couple of days. This is just one example of the bondage.

Tonight was breathtaking. The CPD people invited us to stay with them after the prayer meeting, and they had us sit around a large table and take turns sharing our testimonies. I left with such a full heart. Many people had sweet things to say about my friend and the impact she's had on their lives. But everyone had something to say about someone who had led them to Christ. When I was leading the devotion yesterday, I shared from Colossians 1, about Epaphras--that Epaphras had led the people to Christ, as an individual, with a name. The gospel doesn't float; it is shared by individuals, with names. Tonight's testimonies just underscored that. It is incredible to think of what we will see in heaven, when we see the complete story, put all together, and see all the connections of God's word and God's blessing. And it is so amazing to come to a different country, culture, and language, and to meet people with just the same heart for Jesus.

Please pray for us as the team leaves tomorrow (we will miss them!) and as my friend and I begin to work on follow up from this week. Pray for wisdom and good use of our time.

Thank you for praying!

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