"Everybody who sees you, Bishop Patricia, takes notice." These were the words that Bishop-elect [...]
I have been visiting La Esmeralda since 2004. It seems that no visit passed without someone from the San Agustin congregation mentioning their dream of building "the temple on the hill" as they point to the huge brush-covered lump of limestone next to the existing church. Although I would never say it to them (my inability to speak Spanish aside), my private thoughts were along the lines of, "Yeah, right! In your dreams!"
But then one year, a few of us walked up the hill and laid "cornerstones," symbolic rocks we gathered from the bottom of the hill. Another year saw that they had hired a bulldozer to level the hill. And before you knew it, there were the beginnings of a real building.
Many hours of sweat equity were put in by the church members - men, women, and children. And finally, on April 1 (no fooling!), the former church was re-dedicated as the Fellowship Hall, and the new church was dedicated. Present along with Pastors Karen and Esther from the ILAG were Pastor Mark Aune, Bill Larson, Janet Metcalfe, and John Metcalfe from Augustana Lutheran in West St. Paul. During the service the various parts of the church were blessed for their purposes and two couples renewed their wedding vows. There was also a point at which the members of the congregation walked about and thanked one another for their contributions to the realization of this dream.
During the service, the Fellowship Hall had been set up to host the celebratory banquet, to which the entire community - not just the members of San Agustin - had been invited. Our quick estimate was that around 200 people were served. (This was NOT a good week to be a chicken in La Esmeralda!) The Fellowship Hall was also used that evening for a dramatic presentation by the church youth and again the next morning for a children's activity.
The people of San Agustin are a people of great faith. They are justifiably proud of what they have accomplished. They are also very grateful for all of the help and support they have received along the way, not only as it pertains to the building project but also as we walk with them in the day-to-day expression of that faith. It was an honor for us to be a part of their celebration.
Augustana, West St. Paul