Partners in Service ~~ A reflection by Sue Hadley
To me, it’s important to remember that we are God’s servants, and He does His works through us. In John 15:5 it says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
When I (we) tried to do things on our own, we hit roadblocks. When we prayed and fully relied on God, things fell into place:
- preparations — from recruiting the travelers to logistical details to finally selecting the project (1 week prior to leaving)
- travel — from snow delays and making flights to travel safety to dozens of bags lovingly filled with donations actually making it to SJdel Sur
- in San Juan del Sur – from scheduling project work/reflection meetings/donation trips to schools and previous projects to completing connections to every home
- partners – the amazing generosity of people’s time, money and talents here in Waban, the surrounding towns, and in Nicaragua
In the Reflection booklet that Stacy prepared for us, there was a section on “service”. I quote, “Service is not about serving because we think we will get something from God, or from the people we serve for doing so. The kind of service Jesus talks about is a free and joyful service that flows out of knowing just how much we are loved by God. We have received so much love that it overflows and spills out through us in service to the world.”
On this mission trip, I expected to serve others in this manner. And I hope that God’s love showed through my actions. What I did not expect, however, was to be served by those whom I thought I was serving:
- At the Anciano luncheon we witnessed much happiness and appreciation on the smiling faces and joyful dancing of all who attended. However I did not expect one of the women to bestow a blessing upon us as she left the event. She asked God to bless us for all we had done, and to bring us back to San Juan del Sur in the future.
- Our host family lovingly prepared all of our meals. However, they went above and beyond when Chris got sick. Maria, who usually just assists her mother in the kitchen, prepared chicken soup and served it to Chris in bed. She also offered to keep an eye on him while I went to visit the previous projects.
- While visiting Ojochal, our project from 2008, we noticed that the water tanks and solar panels were gone. Our hearts sank. We feared that the equipment had been stolen or broken, and that somehow the project had failed. We were overjoyed to find out they had passed the water system along to another community since Ojochal had received electricity a year ago, and no longer needed the solar panels to power the pump. Our service project was continuing to serve another community without us even knowing about it!
- And lastly, while we were installing the pipes at one of the homes, the owner, Maria Auxiliadora was cooking lunch for her family. She graciously served us a plate of chicken, rice & beans, and vegetables.
In the Reflection booklet Stacy also included some questions. One was, “Have you caught a glimpse of how serving others freely in love is also a service to you?”
My answer is: absolutely!
A reflection by Chris Phillipps
I saw God on the Nica Trip particularly when we arrived on a site that was particularly long and difficult. We had a very hard time breaking the rock and because we had just finished an equally difficult site, we begin to lose motivation and the strength to start the next project. The grandfather of the house we were working on, who was 88 years old chopped away a brush with a machete and used a pick axe with such strength and determination unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was God’s way of showing me that even in times of weakness and hopelessness, His strength will always overcome, and many times in the most unlikely places. –
Nancy Zollers Reflection : Nicaragua Service 2014
How do you share with your Congregation the enormous impact of a Union Church trip to Nicaragua?
I only know how to do it with gratitude.
We are so fortunate to have a Nicaragua trip as a part of our Union Church ministry. And, We were not enormously successful on the trip by simply showing up. Enormous amount of work goes into each trip!
Perhaps the Deacons have thought from time to time, that they would like to let the members of this church know how much goes into the Christmas services. And I know Prudential Committee would love to tell you all it takes to take good care of this beautiful building.
You have heard about this trip, this morning from others, all that we accomplished. I have the opportunity to let you know that to create each week long service trip we make commitments, we plan, we fundraise, we organize, we communicate, we meet, we schedule, we arrange, we develop details, we list, we call, email, text and talk one thousand times.
Sue Hadley’s notebook was this thick. David Spertner’s spreadsheet was this big. Soo Laski’s agendas for our many, many Sunday meetings were this long. Frank Laski’s phone bills to Nicaragua were…well I don’t know how to show you how big they were.
The travelers are the recipients of so much smart, careful, comprehensive trip development. We are grateful.
And I believe that you as the church as a whole receives, too!
Our Nicaragua partnership has become part of “who we are” as a church, just as our amazing Christmas services, our inclusive history, and our cherishing of our children define Who We Are.
Traveling as a church differs from traveling with a large group of friends, or with the Rotary Club, or with your college alums. We traveled as a faith community, partners in service and taking advantage of the wonderful book of reflection that Stacy prepared for the travelers.
Every day we had the chance to reflect on God’s promise, His teachings, His word. This kind of travel gives your faith a boost. Reminds you of the power of prayer. Reminds you to stay alert to all that is awe – some
Congregation, you do not pay for our flights, our meals or our band-aids for well -earned blisters. Your purchase of Christmas trees and greens pays for pipes (561 of them this year), glue, sandpaper, our Spanish interpreter and our bus trips to the barrio. Even if you did not buy a tree, in many real ways this Congregation “sends us.”
You ARE our partners in our service.
Perhaps it is the prayers. The well wishes. The joy you show when we return.
It is also that the Union Church has the vision to offer intergenerational service trips to the second poorest country in our hemisphere. And the trip leaders’ attention to details make the trips work. Gratitude is a prayer and today it goes to God and the people of the Union Church. How lucky we are.
We have an awesome church. And we have an awesome God.
A Reflection by Sheila Farrell
1) How God connected us (me, Liam) with Chris, Sue and the Hadleys and eventually with the Union Church. The Amazement is in being open to people and opportunities that God puts before you. Also, looking at your life thus far and realizing how God has already enriched your life with people or opportunities that have come your way. I would like to find a biblical quote to reinforce this point.
2) Glimpse of God: I was concerned about having meaningful connections with the Nicaraguan people with my limited Spanish speaking skills. While on a visit to a school with the Mobile Book Library, an 11 year-old girl approached me like an old friend coming to greet me (enthusiastic, smiling and happy to see me). She introduced herself to me. As I responded, her eye contact, her smile and her interest in what I had to say put me right at ease making me feel completely comfortable as I told her my name, asked her age and let her know that I spoke very little Spanish (and I did this all in Spanish!). She was so understanding – as if the language barrier did not matter at all. In those few minutes of talking with her, she gave me confidence, touched my soul and made me realize how God works through others to make us feel good about ourselves and accepted/loved.