Sunday, March 26, 2006

Life Imitating Art

Remember The Money Pit? Some of you probably don't, so here's a summary for the younger crowd: Tom Hanks and Shelley Long buy a potentially great house for a great deal but as soon as they move in, things start falling apart. Big time. Hilarity ensues.

It's funny when it happens to someone else!

Our first worship service is one week away. Not only is the construction not done (we're hoping the glass will arrive in time- everyone's making promises but nothing is happening), but things keep going wrong in the building. It's fall now, so it's raining almost daily. With rain comes...leaks! In the newly repaired roof! Fortunately that falls to our landlords to fix. Next problem: a leaky toilet pump. Sounds small. Yet somehow, this one leaky toilet manages to drain our entire water supply on a regular basis. Not cool. Yesterday the men working to fix the roof had to wash their hands off in the ocean (we knew it was a convenient location!).

In the end, it's not really like The Money Pit because these problems aren't costing us loads and loads of money. But they take time to fix and we have a definite deadline. Every day we mark off the countdown, the attacks from Satan get stronger and stronger. Unfinished renovations, self-doubt, not enough time and personal attacks are flying fast and furious. But at the same time, every day, we're hearing from more and more people that are planning on coming. We have no idea how many people to expect. We've heard to expect hundreds. If we top 300, we'll have to use overflow space--an excellent problem to have. So though we're feeling Satan's arrows, we have a clear picture of why. Something good is going to happen one week from today. Something that will help enlarge God's kingdom. Please pray for us (and our building!) in the next few days. We need a whole army to support us in this battle.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

And now, a little break from the obvious

I noticed something about my language research this week. I used the title as a clever distraction from worship service numero um (no, we don't speak spanish). I catch more and more phrases people say as expressions; that is, they cannot be translated literally. One of the first that I learned was "I have a sore elbow," which means that I am jealous ^_^. The reason I keep trying to learn more expressions isn't to fit in better when I talk to others. It is and will always be obvious that I am a gringo and didn't learn Portuguese at home. But the real purpose of expressions is to say things more subtly than saying them outright. If you say that you do not want to come to dinner, it seems much harsher than, "Well, we'll see if we can make it." Lots of times I want to say things without saying them directly, especially in a culture that avoids saying "no." Lastly, the newest giria (expression) I learned is,"That's a good idea." The meaning, which might have saved me some embarassment earlier, is that although the idea is good, I don't agree. Thanks for playing!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Time's Running Out!

It's hard not to be stressed out right now. Honestly, it's hard not to feel completely overwhelmed. There's so much to do and the perfectionist in me wants to do it right. My eye for detail is working overtime. I know how important this all is. This is the culmination of what we've been working on for four years. Finally, there will be a church.

And I feel so much personal responsibility. Everything we do needs to be just so. I don't want to alienate anyone by our gaffes or oversights. I want to do everything in my power to do my best.

But my best will never be good enough. My task-oriented, pragmatic nature is failing me. I've been focused on getting the job done, but have lost my true focus. Somehow, though He has taught me this lesson over and over again over the past four years, I have forgotten that God will work in spite of me. That is an impossibly hard lesson for a control freak like me to learn. Our church will grow, but it won't be because I made our publications match, our decor warm and inviting and had mastered every new song. It will have nothing to do with the sermons, the refreshments or the visitor packets. It will grow because it's what God wants. It will grow because we serve a mighty God whose greatest desire for every person is a relationship with Him. It will grow because this is part of God's eternal plan. What a relief. I'm just a helper. A tool. He's got a plan and we're all fortunate enough to be a part of it.

So why does my to-do list give me a headache?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Seven Thoughts (or, The Decongestant Speaks)

-It rained today. It's been about three months since we had a good rain. I heard thunder for the first time in over a year.

-We went to our first wedding on Thursday night. You can tell that a lot of American traditions had been picked up from TV and movies. It was for Jaci's son, Douglas, and his girlfriend. She was far and away the happiest bride I have ever seen.

-We're making progress. This week Keith bought our sound equipment. It's not at the church building yet, so the Parkers' TV sounds incredible!

-We finally got to eat at Burger King on Thursday. (It's been open for a while but we hadn't made it down there yet.) It was as good as expected.

-I've got a head cold this weekend. Hopefully this means I'll be healthy for inaugural (which is in three weeks!)

-Tomorrow is our one year arrival anniversary. I'm sure we'll have more to say about that later.

-If you haven't responded to my previous post about belief yet, please check it out. I'm learning a great deal from you guys.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What Is Faith?

Russ and I just walked in the door from our Bible study. (It’s after 9:30 and we have yet to eat dinner, so this will be a short post!) Several of us have been going once a week to study with a group of “kids” that range in age from 15-22 and are all connected in one way or another. In the girls group tonight I found myself wanting to explain something but not having the words in English, let alone in Portuguese. I know that all kinds of people read our blog, so I’m going to ask for your collective wisdom. Please take a minute and answer this question in our comments section.

What does “believe” feel like?

BTW, we open our doors in one month from today. It's a little overwhelming!