It has been such a joy to work with the kids during VBS. I’m so impressed with how eager to learn, smart, and attentive they are. One thing that I love is how fast they learn the songs! When we teach them new songs in English, by the end of the day they know the whole song and are singing it at the top of their lungs.
It’s amazing to see their love for Jesus being expressed in so many ways. When we got there, we even learned that they all knew Jesus Loves Me in English, and they all sang it together for us. Even though not all of them may have known what it meant, they all were singing for the same reason- Jesus.
Also, working at the Antioch School has really brought us closer as a team. We laugh and sing together and it really makes the work go by quickly.
I can’t even believe that the 4 days of VBS and work are over! Lastly, I’ve seen God in the relationships we have formed with the local kids of the jungle. We hang out and play soccer with them every night, and it’s fun to speak Spanish with them and learn about their lives. Although we live in opposite hemispheres, we are united through Jesus. That is ultimately what I’ve learned through this trip- despite a language barrier and completely different cultures, Jesus is always the common factor no matter where you go!!!
Wednesday was out third day in the jungle, and certainly a very interesting one. We finally started to get the hang of VBS, and it was so cool to see the children engaged and excited to sing, dance, play red light green light, and learn about Jesus.
It was during this time that some of the local teens we had been working with and their friends challenged our group to a soccer match that evening. The construction work at Antioch in the afternoon progressed smoothly enough, until it was determined that the most of the holes we had dug the day before were in the wrong place…. Despite the setbacks, the fence posts continued to come together, and we got a chance to work more closely alongside the school employees and get to know them better.
After dinner, Roberto and his family, as well as the missionaries living with them, paid us a visit and he shared with us his testimony.
The much anticipated match between team Ecuador and team USA took place soon afterwards. Team USA managed to hold their own for most of the match, with the final score being 7-9 for an Ecuadorian victory. The whole experience was a lot of fun for all involved, and a really cool way to build relationships with those we worked with and hung out with during our time here. Overall, it was another wonderful day in the jungle.
Today we had a great time playing with the children in VBS. All of the kids want to be superman and have us carry them in the superman pose, be swung around and have us make them paper airplanes to throw.
I run the black market for paper airplanes, because all the teachers hate them but I sneak the kids a few.
I have gotten connected with several kids: A kindergartner named Brad, a second-grader named Jostin and Brad’s sister Haiti. Brad is such a sweet kid. His dad doesn’t always pack him a lunch so I’ve shared my lunch with him several times, and he always has a smile on his face. I’ve made him countless airplanes, and he wanted me to show him how high I could throw them.
VBS has been so much fun and what makes it really cool is that the construction in the afternoon is on their school, so what we are doing is directly affecting these kids lives. The same kid that I made superman will now have a new classroom and a fence around the school. What makes the back breaking work of digging holes and pouring concrete bearable is that we are going to help expand the school, so that more kids can learn about Christ, and that they can bring what they learned back into their families.
The work that we has not been a walk in the park however. Today we dug about 9 holes to put fence posts in, and made them about a meter deep. Now that may not sound like a lot but the mud is about as dense as the cement and the river rocks are hard to dig out.
Wesley, Avery and I dug about 4 of the holes. Every time we thought about quitting I thought of the kids, and the smile on their face when they see what we have completed, and that always put me back in the mood to work.
Most people who know me know that I love rocks. Rick and I collect them wherever we go as special reminders of where we’ve been. When we arrived at the school this afternoon and were assigned our jobs, I was thrilled that my daughter Kat and I were chosen to work together. Our job? Going through piles of rocks, picking out and moving rocks perfectly suited for the foundation of one of the new buildings.
As we worked side by side and my hands grew more tired and my back began to ache and my love for rocks began to wain, I was reminded of the story in Mark Chapter 2 where four men took their friend to be healed by Jesus. When they arrived, the crowd was so large that they couldn’t make it in through the door, so in desperation they climbed onto the roof and removed part of it so they could lower their friend down to Jesus. In those days, the roof would have likely been made of mud and rocks and the men would have probably used their bare hands to dig their way through it. As I consider their efforts, I realize just how brave and faithful they would have been to commit such a stunt.
And so it is with our youth. The brave and faithful part. I am incredibly proud of them. I have had the privilege of watching them love the children here and do work that takes incredible energy, patience, stamina. And without a single complaint. Truly, their focus has been on bringing these precious children to the feet of Jesus. As I reflect on their efforts, I realize just how much I love them and the rocks that we carried together to build the foundations of this great ministry.