I am sitting at the airport in Santiago, Chile, waiting for the long flight that will bring me back to the United States. I was blessed to be invited to the Foro, or Forum, of the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile. Leaders from Chile, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries met together to plan mercy work for the upcoming year.
Chile is a wonderfully diverse and beautiful country. It is nearly 3000 miles long, but only a little over 200 miles across at the widest point. Our Lutheran brothers and sisters in Chile are amazing, faithful partners in the work of the LCMS.
They are also very resilient–Chile is no stranger to natural disaster, with frequent earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, floods, and volcanic eruptions. One of the things we talked about this week was how LCMS Health Ministry can partner together with the church in Chile to provide programming and resources for disaster response.
Earthquakes are frequent–there was one while I was here, plus an aftershock the next morning. I missed them both–apparently I can sleep through just about anything.
The meetings provided great discussion and opened up many opportunities for LCMS Health Ministry through parish nursing,community health education and Mercy Medical Teams throughout Latin and South America. I learned many things this week about myself, my faith, and our wonderful partners in the Gospel.
What did I learn? I learned that my Spanish is better than I thought–but not by much.
I learned that children are the same everywhere. We were honored with a wonderful lunch at the church in Santiago, and It was a great blessing to share in Matteo’s tenth birthday party, complete with cake and singing. Young boys were digging in the dirt, and young girls ran by, holding hands and giggling. One boy, with a sparkle in his eye, kept approaching from behind, letting out a loud, “Meow!” waiting for me to ask in my flawed Spanish, “Where is the cat?”
I learned that you don’t have to share a common language to make friends. I speak only broken Spanish, and Juana, the treasurer of the Lutheran Church in Valparaiso speaks only broken English, but we are good friends now.
LCMS Life Ministry hosted a conference at the Fort Wayne Seminary on Saturday. As I participated in the closing worship for the meeting in Chile, I knew that, because of the time difference, the attendees in Ft. Wayne were probably conducting their closing worship service at the same time. Our closing hymn brought me to tears. I was standing in Chile, singing Abide With Me in Spanish at the very same time that the group in Indiana was singing it in English. We were 3000 miles apart in very different places with very different voices, worshipping the same God and Savior with the same hymn. What a wonderful illustration of the global body of Christ!
Be watching for upcoming projects and opportunities for Health Ministry in Latin and South America, and please pray for the growing Lutheran churches in Chile, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and the rest of Latin and South America. To find out how you can support these growing Lutheran partners, visit www.lcms.org.