Sunday, August 8th:
This morning we woke slowly and quietly, ate breakfast (which consisted of the typical rice and beans, plantains with sour cream, toast and fresh Nica pineapple which is much better and very different than the pineapple we eat in the states) and then headed up to the "Ranch" for our own church service. As we sat in our rocking chairs, with eyes closed, singing worship songs led by one guitar and 21 humble voices, the best breeze I have ever felt swept across the open air ranch and across my face. With the sun illuminating my closed eyelids and the soft wind on my cheeks, I felt more peaceful in that moment than I have in a long time. God is so good!
After breakfast and church, about 10 of us decided to stay at the ranch and play a game of "signs" as a way to break the ice and get to know each other better outside of the clinic settings. What started off as a short game to create camaraderie, turned into a 3 hour marathon of gestures and laughter (see pictures of the signs team above). It has been amazing to bond so quickly with people I barely know. If I am being honest, I'd have to admit that I was nervous about going to a 3rd World country with 17 people that I didn't think I had much in common with but as each day unfolds, I am constantly blown away by the personalities and hearts inside each of my teammates.
After lunch was served, and yet another game of signs (I think we might be addicted), we loaded the bus to head to the church where we would meet the team of church members/volunteers who we'd spend the next 6 days working alongside. We were greeted whole-heartily by new faces who immediately whisked us off into a huge circle for an icebreaker. The game was called "El Pollo" which in English translates to "the chicken" and we played until all 40+ people had a turn in the center. We sang a silly song about a chicken with two feet, little wings, and a little tail, all the while in our sad attempt at Spanish. It was crazy to see that many adults playing a game and making total fools of ourselves, all for the sake of breaking down barriers and forming one team.
After the game, their Pastor welcomed us and prayed over our arrival and the clinic. His words, again in Spanish, were foreign to me, but he prayed with such reverence and passion that I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. His prayers often had that affect on many of us and became moments that I looked forward too and will cherish. I will never forget a line in his prayer, thanks to our translator Fifo, were he stated that our God is not an unfair God and that He sends those who can help to His people who cannot help themselves. This sentence struck me to the core. For the last 2.5 days I had been struggling with how God could allow His people, people that love Him so much, to live in such poverty. I hated the fact that the only thing that differentiated me from the people of Nicaragua was the fact that I was born in the US and they were born there. How is that just and FAIR?! But as the Pastors words hit me, I realized that He was in fact fair and because of His faithfulness and fairness, He had allowed 17 unqualified "gringos" to be the medical miracle His people needed. Yet again, God is good.
As I lay in bed tonight, I am struggling with the feeling that I have laughed way too much today. In know that sounds odd, and it feels even more odd, but I feel as though today was too light-hearted for a 10 day trip outside of my comfort zone. I feel like I should be more stressed, more stretched at this point, and definitely not wrestling a side ache due to games and laughter. I wonder if the Lord, in His fairness, gave us today as a way to unburden our hearts before the real burden comes. I wonder if today was a "recharging" before a life-changing week ensues. I pray that we remain lifted-up and that the "child-like" hearts we possessed today will carry over into the relationships we form with our clinic attendees. I pray this because I know their lives must be full of burden, and I want them to know and see that no matter how uncomfortable and stretched you may feel, God can carry us through anything, and sometimes He'll do it in a way that you even feel guilty for how easy it will feel.