I have a climbing tower in my backyard. (Check out the new banner up top!)
Even though it has been weeks in the making, the reality still hasn’t sunk in quite yet. However, it has already been a blessing having a climbing surface just yards away instead of hours away! On Friday when we wanted to go to the pool for swim lessons, we found it empty and so decided to spend the entire afternoon on the tower instead. You should see the looks of joy and accomplishment on the boys’ faces when they get to the top. they literally start dancing or let out loud whistles or yells to mark their success; we’ll try to capture it on film at some point, but for now just try and picture that. God is already using an assortment of wood, screws and cables to heal our boys. It’s amazing!
We barely got the thing finished. Michael was still running me and Anna through training as the team sent up our lunches in a bucket on a rope and the bus to take them all to the city sat waiting. Despite multiple setbacks due to poor quality screw tips and running out of screws and lumber, the team had a goal, and they met that goal. I am also indebted to them for their constant encouragement and support in coming down to accompany us on some of our summer adventures. The boys that came with us loved every minute, and I know there was a lot of team bonding and closer relationships with the boys were born out of our two camping trips.
We did make it to the pool on Saturday, and what I had planned to be two shifts turned out to be three smaller groups with which I was able to work a lot more closely. The boys are really reaching a level where they are able to swim all three strokes well. Michael has completely mastered all three, so I used him as a model for the older boys who haven’t had as many lessons due to classes getting in the way. I literally had no discipline issues at all, which is more than a minor miracle, and was really refreshing for me. I was able to just give pointers and encourage kids who were finishing each segment of their workouts. It was awesome.
The NCC team blessed us as CIN and BLC staff in many ways during their stay with us. We loved that they did team devotions twice every day and that everyone was invited to give their testimony, including all of us. We felt drawn in and made part of the team and were refreshed by their enthusiasm and heart for service. We admired how involved they were with the kids, investing every spare minute in games or activities or even just down time with the boys. Their attitudes were spectacular; very uncomplaining and flexible, despite multiple situations in which we needed them to be just that.
Some prayer requests for this week, and maybe month:
- Energy, power and joy for those of us left behind by our two holiday missions trips =)
- For God to use the remaining camping trips and other adventure activities to heal, challenge and grow our boys
- For an enthusiastic and obedient spirit for all the boys for what’s left of the summer
- For official approval to take 5-7 boys to the survival camp in February
- For God to provide several new supervisors who are Christian, honest, responsible and committed to loving our boys and helping them grow
Be sure to check out the media gallery which is chalk-full of photos from the recent missions trip, as well as our other tabs up top. I’ve done a bit of updating.
I personally was impacted most by the commitment the CiN team there onsite has to the boys there. I learned a great deal about my own inner strength through them. Some of my favorite moments were from conversations with Anna, Abriel, Nick, and Brian. The NCC team was blessed with these most gracious of hosts! Making th boys smile was easy for me, and I pray those smiles continue!
I think it’s awesome that you signed this comment Daniel Vaca. I know Jorge will not forget you. =)
Ummm…. I want to climb that wall. Awesome work Brian (and the team!!)
You’re more than welcome to come, Cori! We need to figure out some sort of NCC field-team exchange. =)
One of my many highlights of the trip was spending one-on-one time with Ismael. A downpour dampened our camping activities one afternoon which seemed like a disappointment at first. But when I found myself seeking cover in a tent with Ismael, I realized that it was a perfect time to get to know him. We sat there for over an hour talking and discussing as much as I could comprehend with my minimal Spanish knowledge. It was awesome to build more of a friendship with him outside of the soccer skills he uses to maneuver around me and score a goal. I’m thankful for the time that I was able to spend with him, but in reality it was the time he invested in me.
Congrats on your first NCC hosted trip! I know you will feel so encouraged by their support. I got to see the excitement of the team that came to serve when I was home. Happy and proud of you bro..
and Im totally jealous of your role in that place.. Hiking, camping, building walls? Best thing ever!!!
So while I was at work today, I often got the question “What was the most memorable moment of your trip?”… and to be honest, it was REALLY hard for me to respond. The minute I opened my mouth, it was as if the flood gates had been dropped and I simply couldn’t stop myself. Luckily, people were willing and excited to listen, especially my students! There are so many wonderful things to say about the experience and the AWESOME work at the BLC. If I had to land on one of the highlights, I’d say it was tickle time in the pequenos dorm. Not for the obvious reasons of everlasting laughter, hiding of sandals under covers and footsie pajamas, but for the breakdown of “I’m so cool walls” by the little ones who feel they have something to prove or need to protect and defend themselves as a result of their pasts.
