Sunday, February 28
Galapagos Islands trip
Last week, February 16-22, three others and myself traveled from the Ecuadorian mainland to the island of Sta. Cruz in the Galapagos Islands. We had been invited by a couple of new believers to come teach, share, and help them start a house church.
Our plan was to disciple and train the 3-4 known believers living in Puerto Ayora (the largest town) and hopefully, by week's end, leave behind a house church which will continue to make new disciples and multiply.
By the end of our week-long stay, by God's grace, we left Puerto Ayora having baptized two of the new believers (two others having already been baptized.) The last night we laid hands on two of them as shepherd/elders of the newly planted gathering of believers. Everyday, for several hours, we met with the handful of believers and a few "almost-believers" for discipleship/training.
Most of our time was spent doing church and sharing with one another, rather than trying to classroom-teach how it should be done. It is easier to just do church, than to try and explain it all. My heart was warmed at the hunger for God and keen desire to learn and gather with other believers.
The Galapagos are truly an amazing place on planet earth. Pristine, natural, raw, organic, and rugged are a few words that come to mind in trying to describe the unique contrasts between God's original designs and mankind's "improvements."
Puerto Ayora (population 10,000+) represents the latter "improvements." The town is built around satisfying the visiting tourists coming from every corner of the globe. Bars, discotheques, hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, cyber cafes, and chartered tour agencies are every where. It seems the entire town is out to make a profit from the islands made famous by Charles Darwin.
Outside of Puerto Ayora, one immediately experiences what our planet must have felt like before man's improvements on God's original designs. The Galapagos are truly one of the few places left on earth virtually unspoiled by mankind. It is hard to describe the wonder of the sea life, the vegetation, the freely roaming wild life, magnificently painted landscapes, the rich colors, and the pristineness of the place.
For me personally, though, the Galapagos was more a lesson in slowing down. The details and wonder of God's creation call for us to pause and admire the wonder of God's amazing creation.
So much of my life is cluttered with things that simply do not matter. I expend vasts amounts of energy trying to control my world and what happens around me. All of that seems so senseless in a place like the Galapagos. There, one experiences wonder, and there is an undefined mystery to the cosmos. As Don Miller writes in his book, Through Painted Deserts, we find ourselves in a place where the why questions are so much more important than the how questions. Why are we here? What really matters in life? Why do we do the things we do, and act the way we act? And realize all our how questions (how do I pay this month's bills, how do I lose this excess weight, how do I get this job done, how can I be better known and respected, etc.) are all truly irrelevant questions in the bigger picture of life.
I have often thought life is just one continuous lesson in teaching us gratitude. Gratitude for the little things. Awareness of how good God really is. Life doesn't get any better than having a cold bottle of water to relieve one's thirst, or shade from the intense equatorial sun. Or a good's night's rest, and meaningful conversation with friends.
So even though we accomplished our mission of planting a church in the Galapagos, I think God accomplished his own mission this past week. Once again, I have been reminded, life is more about those things I tend to give little attention to, and less about those things that tend to absorb most of my time and attention. Will I ever learn?
To see photos click here.