Dancing in the rain….
Well its Wednesday… Its been a pretty easy day for me. Im not feeling all that well… I have pushed my body harder than I ever have before and today I am taking a day to recover. I really, truly need it. This morning the students hung around camp doing some trench digging and painting so I did not miss much… Had it been work off site I would have gone along and probably ended up making myself sick so Im thankful today was quiet. Funny thing, I get up between 5-5:30am here every morning without an alarm… for those of you that know me that is a miracle in itself… I think God is truly giving me the strength to get up early, go all day and rest easy at night. But even God lets me know when I’ve pushed my middle aged body to its limit. We have been here 1 week… incredible. I can’t fathom the fact that an entire week have passed… The sheer thought of going home in 8 days actually terrifies me. I can’t imagine to going back to life at home… Our modest century home is nothing special but here it would be a mansion. I think of what we waste in our society… our food, our water, our time etc. I know that “To Whom much is given, much will be expected” and I am doing my best to think of things that way and not feel ashamed… to not feel guilt. Ted has explained it to me over and over that guilt is counter productive and its not what God means for us. We simply need to help and keep it simple… Serve the poor… never mind what we have… and why where we are born controls our wealth… simply serve the poor. I get it… but its still hard sometimes.
We are getting a bit more of an experience than the typical teams that come down here to Campo Esperanza do. Most teams do not come down until March break at the very earliest. By that time Ted has had time to line up work, meet with village leaders, make decisions along with the board about who they will be helping this season, touring the area’s looking for need and checking in on previous people they have built relationships with. Teams who are here later in the season and for only 10 days miss out on the dynamic of how it all begins. We were so blessed to be with Ted here from day 1… to journey along with him and see everything he is seeing for the first time. Things like Nico’s family not doing well is something that most teams would not see because they come here, do a project, do a tiny bit of visiting and then go home. Being here from Day 1 is a very hard thing but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It makes the experience so much more personal… so much more…. well, just so much more! I will never be able to thank Ted enough for trusting Geoff and I enough to ask us to come and help right from the beginning to help get the students set up, into a routine and mentally handle things they will see. Being a youth leader has definately helped me. I wonder if God has been prepping me for this kind of thing my whole life but I have denied it up until now.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the path of my life today. How the youth leader thing is something I’ve always been good at but never was willing to commit to… Now look at the path my life has taken. Im more involved with various aspects of youth ministry than I ever thought possible. I am going with Ted later in the week to visit a Nutrition centre in El Progresso. Ted told me that they are interested in perhaps working toward having one here. Immediately my interest was piqued. When Zack was little and was diagnosed with so many severe food allergies I began to research nutrition like a madwoman. I had to find ways through homeopathy and nutrition to get Zack the nutrients he needed through sources other than the traditional. The doctors had told me that he probably wouldn’t make it to age 6, because I would most likely make an unintentional error and he would be a victim of it. I swore to myself I would never let that happen… I worked so hard and I am happy to report that he is now a healthy and happy 15 year old boy and has grown out of most allergies. We still carry Epi-pens but have only had to actually use one once. I joined associations, I wrote letters, I worked closely with people to help raise awareness for allergies. I even began to visit people in their home who had children who were newly diagnosed and helped their parents grocery shop and outfit their cupboards with suitable food. I had to stop that because of liabilities issues. My lawyer nearly had a heart attack when I told him what I was doing… he said I was a walking multi-million dollar lawsuit waiting to happen. So I stopped helping people out of fear. For myself, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes that I have managed to control through research of good nutrition. Maybe God is putting me here and putting this Nutrition thing before me out of the blue… I admit I had given up on aspiring to work with people in the field of nutrition… maybe I wasn’t meant to do this at home… maybe I was meant to help turn this into a reality here? Hmmm…. things aren’t clear but perhaps they aren’t quite as blurry…. God’s plan remains a mystery but perhaps Im taking more time to listen while Im here… hmmmm….
