Picking up the receiver I answered with the Hello-Hola mix of, “Alo”, commonly used in South America. I heard the now familiar voice of Pastor Cristian with his accent of a Spanish speaker proud of the English that he knows, “Vuaiting ford joo.” Translation: waiting for you. Quickly I finished putting on my lip-stick, gathered up my baby boy, grabbed my over sized purse stuffed with baby care products and teaching materials and then we took the elevator down to the lobby. Sure enough, the jolly man met us with keys in hand and a pleasant grin on his face. What was going through his mind as he saw two dolled up gals and a baby coming out of the sliding doors?
The church is close to plaza, a cultural characteristic of most Latin American pueblos. When I recommended to the pastor that we could have easily found a way to get to church without him having to pick us up he emphatically refused to entertain the notion and would not hear one more word of it. He told us in the most eloquent and heartfelt Spanish, “It is my job to serve God’s servants.” Our clicking heels echoed determination and excitement as we passed the friendly hotel staff and met the fresh Sunday morning air.
This would be our final day in the Southern Chilean town of Temuco, for this trip at least. We had spent all Saturday afternoon and evening with the bible school students teaching and talking together. The ministry would now conclude with the congregation. Last year DaRonn had visited this church and told me that they had a lively time of songs of worship to the Lord before the message. He told me this fledgling group used CDs during the worship time because they had no instruments. I was surprised when we walked up the narrow staircase and into the antique sanctuary with creaky wood floors only to discover four real live musicians and a singer all jamming at deafening tones. What a sight! The electric guitar was passionately played by the pastor’s floppy-haired fifteen year-old. The acoustic guitar was played by the pastor’s brother, contrastingly seated next to his nephew in old gospel style. On either side of this pair were the keyboardist and the drummer. Like a bouncy rubber ball the lead singer was out in front of them all. Only when we carefully made our way down to the front, dodging flailing arms did we see three gals off to the side singing around a microphone. Tyler’s two favorite lullabies being loud church music and the noise that an airplane makes as it takes off, was quickly asleep.
After service and before we headed to the pastor’s house for a delicious Chilean roast made by his wife, he looked at me with teary eyes and said, “When we were starting out this work we felt so alone. But now that we have come together with DaRonn and you and the ministry you have we do not feel lonely any more.” He symbolically closed his fingers together and continued, “We feel connected, covered and strong.” I encouraged him to continue on because what I had seen of the ministry was lively, impacting and excellent. I had been translating the conversation to my friend, Raetta, who had come with me. She then asserted, “And I want to tell you, you did good when you found this lady!” as she put her arms around his wife Giselle’s shoulder. I agreed. She is spunky and is working alongside her husband.
We were then on our way back to Santiago, where we had began our week preaching in a conference and also teaching in two local churches’ mid week services. I especially had a fun time in a lively Pentecostal church Thursday night. They were so responsive. I think I could have said, “My favorite color is green,” and they would have waved their hands and shouted, “Amen!”
I have worked my way backward relating the experiences of the past week to get back to Wednesday night. This was a night of destiny for me. I truly believe that something happened in me that day. It was March 28th.
As I was preparing for this trip weeks ago I looked at the preaching schedule. My first scheduled meeting was March 28th. Why did that date sound so familiar? Then it hit me: that is the day that I gave my life to the Lord. This year, 2007, marks 22 years as a Christian.
I was 8 years old and sitting front and center in a Derek Prince meeting at my home church. My child like mind could not understand the sad events that would take this non-denominational store front church to destruction just a few short years after this meeting and end its life at less than a decade old. But that was the farthest thing from my mind when this honorable man of God finished his message and quite frankly said, “If you need prayer then come up front.” Immediately my cousin (who is one year older than me) and I stood up and looked at each other and said simultaneously, as only best friends can, “I need to go up there.” We stood in the line and waited for the man of God. She whispered over to me, “What are you up here for?” I said, “I don’t know. What are you up here for?” Our parents had seen us come up and also whispered the same question. All of a sudden we looked at each other and again said in unison, “I need to get saved!” My cousin began to weep as Derek Prince asked her the question that seemed to be on everyone’s mind that night, “What are you here for?” As he finished with her I didn’t wait. I blurted out, “I need to get saved.” He grinned as he closed his eyes and said, “Repeat after me.” The grin faded as he seriously placed his hand on my head and led me in a salvation prayer. The words were no different than the ones I had repeated every week in Sunday school since before I could remember. But tonight was different. Tonight was holy.
Exactly 11 years later, the evening of March 28, 1996 I was seated next to DaRonn and he put a small box in my hands and asked, “Will you marry me?” Being a simplistic reductionist at the time I was moved by the matter-of-fact proposal and accepted. I have always held dear in my heart the fact that DaRonn proposed to me on the anniversary of my salvation.
Remembering these events I did the math: 1985, 1996, and 2007. This was exactly another 11 year segment!
The first encounter of consecration established me as a child of God assured of my eternal relationship with him. The second encounter of consecration committed me to the covenant union with my husband. What could I expect for this third encounter?
Time has proven my walk with the Lord. Without trying to sound proud, but with total humility and gratefulness I can say that I have never strayed from the Lord’s side. Time has proven my marriage and we are stronger now than when we first began. I know that time will prove this next phase, so I may have to wait another 11 years to say with confidence just exactly what it was that God did in me on this date.
The inkling that I am sensing is that it was not only something that he did in me, but something that he is doing through me. I think that it has something to do with international influence. This is the first time that I have branched out to another country outside of Bolivia since beginning our career as missionaries. My simple prayer of consecration last Wednesday evening was something like, “God, I am at your disposition. Do with me what you will.”
It seems that important questions are connected with this date. One question directed toward me that night was made by our friend Pastor Juan Carlos Letelier in Santiago, “Are you ready?” It was as though in that moment he represented the people of the nations. And then I can’t get Pastor Cristian Tejero Aviles statement out of my mind either, “Waiting for you.” I am excited to meet up with those who are indeed waiting.