My students worked yesterday afternoon on their drama and thought of Bible verses they could share, but it seemed too short for a special program. I went to bed, but then decided to get up and pray a bit. As I prayed, I suddenly got the idea of doing the skit three times. The first time, the disciples would offer Jesus money to save them from the storm. The second time, they promised to earn their salvation through doing good deeds.
After each skit today, I asked the audience if it was correct. The level of engagement was high as children and adults voted down the incorrect renditions. I told my students they didn´t know their Bibles very well and asked them to try again. Finally the third time, the student actors followed Luke 8 to the letter and the audience gave their approval. I asked why Jesus saved his disciples. Many kids mentioned His love, but I added that He saved them because, quite simply, they needed to be saved. Onica, Fernanda and Jared each read a favorite verse in Spanish. I hadn´t heard them ahead of time, and I was surprised when Jared read a verse that brought our program to a perfect conclusion: “He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared.” (Revelation 21: 4) And that is part of our salvation we all look forward to.
I was trying to write this letter after lunch, but overheard Ryan and Anita discussing ways to make the world and church a better place. Soon I was sucked into their interesting conversation. Anita said that one thing she has learned on this trip is to let God work and that when we do, everything works out well. I told them that I always seek to be a catalyst for change, but I am learning that it is far better when the Holy Spirit is the catalyst. I have told the students several times this week, “If we want to make a spiritual impact, we had better asked the Spirit to do it. Let´s pray!”
During our past two trips to Las Palmas, one powerful presence has been a young man named Adonis, who always sought out my students and would get up at the crack of dawn to see us off when we left. Last June, while he and some other young men were playing leapfrog in a river that borders the property, he broke his neck and has been paralyzed ever since. His absence has left a big hole at Las Palmas for us, and even more so for his brothers and sisters here. This afternoon, we crammed all 15 of us, plus Andy and Jacqueline, the social worker, into the Las Palmas van and drove to Santo Domingo to visit Adonis in the little house where he lives with his aunt. It hurt to see the former body builder lying motionless in his bed, but his charismatic smile has not changed. We spent a couple hours visiting with him. Chelsea played a couple hymns on her violin and accompanied us on her ukulele as we sang. Onica had gotten to know him last year, so she chatted with him and showed him pictures of his buddy Stuart, who had come with us last year. Adonis is an absolute people person, so I interviewed my students with him, so he could get to know them. We had worship together to close our visit and as each student said goodbye to him, Adonis said in English, “Nice to meet you.” This is a terribly hard situation and we will continue to pray for God to work in Adonis´ life.
Right now we are in the tour bus headed to Santo Domingo. We decided to bring the students who are 18 and older who weren´t able to leave for the weekend. I require my students to sit with Dominicans and I cannot believe the conversations going on in Spanish all around me. I am more than blessed to be with these kids.