Monday, July 30, 2007

A Day at an Oasis

Yesterday I was with three volunteers, working in a squatter community called Oasis. Believe me when I tell you it is a misnomer to call this place Oasis. Oasis is built right on top of a garbage dump. It smells. Because of the lack of sanitary conditions, it smells even worse than the landfill covered with sand and dirt that it is. I am not looking forward to next summer (January through March down here); the flies, already swarming, will be plague-like in their presence. That's another story.

Before the Bible study I spoke with two ladies. They both asked me to visit their "house" after the study. They called it a house; we would not even call it a shack. These are huts. I was in more than one of them in the past few weeks. The majority have dirt floors; the walls are made of woven straw mats. Or cardboard. Or plywood if they can get a little money together. Some have tin roofs; most are plastic, like you may use in construction. I have to duck to stand up inside any of them; their ceilings are only about 6 feet. They are illuminated with single light bulbs. I was headed into these after the study.

The study was good. The pastor was very encouraging for the small crowd who had gathered. After the study finished, before I could join the ladies who asked for a home visit, a lady approached me. She had a question, one that led to eternal life for her. Ana asked how she could belong to our group. I opened The Book and preached Jesus. She readily identified with her need for salvation and, with tears in her eyes, she prayed to receive the Lord. As I began her immediate follow-up, a leader from the next group of squatters came up to me, drunk and belligerent. He wanted to know what had these people done to merit my personal attention. I made him repeat himself, and afterwards told him what he needed (not wanted) to hear: God loves them; that is why we are there.

I asked him to let me continue my conversation with Ana, our new believer; but he kept interrupting. If it could get worse, I didn't believe it. And maybe things did not get worse. Maybe it was just one of those days.

I was sipping the hot chocolate they served to me while I was speaking with Luis and Ana, alternating between the two in the time I could divert Luis away from us. As I got to the bottom of the cup, I looked down. The styrofoam cup was full of little black spots. I put on my glasses and saw that those spots had even smaller legs. They were bugs! How appropriate! I had a 6 foot tall bug standing before me, interrupting my witness to this new believer. Now I had no telling how many swimming around inside my stomach.

I finally dispensed with Luis and made arrangements for Ana's discipleship. Now it was time to visit the two ladies' homes. I entered these homes with a little reluctance. They know I live better than they do; it's embarrassing for them for The Gringo to visit. But I was there at their request. We prayed, we talked, and we tried to listen to the Holy Spirit. We tried to encourage these broken women to walk with the Lord Jesus, to let him have first place in their lives.

By now it was dark. You don't want to spend much time in Oasis after dark. It's not safe. And it had been dark for close to an hour. We finally got away, bugs and all. But we all left a part of our heart in Oasis.

And so went another day at a not-so-typical Oasis, somewhere in South America.

6 comments:

GuyMuse said...

My heart has been broken too as we have visited several "Oasis" here in Guayaquil the past few days with a volunteer group. The pain and suffering is so great for the poorest of the poor. We go out again in 30-minutes to one of the neediest parts of the city. May we continue to hold each other up in prayer that God would pour out His love on what are some of the most neglected and forgotten peoples of the earth.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Guy,

My heart breaks, too; but it breaks more for the spiritual poverty that characterizes the overwhelming majority living in these communities.

As a contrast, I was in another community, called Las Torres. There, they showed me the single room hut of an old widower--a believer. He never complains. He never moans about his plight in life. He never runs up to us asking what we can give him. Never. He rejoices in the Lord at all times that we see him. God laid it on my heart to help him. We rebuilt his hut, giving him solid walls and a cement floor. The reaction has been amazing. He could not thank us enough for $150 worth of help. And he gave God the glory. He may be poor; but he is wealthy in spirit beyond measure.

Rick said...

Kevin,
I, too, have been to Oasis, just on a couple of different continents. My heart aches, too, for the millions who live in spiritual poverty.

I am proud to support folks like you through prayer, the CP, and the LMCO.

Rick
Formerly Nomad For God

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Rick,

Thanks, brother, for your good words. I pray your new ministry brings fruit to the glory of God. Come see us sometime.

KDS

The Phams said...

Hi Kevin:
Praise God for what He is doing in the lives of these women. I could totally envision the environment. On a less spiritual note, I was laughing, not at your expense of course, about drinking bugs. YUCK! Did you get sick to your stomache? Lots of protein! Praise God, anyway!!

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Hi,

How's C.R. these days? Wet or dry?

Yes, the bug juice got me down for a few days. I knew when I got to the bottom of the cup that it was not the last I was going to hear from that cup of hot chocolate. Oh, well; it's all good. God used the time there. One of the ladies I prayed with told me, "Hermano, your prayers burn." I asked what she meant and she said when I laid my hand on her shoulder it sent a heat all through her. It's the presence of God working in her heart. God blessed her with sleep and He has used it to help her grow in Christ. That makes a bad cup of hot chocolate well-worth it to me.