- From a youth minstry standpoint, this trip was soooo refreshing to me. I had so much fun with these teenagers! I truly feel like they breathed new life in to my role as a youth pastor. I loved laughing with them, crying with them, sweating with them, joking with them, stinking with them, and I just loved seeing them step up in every situation and just hit it out of the park. I could not have been any more proud of this team.
- I saw our kids do some pretty cool stuff. My style of leadership is not so much vocal as it is a "lead by example" type of style. I'll be vocal when I need to be and will definitely give direction when needed, but I really felt like we had prepared for this trip for an entire year. Our team knew what I expected of them and knew what we were going to be doing and so I didn't have to give a ton of direction to them. They just jumped in to situations and simply made things happen. I couldn't do that with every group, but with this group I could and that was very, very nice from a leadership standpoint. They took initiative. They discussed things and worked things out on their own. They pointed things out to each other ... things they did well, things they could be doing differently ... things they shouldn't be doing at all. It was awesome to watch and I just had to jump in occassionally with a few pointers.
- The above picture was taken on a very wet day. The mission we stayed at was at the top of a mountain and the only way to the top was to take a very long and very bumpy dirt road. It literally would take at least 10 minutes to get to the top of this road in the truck. Anyway, it was raining one day and we pass the wagon pictured above. On the wagon was a wife, a child, and an infant. the husband was trying to help pull the wagon up this hill. The mule was struggling ... coudn't get any traction because of the rain and the mud. Out of no where, I see one of our teenagers JUMP out of the truck and start helping this man push his wagon up the hill. It was awesome to watch this guy see a need an meet it. Two things went through my mind: 1) I was so proud of him. 2) Why didn't I think of that first? :) Anyway, we all jumped out then and were able to get the wagon up the mountain.
There were so many situations like that ... kids stepping up to learn and lead songs in Spanish ... kids stepping up to do stories without any prep time ... kids stepping up to clean without being asked ... kids jumping out of the truck in the dump and just loving on people who were literally covered in flies ... kids just looking for opportunities to be a blessing. Again, I could not have been more proud of them.
- Kids are kids, no matter what country you're in. I think I mentioned it in an earlier post, but even in this 3rd world country, little boys still love to wrestle and be tossed in the air. Little girls still love to be told they are "muy bonita" (very pretty). Little boys love competition. Little girls love to walk hand in hand. Teen boys still like teen girls (as was evident in the church service were were at when a couple Nicaraguan teenage boys kept on asking me about the girls on our team). Although there was a definite language barrier, we were still able to communicate with our smiles, our hugs, and just all-around friendliness.
- While we were in the dump, I took this picture below. I had just seen stuff that I had never seen before in my entire life ... poverty on a level I had never known ... little babies rummaging through trash .... women selling themselves in order to get the first picks of the recyclables in order to get money ... men walking around huffing glue, but in the midst of that, I saw this puddle that I thought looked like a heart. It just reminded me of God's love for people ... all people ... rich or poor, it doesn't matter. We all need Jesus and I was just reminded of how blessed my life has been since I've known Jesus and how important it is to share my story with others.
- Our team was made up mostly of girls. Most of the guys on our student leadership team were not able to make the trip for various reasons, so we had 7 girls and 1 guy (not including me). Anyway, when you travel with a group of girls, stuff like this happens. :) That was a lot of fun ... and even more fun because we were going to an English speaking church that same night and the girls "made" the two of us guys go with the nail polish on.
- What would happen in our world if every believer tithed 10% of their income? Stuff like the dump wouldn't be happening.
- This experience has definitely shaped me and softened my heart. I feel so blessed and truly want to be a blessing to others and teach my family and my youth ministry to do the same thing. I'm looking forward to how my family and my ministry will be different because of this experience.