Today started with a whirlwind of hurdles to overcome. I finally got to back to my room the night before (or earlier that morning) around 2 AM. We met down in the lobby at 8:00 AM to take a load of the suitcases over to Pondevida Ministry. This is a ministry that serves hundreds of churches across the island. When a need arises in a given church, that individual is usually left with very few options for help. This ministry becomes the go-to place for clothing, medical supplies, and other aid that the churches are unable to get elsewhere. When we brought in the various supplies for the ministry and placed them on the floor in that small apartment, there was a visible surprise at just how much we had been blessed to be able to provide. It was an encouragement to both them and to us.
When we returned back to the hotel to find the second van and begin loading up to head east, it was quickly apparent that there would not be enough space in the 2 vans that we rented for all the people and the remaining luggage. Nevertheless, we had to get on the road. We adapted to our situation and found a way to make it work. A car would meet us on the way to shift over some bags and make a little more room to be able to pick up hitchhikers.
Our limitations didn’t stop us from still picking up people (although it did become easier after adding the third vehicle). In my van, we picked up two young ladies who were on their way to nursing school I believe. In order for this to work, my sister-in-law, Crystal, had to sit on my brother’s lap to make room for both girls (sometimes it pays to be the photographer – I simply needed more space than Ben :-)). The girls did not seem very interested in us talking with them. Of course, that didn’t stop Miguel who was doing most of the communicating (since he was the only one who spoke Spanish). After he had taken some time to attempt to break the ice and share the gospel with them, he realized that they were not really changing their interest level. He then pulled out the table and the small speaker that boosted the volume. Their level on interest began to increase as he played a portion of the Today With God videos for them. Their very countenance changed as they had their tough exterior softened by the Gospel. Once we arrived at the location where they were to be dropped off, Miguel turned the tablet off and asked if he could share a little more with them. He was able to tag on to the video that they had just been watching. When he asked the girls if they would like to accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, both said yes without hesitation and their once long faces turned to grins that lit up the entire van. We handed each of them a bag with some candies, some toiletry items, and an mp3 player that contained the entire New Testament in Spanish on it. Their lives had been changed forever.
We later saw another gentlemen waiting for a ride. This was a little more head-tilting for us Americans in the van because it was a police officer. Nevertheless, we pulled over and offered the ride. This officer was making his way back to his wife and child whom he had not seen in a couple months. He finally had a few days to be able to travel home and see them and he had been waiting at that stop for over eight hours I believe. You can imagine the relief when we stopped and offered the ride.
Immediately Miguel began making conversation. He asked if the officer knew why we picked him up. The officer said he could tell that we were Christians because we just looked like we were. This was more of a positive thing in his eyes. Miguel continued conversation and then asked that I get the video ready which shows the Centurion who asked for healing for his son who was ill. I got it ready and handed him the tablet which he then offered to the officer to watch. The officer did not lift his head for the next several minutes. Nothing would distract him from absorbing every moment of that video. Once the video finished, he handed it back to Miguel and asked if it would be OK for him to view the same video again. Of course, we started it over and handed it back to him. He was just as glued to the video the second time as he was the first. Once he finished that, we offered the video of when the officials approached John the Baptist who was “preparing the way” for Christ. He watched just as intently as he did the other videos.
It was at this point that we knew we had plenty of time with this officer. We asked him if he knew who Jesus was. He had heard of Him but did not know a whole lot about Him. We took this opportunity to play the first segment of the “Who Is Jesus?” video. Following this 6:00 segment, we asked him some of the questions and engaged in dialogue based on the curriculum that we had prepared for the churches. It proved to pull the officer out of his shell slightly. In the end, the officer watched the entirety of the “Who Is Jesus?” video and wanted to accept Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. He was visibly excited about his new faith. When we gave him the same gift bag and mp3 player as we had given the girls, he commented that he could not wait for us to drop him off so that he could begin to listen to the Bible. Naturally, we told him he didn’t have to wait and that he could begin listening even then. He had his head phones in the remainder of the trip as he worked to absorb the word of God through that little mp3 player. He was a new person!