Greetings from Gran Canaria - Las Palmas, to be precise. The contrast with Lanzarote couldn't be more pronounced. Whereas Lanzarote is relatively sparsley populated with uniformly white houses collected in small and medium sized hamlets, Las Palmas is a sprawling city of multi-coloured high rises and bustling streets. Las Palmas is the commercial centre and political capital of the group of islands but I'm not sure how it sustains its population of half a million people.
Today I have been in two contrasting but wonderfully vibrant churches. This morning I was in a suburb in a church that was built about twenty years ago and is at the moment in the throes of creating a basement about the same size as the church containing a lounge, accommodation for both sexes, bathrooms and a kitchen capable of catering for large numbers. They hope to use it for conferences - especially of young people - but more importantly, as a base for social outreach. They are planning a food bank and already have the local Spar lined up to supply some food, clothes distribution and possibly a medical work of some kind as they have family doctors and nurses in the church keen to do something.
This evening I was in a city centre church in Las Palmas, squeezed into a rented hall used by two other churches and a host of other groups. But they took me to their new building, a shop front, round the corner from their hall at the foot of an apartment block. They have just secured the bank loan needed to complete the job and hope to have it done in three months, but this being Spain, a month is a flexible measure of time.
Both churches are not short of faith and energy, vision and a desire to reach out to their immediate neighbourhoods. It is heartening to see God at work in a context that we Brits usually only see as a holiday destination, not a place where locals live. I've been blessed to share a little of the lives of the people who live here all the time.
So tomorrow I'm off to La Palma (not to be confused with Las Palmas), the Westerly-most island, the greenest and most difficult to navigate, to link up with a German/Spanish church planting couple who are working in three centres across the island. Their daughter has been one of my translators at the conference and this morning, and probably the best. The translators have each done a great job for me; I'm grateful to them and to God for the skills and gifts they've put at my and his disposal.
And so to bed...