On with the story…
I want to divide the posts in the different ministries we did… that will explain our trip in the best way I think!
So… first up… the GIRLS’ MINISTRIES!
Here we are PLUS Tracy, the other leader!
Caitlin, Kirsten, Haley, me, Stephanie, Tracy, Presley
READY TO DO WORK!
Us girls focused on 2 main ministries – children and women! I have NEVER been more blessed AND STRETCHED in my life! To give you an overview of the people’s hearts we were working with… we asked the children and the women on the first day we were with them if they had ever heard about Jesus. VERY few raised their hands or acknowledged that they had. Only a couple of the children knew John 3:16. They had never been exposed to the Bible stories we have grown up learning… including the cross of Jesus. They were hungry for some of Him! Look at this precious face!!!!! Anabelli made the kids close their eyes to get their jello snack… LOOK HOW EXCITED SHE IS!!! How could we not just want to love them like Jesus?
Each day we shared a story, with a skit (HILARIOUS) with the kids, then fun songs and games, and finally snack. We chose to focus our days on Jesus and the cross, Jonah and the whale (Jonas y el GRAN PEZ!!!!!), and David and Goliath! The skits were hysterical! Anabelli PERFORMED/TOLD the stories while instructing us how to act them out! It was perfect. It had everyone laughing… even the women of the village – which was a HUMONGOUS deal!!!! Before we knew of the construction of the church, we had planned for the boys to be involved in the children’s ministry – for them to help with skits and playing and all that. Well… God had other plans. So, the 6 of us girls were stretched and pushed to love and laugh and act with all of our might… without our counterparts’ energy and involvement. God was faithful and it was GLORIOUS!
There were about 25 kids (I think) everyday who came to learn, play, and just see the white people. 🙂 The little kiddos latched on immediately! There was no hesitation in them to love and to accept and to laugh and to play. BUT… we noticed… the older they got (especially the girls) the more the hesitation grew, the less they wanted to expose their smiles, and the more guarded they acted. I’m not sure when or why it changed… but it definitely foreshadowed what was to come with the women.
Playing was a favorite of everyone. My favorite sound all week – better than monkeys in the distance, locusts, parrots, and other rainforest sounds – was the laughter of these people… especially the kiddos. We did children’s ministry in the afternoon… so to go from the women’s ministry – which was hard… really hard… because of the initial lack of joy – to the children’s ministry and hearing their laughter was PERFECT!
I LOVED this little one – check out her hair!!! It’s beyond awesome!!! She had super thick bangs that obviously got in her face. So the remedy… put them on top of your head!!! DUH!!! I adore her…
Here are the twins… the cutest sight ever. They were 2 and you can’t get more precious than them! Not only are their faces pinch-able… they were bow-legged and pot-bellied!!!! To see them just stand just melted your heart! But… do not be deceived… these boys can SMASH a soccer ball!
This is Carlita… but we preferred to call her La Mono!! She was a MONKEY! She climbed people! At ANY given time you could look around and Carlita would be in the arms of someone on our team! Many times you didn’t even have to pick her up… she would literally climb you… and then swing from person to person!!! It was HILARIOUS! But… who would really want to put her down anyways???
And… although the boys were EXHAUSTED each afternoon… they made it a point to love on those kids.
NOW THE WOMEN… Oh, my heart!!!!
The moment I found out we were going to be doing women’s Bible study while we were in the village… I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had NO idea what it would look like or if the women would even be accepting of us. BUT… as with everything else on our trip. GOD DID IMMEASURABLY MORE!
Waiting for the women…
This was a picture on the first day we met the women. They were beautiful… they really were, but my heart ached for them. The women are expected to cook, take care of their homes, and tend to the children all day everyday. We found out that the women never met together… only say each other in passing or at events. I can’t imagine not having encouragement and love from other women… and… I have never met a group of people so guarded, no smiles, seemingly little joy, and a complete look of confusion when we told them we loved them… and that Jesus loved them. We would hug them… and they wouldn’t hug back. Some of us would keep on hugging them until they patted us back! haha! VICTORY! We didn’t care if they just wanted the white girls to stop hugging them… at least they hugged back! The first morning we made really fancy Gospel bracelets with them. The girls and the translators were working hard to make sure the concept of each bead was clearly understood by each woman. I, without a translator (haha!), struggled through with a mixture of Spanglish and sign language (that’s my go to when no one can understand me) explained/acted out the bracelet. MORE STRETCHING… more relying ONLY on Him to make my words my sense.
That night… I just asked God to tell us what to do with the women… How could we get into their world? How could we love them in a way that would help them love us back? How could we show His love to them in the short time we had? HOW?
Wash their feet…
Jesus washed the feet of His disciples to show why He came and the love He had for them. So… we went by His example. And… it proved to be the most precious, amazing, (I have no words that can describe)… time EVER!
Most of the women didn’t have shoes and walked EVERYWHERE they went. Their feet were calloused and unclean by the time they arrived to Bible study. Washing their feet, telling them about Jesus and His servant-love, and sharing our favorite verses/testimonies with them was so much more than I had imagined.
We also gave them Love Letters from the Father (in SPANISH) after we finished washing their feet. It spoke of the promises of God and how much we absolutely LOVES us! They smile and nodded as we read them each statement.
Changes were beginning to take place. We saw smiles…
The last morning we told the entire story of Jesus and the cross.
We made simple, wooden crosses with each woman. They giggled at us and our crafting skills… you should see the amazing bracelets and bags they make!
Before we left, Anabelli made each woman tell what the week meant to them. I was thankful she did. Sometimes you walk away from a mission trip not knowing the fruit of your words and your actions. These women, who were strangers and statues before, told us we were welcomed there, they loved having us, they loved our stories, and they were encouraged. Some of them said they heard about Jesus for the first time… and they really liked it. And we, in turn, got to share our hearts about what our time with them meant to us. We told them again and again how loved they were and that we absolutely cherished time with them. Tears were shed. HUGS WERE GIVEN… BOTH WAYS! One lady even learned how to say “I love you” in English so that she could tell us! These women will forever be in our hearts. I can’t wait to run up that mountain (I gotta train first) next time to give all these ladies HUGE jump hugs! Really… words cannot explain the transformations we saw from the first day to the last. They smiled. They enjoyed each others’ company. I hope they learned the love of Jesus and that He is with them and sees them. He treasures them.
These ladies are beautiful. I would LOVE to spend everyday with them… all up in their chores and their lives. This is where my heart is the fullest.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.