Since coming back to Chaco, I am reminded of the importance of consistency.
Vanina and I took a walk the morning of our arrival to "conocer" the city. We are staying in the same house Sarah and I stayed in last summer, so we are close to the center. At one point, we passed a street vendor and looked at his various hand made bracelets and rastas. Naturally, conversation began and we got to explain why we are here. We invited Franco to church with us on Sunday (by the way, I'm preaching this week--watch out!), but he declined. He said he won't be staying much longer, and that it would be his first time to ever go any way.
"It's never too late to start," Vanina told him.
We progressed further down San Martin street and eventually turned around. Franco was in his same spot, but this time a young woman, his traveling partner, was with him. I noticed Franco's juggling clubs, so I told him that I could come over later and juggle with him if he wanted. The girl was pleased as well, "Just make sure you bring some terere," she shouted as we made our way home.
Before the prayer meeting, our first event with the church, we dropped by with the thermos of mango juice in hand. Fabiana smiled as we approached, and thus began a friendship. Another young woman came by talking about how she too, sells artesan items. Her name is Romina.
I sat back and listened to their stories: how they roam from place to place, selling, sleeping in bus terminals, buying materials, living off the land, gathering seeds to decorate the jewelry, etc. etc. Franco was not there, so there was no juggling involved. Nonetheless, it was a well spent hour.
At the prayer meeting, Jandra was one of the first to greet me. I showed her the pressed flower she had given me last year, still in Philippians, marking chapter 2. She hugged me tightly, and we chatted about how things have progressed over the year.
The next day I had seen Vane (my bicycle friend) on the street, so I sent her a quick message on Facebook to see where she was. She dropped by the church specifically so we could exchange the two-cheek customary Chaco greeting. We didn't get to talk as much, since we had to go, but we saw each other later that evening for dinner.
Vanina, Cletis and I all made another stop to visit Franco and Fabiana. We told them how wonderful it was to get to know them, with the hope of seeing them one more time today. We asked if we could pray for them, and if there was anything specific. Fabi seemed to be emotional, and thanked us for our time together.
In the other plaza with the young adults for dinner, I kept looking at everyone I had gotten to know last year. Had just under 365 days really passed between us? We joked and played as if we'd known each other forever.
Of course, one face had not been there in all of our time thus far with the church, and I was reminded that some years certainly are more difficult than others. I tried to comfort his sister earlier that day, as I have a similar experience. Hopefully, I'll get to see him at some point during my time here. If not, Leo is most definitely in my prayers.
The group in the plaza had already begun talking about next year. I told them that I would probably be out of the country by that time, but they said my visiting wasn't optional. ha. I suppose there is hope for camp-type ministry after all, if you can be consistent. I still have my doubts.
Then again, you can have two day relationships such as ours with the street vendors, and it's proof that Bill Bright's 5 minute theory is valid. Or maybe it's better to say the Holy Spirit is much more powerful than we give it credit for.
I dunno. Chau!