An actually-quick update! Since I just now (12am) got back from sorting gifts and the like with my team (PG’s family). We have a pretty packed day ahead of us tomorrow, so Imma try to go to sleep at a sane hour.
We arrived at the church at precisely 8:30 (which was a blessing because there was a transportation strike today, resulting in road blockades) to set up for the eyeglasses clinic, pray, etc. in time to open by 9:30. Pastor Fernando ended up arriving almost an hour late, at about 9:20. So while we waited, we prayed as a team for a while, asking for an efficient day, for unusual love, etc. I’m always reminded of how great prayer is. More on that later.
We sped-set-up and opened by 9:45, and did eyeglass fittings until 12. 12-1:45-ish was lunch (had to change the setup of the room), then re-set-up for an afternoon clinic session from 2-5. Like last year, we had fitting stations in the front (me, PG, and Tina each ran a station), and after a person was fitted (or told their vision is perfecto), they went to the spiritual counseling section if they wanted to. God really answered our prayers for nationals to show up to talk with people, connect with them, counsel them, share the Gospel if they wanted to hear it. There were usually more nationals than there were ‘clients.’ Another thing is, it was a much less rote/mind-numbing process this time—we actually had breaks where no people had to be fitted, breaks that Maurisio promptly took advantage of to sit in the chair opposite me and ask for a fitting, 8 times total. We ended up with many unclaimed glasses, so hopefully Pastor Fernando is able to give them out over the next year. I think it was interesting, since we did encounter people who really wanted glasses and seemed like they were lying to get them, but I took my lesson to let go a little and let God be the judge/pick my battles, in part because I knew that I could afford to—we had plenty of glasses.
So after closing and after tea, it was back to the hotel and then out to dinner (FABULOUSLY FANTASTIC Italian food, i.e. thin, al dente spaghetti noodles that we could pick a sauce to put over). It was before the food arrived that one of my favorite moments of this trip happened. I was sitting at the long table across from Chris and Damaris, and on the left of Tim. We were talking about Tanya and Samuel, who stayed at the hotel because they were tired and not feeling well respectively (Janie stayed behind too to take care of them). Tim said, “We should pray for them! Like, before we do the big group prayer [for dinner].” I said, “Yeah, let’s do it! I’ll start.” So the four of us just bowed our heads there and spent 5-7 minutes praying for our friends, for healing and recovery, for patience, etc. I feel like Public and/or Spontaneous Displays of Faith are not very common occurrences among Protestant Christians, among Chinese Protestant Christians in particular. This was definitely my first truly spontaneous group prayer. And I could feel the power of it. I could feel what it meant to really pray for someone, not just say you’ll pray for them. The really trippy thing is that before the trip, PG and Tina and Silas and I prayed together, and PG prayed that prayer would be an area of growth—addressing the whole team, he said he hoped that we would gather in small groups and pray spontaneously for things that God puts on our hearts. Prayer is talking to God and we ought to do it more often and more fervently.
Well, now that I’ve written another not-short update, please pray that my health will remain strong even while both my roommates (Janie and Tanya) aren’t feeling well, and I’m running on little sleep. Also pray for my teammates’ health of course 🙂
Looking forward to our last day of ministry! (Where’d the time go??)
Isabella – 7/12/17