I didn't realize how much time Neal and I spent together in Nicaragua until I got home and started telling these stories. I think this is the last one (for now).
On Thursday morning we drove to another middle-of-nowhere church where we were going to do a service at 10am. The Nicaraguan pastors suggested we walk around town and invite people, especially children, to the service. So we did exactly that.
We strategically split into two groups with our best Spanish-speaking students split up and our bilingual Nicaraguan pastors split up. Manolo, the bilingual Nicaragua pastor in our group, told me he wasn't going to translate our invitations. That was all my job. Huh what? Not fair!
I would have much preferred to hide in the back and not do any of the talking. Manolo was going to make sure that didn't happen.
So towards the first house we walked. Our team stayed in a crowd in the street, and Neal and I approached the front door.
"Buenas," he said. "We're going to have a church service over there at ten o'clock if you'd be interested in joining us. Especially children, we're going to have activities and games for them."
Yeah, I don't know those words. But I translated the best I could. Then Neal and I walked on to the next house, and Manolo talked to the people, probably clarifying what I said.
Neal tried to get the other people in our group to introduce the neighbors, but only a few did and still I did all of the translating. Honestly, I didn't really think it fair that they got to hang out and talk while I did all of the work.
That's because it was awkward and very uncomfortable to walk up to a house and talk to strangers about church... in Spanish never the less! Neal and I confessed to each other that it was out of our comfort zones. But with every house, we admitted, it got easier. Neal became comfortable with his spiel and thus I began to anticipate what he was going to say. Of course, he threw me a curve ball now and again but the more houses we talked to, the less clarification Manolo gave afterwards.
Of course, by now it was 10:05 and we were still inviting people to the service at 10:00... Nicaraguan time.
As we walked back to the church to prepare for the service, we talked about how the Holy Spirit interprets for us. It communicates what we cannot. That brought me so much peace. Even with my befuddled Spanish, the Holy Spirit allowed to be heard what needed to be heard.
When we got back to the church, we were able to see the fruits of our labor. Not at first, mind you, but slowly the church filled up. Eventually, they dismissed the kids to go out back.
One... two... three... four... I stopped counting at 50. Our final estimate was about 80. All squished into an area the size of a dorm room.
And again we had no plan.
We did a skit to stall for time. Then Sara told the story of Jonah (and Annalisa, our best Spanish-speaker, interpreted). Then we handed out Jonah coloring pages... until we ran out.
Then we handed out home safety coloring pages... until we ran out.
Then we handed out blank pieces of paper... until we ran out. That time we ran out of kids asking for paper.
I manned the paper and crayons while our other team members scattered themselves among the masses.
Some of our girls set up in the corner of the backyard area and made Salvation Bracelets.
We kept worrying about running out of beads, so we signaled for those incharge of the service to wrap it up. They saw, "Keep going."
Five loaves, two fish, and a half-a-bag of beads we did not run out. God is such a provider! It's was awesome!
It was great to be on the bus leaving and see the children wave, each boasting a Salvation Bracelet on the wrist that matches mine.
I came home with some very important lessons learned:
1. Sometimes God asks us to do things that are uncomfortable. But the more you do them, the more comfortable they become.
2. The Holy Spirit interprets and speaks when we cannot. What needs to be said is said through no doing of our own.
3. The Lord provides. It's as simple as that.
Thankful for Grace,