I went into this trip not knowing any of them. Literally. I joined the group as an "outsider", though I never felt that way. However, when travel day came around, I can honestly say I had not really had deep conversations with most of them at that point. But, wow, little did I know how much of a bond we would form. Of course, we are all sharing a unique experience. But, I have been a part of many teams throughout the years, and this one was special. I can't explain it, I can only tell you it was special. Just like with the people of Brisas, it will take more than one blog to cover the people of my team. James and Paula Lou came in knowing eachother, Ed, Eric, Barb, Angie, and Gil came from one church, and Paula and Michael came from one church, and Keith and Michael go way back. Then there was me, coming in to this group without anyone else as a "partner". But.... I never felt that way.
I haven't connected so well with such a variety of people in years, and their stories, their service, and their friendship will stick with me for life. So, here are a few glimpses of a few of them.
Pastor Ed. Pastor Ed always had a joke to tell. The first time I met him, he made a joke, but because I didn't know him yet, I sort of just sat there, unsure what to say. My response was simply "I have nothing. I don't know what to say...." But as time went on, I learned telling jokes is one of his trademarks. At the lunch table on our trip, when he would tell a joke, and I'd be sitting next to someone on the staff there, I gave up trying to translate the jokes. What's funny to an American might make no sense to a Colombian. However, it's a wonderful trait he holds. Pastor Ed always could tell when I was being pensive, and he had a pretty good read on me, which I appreciated. I enjoyed our conversations - from books to religious facts/differences to our families to life in general. He preaches in a way that made me think every time, and his love for people was evident. As we were saying our goodbyes to the village, he came alongside me and asked me if I was ok... in an effort to choke back tears I simply nodded and accepted a hug. He meant a lot to me.
|Me and Pastor Ed in Cartegena|
|We caught him with a broom!|
|Pastor Ed captured well- center, giving a devotion and offering a joke. Team: Gil, Eric, Ed, Angie, Barb|
Barb. Barb is a woman full of determination and courage. I think it takes a lot for an older woman to leave all of her comforts behind and go on a trip like this. Barb was always giving. She made shirts for our whole team, hand sewn. (When you see pictures of the green shirts that have a heart that say Jesus on them, she made those.) She, along with a few others, sewed embroidered bags for the youth- 60 bags I believe. And they also sewed pencil bags- over 200- for the children there. Barb was always jumping in to help however she could. She shoveled when possible, and when that became too tough, she served all of us by making sure our water bottles were full. She loved the children and was always helping out. Her spunk made me smile all the time.
|Paula Lou and Barb shoveling|
|Barb at the beach|
|Barb and Angie... ready to serve always|
Gil. Gil brought a lot of construction knowledge to our team. He was able to help accomplish a few things in Brisas that none of us would have a clue about. He helped them with the water pump and he helped them fix a generator. I am not giving those circumstances justice with words to describe how much of a help those contributions were, but mostly because if I tried to reexplain it, I would fail. He made a difference. He has lived a lot of life with so many experiences, and it was fun to listen to his stories about ... well, everything. His desire to help the people of Brisas was evident and inspiring.
|Gil working on the water pump|
|Gil at breakfast in Cartegena|
|Gil and Paola in Cartegena|
James. James and I were the youngest on the team, although you'd never have known that. (James is actually a few months younger than I am.) What I mean by that is, James is a little more quiet, but full of wisdom. He observes a lot, but uses that to be able to help in knowledgeable ways. Frequently at night, a few of us would sit outside under the cabana to write about our day, but we'd all end up talking and sharing rather than writing! (James, of course, was one of those). And in those times, we'd get into some thought-provoking conversations about anything from religions to politics to schooling or jobs. Our conversations seemed to always end with a .... to be continued kind of ending because we'd get so deep but eventually I would get tired and know I'd need to head to bed. (It would be midnight some nights!) James worked hard out in the sun and was brave enough to step out of his comfort zone several times on this trip. James' desire to serve was quiet and not in the limelight, but it spoke volumes to me and continues to do so.
|Our last day- Me, James, Eric and Paula Lou endeavored out into Miami for a short time during our layover|
|James and Pastor Luis|
|This captures our attempts to write at night|
|James and Pastor Ed|
This blog captures just a few of the team members, but you can see why they became so special to me. The blogs just keep on rolling out right now, and in the days to come there will be more stories about the rest of the team (Paula, Michael, Eric, Paula Lou and Keith-You guys mean just as much to me, I just can't cram it all into one or people would quit reading because it would get so long!) As will there be more about the people of Brisas and how they stole my heart. My heart is full, and while I admit to struggling to get back into my United States routine again because of this life-changing trip, I want to recount these experiences while they are fresh. My writing them down is as much for me to have a place to forever remember these stories as much as it is for others to read about them. Stay tuned this weekend for more stories about the people of Brisas and my team.