People living in Puebla respectfully call the nearby 17,000 foot-high volcano Popocatepetl “PoPo” and when it erupts, everybody, including folks in Mexico City some 83 miles northeast of here, can hear, feel and smell the explosions.
PoPo is not erupting today, though, as you can see from the photo above, its typical grey smoky plume is clearly visible. Despite the silence, everybody knows that just below the crater, pressure and heat are building for the inevitable next eruption.
God is like that, at least in the sense that He is constantly at work beyond our awareness implementing His will for this world. We often don’t hear God in action, but for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, He is constantly working.
The Friendship Baptist Church (FBC) Puebla Mission Team has seen much evidence of God’s hand as we have worked during this week with the pastors, members and volunteers from Hananeel Baptist erecting the third-floor roof of the Baptist church’s main sanctuary, providing basic medical services out in the far suburbs and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people we meet on the street.
When we arrived on February 1, there were 40 large, heavy panels in the church’s courtyard that had somehow to be moved into position above the third floor’s roof substructure to create the permanent covering.
It quickly became clear that a crane was needed to get the panels into position, but finding one capable of doing the job sufficiently early in our week to allow time to complete the roof assembly turned out to be a huge challenge.
Puebla has a booming construction industry, so that demand is high for equipment like cranes. Owners and operators know they have a service in high demand, so rental costs are expensive and scheduling availability can be nearly impossible.
Since we have a limited number of days and workers, the panels had to be moved to the roof by the end of the second day. Plus, a second shipment of panels had to be delivered Tuesday on schedule, which was by no means a sure thing.
But the crane was found, it arrived on time and all of the roof panels were moved as needed, including the second shipment that also arrived when it was needed.
But there was a challenge because the second shipment was on the bottom of delivery truck’s trailer, covered by several other orders. That meant our crane operator had to move multiple orders to get to our shipment, then put them back on the delivery truck. That wasn’t part of our original rental deal with the crane operator, but he kindly stayed and did what needed to be done.
As a result, our guys were able to complete the roof placement and securing by the end of the day Thursday. They were also able to do a substantial amount of electrical work (which can be hugely difficult here), not just for the newly useable third floor but the rest of the church facility as well.
But wait, there’s more!
If you want to see different cultures uniting around a common purpose, there’s no better illustration than this week in Puebla. Americans and Mexicans, young men and old, preachers and laymen, prosperous people and poor, united in worship and service to Jesus Christ.
Carol Lawson of FBC is a nurse and has provided basic medical services to dozens of men, women and children every afternoon with our evangelism team on its treks to distant villages in the hills and mountains surrounding Puebla.
And Pastor Nevil Johnson’s soccer clinics for neighborhood children in those villages have also proven extremely popular, with dozens of gleeful participants making new friends and often hearing the Gospel for the first time ever in their lives.
Many, many seeds are being planted by Nevil and Carol in their work, and God is giving them growth that we will see in the years ahead when we return.
Blair Radney and myself have spent hours sharing the Gospel, joining in mourning with those who suffered recent losses, and praying with multiple families who welcomed us into their humble homes. The blessings and miracles God provides in these scenes are indescribable.
Finally, each morning, Blair and I head to a market a few blocks from Hananeel to buy fruit and bakery products for the morning break.
Over the years, we’ve become good friends with Gregorio, the owner and chief baker of a great sweet shop, and Armando and Lupita, who operate the fruit stand. These are precious and rewarding relationships.
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