Several weeks ago a team of us from LifeTouch Ministries went to Guatemala to present two conferences. One for adults and one for children. It was a joy for two of us to include our husbands on this adventure.
My husband Jeff ( who wrote a blog entry a few months ago) was one who went along. Now I have mentioned my mate to you all before. As you know, I think he’s an awesome man. If he could go up a notch in the “princely” category, he surely did during our latest trip.
Although Jeff is an assistant principle in a middle school for his occupation, he is also a really good painter. Not the artist variety, but boy can he paint the inside or outside of a building. That is exactly what he did at the orphanage while his wife taught the adult conference. Out in very hot humid weather, he climbed up a home -made scaffold with the Guatemalan grounds keeper to help him. His name is Antonio.
Now Jeff is a quiet man and also speaks only enough Spanish to ask where a bathroom is and how to buy a drink of water. His new friend Antonio spoke very little English. But Antonio loved to talk. He wanted so badly to be able to talk that he would rattle on in Spanish to his new friend “Jeef” ( how he pronounced “Jeff”) and Jeff would just smile and nod, hoping he was gesturing at the right times.
In the evening when Jeff and I would debrief about our day, he would say, “I just wish I knew how to speak to him better. He is such a nice guy and he just talks and talks but I have no idea what he is saying.”
On the last day that Jeff and Antonio worked together, Jeff told me of a wonderful breakthrough in their communication. As they were rolling the blue paint on the cement blocks, Antonio said, “Jeef! I know song in English!” Jeff smiled and nodded. Antonio proceeded to sing parts of a beautiful old hymn in very broken English,
“All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him I freely give, I surrender all, I surrender all. All to thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.” When he finished he motioned to Jeff and said, “Jeef, you sing!”
Now I will tell you that in the 30 years I have been married to “Jeef,” I have never heard him actually sing. He mouths the words and loves the songs, but doesn’t sing. It just isn’t what he does. He whistles in the shower and around the yard with the best of them, but he doesn’t sing. Yet on that hot day in Guatemala, “Jeef” did the best he could and sang out the words to “I surrender all” with Antonio. It was apparently quite loud and off key, but it was heartfelt. Two men from different worlds knew the same Jesus and left their “manly” comfort zones to tell each other.
You may not know Antonio or Jeff if you are reading this. But I don’t think the message is lost to you. Why? Because if you’ve ever wondered what the heart of the gospel message looks like…well, you just read about it.