Saturday, March 26, 2011

Anaconda Squeeze

It's very overwhelming for Nicaraguan places to be invaded by 26 Americans.  The first day, half of our team was going to the special needs school and the other half to an orphanage.  We had planned VBS-like activities.  My group was going to teach the story of Daniel and the lion's den with audience participation and a corresponding craft.

Flaw in the plan: a miscommunication with the orphanage meant we wouldn't be able to work there.  After some quick re-figuring, we found ourselves working with 5 and 6 year olds at a school.

Flaw in the plan: this was a public school.  That meant no talking about Jesus.  There were two sets of 80 kids each and we had no plan.

Yay for being flexible and thinking on our feet.

We got the first group to sit under the shade of a tree while we introduced ourselves, did some silly skits, and told them why we were in Nicaragua.  (We did slide Jesus in there briefly).

After that we let them play.  We tried to teach them Duck, Duck, Goose (Renamed Gato, Gato, Perro).  It didn't fly.  The soccer balls did.

Eventually recess was over, so "Neo" collected the balls and became a human jungle gym.

No matter how many times he said, "No," those two little boys wouldn't stop reaching for the balls.  I had the perfect distraction: a camera.
One kid became two, became four or five, became thirty... There are about 50 more photos that I want to post just to show you the cuteness of the crowd we drew.

I ran out of funny face ideas before they lost interest.  Instead, I started asking them questions in Spanish.

Katie: Are you having a good day?
Adorable Children: SI!
Katie: Do you like recess?
Adorable Children: SI!
Katie: Is it better than math?
Adorable Children: SI!

They loved every minute of it!  Every "Sí" was more energetic than the previous.

Eventually my other team members came up and introduced themselves, talked about why we were there, and did some skits.  I did all of our interpreting for that group which meant I had no idea what the next plan was and I didn't get thirty second water break during the switching of groups.  When we told them to stand up, they did.

I think it probably started with one child's desire to give me a hug.  As had happened previously, one child turned into two, turned into three or four, turned into fifty.

My very first Anaconda Squeeze!

I deserved to be trampled because I was the one who riled them up... but I loved every minute of it!

I relished that moment.  I tried to touch every child around me and told them all that I love them.  I wish I could have told them about Jesus and how much He loves them.

I also wish I would not have forgotten how to conjugate.  When there are fifty kids latched to your waist, it is almost impossible to stay upright.  But I couldn't find the words, "I'm falling."  I got "to fall," "I dropped it," and "he fell" but not "I'm falling."  I finally realized I was going down and there was nothing I could do about it but try not to crush kids in the process.

When I started to shrink, the rest of my team stopped taking pictures and realized I needed help.

Eventually, we got the 50 kids off of me and divided into groups.  Naturally, my group was the largest, and I still had no idea what we were doing.

As per Erin's suggestion, we started the Hokey Pokey.  In English.  Meaning what?  Katie's solo.

Right arm.
Left arm.
Right leg.
Left leg.
The kids were starting to get it, so I asked for body parts from them.
Right knee.
Left knee.

Three days of Hokey Pokey later and I was out of breath and thinking about what we were teaching these kids: the Hokey Pokey is what it's all about. 

We could tell these kids we were there because of Jesus but we couldn't tell them who Jesus is.  We couldn't tell them Jesus loves them.  We couldn't tell them about how great Jesus is.

It broke my heart to imagine these kids going home and having this conversation.
Mom: How was school today?
Child: Great!  We tackled some Americans at recess!
Mom: Why were there Americans at you school?
Child: I don't know.

We couldn't tell them about Jesus's love, but I can only hope and pray that we were able to show them the love of Christ through our actions and play time.  They definitely showed us what it mean to love like a child.

It also made me think about how often we have the opportunity to tell people about Jesus and we don't.  When we have the opportunity, we fail to seize it.  When we don't have the opportunity, we desire it.

What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?
But what if it's not? 
And what if we're missing opportunities to speak the Truth?
What if we were better about speaking love?

<>< Katie


StorytellERdoc said...

Wow...what an awesome post and what a more awesome experience! How lucky are you to be there doing what you are doing...stay in the moment, Katie, and enjoy this incredible opportunity. And take a lot of pictures!

David Bell said...

What an awesome story-thanks, Katie!

Casey said...

I smiled through the whole post... Then I read this:
Mom: Why were there Americans at you school? Child: I don't know.

HEART-PIERCE! Thanks for the reminder, Katie! It sounds like an amazing experience.