As I said yesterday, everyone brought something unique to offer. I loved getting to know each person so well and the more I got to know them, the more I learned how God works in really awesome ways.
Paula Lou. I had the privilege to share a room in Cartegena with Paula Lou. Going into the trip, I did not know her at all, but I am so glad we got paired as roommates. We also got paired as bedmates in Brisas. Therefore, I had a lot of opportunity to get to know her. I became comfortable with her from the get-go. Our first night we talked about anything from our children to our life stories to ways of studying the Bible to journaling and so on. She is special and played a good role in my trip. She was always making sure I was taking breaks as needed and worried about how much (or how little) rest I was getting. She was looking out for me, and I knew it. She listened with interest to my wordy stories, and cared about my heart's desires. Paula Lou would shovel and dig with us, but often found her heart drawn to the children of the village. She worked hard to speak words to them in their language and she gave all she had. Paula Lou got tagged with that name because there were 3 Paulas on the trip, and that became the way of distinguishing her, and it stuck. Her quiet spirit encouraged me and made me laugh. When I think of Paula Lou, I smile. Her compassion runs deep and was evident in her quiet gifts, her hugs, her love, and her interest in everyone around her. I had fun watching her learn to dance the Colombian way (and she did very well, I might add!). We had some late night talks, and she was so gracious to me as each night when she was in bed before me, I know I clumsily climbed over her as I crawled my way to the other side of the bed. She left an imprint on my soul forever.
|Paula Lou and Paula with the "palas" (shovel, in Spanish)|
|Me and Paula Lou|
|Paula Lou, me and Paula on the way to Alto de Julio|
|Paula Lou and Michael|
Keith. Keith's name was hard for the Colombians to say, but I loved how they really gave it effort to say it right. Keith was always smiling- always! He was so efficient with the wheelbarrow (which, mind you, was pretty rickety and unsteady.) He never complained and always had a word of encouragement to offer to anyone and everyone around him. Keith was always working to say things in Spanish, and I enjoyed watching him interact with the people in the village. He was never the center of attention, but always held a presence that offered a smile or a word of encouragement.
|Keith with the children|
Michael. Michael was our team leader. It's hard for me to get the right words to explain him, because he is a special person. He has a heart so big for the village of Brisas, and his passion and love overflow to all of us. The kids there love him so much.... they flocked to him from the moment he stepped off the bus that first day. He always had kids around him. He doesn't speak Spanish, but he gives it his best effort and that is appreciated so much. He speaks love, and they understand that just as much as their own dialect. He helped in any way he could, but he also let others lead. He loves the staff of Brisas, and that was evident in his hugs and his words to them. He loved our team, too. Michael did an incredible job piecing together the details for our trip. Everything was well organized and beautifully executed thanks to his efforts for months on end. I first contacted Michael back in April of 2015, having no idea exactly how the Lord would lead or the bond that would come through our friendship. God opened up some wonderful doors when he connected me to Michael. Michael (along with a few others) is teaching me to stop apologizing for stuff all the time and that I'm loved for who I am. He was a great team leader; he's become a wonderful friend. His love and service are evident through his words and actions.
|Michael displaying a piece of our construction project|
|Michael and Paula with the kids|
|Michael and Paula with the kids|
|me and Michael|
Eric. Eric was hilarious and brought a lot of laughter to the team. His humor was often said with a serious look, which made it even funnier. He started out quiet, but his love for the Lord shone through in his service. Eric happened to be the team member whose name I got as the one to pray for (we all were assigned a prayer partner) and in another blog I will share some crazy cool stories for how God answered some neat prayers in this guy's life in regards to this trip. Eric worked relentlessly in the ditches, always eager to jump in. He'd quietly bring the water bottle or fresh glass of lemonade (also another blog to come... who knew lemonade could taste so amazing?!?) when it was his turn to pause and another's to be in the hot sun. He loved the children, especially his buddy Sebastian, who would follow him around a lot. His service to jump in wherever necessary spoke volumes to me. He was a great listener and he had strong, but quiet, determination. One of many stories to be told about Eric on this trip was how while he couldn't speak Spanish, he always tried to jump in with them wherever he could. One night the doctor and a couple of the teens were playing a game. They asked him if he wanted to play. It was clear by my listening to them that it was a game made up with their own rules. At times a play would be made, and they would go back and forth about it until they concluded what was right. Paola rolled her eyes at this, but Eric watched and chose to jump in on the next hand. Listening to them was hilarious, as they kept changing things as the game went. In the end he won and then Glasoline (one of the ladies) decided she was done. He came out of his comfort zone more than once. It was cool to see God working in and through him on this trip.
|Eric with the pick|
|Eric, Juan and Me, digging for the cistern|
|Eric playing games|
|Eric and Sebastian|
Paula. Paula is a beautiful woman of God. She's quiet and content to not be the one talking, but I was blessed to get to spend extra time with her because I stayed at her home the night before we left for the trip. Paula was the co-leader of our team, and she also did a wonderful job leading. She directed the crafts and was great at rearranging our plans when we had nearly double the youth that showed up as we'd anticipated. Paula is funny and loving and has a heart of service. She taught me about the beauty of being me and also is working to stop my incessant apologizing habits. Paula exemplifies a woman of integrity and love. Everything she did- from leading the team, to shoveling dirt, to dancing with the teens, to organizing crafts, to praying... she did it with her whole heart. Paula happened to have me as a prayer partner, and little does she know the strength and the affect her prayers had on my journey in Brisas. She played a key role in my growth and my coming out of my cocoon, if you will. Because she and I are kindred spirits. We laughed ridiculously at times, we shared more than one occasion of crying together, and we enjoyed more than one late night talking. She is a friend for which I have been praying to be in my life. While she was praying for me, little did she know that she would become one of those answers! She, Paula Lou, Paola, Eric, James and I shared some silly late night conversations under the cabana, and on the last night when she, Paula Lou, Paola and I shared a sleeping area, we laughed and shared and it was beautiful. She exemplifies service.
|me and Paula about to board the plane|
|Paula, Michael, and me at the beach|
|The Paula's and Me|
|Me and Paula sharing an amazing dessert|
Every single person on this team, listed here and in yesterdays blog, have now become a huge part of my journey and my story and of a connection I will hold onto forever. Every one of them is unique and I love them like family. They all taught me lessons and all brought out the best in me.
|Our Team! With a surprise visit from past team members, Doug and Kristen|
Stay tuned for the next blog of more of the people of Brisas, who also have touched my heart in life changing ways.