August 30, 2009
A Church is Born! – Part I
This was a big day in the Dominican! We were all excited. It was no trouble getting up early and being ready to leave for church at 7:30am. We stopped by the cemetery and bought flowers for the church altar and as gifts to the confirmands. There wasn’t much traffic as Danelle drove us out to the church in Palmar Arriba in her little car. I hadn’t been out to Palmar Arriba for several months and I felt oddly comfortable with the terribly rocky roads in Palmar that rip apart the suspension on every car that braves to travel their way. I had been on these roads many, many times visiting the Lutheran Boarding School in Palmar Arriba. But this day was different. This day was going to be the birth of the first Lutheran congregation in Palmar Arriba, Dominican Republic, and we were all excited. But I would have to be patient this morning as we gathered together for worship.
When we got there, Rev. Walter Ries was already there setting up. His wife, Anna, was playing with some kids that wander in to see the activity. Some of the confirmands were arriving and mingling around. Eventually, everyone arrived and the pastors were robed up, lined up and ready to start. The people sat in the white, plastic lawn chairs that serve as “pews”. The sanctuary space is on the second floor of the school, so with the windows open a nice breeze feels good as the room begins to heat up as the sun rises.
Pastor Mario Lehenbauer (First Vice President, Lutheran Church of Brazil), Rev. Walter Ries (Missionary) and Rev. Ted Krey (Missionary) all participated in the service. Pastor Walter plays the guitar and the people sing songs loudly and enthusiastically. Even though I can’t understand Spanish, I recognize the tune and sing along as I try to read the words printed in Spanish on the song sheet. No one cares if I’m mispronouncing the words. It doesn’t matter at all. Pastor Walter preaches to the people gathered and he is so engaging and interesting to listen to even though it is in Spanish and I only understand a couple words like “Jesus” and “amigo” but I understand that he is telling the people of God’s grace and mercy given freely to us through Jesus Christ. Read on in Part II…..