Friday, November 18, 2011

Why God, Why?

Let's face it. Most of us at  some points in our life feel tempted to ask this question. I confess that I've asked this question many times this past week.

I'm still having doubts over many things that I'm listening in prayer. Yes, I have received some confirmations from other people of what I heard, but when everything around you seems to contradict what you're listening, and when there is no sure way to tell if what you're listening is really coming from God or not, it is very easy for me to fall into doubt.

I can give you a couple of examples.

First, the Bible study at Thursday night. I felt that God wanted to revitalize this group, and that He wanted to use me in it. The group's been dwindling down lately and it has for quite a while. It's been a year since I received this, but nothing seems to change.

Second, my anxiety. Many times I have heard that God wants to either heal me, liberate me, or offer some sort of relief from my anxiety, but little has changed.

I've been suffering from anxiety since I was a little kid. At times it gets better and at other times it can be debilitating. Many times I feel trapped in my own mind.

Anxiety and depression are deeply connected and I feel that while I haven't succumbed to depression lately, at times I feel deeply discouraged and saddened, and a big part of it is coming from my anxiety.

There are many other examples that I can give you, but these two suffice to make my point. Yes, some things that I've heard in prayer has come true.

Yes, I haven't been as faithful to God as I can be. I haven't offered all these things in prayer as often as I should. I haven't been seeking and knocking on Jesus' door as I feel He wants me to. Yes, I haven't been seeking the Kingdom of God first in everything that I do.

So all I can do at this moment is wait. Seek God first and wait. All of this it's better than asking "Why" questions that probably won't lead me anywhere.

Photo Credit: open pad.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Introducing Comunidad San Dima's Rapper Jaime

Jaime is an interesting character. He is a very quiet and jovial person. His unassuming presence exudes with humbleness. You look at him and the last thought that comes to mind is one of a rapper. But he enjoys rapping and has written a few rhymes.

He's a new volunteer at Comunidad San Dimas, a prison ministry where I do most of my ministry, but in his short time coming with us at juvy, he has become famous with they youth with his rap.

He's currently discerning his vocation to the priesthood, and I'm sure he'll appreciate your prayers for his discernment process.

I share with you a video of Jaime performing one of his rap songs. We were coming out of juvy one Monday night, so I apologize for the poor lighting conditions.

Monday, November 7, 2011

So a Catholic Missionary Goes Into a Pentecostal Church...

This is something that happened to me this past Sunday. I want to share this experience just to showcase how unexpected this ministry can be.

One of the youth we've been working with for the past year called me one night at almost 11pm. At times I call him and he is not in the mood to talk. He can be borderline rude, cutting me short and hanging up on me a few seconds into the call.

And then he can call me, and when he feels in the mood to talk, we can talk for hours. Unfortunately for me, that night when he called me, he felt in the mood to talk.

At 12 am, struggling not to fall asleep, I tell him that maybe we should meet for Church next Sunday, maybe the one he goes to. "Oh yes!". He seemed very excited. The night before I called to confirm our meeting at his church, and to ask for directions. He gave me the directions and said that he would be there.

So I come to this small church on Mission Street at 3pm when the service is supposed to start. As soon as I get in I see many ushers welcoming in. Oh no, I think to myself it is a Latino Pentecostal church. Not exactly my cup of tea.

First, I notice the loud music. Too loud actually. The worship band is playing the same song for almost 15 minutes. I didn't know the song when I came in, but after a while I almost memorized it.

I start looking for my friend, and he is nowhere to be found. Call him, he doesn't answer. Text him, he doesn't answer either.

The church is located on the second floor of an apartment building. There seems to be more ushers than churchgoers. Almost all the women are wearing veils over their heads. I'm surprised to see that a couple of women are actually wearing pants.

I always wondered why Latino Pentecostals manage to have a different accent than the rest of Latin Americans. They pronounce their "t's" softly, for example, as if an adult North American is trying to speak Spanish for the first time. The melody of the accent is also different. It seems as if they are perpetually preaching when they are speaking.

I suppose this is due in part because of the Pentecostals missionaries from North America that came to Latin America and started planting churches. Maybe, but I could be wrong.

Then they start this endless medley of upbeat worship songs. People start to stand up, some of them going to the front of the church. They start dancing. I see a woman with a flag waving it frantically, but she couldn't possibly be less gracious in her radically and undiscriminating movements. Two people with colossal horns start making even more noise. 

I see another woman going around in little circles rapidly, and just when I think that she is going to fall out of sheer dizziness, she stops and starts dancing on the same spot.

At almost 3:40 I see the pastor coming out from a door. Where was he this whole time?!. I'm still waiting for my friend and he is nowhere to be found. The loud music is giving me a headache. I'm deciding whether to get up and start dancing or keep sitting down and be awkward. I decide for the latter.

After an hour and 15 minutes of worship music, most of them repeated almost ad infinitum, I decide to get out of the church.

This ministry can be unexpected, and the flakyness of these young people can put you in situations that you wouldn't be otherwise.

Photo Credit: wharman.