Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Sounds of the City

Friday, November 8, 2013

As many of you were arriving at work this morning, we were arriving in San Diego, CA.  We caught a very early flight out of Omaha – and I DO mean early! After what seemed like an entire extra day, we heard the captain saying, “We are now making our final approach to San Diego. The temperature is a cool 62°, and the local time is 8:45 a.m.” Who flies halfway across the country and can still have breakfast in California?! Thank-you to Pastor Steve Peterson for booking the flight!

We had a smooth and safe flight, and we arrived with all of our luggage in tow, including several boxes of materials for Step Up To Life and Fresh Start conferences the next two Saturdays. Pastor Jesús Rodriguez picked us up at the airport, and we made our traditional stop at the local Wal Mart on the way into Tijuana. The new border crossing facilities have made going into Tijuana pretty much a breeze, especially when you don’t get stopped for inspection. Tijuana is encouraging tourism right now, so they often don’t stop gringos when they enter the country – even loaded as we were with all kinds of luggage and stuff. After a quick lunch at 10:00 – well, we were hungry! – we headed across the border, and Jesús dropped us at the hotel where we unpacked and promptly took a two-hour nap. What can we say?! Our bodies just weren’t sure what time it was yet!

This evening we had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants just across the street from the hotel. All the food is prepared right there where you can watch, including the hand pressed flour tortillas. It could have been called a lovely, quiet dinner, except that the radio was blaring Mexican music, and the guy came through selling bunches of flowers and roses, and oh! Did I mention the guitar players strolling through playing from time to time. You can imagine Dave trying to hear Jesús translating for all of us in the midst of that commotion!  …..but the food was good!

Now, much later, and back at the hotel, we look out over the city from our 7th floor window, and realize that we actually feel comfortable here. Cities have a life all their own, and this one never stops moving. We see the thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights and are reminded of the many people here who still live in darkness. We hear the traffic sounds on the street below and wonder where all the people are coming from….and going to…The sounds of the city. Even late at night one hears the constant “roar” of the traffic – trucks, cars, motorcycles, screeching tires, horns honking, voices of people on the sidewalks calling to one another, music from the mariachi band over at the restaurant, a TV coming through the window from somewhere, periodic sirens, and vehicle security alarms….and maybe even a dog barking!

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I am reminded that according to the Scriptures, cities have a voice that cries out to God. There was a time when God heard the cries of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Scriptures say He was compelled to come check it out for Himself because He couldn’t believe it was really that wicked! God hears many things from the city that we don’t hear. He hears the prayers of the thousands of saints – men, women, and children, crying out to Him sometimes in worship and adoration, but sometimes in the midst of their need. He hears the weeping of the broken, the abused, the grieving, the prisoners, the addicts, the poor, and the lost. He hears the conversations behind closed doors; He hears the whispered schemes of men; He hears the grumbling and murmuring; He hears the pleas from the humble hearts of His people. He hears the joys and sorrows of each one who lives here. What kind of cry, I wonder, is going up before God from your city?

We met with Pastor Jesús tonight to go over the schedule for the next ten days in Tijuana. This is one of the longer trips we have made in awhile, but there are many situations in which we will be involved during the coming days. The schedule is quite full, with both of us teaching on several occasions. There will be other meetings with smaller cell groups of pastors, including the leaders of the Pastoral Alliance of Tijuana. Dave will be teaching Step Up to Life all morning tomorrow, and will be speaking to a group of teenagers tomorrow evening on receiving the Heavenly Father’s blessing. Jesús will be doing a marriage seminar, and I will be speaking to a group of single women pastors and leaders during that same time.  There will be a time with the staff at the Emmanuel Orphanage, a time with a group of church planters – and the list goes on. Next weekend Pastor Steve Peterson will be here to do a Fresh Start workshop on Saturday, and meet with 9 couples who are training to use Fresh Start with groups here in the city. Much of the time between now and next Thursday, we will be meeting on a more personal and intimate level with many pastors and their wives who have become very good friends over the years. Some of them are in challenging or difficult situations, so we ask that you pray for wisdom to speak into them in ways that will bring encouragement, healing, and pastoral care.

At this point, we want to take a moment to say a special thank-you to each of you who have made these regular trips over the past 15 years possible for us. In very tangible ways – whether through prayer, finances, or words of encouragement – you have made the relationships here possible. You have helped to care for dozens of pastors and their wives who you may never meet until you meet them in Heaven. We deeply appreciate how you have cared for us and made it possible for us to care for so many others.

We’re looking forward to a week of partnering with the Holy Spirit to untangle situations, care for hearts, and advance the Kingdom here in Tijuana.

Blessings,

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