So I was chatting with my friend O today. He said he feels God is calling me to stay and minister in Ecuador, specifically in his church. My first reaction was to laugh and say of course you think that’s what God wants! His response was that beyond the personal he honestly thinks I should stay. I told him I’d think and pray about it, and asked him to do the same, but didn’t really take it too seriously, in the sense that I know I haven’t felt I’ve been called to serve here.
But this evening sitting on the bus, carving its way through the Ecuadorian Andes as the sun set, I did a lot of thinking, praying, pondering. I got into another one of my contemplative/existential moods – not in a bad way, though I did feel close to tears a couple of times. I thought about Madrid a lot. I thought about the gestating, but not fully-formed, ministry dreams and ideas I have in my heart. I thought about what I’ve loved about being here in Ecuador. I thought about all the potential I have to love (more than I already do), and how I want to love God more.
Y’know when I said (in my last post) that at the moment I don’t think long-term mission is for me, that didn’t mean I couldn’t see myself in Ecuador long-term. I suspect I still have a few issues to deal with re: Madrid, but the truth is I can see how I might serve in Ecuador, and more specifically in Loja, in the future. But not as a missionary. I sense working a regularish job here and doing ministry as a complement (or the other way round!) would be a better fit.
One of the (few) disappointments about this whole mission trip has been, to put it extremely crudely, the lack of poor people. Okay so yes there are poor people in the province, I know a few – but their material poverty isn’t something I’ve been able to truly engage with as a missionary, within my ministry. That’s been frustrating at times, but today it struck me anew that perhaps my passion actually lies more in engaging middle-class and rich people with this issue of poverty – kind of what I was doing with Oaktree back home. There’s a lot of potential for that here.
Community action and social service is something the Catholics do well, to an extent. Missions (summer trips to help poor/disadvantaged communities) are a compulsory activity at many universities, and it seems the youth are quite active in this. The irony is that it is the evangelical (read: non-Catholic Christian) church which is weak in this department. It is surprising, on the one hand, because social justice is such a central part of the gospel, and unsurprising, on the other, because the evangelical church has always tended to extremes in an effort to differentiate itself from the Catholic church – just take my struggles with testimony and the consumption of alcohol as an example. So this is perhaps something I could see myself happily and fruitfully involved in.
Many more thoughts rolling around in my head at the moment. I was praying this afternoon that God would help me to dream again, dream anew, because I’ve been a little flat and uninspired lately. And this is what I got!Soundtrack songs: Sombra de ti (Shakira), No salgas corriendo (Conchita).