Nov 10, 2005

Remembering the Reformation

Luz Maria gave two presentations to the community at large within the last two weeks. One was at the main preschool in La Caramuca on October 31. The director of the preschool received a flyer from a non-Lutheran evangelical church relating how on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and started a movement known as the Reformation. She knew Luz Maria was associated with something called the Lutheran Church, so she invited her to give more information about Luther and the Reformation. Luz Maria took advantage of the opportunity to explain the most important aspects of the Reformation were the reaffirmation of the authority of the Bible, the Gospel message of justification by faith and the priesthood of all believers.

Nursery in La MulaThe second presentation was at a nursery in the village of La Mula. She was asked to speak on the topic, "Conflict in the Contemporary Family." She opened by reading from Genesis 1: 26-28 to an audience of about 20 adults (mostly mothers of the children in the nursery). God instituted marriage and family life, she explained, when He created male and female in His image and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. As with everything in the beginning, God had a perfect design for the family: For a woman to submit in love to her husband as head of the family and for a man to lovingly accept the responsibility to protect and provide for his wife and children. But, like the rest of GodÂŽs creation, family life became twisted and even broken when sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. For this reason, conflict is a fact of family life today.

But God not only sent us Jesus as a Savior from sin, he sent the Savior to live as a child within a human family (Luke 2: 3-7, 22-24). Not a wealthy, privileged family, either, but a poor family like many Venezuelan families. That is why, as St. Paul writes in Ephesians 5: 22-24, we now understand relationships within the family in terms of Christ and His Church. The husband is the head of his family as Christ is the Head of the Church; that is, he must value its well-being more than his own life.

And the authority of Christ stands above all earthly authority. When both husband and wife submit to the authority of Christ, then there is the possibility of restoring broken relationships and resolving conflicts within the home.

After both presentations, Luz Maria distributed flyers from Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones (CPTLN or "the Spanish Lutheran Hour"). The CPTLN office in Caracas produces not only programs for Venezuelan television and radio, but also prints many different flyers that present the Gospel as an answer to many practical problems, such as alcohol abuse, depression and, indeed, family conflicts. Over the past month we have distributed over 300 CPTLN flyers.

Now for a bit of bad news. To my great dismay we had to close the preschool for two days this week because we simply did not have enough water to cook food for the children. Even as I write this newsletter we still do not have running water, but we were able to have a truck stop by and fill the concrete tank in the preschool kitchen.

I should explain that, like other developing countries, Venezuela has "infrastructure problems." That is to say basic services like water, electricity and telephone exist, but are not nearly as reliable as North Americans are accustomed to. It had been several weeks since we experienced interruptions in water or electrical service, but now the water problem is back with a vengeance.

Public waterworks throughout Venezuela are almost universally in bad condition. Virtually no one can count on having running water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nearly everyone has some kind of storage system for when the water is not running. In wealthier homes this takes the form of very large concrete tanks equipped with electric pumps. Poorer families use plastic trashcans, two- or three-liter pop bottles or whatever else they can scrounge.

Like I said, we have a concrete tank, but it does not have the capacity to provide for an entire week without running water with the number of children that we are serving. We have a solution in mind, however. When we built our new preschool, we built on a storage shed with a roof sturdy enough to support a large polyurethane water tank. Once we buy the tank and install the appropriate plumbing, gravity will allow us to have water running through our taps even when the municipal water is shut off.

We do have a well on the property, but getting that up and running will be an even bigger project than installing the polyurethane tank. Luz Maria and I are working on a long-range plan to identify what we would like to accomplish in one year and within five years, along with what material resources we will need to achieve our goals. We pray for the patience and wisdom to do what we can with what the Lord has given us, and that not too many matters become urgent all at once.

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