Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"working" in the fields of harvest...

I want to ask you to pray for my brother Brad today. He is having surgery on his shoulder as we speak. My sister Lynae came from Virginia to care for him for a few days as he will not be able to function on his own for a while. He is having his shoulder joint mended as a hole had worn through. I don't know exactly what that means, but it gives a level of indication of how hard Brad works at his camp. I appreciate you lifting him up!

When my team arrived from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Tumbes, Peru, we had to wait for a bus to take us to our next city. While in the station, a young man in an expensive, red sweat uniform came over and asked to sit by me.

He was also returning from Guayaquil, but was headed back to Piura, a city I am very familiar with. We spent the next 45 minutes or so getting know each other.

He is a 15 year old power lifter. He has traveled quite a bit in South America, from competition to competition. Apparently, he is very good. He showed me several medals he had earned on his latest trip.

He had been to a competition in NYC at some point in the past, but never really connected with anyone from the US. This was a dream of his. This gave him the courage to come to me to have a conversation.

As surrounded by people his age (from my own team) we were, I found it quite interesting that he was talking to me. I introduced him to other team members, but his focus remained on me.

One of the things we seldom get to do on our summer trips is build lasting relationships with the nationals (other than our translating team). This is not as we want it, but as it must be because we cover so much ground and are generally, always on the move, even within a city.

We still connect with people, and exchange email address to remain connected, but there is a longing within me to be able to really invest myself into many of them. Perhaps one day...

'Moises Castilla' is his name. It was screen printed on his sweat suit, both the top and the bottom, in white ink. The name of his power lifting squad was also there.

He asked me many things. I told him we were there to share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with the people of his country. We made plans to try to reconnect in a city we would both be in later in the month. It never happened, and that makes me sad.

He talked about his family and I talked about mine. What he was doing as a 15 year old young man, was far from the norm in his country. He had a coach, but they had gone different ways upon arrival in this city. He was very well spoken, and very respectful. I was amazed at his grace. His age, his passion for talking, and the intelligent way he conducted himself reminded me of another 15 year old. I found myself wondering if this connection was intentional.

As we were preparing to board our bus (his was at a later time) he began to shed his sweat suit. I wondered why, but really didn't give it a second thought.

Then he began to say words I didn't understand as he held his uniform in my direction.

He was giving me his weightlifting warm-ups. He said, "I have always dreamed of having a meaningful conversation with an adult from the USA. You have fulfilled that dream for me, and I want you to have these to remember me by."

I was dumbfounded. I had nothing to give to him as my gear had been stowed on the bus. I think my mouth fell open as I searched for words to articulate my appreciation.

We boarded.

He stood in the bus station as if he were my own son. He found me through the smoked windows and waved. He held that gaze. As the bus began to move, he did too. He cocked his head and maintained his view. He walked as we pulled forward, and continued to wave.

As we pulled out of the bus yard and turned, he followed until we were out of view, waving.

I confess, I do not understand this encounter. I didn't even get to share the gospel because of his own passion for the spoken word. I did talk about the Lord, but not near the depths I had hoped.

I held out hope that we would speak again in the city where we planned to meet. When we never reconnected, it left me hurting for his Salvation. That has not changed.

His warm-up uniform, which boldly proclaims his name, is on display in one corner of my office...as a reminder to pray for him and his Salvation. A reminder of a joyful encounter with a passionate young man who loved without condition.



At 9:13 PM, Blogger Mike, Youth Pastor said...

I will be praying for Moises! How incredible!

At 8:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too will be praying for Moises.I will also pray that you two will meet up again!


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