This morning I was up by 6:45am, after only getting six or so hours of sleep. When I walked downstairs, I was hit with the scent of French toast, just like home. After a delicious breakfast we jumped into our work clothes and hit the road to Arenal, where we helped construct a floor for a pastor and lead our first VBS. We traveled in the back of a large truck and as we headed into the mountains, we were hit by some of the most breathtaking views. After the hour and fifteen minute drive up, we immediately were struck by how impoverished this community was. After introducing ourselves, and diving head first into using machetes to separate cement from the bottom of old tiles that were going to be repurposed to make the new floor, we started to develop relationships with the younger kids. After many broken and chipped tiles and a great forearm workout, we ate lunch and began VBS. We started off playing soccer in the grass fields for an hour and then began the activities. At that time, Edwin was leading a seminar a couple hundred feet away in their church building to equip pastors with message materials. He was originally supposed to translate the activities directions, but since he became unavailable Mr. Davis had to step in and did a terrific job at translating. A majority of the youth were involved, most under the age of ten years old. The kids had a blast whether it was playing steal the bacon with a sandal or sticking stickers onto foam crosses. We ended with playing soccer, since the kids were so eager to play. At around 5:00pm we left, after praying for the pastor who had recently had a heart attack, and leaving one of our soccer balls with them. It is incredibly humbling to see the joy the kids got from something as simple a ball. The drive back was cold, but breathtaking. After a fantastic dinner, we had our nightly debrief. An incredible time, where the spirit clearly moved. Tonight is the last night for Sean, Virendra, Greg, and Laurah. Please pray for safe travels for them as they leave at around 2:00pm tomorrow on a bus back to Huehuetenango. (The funny statement of the day was from Jun) “There is a bug in my drink, should I still drink it?” Leader Comments: For the parents of our students on this trip I can tell you this – if you were here you would be blown away by the maturity and selfless service being displayed by each one. As parents we want to know that our kids will step up to the challenge when faced with difficulties, or the unknown, or unexpected, or even something unwanted but required, and your students have.
Jun, Stefan, Kylie, and Sean have shown great courage and poise in speaking to hundreds of people in a foreign culture while sharing very personal and meaningful life stories, and then connecting with youth and kids in culture barrier breaking ways. Jesse has been an unusually bright light through preaching, through initiating prayer and thoughtful discussions, and generally doing whatever it takes motivate people to live out their faith in the smallest and greatest of ways. Joelle has not only lead in singing but also stepped up to do the lead teaching at the VBS we ran today. She also picked out a couple of kids who were being left out by the others and gave special attention and love. It completely changed the experience for those kids.
Hannah has been a model of kindness, resourcefulness, and prayer. Her ideas in discussions and in planning are valuable and insightful, and are beyond her years. She helped manage the VBS activities today in a way that kept us organized and fun. Josh and Edward as well as Sean and Stefan, took initiative in getting kids to come together over soccer and also helped manage the activities throughout the day along with Jesse and the others. For those of you who know how chaotic a VBS and be to run, you would be super impressed at how our team performed.
Furthermore, they put in hours of labor alongside a team of construction workers laying concrete and tile in the pastors house of the village we were visiting. Jun spent the entire day laying concrete and tile with the workers. Workers, by the way, who earn on average about $5 to $7 per day.
The evening discussions have been incredibly encouraging and relevant to issues that are critical to their lives. To listen to these young men and women engage with such intelligence and passion is a privilege to witness and be a part of. You should be proud – your kids are the REAL THING!