Friday, June 1, 2012

Workshops with the Anderson's

Timothy and Lynn Anderson
For almost 2 years I have been working with a missionary at AMG named Dan Anderson.  Dan has been working in Guatemala for around 12 years just like ourselves.  However, he joined AMG shortly after we joined and he serves as national pastor for the organization.  Dan is a MK (missionary kid) from Colombia and worked there for a number of years as pastor and missionary. He is a third generation missionary as his grandparents went to Colombia to serve as a missionary in 1937. They worked there for many years and their son continued on with the work they started.  Last year I read a book called "Haritacama" which is about the life and work of Dan's grandparents.  It is a very interesting and powerful book to read. A couple of weeks ago Dan's parents came to Guatemala for a visit and they wanted to do workshops on the Biblical form of worship. Dan had mentioned that his parents were coming last year already and I told him that I would like his parents to go to Cubulco and do a workshop there.   Dan's parents Timothy and Lynn have been working in Cucuta, Colombia all their life.  Cucuta is a city close to the border of Venezuela and is full of wickedness like many border cities are.  They work with local churches in the city and in the communities surrounding the city and run a Christian publishing company.  They also helped compile a hymnal which is the same one we use in our churches in Cubulco.   
At the Presbyterian Seminary in Guatemala City
Dan's parents ended up doing workshops not only in Cubulco, but also in other parts of Guatemala.  The seminar in Cubulco was well attended as we invited the obreros, teachers, and translators, as well as people from the church and other evangelical churches in Cubulco. We had a group of more than 40 people who attended from which around 20 were from our church and the rest were from the Nazarene and Assemblies of God church. I also put them in contact with the Presbyterian churches who were excited to have them come as many churches are losing the traditional psalms and hymns to modern worship.  They were invited to do workshop on three different occasions with the Presbyterians. Dan's father also preached twice in the Central Presbyterian church.
The workshops were very well done, and Dan's parents did a masterful job of presenting the material.  We sang a lot and we learned about the history behind many of the songs.  It was neat to see how passionate they were about the material and how they spoke about songs and their history not only from Europe and America, but also from other parts of the world like Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the South Pacific.  
In Cubulco
Dan's family has an impressive legacy.  However, what impacted and touched me most was how they are focused on heaven.  Dan's grandfather and father's favorite theme to preach and teach on was/is heaven. Apparently the "theme song" for the family was/is "Jerusalem, Jerusalem". When Dan's grandfather was nearing the end of his life he slipped into a coma.  However, shortly before he passed from this life to the next, he sat straight up in bed and said in a strong voice, "it's beautiful, it is much more beautiful than I ever imagined", and then fell back into his coma and died shortly thereafter.  Dan's grandmother died while sitting at the the piano playing, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem".  Each time Dan's father speaks of heaven he gets choked up and has tears in his eyes. It was special to witness it and to hear of how they long for heaven. 
It is a reminder to me and I sure for others as well that this life is temporal and passing, and that we are simply pilgrims in this world. Our home is not here. I find that I often forget this in my life and that I live too much for today and for this life. I know in my mind that this life is passing, but I often to not live like it is. Often I lose my focus and live like this life is the only one. It was good to be reminded again of this reality and refocus on heaven: to long for heaven. This life and this world is nothing compared to what life in heaven will be like. Therefore, death for believers, (although painful for those left behind) is a "blessing".  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5....

"5 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."

Paul says that as long as we have our earthly bodies we can not be with the Lord and enjoy His presence. Therefore, his desire is to leave his earthly body (death) in order to be with the Lord, not naked (bodiless) but with a glorified, perfect body.  Although this is a desire I have at times, I want it to be something that I constantly desire so that I no longer live for this life, but live for eternity and that this will be evident in my work as missionary.