Your mind controls everything. It controls how you think, what you say, how you act. Since our mind is the dominating force in our lives, it holds a lot of responsibility in our lives as Christians. The root of all our temptations in life is how we think. If you were to consider any of the sins you have committed in your life, they either began or took place in your mind. When you lie, you have to think about something other than the truth. If you steal, you consider what and how you might steal before you act upon it. Now, how important is it for we as Christians to live our lives like Christ? He came to earth to be the ultimate example for us and He called for us to be like Him. However, being like Him does not commence by acting like Him, it all begins by thinking like Him. Jeremy Myers presented these thoughts in our time in bible study this morning. He walked us through a great example of how we can learn to have the mind of Christ through an analogy of growing a tree and using Philippians 2:1-9. We must start by digging a hole, next planting a seed, and then caring for it so it will continue to grow. In the end, we should produce fruit.
To those of you who may not know me, I feel like I need to introduce myself since you'll be hearing quite a bit from me over the next few days. My name is Leah Wright. I am a math teacher in Hendersonville, TN and this is my 6th trip with TORCH. I'm a little rusty with this blog posting thing so please bear with me as I try to compile coherent thoughts late at night about an entire day. I will do my best to paint you all a vivid picture of our lives from day to day and try to do it in a way that is enjoyable to read. At this time, I would also like to give you some information about the church we are working with. The building where they meet is located about 30 minutes from downtown San Jose, or at least our hotel. The preacher here at this time is Cristian Vargas and he is married to the lovely Yendry Chaves. For those who have kept up with previous trips to Costa Rica, you will remember Daniel and Meribel Chaves, well, Yendry is their daughter, which is how we met Cristian and began working with his congregation here.
For those in our group who decided to get up early enough for breakfast, we had our choice of 5 different menu options at the adjoining Denny's with our voucher through the hotel. Yes, that is the same Denny's we have in the States, and I'd say the menu is very similar to the ones you all may be used to. At my table with Brandy and Joanna, we had fruit and yogurt, gallo pinto (rice and beans), and oatmeal and fruit. We were all set to load the buses at 8:15, we left on time, and we arrived early. Since it is Sunday, we began our first morning with the church of Christ in Purral with a Bible Study by Jeremy Meyers, the leader of the group from Arkansas. Following the study, we had a worship service and heard a sermon by Thad Butts, the leader of the group from Alabama. Thad spoke to us about one of the strangest stories in the Bible from 2 Kings 6:24 - 7:20. Many of you may not be familiar with this, I for one was not. This was during the time of the prophet Elisha. The people of Israel were going through a terrible famine and buying food like donkey's heads and dove dung at expensive prices to eat! Their lives were a mess! Thad pointed out that they valued the wrong things in life and their lives were a mess because they had left God out of the equation. My favorite point he made at the end was this: We have a choice in life like the two lepers in the story did. We can choose to live the abundant life with Christ alone, or we can choose to share that life with everyone around us.
It was a blessing for us to hear such thought-provoking lessons, but even more so because these lessons, as well as our singing and praying for the Lord, were done in both Spanish and English. We may speak two different languages, but our praises to God will always be One. Following our morning services, we had a delicious lunch made by the lovely ladies of the congregation. As we let our food settle, the group and the church had an opportunity to fellowship and see how much Spanish/English we all knew with or without a translator. Some of us even got to play a quick game of Basic Spanish BINGO. I guess you could say the exciting part of our day was our afternoon of door knocking. We are blessed to have 10 translators working with us at this time, so we split up into groups with a 4:1 American: Translator ratio. We literally walked up and down many of the streets near the building knocking on doors and yelling "Buenas" or "Upe", which is the Spanish version of "Hello, is anybody home?" Along the way there were lots of children watching us, and twice as many dogs barking at us. We were able to hand out many of the invitations to the meeting; however, we had very few contacts established--our goal was to have 5 contacts from each group. A contact means that the person we spoke to was receptive enough to our invitation that they wanted to hear from us again and let us write down their phone number or address. We may not have reached our goal, but we are not discouraged. Tonight at the gospel meeting we had one man who came because we reached out to him through the door knocking. We may have knocked on 100 doors, with only one man to show for it, but how great is our Father's joy for that one man!
Our evening was closed out with the first of 5 lessons from the gospel meeting with Tim Hines. Not only is he a great preacher, but he is also fluent in Spanish since he spent about 6 years growing up in Costa Rica. He presented a lesson from John 6, and about our love of food. Some things will never change no matter how many thousands of years pass by: All of our lives center around food. How often do you think about your next meal? How long it will be until you eat again? How distracting is it to do or hear anything when you are overcome with hunger? Jesus knew all of this! That is why He fed the multitudes because He was well aware that few would hear His message if they could not focus past their desire to eat. He used our desire for food to create an analogy for Himself. He is the Bread of Life and His Bread will fill us for all eternity. Our desire for Him should surpass any thing else we want or think we need in this life, like maybe our phones, or Facebook.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from his sermon:
"Only Jesus can change you in such a way that you can change the world. He is the most important part of your life."
I hope that we all allow Jesus to be our greatest desire so that we may be changed in order to best serve Him. May you all be praying for the church down here. That is be strengthened in faith, and in number through this campaign.