From the first day our group arrived in Concepcion, Chile the people of the church welcomed us with open arms. We were there to build them a church so they did not have to feel like they were hiding anymore. Before we came, the small Seventh Day Adventist congregation met in the basement of the Adventist school.
On the first Thursday night there the pastor told our group leader they wanted to have all of us over to the school for a small get together. When we arrived our expectations were met with most of the church congregation there to have a worship service. Once the worship service was over we thought it was time to go back to where we were staying, but the pastor, or the translator, told us they had one more thing for us in another room. He said they wanted to “share their love with us”. We followed them down the hall in anticipation to find out what sharing love meant. When we walked through the doors we were surprised to find pink covered tables with an elaborate spread of fresh fruits and deserts. The people of the church all got together and set up this beautiful arrangement just for us, no matter the cost.
There was a particular man that stuck out to me throughout the whole trip. He was a very small man, even shorter than I am at my whole five feet and four inches. However, the small frame of this man could not properly display the size of his character. I will never forget the smile in the eyes of this man. I never fully understood the saying God shines through people until I met him. You could see the sincerity in his eyes when he told you happy day in Spanish and gave you the biggest hug you could ever receive.
Juanito would walk each day to the construction site to spread his joy and make his thankfulness known. He always had a huge grin on his face and his eyes would light up each time he talked to us. If I had only met one person from the congregation, it would have been enough to know just from his smile that they were truly thankful for everything we had done for them.
By the end of trip, with the church fully finished, it came time to say good-bye to Juanito and the rest of the church. That was the only day I did not see a smile on Juanito’s face. With tears rolling down he cheeks he told us that his heart was thankful and that we will always be family in God’s eyes. However, I do not think it takes God’s eyes to see that we are family. Even though I did not ever meet any of the people before this trip, I will forever consider Juanito and the congregation of that church to be my family. No matter the many miles we are separated, we are all under God’s great love together, this I believe.