Previous installations of Desde el Monte...
God graciously gave me many little gifts during my short stay in Uruguay. I probably do not even remember them all, because I did not write any of it down while it was happening. However, there are a few of these gifts that I remember clearly and want to share them with you.
Today, I want to tell you about three men who made a huge impact on me - Hugo, the Violinist, and Mr. Ramirez.
Meet my friend Hugo (pronounced Oo-go):
Hugo is originally from the South American country of Colombia, but back in 1999 he was a student at Abilene Christian University, which is how he heard about this particular mission trip. Hugo was blessed with the spiritual gift of long-suffering, which he showed by how he indulged my many requests. My requests were most often for translating services, which means that Hugo was often involved in my conversations rather than conversations of his own. As I said, long-suffering.
One man, whose name I have never known, who was a big part of my Uruguay experience was the Violinist. Here is the only photograph I took of him:
As we were out on the streets and in the parks and plazas handing out flyers for the gospel meeting we would have at the church, we often saw the Violinist and heard the wonderful music he was making. The first time I saw him, God said to me, "This man. Pray for this man." This is not something that God says to me often, so I took it very seriously and I prayed for him. I always made sure to have some money in my pocket to drop in his violin case. I also had a habit of grabbing Hugo by the arm and dragging him over to the Violinist so that I could have a conversation. From the look on his face, it seems that the Violinist was amused by my antics. That's fine, as long as he knew that he was important to me and to God. The last time we saw the Violinist, I made sure that I gave him (another) flyer and had Hugo tell him that we wanted him to come to the gospel meeting. It was actually the longest conversation we had with the Violinist. He asked some questions about the church and the meeting. He could tell that I was begging Hugo to beg him to come. He said that he might stop by one of the nights of the meeting.
I never saw the Violinist again - not at the church and not out on the street. I still pray for the Violinist, though I have no idea where he is or if he is even alive. I have trusted Him to God's care and hope for his salvation. I think of him every time I see a violin.
I wish that I had a photo of Mr. Ramirez, but the only time I actually interacted with him, I was so surprised that I did not even think of taking a picture.
The night before our group left Uruguay, the El Chana congregation had a reception for us at the church building. As we were mingling around, a short gentleman approached me. I remembered seeing him at the church before, but I had never been introduced to him. Turns out that it was Mr. Ramirez.
He had a rolled up piece of poster board in his hand that he gave to me. He gestured that it was for me. On the outside of it were marker drawings that looked like they were part of an instructional poster. It turns out that Mr. Ramirez was a painter. He found old poster boards and used them as his canvases. As I unrolled the poster, I found the painting that he was giving me.
(I had it framed soon after I got home)
I was beyond surprised. I kept pointing at myself and saying, "this is for me?". Mr. Ramirez kept saying, "si, si". I teared up a little and hugged him and kissed him on both cheeks. I did not see Hugo or any of our other Spanish-speaking group members around, so I really could not converse with Mr. Ramirez about the wonderful gift he had given me.
I felt like God was telling me that He would take special care of the Violinist. But how did Mr. Ramirez know that a painting of a violin would mean so much to me? Did anyone tell him about me talking to the Violinist? I have no idea. When I asked Hugo about it later, he did not know. It is still a mystery to me.
Mr. Ramirez only gave one of his paintings to three members of our group. All three of us were surprised. I was the only one whose painting seemed to signify an experience from our trip. I still feel honored every time I look at that painting.
Those three men may not ever know how much they affected me. I think God uses us all like that. Remember that - little actions you take that might not mean much to you but they might mean everything to someone else.
Tune in again next Sunday for another installment of Desde el Monte... (from the mountain).