Monday was quite a treat--I got to swim with the largest fish in the world! In fact, the largest shark in the world! The whale shark! It's not a whale, it's a shark--notice the gills. It's called a "whale" shark because it's so large! The largest ones I swam with were about 22 feet long, and they are juveniles...teenagers. They come to feed on the plankton (not humans) in the Fall here in the Sea of Cortez. People didn't know about them coming here to feed in this area until only a few years ago...now it's a tourist hot-spot. Even so, there are regulations for swimming with them, such as keeping your distance and not touching them, and not getting in front of them while feeding. Our guide, Benjamin Duarte, did a great job teaching us about the sharks and finding them in the open blue so that we could swim with them. He charges double what the normal guides charge, but he's up to date on his certification, and he spends twice as much time with us out in the water, making sure we have a good experience. He also doesn't rush back to town once we've swam with the sharks but lets us enjoy our time, while giving the sharks a break from humans as well by finding other sharks to swim with, not always just one. What a magnificent creature!!
Later that afternoon/evening, we got to meet the friends of Steve and Lois who have become their "Bible exploration friends" on Monday nights. Most of these people they have met from kayaking and scuba diving. These are people who would never step foot in a traditional church building, but because of the relationship they have with Steve and Lois, they open up their lives to them. That tends to happen when you spend hours on the water, talking about life...sharing your own life, and listening to them talk about theirs. It has been refreshing to see a NT model of church being done here. In fact, the Mexican non-profit Steve has started, called Reconciliamar (the combination of reconciliation and loving in Spanish), has as its goals to develop Community, Conversation, and Conservation. Through this non-profit, which works to care for creation from a Christian perspective, Steve is drawing attention from even the most staunch opponents of the gospel. This is to the point that one of the men he has connected with has even told Steve how to evangelize him!
Fellowship time over food to start the evening off.
This is the point of ministry here in La Paz for Steve & Lois: changed lives. What better way to do that than living life with people through community, and taking care of what God has given us? How great it would be if more of us Christians did this even in the US by taking simple steps to talk with people, to build community with them (even if we're so different), and to care for God's creation around us?! It would certainly open the door to share about Jesus and the hope we have for changed lives and changed situations.
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