Usually I come away from a week with a team with one theme or idea. Usually I have a lot of descriptive analogies and complementary things to say, or at the very least, an impressive list of goals accomplished.
This year was different. I don't really know what to say, or how to sum up the week. So here's my best shot, as incomplete as it is:
To be honest, I did not want a team this year. I washed my hands of the decision, knowing that my frame of mind wasn't right. Grace and Cesar accepted the team, and I set to working out the details, but had no uniting vision for the week: "Build stuff and play with kids" seemed to be a bit to simple. The crucial things were nailed down- food, housing, transportation- but the rest? It was not going to be my stamina or charisma that made it work, and I begged God to make something good come of all of this.
There was Godly love that shone forth from my new friends whether they played enthusiastically with kids who usually don't get shown much undivided attention, painted, or threaded electrical wiring through tubes. I simply basked in the secondhand radiation.
They opened the door to many conversations with neighbors and mothers of the kids, who were appreciative of their attention and their example of hard work. They served as positive role models for my kiddoes for even the few days they were here, reminding them that the world is bigger than they know, and God is closer than they can even imagine.
One night, we even got to celebrate the 18th birthday of one of my friends, who usually doesn't get celebrated. It was beautiful to see seventeen strangers have such a fun time in another stranger's house, making him and his family feel special and accepted without reserve.
Again, seeing a bunch young adults who cared for one another and for their new friends enough to roll in the sand, burn their fingers, and receive black eyes without a single complaint was a testament of something unusual and special, not found in other places. it made my neighbors question and think.
For me, an especially meaningful part was the way many of the young men who came down were able to connect immediately in ways I can never hope to with the boys and young men I try to serve.
While we spent our afternoons and some evenings with the kids, our mornings were spent on construction, divided between a variety of projects. The group touched up paint on the church, dry-walled, insulated, and wired the second floor that we hope to use as Sunday school space or as an apartment for a pastor and his family.
A lot more was accomplished than expected, due to the energy and enthusiasm of our group members. Their willingness and eagerness to work was noted by many in town, and wondered at, especially when told that they were on vacation. It gave me the opportunity to share with many people that my new friends served and worked with such abandon because they understood the sacrifice and love Christ offered to them, and desired to offer it to others as well.
One special touch left by this team was a new sign for our building. We have long needed a sign to let people know who and what we are, and were given a beautiful one!
I felt refreshed by the week of radiant and loving community, blessed by their worship and joyfulness. It was a privilege to share with them, and know they listened.
But what is certain, is that his love is faithful, and that as we incarnate that love to others in adoration to Him, He will dress our small acts and weary efforts with supernatural power. Praise His name, for He is good. His love and mercy endures forever.
Thanks again Chi Alpha at UVA for sending your superstars to bless our town. Thanks for showering us with love and leaving an investment in the Kingdom. You gave your all to our little salchichas, and for that I am thankful for and proud of each and every one of you.