Day 36: Relational Plates Too Full To Care?
We are thankful for new friends here in Playa. They have warmly embraced us as family and that always means so much but even more so now because we are temporarily wandering as Nomads for the next year. To feel connected to others in a ‘strange land’ is truly a gift.
The very first evening we arrived at the Lighthouse Church, we were greeted by almost every single member – hugged, kissed, embraced. At the end of the evening, our new friends refused to let us take a taxi back home. Instead, Eduardo González (aka Lalo) graciously offered us a ride in his pickup truck. If you’ve read any of my other posts regarding Budget and Finances, you’ll already know that as a family of six, it is rather expensive to get around if using taxis, because we always need two (or one larger taxi that charges double for more than four people).
But this act of generosity and kindness is about so much more than just saving a few bucks. It’s about being embraced and cared for by “strangers” who are living out their faith in the way they love, serve, and welcome others. And the hospitality and caring did not stop there. We were also invited to an intimate gathering for a Mexican barbecue (see photos below!), where again, we were warmly received and spent the evening fellowshipping and interacting with others from around the world while enjoying delicious Mexican cuisine.
Now, since I’ve committed to sharing more than I typically do during this next year on the road, I’ll be honest here. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve visited new churches in which we sat alone and were never greeted. Certainly, there have been occasions when the pastor and a few men would approach us and greet my husband and me together, but apart from that, we found it very difficult to connect and/or enter into dialogue with people. It often seemed a warm, genuine greeting was the exception and not the norm. We determined, however, to not allow this to keep us from trying to build relationships. After all, there are numerous reasons this might occur, and we felt equally responsible to work hard to bridge the gap. The reasons, we realized, are not always black and white.
Thankfully, despite the challenges, God has always provided us with wonderful bodies of believers throughout our marriage; however, I can’t help but think how sad it is for anyone to enter any church and not be warmly welcomed. It’s been a heavy burden on my heart for years, and I pray that this changes within the realm of church life experience, because Christ is honored as we serve and love others. After all, why do people enter the doors of a new church in the first place?
Of course, this is a rhetorical question, because the potential answers, obviously, are inexhaustible. But my point is…are we taking our role as believers seriously? Are we willing to sacrifice our own pleasure and comfort to reach out to those who are new or lonely or struggling? Or are we so comfortable in the cozy lives we have built for ourselves in the church, that our “relational plates” are full and we have closed the door on new relationships?
There is so much more I’m sure we could explore in asking this simple question, but for now, I’ll stop. And I will also praise God and thank Him for allowing us to discover this faithful body of believers who have not only welcomed us into their church, into their pick up trucks, but also into their homes!