Missionaries Jim and Liisa Tino serving in Chile and globally

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Dance like….the world is watching!

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I want to tell you about a girl I met while at a woman’s retreat in Argentina. Let’s call her Cynthia.

Actually, I didn’t really “meet’ Cynthia. But we shared the same experiences at this inspirational Lutheran conference. Usually my group sat behind her and her mom and all her aunts. I observed their participation in the events. Together we sang, prayed and were moved by the power of God’s Word. But Cynthia moved me, because she was a down-syndrome woman.

On the night of the “noche velada” – a type of variety show that included a female comedian, a soprano virtuoso and an all-boy folk group with a modern twist- Cynthia was obviously excited about the booming music. Her aunts were constantly trying to contain her to the row of chairs that marked their area.  The band got the crowd singing to old favorites and clapping to the “chamame” beat.  Suddenly they began playing an introduction that elicited “oohs” and “”ahhs” from the crowd.  As they hit the chorus of the song, EVERYONE was singing and Cynthia was dancing on top of her chair in front of me!  Her mother pulled her down, but she bolted in front of her aunts into the center aisle where there was room to dance.  She waltzed – quite flamboyantly- slowly between the crowds.  She smiled as she spun, flinging one arm above her head and pressing the other across her stomach.  The band picked up the tempo and the impromptu choir sang louder.  The aunts in front of me patted her mother’s arm and said “Look at her. She’s having a blast!  Let her dance!”  Soon, a young pastor joined her and gave her a couple of twirls.  Cynthia looked like the Belle of the Ball!

But as the song began to wind down, and the pastor returned to his section, the focus was on the solo guitarist. Then it was on the lead singer as he held out the final note….impossibly long. Finally, the crowd erupted with applause as the piece ended.  I turned to see my Cynthia half-way back in the center aisle.  She was beaming – bowing from side to side – as if the applause was for her.  She looked like she was searching for the flash of cameras when I snapped this photo.  One of her aunts reached out to her to pull her away from the embarrassment.  But Cynthia, was NOT embarrassed.  She had danced as if no one was watching, while expecting the whole world to be watching!

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That is definitely hard to do.  Rarely can we toss inhibitions to the wind and let our inner-Cynthias out.  When God inspires us to praise and thank Him for His incredible creation or for His grace and mercy in our lives, do we let it all out?  And when we’re thrilled with the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and sent His Spirit to live in our hearts, do we quietly nod in case someone might be critical?

I’m going to look for more opportunities to dance (oh no, groan my children)!   And when the music is over, I’m going to stand proud and let people know why I dance!

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