One thing you find doing 'incarnational missions and ministry' is that you become as close as family to so many of the people you are ministering WITH.
Now, notice that funny word... WITH, not TO... which is a distinction lost in a great deal of today's rush into 'short term missions'.
We minister WITH people, never TO them. It seems more like the 'what would Jesus do' thing...
Lori has been ministering WITH the Martinez family in the San Vicente village for over 7 years. I've spent countless hours with Lori at the Martinez home, and watched their kids grow up. I can't even think how many tortillas I've rolled at that wonderful house with dirt floors...
Last year, Lori and I were asked to be Padrinos in daughter Yessica's Quinceañera... the HUGE 15th birthday. In Latino culture, it's bigger than getting married. It's considered THE biggest day of a young girl's life...
Now, the best American parallel to a Padrino would be a 'God-parent' in a liturgical church culture... BUT being a latino Padrino is a life-long commitment to be aware of what is going on in the person's life AND be committed to help care for that person in times of crisis and trouble... NO small thing!
We said yes. How can you deny such an honor beyond words??
Then we were asked what 'portion' we would take in the lengthy ceremony, all filled with symbolic gifts and trade-offs, all to signify the girl becoming a woman.
We chose to be the bringers of the Perfume in a beautiful bottle... all to center on the idea of the young woman turning her heart in worship to Jesus for her life. What a JOY to be 'tapped' to be people who encourage our friend to worship the Lord in all she says and does!!
There was a magnificent PARTY... birria de res (a wonderful and messy dish of beef cooked in a spicy chili and tomato sause... yep, there's a spot on my suitcoat!), and there was wonderful fellowship with so many in the village...
At the reception, I found out that we were the ONLY 'Padrinos' who were not blood-relation... I also found out that having a non-blood-relative as a Padrino was a triple-honor... one brother told me, "that family really, really holds you guys as close!"
Honor beyond words. Real incarnational ministry.
Lord, let all that mean something in Your Kingdom, and receive the Honor and Worship for which YOU are worthy.