I know there are some of the co-op students parents reading this… let me take a moment from a parents perspective to explain life here. Your kids are safe, and healthy. Miriam spoils us with foods you wouldnt imagine. Yes there are scorpions but they are non-poisionous. We have killed a few and no stings. There sting is like that of a wasp so no worries. Everyone is happy, well cared for and working hard. When Ted or Miriam feels that they need a break they must take one. Those who tried to be stubborn and ignore the sun warnings the first week were made to say home from working the next day and not even allowed outside. Ted and Miriam are such amazing and wonderful people… your kids couldnt be in better hands when they are away from home!! Now I must also take a moment to say that your kids are absolutely amazing young people. You must already be so proud of them for undertaking this program… surely there are much easier ways to earn 6 credits! Every day spirits are high, conflicts are resolved quickly and with the upmost of courtesy for the feelings and opinions of others, they are working so hard and really learning to feel. I mean really FEEL… let themselves feel… put aside that teenage angst and become the adults they are meant to be. But let me tell you, nomatter what pride you must feel in them will be magnified tenfold once they come home. They are already changed … and its only just the beginning.
Part of my responsibility here is to be a youth leader. Im here for them for whatever they need. A few nights ago we began ‘testimonies’. If you are not familliar with that concept it is simply sitting around in a circle with all 11 of them, Ted, Miriam, Alley, Nicole, my oldest son Zack and Dave and telling “your story”. When we first got here just about every one of them approached me and said they had absolutely NO intention of doing it. No way, no how! I sat with them each night for the first few days, let them get to know me and who I am and I explained to them that its just a way for them to get rid of the junk they have. Everyone has ‘junk’ and its always good for people to share burdens and they may be surprised that others share the same struggles. Its a great way for them to get to know one another, break down the walls that separate them… to get them to stop facing each other fake and with a facade…. to help them not freak out at others because sometimes if you know a bit about the other person you wont be so quick to anger over things. Maybe it will give you some insight into why people say and do the things they say and do.
Slowly but surely I convinced them this testimony was not something to be feared but something to be embraced. So every night we have been sitting around in a circle under the starry sky listening to each other’s story. I had to begin, they simply werent that brave… but soon they were all wanting to go and they are sharing so well we are only getting through a couple a night… These last nights have been spent listening to each other, laughing with each other… crying with each other… and encouraging each other. After a few testimonies, we break for the night with about an hour left before lights out. Everyone hangs around in small groups and talks it all out. They pretty much all say that these testimonies have helped them so much both by being honest, getting stuff off their chest and by listening to others and realizing that they are not alone in their struggles. Its been a beautiful experience as it always is. They truly are becoming a family.
As far as my family… this experience has been the best thing that ever happened to us. We have always been a very close, tight knit family but this has brought us closer. We are all happier… more open with one another. Geoff and I have held each other as we both have broken down (ok me a lot more than Geoff but you get my point). We are all more vulnerable to one another… our walls have been broken down.. funny thing is we didn’t really realize any existed. But believe me they did… they are just the kind of walls that are transparent but there. Even Zack went for a walk with me into the jungle and we sat under a banana tree for an hour just talking… I can’t remember the last time I spent an hour in deep conversation with my 15yr old son. Sure we have talked… as I said we have always been close but this is different…. this is that sort of intimate no holds barred conversations about life, self and God that are so very rare. Zack is more patient with his brothers… and more protective (see my last post about losing Gabe in the jungle). Lucas and Gabriel are happier… and more giving… they want to raise money for that school classroom but they also want to work and save all their allowance money to raise $1000.00 each to finance the building of a mud home for a family here. Im so incredibly proud of my boys. My heart is broken here every single day by what I see and the community of blood and extended family I have here mends it by the end of each day….
Its the end of the day now… dinner time… the students have returned from teaching english classes in various villages for the afternoon. It has begun to rain… hard. Rare for this time of year… seems you eat dust driving everywhere here because there is no real rain until May. This is apparently a fluke. I was writing and the kids all ran past me and burst out the door… I got up to see what on earth they were doing…. pretty much all of them were outside with my boys.. dancing in the rain… laughing, carrying on…. something so simple can bring smiles to those that are dancing and those that are merely watching… I have to admit… I think it looks like a lot more fun to be dancing than watching…. don’t you think perhaps we should all take some time to do some dancing in the rain… with our kids… by ourselves… with our spouse… I think so….so thats exactly what Im going to do… Im going to go and dance in the rain….