Se` Fiel.

Sunday mornings coffee shop meetings have become tradition for me and a group of fab girls over the past year. We treat ourselves to a cupa and share what is going on in our lives. We gather to talk about God and learn about how to glorify Him in the way that we live.

20130915-175018.jpg{Some of the great girls who meet with me on Sundays}

In Bolivia, the women in Alexis’ family and a few of her close friends asked if we would host a Bible study for each night over the two weeks that we were there. And so, every night we set the table for a late night meal of bread, cheese and yerba mate. It was a piece of home away from home with Alexis and I opening up in prayer before diving into the Word and discussion.

All of the women are so beautiful, so strong yet gentle and vulnerable. They opened up to one another about their blessings and also, their daily struggles. Their struggles don’t overwhelm them. They are at peace and know that God will provide. Their faith was not only visible in the way that they spoke and prayed, I could feel it by simply being around them.  I have to admit, after the first few nights I began to question my own faith. I wondered if I really understood what faith meant in my own life.

Sitting at the round kitchen table, we gathered for another night of fellowship with these women. I was exhausted from the week after having been sick for a few days. It was late. Each of us took turns reading the Bible. Like every night before, we were speaking in Spanish. Well, they were. I was so tired and I was having a difficult time understanding.

I closed my eyes, frustrated with the fact that my practiced Spanish was failing me. All I wanted was to be able to talk to them. I began to pray. God can do anything… maybe he can magically help me to understand and speak Spanish, right?

Please…please help me to understand what they are saying.

Nothing.

I couldn’t understand. Why didn’t I practice my Spanish more before I came? On top of that, I was upset with myself because I was beginning to realize how little faith I have. How can this be? These women, the children we have seen, these people… they have so little yet their faith is stronger than mine. I began to realize the truth that in my life, the way I live leaves only a little bit of room for faith. Many of those I encountered in La Paz, their whole lives rely on faith. They have to.

I sat there and this word came to me. Fiel.

I opened my eyes, completely awake and alert. The girls were passing the Bible around. They continued to read. I wasn’t sure what the word meant and I didn’t ask. We finished our Bible study and went to bed. Fiel, fiel, fiel. It was all I could think of the rest of the night.

The next morning, I asked Alexis what it meant.

Fiel means faithful.

I didn’t need to speak their language or understand all of what the women were saying to see that they were faithful. I could be present and surround myself in their fellowship and that was enough. I think so often, people go to a foreign country for a mission trip with the expectation that they will change another’s life for the better. Somehow we believe we have the answers and can bring the solutions that they need. But that is not necessarily true. I heard this concept before going to Bolivia but didn’t recognize its authenticity until I saw their strength and their faith and their desire to follow God.

Yes, I believe that in being there I was able to help the project as we move forward. But truly, the trip taught me what I believe to be one of the most important lessons I will learn on this journey.

That I must remain and hold on tightly to being faithful.

Alexis and I have felt the push to slow down and at the same time, to accelerate forward. We have faced challenges that seem like mountains and then later are amazed with the blessings that lead to taking steps closer to our goals with ChildLight. This project has been one of the greatest tests of my faith and has only pushed me to strive for a faith stronger than what I find I have.

Back in Pittsburgh, I am challenged to get uncomfortable. Life in Bolivia presents challenges and discomfort which lead to dependence on faith. My biggest challenge.. in Pittsburgh.. is dealing with the tenuous cloudy days and Squirrel Hill tunnel traffic. The question I face here is how do I get uncomfortable? This is a challenge. But, there are ways and I am on a mission to continuously find myself in situations that make me exercise a greater faith. Serve others, reach out in the community, find yourself speaking with the people who are sitting on the street instead of slipping them a few dollars or ignoring them as if they are not even human.

These situations, although they may feel uncomfortable in the beginning become the most beautiful and precious moments that you can experience. In faith, all things become in their own way beautiful. In faith, you find a lasting indescribable fullness that the temporary comforts of this world will never provide.

The women that I meet with every Sunday morning have a growing desire to find this kind of faith by serving others in Pittsburgh. One woman in particular is preparing to start a ministry in the community she grew up in in India. Together we have encouraged and pushed each other to find ways to share God’s love – serving at a community kitchen, helping out at fundraisers, providing meals and care for others.

So… I want to challenge you. Se` fiel. Be faithful. Find something that breaks your heart and go after it with all of your heart, mind and soul. Know that God has the power to create change in hard situations and expect to see how a simple act of faith can transform the community, the world around you.

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{Preparing dinner for East End Cooperative Ministry Men’s Shelter}

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