Friday, June 28th, 2013

We are at a sort of halfway point of our trip, and these are just a few of the thoughts running through the minds of our team members:

The people have nothing but they still smile.  Sometimes I catch myself in a bad mood, but I have everything.  I also see the connection everyone has with all the kids, which comes with returning to the same place every day.

I’m more amazed by the number of people on this trip than anything else.  I heard there were going to be over 40 people and I thought ‘Wow that’s a lot,’ but it has been amazing to see so many new faces here.

I haven’t been on every trip, but from what I can see and what I’ve been told, I realized today that so much has happened in such a short time.  I think that’s amazing.

To see someone so happy to see you after only two days of knowing them – it’s mind-blowing.

It was cool to watch everyone when they saw the running water again today.  I take it for granted, I use it every day, and today when they saw it they got excited. Wow.

The first thing that stands out is that in a land where basic resources are lacking, the children and the people remain joyful and selfless and resilient.  It’s astonishing when I compare that to anyone and everyone else I know.  The joyful hearts…everything has blown me away.

I don’t know why I’m here. Maybe it’s to make someone smile.  Maybe it’s to win a volleyball game.  I don’t know. But I guess God has a reason.

Today was another busy day in which we exercised endurance and flexibility.  The morning began as our past two mornings have; big hugs and wide smiles followed by dirty hands and sweaty brows.  The crew that began digging the trench for the water pipe was able to finish digging, get the pipe lined up and cover the pipe with the dirt and rock they moved yesterday.  The bucket line was assembled once again as the final foundation section for the wall was laid.  While cinderblocks form the actual wall, the base on which the cinderblocks is laid is composed of random rocks of all sizes bound together with a rougher concrete.  So the movement of rocks big and small was added to the duties of the bucket/block brigade.  A few of the solar-powered lights went up, which was encouraging as the success of any project is.  The light are placed at key security areas of the orphanage, like near the entrance, along the back border and at the corners of buildings.  Each light is perched atop welded metal bars, with the actual solar panel sitting like a little roof over the light. The welding machine was hot at work once again as construction of the gate continued, and the generator powering the saw was loudly humming as the last doors for the wooden cabinets in the children’s house were cut and sanded.  But it’s important to note that saws and machines and water and bucket lines were not the only things running this morning, or any time we are at Pastor’s.  Kids were running all over the place, followed closely by the team members chasing after them.  No matter how much work is going on, there are always people kicking a soccer ball, pushing a swing, tickling a child, making silly faces and mumbling incomplete basic Creole phrases.

We returned to Kaliko for lunch (perhaps the most consistent aspect of our schedule), and then went right back to the orphanage where we knew a truck load of blocks would be arriving shortly.  We heard the sharp horn of the construction truck signaling its impending entrance onto the property, and more than one jaw dropped as the sight of 1,000 gray cinderblocks on the truck bed, each 15 inches long and 7 inches tall.  Deep breaths were taken, the lines were formed, and every last one of those blocks was off the truck and into stacks within twenty minutes.  The Lord has been protecting our team throughout this trip, and he has continuously steadied our hands so that not one 15 pound block has been dropped on a single foot.

Originally we planned to do our first VBS in the village today, but since word had not really been spread to children outside the orphanage it was decided that we would instead do two VBS sessions tomorrow, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  So around the time we had planned on starting VBS, groups of team members and Pastor’s children went out to the village with translators to invite people to come out tomorrow for VBS. On our daily drive to the orphanage we basically travel on three main roads through Williamson, making only two real turns.  Merchant stands, fences, flora and houses line the roads and give the appearance that the entire village rests along those main roads.  But as we found out this afternoon, there is incredible depth and complexity to the layout of the village.  There was at least one older child with every group, and a boy named Peabo led the way for the group I was in.  We went out the front entrance of the orphanage, but took a quick left down an easily unnoticed path through some brush.  Soon there were more paths and more houses visible, and we quickly realized that the village was a lot bigger than we thought.  Peabo expertly maneuvered through what to us seemed like a confusing maze of concrete structures, barely beaten paths, and greenery that looked the same around every turn.  We stopped at houses as we walked, and Peabo and Willie (one of our translators) took turns explaining to families what we would be doing tomorrow.  Our group was able to pray for two families, one that said they would not be able to attend tomorrow but wanted our prayers, and one that were members of Pastor’s church.  One striking thing about our village trek was how readily Peabo approached his neighbors and his peers.  Here was a seventeen year old boy openly and excitedly inviting everyone he passed by to come and hear the visiting missionaries share of the gospel through VBS.  While keeping in mind it is a different culture, still how many seventeen year olds do you know at home who are open with their neighbors about their spirituality and readily invite their peers to church?  After about forty or so minutes of walking and spreading the word about VBS, all the groups reconvened at the orphanage and finished up work for the day.

We left about an hour earlier than usual, giving us an opportunity to return to Kaliko to rest and recover from a few very long, hot days.  The relaxation method of choice by many team members was a long swim in the beautiful ocean just a short walk from our doors.  The water is the ideal blue-green sea color from afar, but we could see straight through the incredibly clear water to the stony ocean floor as we waded into cool water.  It was great to spend time laughing and enjoying one another’s company as we floated in what I think of as one of God’s most breathtaking creations.  As treading water began to grow old to our tired bodies, some team members went to take showers, some did not, and some tried their hand at sand volleyball.  Again, a great time fellowshipping with one another away from the heat and focus that normally fill our day.

After dinner we again had a worship and devotional time, led tonight by Chris Clark.  He asked three questions that echoed through the room and are still echoing through my mind.  Are we desperate for God? What keeps us from desperation? What would it look like if we were completely and unequivocally desperate for God?  They’re hard questions that lead to hard conversations and hard truths.  Hard, and not easily answered.  But maybe that’s part of the reason we’re here.  Maybe we’re here to be challenged, to be asked the hard questions, to be forced to look inwards and examine and analyze ourselves and everything around us.  As we constantly realize and are constantly reminded, God has a reason for our being here.  And every day we spend here, all the projects we work on, all the buckets we lift, all the children we play with, all the conversations we have, and all the questions we’re asked are a part of his plan, though we still might not know exactly what that is.

Pray for all the children and adults in attendance at VBS tomorrow.  Please pray that God will do mighty work in hearts all across Williamson and for the continued protection and health of our team.