If Saturday was our day to travel via air, Sunday was our day to travel via van.
After a delicious breakfast provided to us by our respective host families in San Diego, we headed to Grace Church East County to worship with our brothers and sisters there. What an amazing experience to not merely be welcomed into the church body and introduced and prayed for by their pastor, but also to share in Communion with other sinners who have been redeemed by the broken body and shed blood of the Lamb! One of the leaders in the church gave a fantastic message on Ephesians 4 that was truly the perfect exhortation about the beautiful diversity and unity found in the Body of Christ.
From there we headed to In-N-Out for lunch, picked up a few things at the store, filled our van with gas and then headed to the U.S.-Mexican border. By God’s grace, we crossed with just a slight hiccup, as Kathy and Brady’s massive black garbage bag of sleeping bags, pillows, and Bradys’ stuffed animals caused one border crossing official to ask us an extra question or two.
We arrived at YUGO, settled into our rooms, and then had the privilege of meeting the Sanchez-Castillo family and their adorable daughter Andrea. We also met Pastor Nicolas and his wife, had a chance to get to know them better over dinner, and pray with them for the week. After dinner we gathered together for our first chapel service and then met together to debrief the day as a team. It’s amazing to see the lessons God is already teaching us–lessons about how God uses all of us in His church, in unique ways, for His glory; lessons about what it means for us as Christians to show hospitality.
As we wind down our first day in Ensenada, I am struck over and over again by that well-worn phrase “a little slice of heaven”. Some mislead San Diegans might think I’m referring to spending 24-hours in San Diego, but as gorgeous as San Diego is, that’s not what I’m referring to. Some over-zealous Californians might think I’m referring to sitting down to a Double-Double (animal style) and well-done French fries at In-N-Out, which I’m not (although, In-N-Out was pretty darn scrumptious!)
What has struck me today is that one of the closest experiences we have to heaven on this earth and in this life is when we gather together with brothers and sisters from different backgrounds, different culture, different countries, and with different heart languages and are able to share in the same fellowship, take of the same Body and Blood of Christ, be exhorted by the same Word, pray to the same Father, and praise the same King. Taking Communion with the believers at Grace Church East County, fellowshipping in the van with eight other people who are very different than me, singing songs of praise alongside brothers and sisters from the United States, Mexico, and Canada–all of that is a slice of heaven. All of that is a brilliant and yet infinitely dim snapshot of heaven when people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation with gather around the Lamb who was slain to sing His praises for all eternity!