I realized I had not blogged in a long time and that I did not post regarding my SUMMIT Missions Trip to La Paz with the students from GEBC. God used the trip to bond people together through ministry opportunities to both the communities and local missionaries.
On our first day, we arrived at Casa Buena, our residence for the week. It is a beautiful bed and breakfast tucked away in a little neighborhood just off the bay. Although we were in the middle of the city, we felt as though we were in an oasis where GORGEOUS flowers were blooming bright pink while climbing the trellaces around the walkways. The pool was a welcome sight for those hot afternoons!
On Sunday, we attended church at La Paz de Christo where we listened to a Father's Day sermon completely in Spanish. Although I did not know very much spanish, I was able to get bits and pieces and recognized some of the words on the slides. The message blessed me in more ways than I can explain and despite the language barrier and many distractions, I was ministered to by the message. Then we went up to "the ranch" where the Gatto family lives and is building their ministry. We were able to see many sites where we would be spending the rest of the week, saw beautiful reminders of God's amazing creation as the sun set, and Peter Gatto shared his testimony and his prayer for us for the week we were there. I know that many of the students were ministered to during the testimony and it set a positive tone for the week.Mama Jane and I got to go shopping with Peter and get our groceries...basically almost everything for the week!
Monday was our first work day. Each site had an intern heading up the projects. Everyone was choosing/being chosen (if they were up for whatever) and so the last team ended up being the horse corral team. I was fortunate enough to be a part of this team for the week and it was led by two of our very own "homegrown young men" Zach Ursiny and Graham Rouse. Although I knew both the families very well, I was able to grow much closer to both of these guys and see where their hearts were and how God had been using them on the ranch. My team was able to start digging large holes to put posts into for the corral. We kept hitting HUGE, HUGE, HUGE rocks but kept plugging away and getting things done. That evening we had our first VBS of the week...we had 8 kids! Disappointing, yes, but God used those kids to help us grow in our faith that God would bring more children the next evening.
The next day, my team went back to it again, we changed our positioning just slightly to hopefully avoid some boulders in our way. That, however, did not help at all. At the end of the day, we changed the plan drastically and began digging a whole new set of holes. These came much easier even with a few boulders that we chipped away at until we cracked them into manageable pieces to move. There were times where God had to push me through because I wanted to get really frustrated. I also helped to take down a temporary fence and start nailing in boards with Graham for posts that were already poured and had set. In the evening, we went back for day two of VBS, unsure of how many kids would actually decide to show up. We ended up with about 20 kids which was a huge blessing! Peter and Antho had gone to the nearby 'tienda' to purchase some items and talked to the man running the shop. Just so happens that he also had a hot dog stand nearby. He was so happy to see us at the park putting smiles on the faces of the children of Marcus de Leon. He said the park had been over run and no kids played on it anymore because the drugs and things that would happen at night were so bad. The fence was broken in places and there was trash everywhere we looked.
Wednesday, we kept plugging away and were able to pour for a few posts after we got every hole to the depth and condition we needed them to be in. Once again we had hang-ups and snags along the way. I kept praying that God would give me the patience to endure the heat and the frustrating setbacks we seemed to keep having. During VBS, we had about 25-30 kids and many of the students went around inviting...with little or no spanish language knowledge, inviting families and children to the "hot dog bbq" and family fun night we were holding on Thursday night. It was great to hear the stories of how God used those students and their broken Spanish to bind the people of the community and our students.
Thursday was our last work day and we wanted so badly to finish the projects we had begun and worked at lightning speed...is that possible????...to finish. Some projects were finished...like our corral but some projects were much closer to completion than when we first arrived and that was all we could have asked for. This was our last night of VBS. We fully expected to have about 50 people but we turned the corner to get to the park and much to our surprise there were almost 150 people!!!!!!!! All of these mothers and children and a few fathers had heard what were doing and wanted to see what it was all about. We had also planned to share the gospel and have students and one of the leaders share his testimony with the people that had come. God was able to touch a lot of hearts that night through the testimonies. We had already seen one man give his life to God earlier in the week. That night, we split the children and the adults/teens apart into two groups for the gospel presentation and testimonies. We started and then some of the kids started drifting off to play on the playground instead of listening to what was being shared. I ended up helping to try and round up some of the kids...with my horribly broken Spanish...and one girl clung to me. She would only go where I went so even though I started with the group of adults/teens, I ended up on the rocks with her listening to the gospel. At the end, there was an invitation to accept Christ and as I was sitting there, the little girl bowed her head with me and starting praying as Peter led the prayer to accept Christ. It was truly a surreal moment! Here I was, tired and impatient, sitting on rocks that were killing my legs, with a little mexican girl on my lap, praying alongside her to accept Jesus into her heart. I was so humbled that God would use me and my love of children and my broken spanish for the advancement of His Kingdom. I had been feeling "un-productive" at VBS throughout the week because I was manning the craft table, trying to make sure kids didn't steal anything and this made me understand why I was there. Although I was standing at the craft table, ATTEMPTING to understand these childrens' demands, I was ministering to them all along.
Friday was our FUN DAY!!!!! We went shopping for little souvenirs in the morning and I brought back a wooden whale! What a treasure! Then we went to a beach along the Sea of Cortez for the afternoon. We had fun just playing in the water and trying not to drink the water!
Overall the week was amazing! We had tacos almost EVERY SINGLE night for dinner; we had lovely encounters with very LARGE bugs/spiders/scorpions; we made the Chinese film crew not so happy with our early morning/late night LOUDNESS!!!!; and were totally grateful for this amazing week!
There are lots of pictures on Facebook both on my profile and those of students that went with us! Also, posts by students at our La Paz Blog.