Viviana Muñoz and her husband moved to Talca a little over a year ago when he was sent to become the new pastor of the church here. The congregation, a little over twenty years old, was in need of healing and embracing a new vision.
The only bathrooms at the church were two tiny dark closets in the church basement. Pastor Carlos and Pastora Viviana decided that a way to energize the congregation would be to build new bathrooms together.
The simple people of the congregation responded skeptically. Where would they get the two million pesos (about $4000.00 dollars) for the bathrooms? Viviana thought that if the project had a jumpstart, the people would soon join in giving in anyway that they could. She organized the women of the church, and they began to collect plastic bottles for recycling. Soon, the whole church was picking up bottles on the street and asking their neighbors for more. They collected all through the summer, and by the end of two months, there were one hundred large sacks of crushed beverage bottles sitting in the parsonage’s postage-stamp-size back yard. The day came to take the sacks to the recycling center, and members of the congregation enthusiastically volunteered an old pickup and a cart.
On Sunday, Pastora Viviana reported to the congregation that they had raised the first $100.00 dollars for the new bathrooms. It was the spark the congregation needed. Small offerings began to trickle in as the different members of the congregation worked together on the weekends digging the foundations and laying the bricks. Little by little, always with just enough money to buy the building supplies that are needed next, the bathrooms are almost ready. They have tile floors and aluminum partitions and plenty of natural light coming through high windows. Plans are being made for the grand inauguration on the last weekend in September.
As the miracle of the pleasant bathrooms has taken shape, another more subtle miracle has unfolded. The congregation has a new spirit. There is a sense of community and cooperation, and a new desire to serve God and others outside the walls of the church building. Now the members of the congregation are talking about starting an environmental club with the children of the community and possibly adding on to the church so as to accommodate a wider outreach to those in need.
The project started with Viviana’s vision and the collecting of bottles. Viviana’s message to the women of the world is “give and receive all of the love that you can. In every tiny act, God is teaching us to love and to accept the love of others. God has a special purpose for every single woman and has also the perfect timing to bring about that purpose. Live each day loving, and God’s purpose will sprout inside of you growing out in blessing to many others.
Elena Huegel is a missionary with the Pentecostal Church of Chile (IPC). She serves as an environmental and Christian education specialist.