The notebook is filling with memories and God-whispers. I wish I could press “pause” for just a bit, to simply sit and breathe and let the words become phrases to fill the pages of this blog – and fill the spaces of my heart one more time. I know the quiet time will come soon, and I’ll share the stories of Alfredo and Geraldo, God’s dance on the mountains, the quietest of processions, the joy of the word Scheminske and learning the best language of all. And it’s only Wednesday – there are stories yet to be lived as we work in Santiago with Pastor Diego and his church today.
The stories are more precious because of the team of people I am journeying with. We’re a patchwork crew, really – we come from three states and a multitude of backgrounds. We are close to getting our drivers license, and we have been offered membership to AARP. We have bright red hair, thick black hair, bright blonde hair – and one of us is sporting a goatee that is popular with the little kids who have never seen one before. What binds us together is our love of Jesus Christ and our passion for the discarded.
There’s Caitlin, a bundle of energy who at 15 is experiencing her first orphan care mission trip – and her first time to travel internationally. She is eager to serve, and has a strong connection with most of the teenage girls she has met at Cerecaif. Caitlin has reminded me to just relax and be a little crazy -and I love that.
Stacey has traveled with Courtney and me three times now, and her enthusiasm and heartfelt love for the kids is beautiful. She has a watchful eye and is quick to identify needs that haven’t yet been met. She can quickly transform from grown-up to little kid.
Jean has one of the strongest gifts of mercy I’ve ever seen. She and her husband, Bill, are one of the funniest and most tender orphan care tag-teams ever. There is no job too big or small for either one of them. And Bill (affectionately known as “Bill the Builder”) is a powerful man of prayer. Every team needs a Bill.
Some folks call him Patty, and others call him Patricio. And he willingly answers to both. Patrick is laser-focused on quality. Whether it’s a bible study or a painting project, Patrick is the first one to ask the “what about” questions that keep the team on point.
It’s Terry’s first mission trip, but you would never know it. She has one of the strongest gifts of hospitality I’ve seen. Her smile lights up a room, and her laughter fills every nook and cranny of my heart. Terry is a hug just waiting to happen.
Tenderness is defined in Tricia, our prayer warrior. She introduced us to Bertrand Beaver (a puppet that now sings songs and dances), and jumps into any project with reckless abandon. She is like a child wrapped in a dancer’s body.
Beautiful Carol dances when she sings, and her heart for discipling young men and women is strong. As she translates for us, her voice gets brighter and more lovely. She is always willing to help us with conversations with the kids, her tender demeanor helping them to open up and share their stories.
I’m not sure what you were doing when you were 17, but I doubt it included traveling with mission teams as a translator. Roberto is a little quiet when we’re on the road, but he comes alive when it’s time to tell a Bible story or an object lesson. He captures the attention of the kids with his animated delivery. And he’s cute – so the teenage girls giggle when he walks by.
Our Orphan Outreach leader, Gloria, makes life as a missionary look easy. We would be lost without her – literally. How thankful I am for Gloria’s ability to maneuver backroads, find the perfect calm in the midst of chaos, and to have the answer to all of our crazy questions with a smile on her face. She graduated from John Brown University, and understands all our American colloquialisms. That’s huge.
If I had to pick one person to travel the world with (other than my sweet husband, of course), there would be one name at the very top of the list. Courtney. She is color and shape and creative fun, and is paint to my words. She has an amazing gift of discernment, and loves to pray. She encourages me to be me completely and without apology. And because of that, I’m free to sing off-key, dance spontaneously, and find stories in the fragrance of a local bakery or the faces of the people we pass on the way from here to there.
Today, we’ll paint classrooms in a schoolhouse Orphan Outreach built for Pastor Diego so he could minister to the children of this village. And this afternoon, we’ll meet those children – we’ve been told up to 200 kids will join us. It will be controlled chaos. It will be loud and joyful. And yes, there will be stories. Lots of stories.
Let the paint-splattered, kid-hugging, scarf-making, Paul and Silas storytelling, guitar-playing, messing up the words while singing day begin! This team can do it all well – and with a smile.