Sunday, November 27, 2011

Desde el Monte... Prayer (and a poem)

Previous installations of Desde el Monte...


What do you do when you are supposed to be helping a church in a country where you do not know the language? I have two answers for that: 1) anything they ask you to do and 2) pray. Sticking to my first answer is how I ended up walking down the street further and further away from the church building with a man who spoke NO English. Sticking to my second answer is how I got through it without being brought down by my fear.

I know that I was given a decent amount of background on Nestor before we left the building, but I only remember a little. Nestor, a native of Uruguay, was a widower with a daughter in elementary school. I do not remember how long he had been a Christian, but I do know that he was training to take over some of the preaching and teaching duties at the church. He really seemed to have a gentle spirit, which is why I somehow let somebody (can't remember who) convince me that I should spend part of my second day out on the streets with him. Nestor and I were going to hand out flyers just like I had with Ronnie and Karen. Just the day before, God had told me that He was sweet on me, so I was ready to do what He needed me to do for this small church congregation. 

Nestor and I grabbed a handful of flyers and started down the street. We would look at each other, smile and nod, then keep going. The streets we were on that day weren't very busy, but we managed to hand out most of flyers during our walk. I was willing, but I was still scared, so I started praying. I prayed silently. I prayed in a whisper. I prayed whatever words came to me as I saw the wonder of this city that was so very different from my hometown. I had never heard the term "prayer walking" at that point (for those who are not familiar with the term, I found a description you can read here), but that is what I was doing. I prayed for Jesus to make Himself known to these people. I would pray for specific people that we came in contact with. I prayed for Nestor and his young daughter. I prayed about making it back to the church building safely. I prayed thanksgiving.

That prayer time with God would shape most of my walking tours for the rest of the trip. I felt that the Almighty was listening to my sincere pleas for the Uruguayans. I don't know a better way to describe it, but I feel like He was giving me specific things to pray for. I still don't understand completely why the Father would say, "okay, now ask me for____" but I don't doubt that He did it. So I prayed as He led me. 

An interesting thing about my prayer walking is that I became bolder because of it. My four Spanish phrases came out of my mouth clearer and with a better accent. I walked taller. I made eye contact with more people. I even ended up using some French to answer a question asked in Spanish. The funny things about that are that 1) I had not spoken French since my sophomore year in high school and 2) the man understood my French answer to his Spanish question. He seemed quite happy that we had found a way to communicate. 

I did not go to Uruguay expecting God to teach me how to pray. I'm not sure that I knew that there was so much more to learn about prayer. I will tell you that I benefited from the experience as much, if not more, as the people I was there to serve. I still pray for them. I go prayer walking, but not often enough. And I trust. I trust that a Jewish Messiah who spoke either Hebrew or Aramaic (I don't have a dog in that fight) would hear and answer the English prayers of an American woman for a Spanish-speaking Uruguayan man that she answered in French. I trust that He is interested in the salvation of people who speak all kinds of languages. Thank you, God, for that.


Ever since Ricky Martin rhymed the words "living la vida loca" with "mocha", I have been unable to stomach much rhyming poetry. I realize that is an extreme reaction, but it is the truth. I'm sure it was just really the last straw after all of the cry/die rhyming in the 1980s. Also, my own poetry has always been fairly...bad. I was trying to think of another word, but "bad" is probably the best description. I tell you all of this so that you will understand why I am so reluctant to share a poem I wrote, especially one with rhymes in it. However, this is the only piece of writing (journaling or otherwise) of mine that I seem to have from that trip to Uruguay. The Spirit seems to be pushing me to share it with you, but I want to register that I am doing so under duress [pardon my melodrama there].

Untitled, 5-19-1998, Uruguay

I weep & I sew
to reap with joy.
Is this witness
Your glory to impart?
O Emmanuel, I cry to You!
Please bring Your comfort
to my prayerful heart.

In the desert
I run to You.
My words, they lack
eloquence & art.
But Emmanuel! I cry to You!
Please bring Your comfort

to my prayerful heart.

I feel so lost
& faith eludes.
I cannot find the place
where I should start.
O Emmanuel! I cry to You!
Please bring Your comfort
to my prayerful heart.

There you have it - the poem I wrote in Uruguay. I have a sneaking suspicion that I wrote that while using my technique of writing to stay awake through boredom (long story for later). If you notice, I even wrote in my poem about not being able to write well. Seems like that has been a message I've been sending myself for awhile now. I'll have to pray about that.

If you have a story about learning new ways to pray, I would love to know about it. Share it in the comments (doesn't matter if it is long) so others can read it too. Or share some rhyming poetry if you feel led! Either way, share with us!


PS. I want to remind you that you still have time to enter the Second Official Ragamuffin Giveaway! I am giving away a copy of Brennan Manning's All is Grace. You can find all of the details here. This is Brennan's last book, so you don't want to miss it!


  1. Hi Carolyn,

    Another good post about your Uruguay trip. The poem's interesting too. I don't see what you think is wrong with it!

  2. I enjoyed reading about your boldness in prayer. I remember having a similar feeling while prayer-walking during a mission trip here in the States. It's a powerful thing to pray over what's right in front of you: the homes, streets, people, businesses, etc., without having any real depth of human understanding about what you're encountering. Maybe we ought to all prayer-walk our own neighborhoods, too.

  3. @RB, I am my worst critic, of course.

    @Jennifer, if we all prayer-walked our neighborhoods, what an amazing place our world would be!

  4. Even the world's best poems are crayon drawings compared to His magnificent creation. And He thrills to post them on his refrigerator. "See what my daughter did? She prayed what I asked her to, then she wrote this!"


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