The joy of hosting teams from Florida

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The Angola Blog

Leo and Cleivy’s ministry in East Angola has not been without challenges, to say the least. Illnesses, conflicts and fears, prolonged periods of no water, no electricity and no transportation, remind me of the apostle Paul when he wrote to the Christians in Corinth: “When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn’t settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn’t relax because we didn’t know how it would turn out. Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus. We were glad just to see him, but the true reassurance came in what he told us about you: how much you cared, how much you grieved, how concerned you were for me. I went from worry to tranquility in no time!” (2 Co. 7:5-7, The Message)

Missionary Cleivy Garcia and Delaney Harshman, from Harvest UMC, having fun as they work together.

For the Garcias, teams from Florida are like Titus to Paul. This summer they hosted a team from Harvest UMC and next week they will be hosting a conference-wide team that includes people from North Naples, Harvest, John Wesley, and Cypress Lake United Methodist churches. The team will work in the re-building of a former dorm and will offer a variety of workshops at the School of Theology. Although the team will be back in two weeks, team member Wayne Slockbower will stay in Quessua for a month to help the missionaries in doing repairs to different buildings, and teaching the boys of the Boarding House basic construction skills.

As difficult as it is to organize logistics for visiting teams, the Garcias do it with great joy and anticipation.  In a recent phone conversation, Cleivy said “When we host teams from Florida it feels like family has come to visit. Even if we don’t speak the same language, we communicate perfectly through the love that binds us together. I have no words to describe the joy, the support, the consolation, the energy your visits bring into our lives. When you come, we realize that we are not alone, but that we have a multitude of friends and family in Florida that constantly intercede for us and support our ministry. Sentiments of loneliness are overcome with their friendship. Laughter and encouragement fill our home.”  According to Leo, visiting teams help affirm the common ministry between East Angola and Florida. “God shows us –he says- that Quessua has not been forgotten and that He is invested in prospering His work in this place.”

As I visit with the Garcias in just a few days as part of this conference-wide team, I’m carrying gifts from McKenzie’s Clothing Closet at Calvary UMC, the UMW at First UMC-Williston and John Wesley UMC, and several other groups and individuals. However, the greatest gift I’m carrying for them is the love, the concern, and the prayers that our churches send.

“But the true reassurance -says Paul- came in what he told us about you: how much you cared, how much you grieved, how concerned you were for me.” Our visits, words of encouragement, and prayers for missionaries serving abroad, like Leo and Cleivy, will make a world of a difference for them and the ministry God has placed into their hands.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers for our missionaries in East Angola!

Icel Rodriguez

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