As part of worship every Sunday in Remedios, there is a time designated during the service for members of the congregation to participate in a “love offering.” Instead of passing an offering plate around the room, members make their way to the front of the room, receive the glass box from an appointed Elder, push their worn bills and coins through the tiny slot, and offer a public statement of gratitude for all that God is doing in their lives and the lives of their community.

“Gracias por la vida” is a phrase we heard numerous times throughout this portion of the service.

“Thank you for life.”

The more I heard it said, the more I reflected upon the meaning of those few, yet significant words and the sincerity with which they were uttered time and time again. Our friends in this congregation often face a steady headwind, yet they thank God for the gift of life amid the challenge. We heard stories of church members sacrificing their own food rations in order to provide for neighbors in need. Several individuals shared how the church’s meal and laundry programs help to support their families each week. Many persons gave thanks for another day with spouses who are fighting cancer and other diseases without the aid of modern medicine.

You don’t have to spend much time in this community to know that access to basic supplies is limited. You also don’t have to spend much time in this community to see that its members put the needs of others ahead of their own. In the midst of personal challenge, this body of believers sacrifices to take care of one another, and pause to give thanks to the Giver of Life.

Let us join our brothers and sisters in Remedios by thanking God for life, this ministry partnership that allows us to share in joy and sorrow, peace that passes all understanding, and hope for the future.