While getting ready to tuck them in, one of the munchkins called me over to his bed. Now this wasn’t just any little guy… this youngster was the “coolest” of the pequenos. With a few older brothers at the center, he definitely felt he had something to prove. However, that environment allowed him to be broken, to embrace innocence. Unable to comprehend what he was saying, I asked Nick to translate… never in my wildest dreams did I expect to hear “he wants you to pray with him.” It was a moment of sheer joy; a reminder of what our trip was all about… the embrace of God and His omniscient presence. After muddling a few broken sentences in Spanish, that he may or may not have been able to understand, I prayed for him in English and then tucked him in. I will absolutely never, ever forget that little man and the beauty of that moment.
The 11 days I was able to spend at the Bolivia Life Center were amazing. This trip far exceeded my expectations through the smiling faces of the boys, the hospitality of Brian, Anna, Abriel and Nick, and the confidence that this wall would be built even with broken cranes, wrong sized poles, and broken drill bits. There were a ton of good memories that I will continue to reflect on now that I’m home. But the one that hit me the most was seeing Irving’s face and excitement when he was able to climb the finished wall. These boys are full of love and excitement all the time. But Iriving’s excitement about climbing that wall went above and beyond what I had witnessed all week. It made me realize that although we were able to spend a lot of time and show a lot of love to these boys while we were at the BLC, God’s impact will be seen for years to come through this wall. Mission trips are great in the moment, but the long term impact is even greater. And all that is thanks to God. Can’t wait to hear your stories, Brian, about the impact that this wall has on the boys, and how God will continue to bless you and the boys for years to come. Thanks again for helping make this trip wonderful and for your constant love and passion for those boys.
It was day 3 or 4 and up until that point i really hadnt made much of a connection with any of the boys. In the boys eyes i was just a live version of Hancock to them, so i thought at least (for those who dont know Hancock is movie character played by Will Smith.) Then a moment came while we were all sitting in the Comador waiting for the Celebration ceremony to start. We were asked to spread out, sitting in different places around the room, so that we could be intermingled with the boys. In my mind, i was convinced that the boys didn’t take to kindly to me. They did more pointing and laughing in my direction than i expected and it put me on the defensive mode or to be honest in ‘self pity’ mode. As i was standing there in my aisle, alone, one of the pequenos walked up and tilted is head up as if he was looking at a giant. He just stared at me and had a little bit of a smile on his face. I wasnt sure if he wanted something from me or not but i invited him to sit down and he just continued to smile, then moved in to sit right next to me. I was so excited that this little guy sat next to me that i slid my chair over a little closer to him so that i could speak what little spanish i knew to him: “Como te llamas?” i said. “Alex” he said. “Cuantos anos?” i said, “Once” he said. And that was the extend of our conversation the whole 2 hours we sat there. But every time i looked over at him or he looked up at me we would just smile at each other, both of us so happy that we were sitting next to each other. We had formed a non-verbal friendship that made my heart feel like we would be buddies forever. I would smile back and my heart would just leap for joy and excitement that i had finally made a buddy. After meeting Alex that night i took every chance possible to give him as much attention i could. Throughout the next few days he started to actually speak to me, although only to laugh and call me hancock, but when he said it i knew it wasnt an insult but playful as if to let me know “i know you!” His smile and openness to me sparked a confidence for me, let me know that even though i didnt know much spanish that it was still possible to build a relationship non-verbally with the boys. To top it all off on our last day right before we left as we are saying our farewells and Hasta luegos, he came up to me, smiled and said “Hasta luego, David!” and then opened his tiny arms for a hug. I laughed because that was the first time he had actually said my name. Then i cried because that was the first time he had actually said my name :). Such awesome moments of happiness and joy exchanged that i will never forget.
Thanks Brian, Anna, Nick and Abriel for opening your doors to us. As much as our mission was to allow God to use us as a blessing for CIN and the BLC, he used all of you as a blessing to me and my team. Short Term missions arent just about going to accomplish a goal but more so to build relationships that help foster God’s living Spirit in all of us. There is no doubt that i was able to build relationships with you guys and there is no doubt that God’s Spirit was the center of it all. You all are amazing
awesome… just plain ole stinking awesomeness 🙂
Chris! I miss your face. Will be back in DC mid April for a time. Be there.