Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bugs, cats, frogs, rain… and kids!

Here in San Jose, Mom and I have been having an exciting and adventurous time teaching the children every night in the children’s program!

Very close to the large church is a building with no walls – just a roof above a gravel and dirt floor. Two light bulbs illuminate the building as they hang from the ceiling.  Dark brown, wooden pews line the building in neat rows. This was the place where the San Jose Church met for worship until their new church was recently completed.

When we started the program, there were only around 30 children who came.  We didn’t mind as every child (even if it’s just a few) should have the opportunity to hear about God’s great love for them! However, after one night of singing, a Bible story and a fun craft, the children who came, went home telling their friends about what was happening every evening.

The next night, more than 50 children came! And the next night, even more! Now we regularly have around 100 children every night crowding into the building to hear God’s Word and learn more about Him! Praise God! These are mostly non-Adventist village children and they are so respectful and quite obedient when spoken to. They are such a joy to work with!

But working for God always has its adventures and we have had plenty of them while teaching the children. Since there are no walls, windows, or screens, the bright lights illuminating the dark night provide a favorite place for hundreds of bugs.  Swarming around the light - sometimes falling to the ground, making it an interesting place to be for anyone nearby!

Thankfully these bugs aren’t biting ones (other than a few mosquitoes), or life would be very miserable there! The light in the front is right over where we stand for teaching, and Mom and I just happen to be in the way of many fast-flying bugs! On more than one occasion, I opened my mouth for singing or to say something and in flew a tiny bug and before I could even think about what was happening, down he went! I wasn’t too thrilled with swallowing bugs, but it had happened so fast, I couldn’t do anything about it! So during the meeting, we have a fan blowing on us, which helps to keep the bugs off.

To help compensate with the hundreds of bugs, there are lots of big frogs that hop around, looking for bugs to eat. It’s quite an amusing sight when I’m teaching a Bible story and here and there hop the frogs, eating up the bothersome bugs. The first time I saw the frogs, I was a little shocked to see so many, but gradually I grew used to them and now I’m very thankful for every frog that comes along to help eat up the bugs! And the kids who are coming don’t mind the bugs or the frogs – those are just common things around here!

Another creature that sometimes joins the program is a skinny mother cat with her half-grown kitten. The kitten is really cute! One night, I found them sleeping together up on top of a bookcase in the corner of our building. Both of them stayed there for most of the meeting, until later on when the mother decided to get down to the ground. Being a nimble cat, she soon was on the ground. The little kitten however, wasn’t used to that and he was scared to be by himself. I wasn’t really watching him as I was in the middle of teaching a Bible story, when suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I saw the kitten falling through the air. I thought, “Oh, no!” The kitten had decided to just jump the 5 feet from the top of the bookcase to the ground. The only problem was that he didn’t aim properly and hit an old metal kitchen scale on his way down. He landed on the ground all right, but the scale clattered and made plenty of noise. I had to chuckle as it was quite the way to get down to the ground, but at least he was unhurt! Most of the children had seen it too and they were laughing and I joined them!

This is the beginning of the rainy season and we have had rain here almost every day. Usually it comes in the afternoon and is over by the evening, but a few nights, it was still pouring rain in the evening. (Here in the Philippines, it doesn’t “rain,” it “pours” – literally!)

So the night we were doing the Law of God, the rain was coming down in torrents. Mom and I made our way to the building with umbrellas and wondered who would show up in the rain. We prayed that the rain wouldn’t keep the interests away.  Gradually a few straggled in here and there. Soon an inch or two of water was flowing into our building, on its way to the other side, making everything wet and muddy. The sound of the rain on the roof was so great, I wondered how the children would be able to hear us.

The rain didn’t seem to daunt them, though! They came splashing through the puddles with their flip flops and umbrellas (or just ran through the rain) and came anyways! I marveled at the eagerness of these dear children to hear the gospel – to walk through pouring rain and mud just to come to a program! It was truly amazing!

So despite the adventures and challenges, I wouldn't trade my work for anything! I just love it! Many times, as I stand before these eager children, I am reminded of the quote, which is one of my favorites: “To train the young to become true soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most noble work ever given to man.”