So there I was…volume 5

Kickin’ it on Veradero Beach in Quoobah. 

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Not bad, huh?

Two weeks ago, I went on a mission trip to the island.  The picture above is from our fun day at the beach.  But the majority of our time was spent at a camp for high school kids. 

As you can imagine, communist countries do not tolerate Christian-based organizations.  The individuals running the camps risk their lives to bring these kids together each summer.  I was told that the government runs periodic Internet searches to see what bloggers like me are writing about their country.  Naturally, I will not be naming the organization and will mis-spell the island’s name throughout this post. 

I’m sneaky like that.

And now I will share with you the top four lessons I learned while in Quoobah.  I will do it David Letterman style, because you guys know how much I love my lists:

4.  Be thankful for the small stuff in life. 

Before visiting this beautiful island, I don’t think I had ever been thankful for toilet seats.  Moreover, I don’t think I had ever been thankful for the ability to FLUSH the toilet.  I’ve been to countries in which your morning shower was ice cold, but I had never thought to be grateful that water is actually coming out of the shower head.  These are thoughts that entered my head every time I used the bathroom.

Here’s a picture of our toilet. 

toilet

As you can see, there is no seat.  Totally manageable.  And it flushed.  PTL!  Sure you have to approach the toilet like you are scooting inside a booth at a restaurant due to the fact that the sink is over said bowl, but you are reminded that IT FLUSHES and you quickly get over it. 

Here’s a picture of me eating pizza. 

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Notice…it came out of a plastic bag.  We were SO HUNGRY that day, that I didn’t care that my cheese pizza was coming from a street vendor in a plastic bag.  I’ve never been so thankful for pizza. 

On a serious note, I’m thankful that I have the freedom to pray and worship however and whenever I want.  These kids have to be a bit more careful.  But when you put them in a group of other believers in a secure location…

kid

it’s awe-inspiring.  I love the kid in this picture. 

3.  There are no language barriers with God.

Anyone can relate to music.

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A borrowed soccer ball can entertain for hours.

soccer

2.  A servant’s heart can be used in ways you may not have expected.

Our purpose on this mission trip was to provide the staff of the organization with extra hands, arms, words, hugs and general encouragement.  There were 300 kids at this camp and 10 staff members.  Our extra 15 bodies came in handy for small groups, fun time and organization of activities.

However, on day two, three of our key people were struck with what can only be described as the mother of all food poisoning incidents.  That toilet/sink combo sort of came in handy…I’m just saying. 

Of course we weren’t going to send our fellow team members off to the Quooban hospital by themselves.  Two of us went along to offer moral support.

That morning, I had thought about what a priviledge it is to wake up every day with nothing more to do than to serve others.  There was no Blackberry, no website, no article to create, no newsletter to write…only my services to give.  I prayed that God would use me mightily on the island.

I didn’t know that holding a bucket as my friend threw up was how He would choose to use me on the trip.  It was almost comical as I followed my other friend to the bathroom (with no toilet seat) holding her saline drip to think about how the Lord gifted me with a merciful heart and THIS is exactly where I was supposed to be…not praciticing my Spanish on innocent school girls, trying to have a conversation about Twilight and if they are Team Jacob or Team Edward. 

1.  God is moving mountains in this place.

These kids traveled many hours to get to the small town where the camp was located.  Some were packed in the back of trucks, where they had to stand the entire time.  The facility was less-than-stellar, but you never heard a complaint from one of them.  Not one.  The girls were in dormitories that held about nine bunk beds.  There were two girls to one twin bed.  The boys slept on mattresses in the sanctuary.  Our staff of 15 slept in one room together in one long line of bodies.

And did I mention there was one bathroom for the girls and one bathroom for the boys?  That’s two toilets for around 350 people. 

But these kids could care less.  They were mezmorized by the talks.  They were active in the small groups.  They were not ashamed to worship and they were proud to carry their Bibles and eager to learn anything they could.

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God is moving mountains in this place and it was a joy to wintess first-hand. 

We are so blessed to live in a country where we can pray when we want.  Sing hymns when we want.  Gather together to study the Bible in groups.  Read a blog about mission trips…or even make the decision to stop reading a blog because the subject is about mission trips. 

And we are blessed that our toilets have seats and our pizza comes in boxes.  PTL indeed!

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