After a good night’s rest, we had a challenging, faith-testing day before us. Our team was being asked to “disciple” and “teach” the staff at project 534 on how to prepare and teach a Sunday school lesson. The evening prior consisted of late night preparations, teamwork and foggy brains. We put together a structure of how things would go, but we all understood that God was ultimately the one calling the shots. We were learning to be ok with this.
We arrived at 534, ready to be stretched. The day began with a great devotional time together and we prayed for the day. We then headed outside to play another team game. We stood in a circle and passed a soccer ball to each other. The person passing the ball expressed something that they appreciated about the other person….something encouraging and uplifting. Once the ball was passed, the person had to sit down and on it went until everybody had a turn. There were a lot of smiles and “ahhh, that was sweet” comments going around. I felt the love man! It was a great building block for what was ahead that day.
Next, we headed into the church to begin a time of teaching and brainstorming. In a nutshell, Sunday school lessons at the project mainly consisted of opening the bible and reading the story to the children. Although this is totally fine, keeping the kids focused was a challenge. There was a need to spice things up a little and pull some creativity and fun out of each lesson. So, with the leadership of Erin, that was our focus! It was a creatively messy time consisting of ideas being flung around, minds being challenged and confidence being developed. It was beautiful.
The brainstorming led to structure, which led to the formation of a lesson plan. Over the next couple of days, each group presented their lesson plan and I could sense the pride, excitement and optimism within each of the staff members sharing. We were so dang proud of our Ecuadorian church family! I’m confident that this was only the beginning of great things to come.
God works in awesome ways doesn’t He?! As a group, us North Americans felt unequipped for the task at hand….we aren’t anything special, only normal people learning right along with everybody else….but we were called to do something bigger than us, so we gave it a shot and had the opportunity of seeing super cool results.
After our productive time together, we were treated to an incredibly tasty lunch made by the staff at the project. I think it was shrimp, chicken, beans, rice and other good stuff. They worked so hard and it was so appreciated and enjoyed!
At 3pm, the flood gates opened and the kiddos poured in for our first VBS of the trip! What a riot! I was seriously in heaven….crazy kids hanging onto our legs, jumping around, super excited to be there….shoot, I was super excited to be there too! The parents assumed their positions on the sidelines, observing the semi-organized chaos with proud, content smiles.
We organized the VBS in a way that rotated the kids from a bible story, to crafts and then to games. The kids dove right in, laughing at the great stories and using their creative brains to make cool crafts. I was part of the game crew, so I got to be rowdy and goofy with the kids…it’s a spiritual gift of mine ;). There was so much joy as we made up secret handshakes and played simple games like soccer, and bean bag toss. You know what, I think they would have had just as much fun playing with rocks or sticks…because they were just happy to see us….we were present and available for interaction….we were there to love and love we did!
Sadly, after many “see you tomorrow’s” and long hugs goodbye, it was time to leave the project and visit a few more of the sponsored children’s homes. The day kept getting better!
I can’t explain how great of an opportunity it was to visit so many homes over the course of the trip. Each family was so different, but there was one common thread…they all had grateful, hospitable hearts. Us folks in the states hesitate to have guests over when we haven’t cleaned the windows or dusted a countertop in fear of being judged by others. Our amazing Ecuadorian friends invited us into their poverty-stricken, difficult situations with open arms….their gratefulness for our presence trumped their concern about our judgment. Can you imagine how different our communities would be if we had this level of transparency? Pretty eye-opening and humbling.
Although it was tough to put this day to rest, it was now time to grab some dinner and debrief with the team. We had so much to talk about and so much to celebrate. This was a day of victory…not only because of what we accomplished, but because of the fears that we overcame. God knew what we could handle and I’m so glad that we all jumped at the chance to be challenged.
A big truth came out of this day for me: typically when God is calling us to do something, it’s not predictable….in fact, it can be pretty scary. Not much growth happens when we are comfortable though. Faith develops when we are bent, squeezed and faced with the possibility of failure. These are the hardest times, but often, the most rewarding times in life. I felt like some walls were broken down for me….like some chains were loosened….because I got a taste of God doing what he does best: using normal people to accomplish great things. All this being done by His power and grace only. This day was a fantastic day.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28