Yesterday, our team had the honor of sharing with approximately 50 young Nicaraguan men and women that God finds them to be special. Through "minute to win it" games, several larger group games, and a glorious invention of the teen event team called "Soccer Chaos", we did our best to make sure everyone had a good time.
We joined them in a few Spanish worship songs, lead without any instruments, but just a strong Nicaraguan voice and a lot of passion, and then Shawn shared a message with them, translated to Spanish by our facilitators.
Soccer Chaos Now...
After lunch and a few more games, we spent the afternoon with Pastor Chema and his quickly growing family. Everyone was introduced (which can take a while when translated back and forth between English and Spanish) and we spent nearly an hour playing a game with the family. Dinner arrived and as we ate, smaller groups of conversation formed, translators working steadily to break through the language barrier.
Ginny, one of the full time directors here at NRN drove Pastor Chemas family home while our team worked on preparing our supplies for the next days events. When we finally wrapped up for the night at 9, the team had been up and working together for at least 14 hours.
In fact, the team was exhausted.
The previous day when we left Auburn had been long and hard. Nearly 16 hours of travel through 3 countries had left the group stretched to their limit, and travelling was just the first part of the day for the team. As soon as we arrived, we began searching through more than 20 different duffle bags and carry-on bags for the supplies for our teen event. By the time everyone was finally finished preparing it was after 2 a.m. local time (4 a.m. in Indiana), leaving us just a few hours to sleep before breakfast was served and another long day started.
The cost is high. Stressful travel, uncomfortable heat, and confined sleeping spaces did their best to discourage and irritate our team. The added difficulty of not speaking fluently the language of the people we are serving is real and takes a lot of energy to overcome. Personalities brush into each other as we begin to find out what it really means to live together over the next week, and the unfamiliarity of our surroundings leaves us with few places to turn for comfort.
Through it all, God has been faithful, rewarding our efforts of preperation and travel with the report of Ginny from her ride home with the family. "They couldn't stop talking about today." Ginny shared. "The whole ride home their were ten voices chattering away, reliving each game, each moment you brought to them. What you did for them today was something special, and they will talk about it for a long time. Seriously, it was like I was driving the joy bus! Everything you did today went well!"
Please remember us in your prayers, that we might bring the same joy to each event we have planned. The short nights and long days can take their toll. Pray that we will act as one group this week, united in our love for those we are serving and for each other. Pray that we will be stretched right to the breaking point, but that Gods strength will keep us from breaking. And pray that when we do find our way home next Sunday, our own bus driver will tell his employer. "Man, it was like I was driving the joy bus!"