I have always loved seeing cross-cultural connections happen between youth group teens, mission work teams, and nationals and missionaries. I guess that is the midwife in me…relationship between a health care professional and their client isn’t immediate, it takes time, trust and openness. I thoroughly enjoy meeting a slim pregnant woman during the early weeks of pregnancy, and seeing the relationship develop as pregnancy progresses and the fetus becomes more than an “idea”.
We are privileged to work with nationals and missionaries and have seen this very thing develop between our home church in North America, sister organizations here in Costa Rica and the members and pastor of a local church body. I couldn’t help introducing myself to a bubbly Tica who spoke her passion for women’s ministry at a vision meeting hosted for our visiting Gringo missions committee in November. This congregation has the entire congregation involved in cell groups which foster community.
In Costa Rica(as in much of Latin America), physical walls and metal gates deter neighborhood interaction. Those fortunate enough to have a few hours of free time, spend it with family be they near or far. Although I have established community with missionary friends, Nicaraguan clinic workers, and Bible study groups I have had limited success in cultivating community in my own backyard. Desiring ongoing interaction with women interested in studying God's Word in the 2 mile radius surrounding our home in Tres Rios, I was intrigued and wondered if such a small group would “feel” like that experienced in Charlotte in years gone by.
Although the only gringa in the small group, Facebook messages, texts and emails from members connected me mid-week after my initial attendance. Warmly embraced by this local body of believers with cultural and physical differences, I see that the health of this cell group is core to the DNA of the church community our home church in the US seeks to partner. May relationships be planted that stand the test of time, distance and cultural differences. May God be glorified and exalted in connecting communities across an expanse of land and sea, and a vision for partnership become a lasting connection between two communities who love well.