Tuesday, August 2, 2011

May, June, and July in a Bulletpoint Nutshell

How many times in the last 3 months have I thought "Oh, I should blog about that!" About fifteen thousand times, that's how many. Now I'm here to tell you about why those poor little thoughts never got to come out to play on this here blog.

At the end of May we received our first LST team. A team of six wonderful women from Michigan. Three weeks later, we received our second LST team, a team of four wonderful people from Oklahoma Christian University, which so happened to include my parents. Three weeks later, as we dropped that team off at the airport, we picked up our third LST team, a team of nine individuals from Texas, and of those nine, four were boys aged eight and under. Then, because we not only like to keep things interesting around here but we like to really see how far past the limit we can push ourselves, while that team was here we also had a team of seven (five adults, two kids) arrive to host a FriendsCamp (weekend retreat for readers and church members, focused on building relationships with a little Bible study thrown in.) Did I mention my parents also stayed on for two weeks of vacation?

Since there is no possible way I could sum up two months of Let's Start Talking on a blog in such a way that many would want to read it, I've decided to give you an overview in my favorite writing style: bullet points.
  • I say this every year, but every year it's true: this has been, BY FAR, the best year of LST we've ever had.
  • Our teams have met and read with over 100 people this year. That's 100 people learning about Jesus, talking about Jesus, and making new friends from a far away land.
  • I would never say I've had more than my fill of brownie mix brownies, but this year I've come close. The LST parties this year have been stellar and the food has been to die for. After having participated in so many parties it's unusual that I would see something that hasn't been done before, but the Texas team served rice krispie treats at their party, and they were a HIT! All of the Brazilians looked at the trays with a weird expression and I told them "It's delicious, trust me." Good thing they trusted me. I think someone stayed behind to lick the pan.
  • This was our first year hosting a FriendsCamp so it was uncharted territory for all involved. (Except the FC team, obviously.) The highlights from the organizational side include our location falling through a month ahead of time, God providing the most fantastic location via Google search two weeks ahead of time, and rain the entire weekend. The highlights from the FC experience include fifty participants, a baptism, and people not really even noticing it was raining/half of the activities getting cancelled because they were having so much fun!
  • We told the FriendsCamp team that if they did nothing else at FriendsCamp, they had to make s'mores. Actually, Roberto, my co-planner, told them that. So bless their hearts, they all came with endless packages of graham crackers and marshmallows packed in their suitcases to give the Brazilians the s'mores experience. We tried to build a bonfire but the wood was soaked from the rain, so we had a piddly little fire that we quickly roasted the marshmallows on before it fizzled out. It was mayhem getting all the s'mores put together and teaching Brazilians how to roast marshmallows enough without catching them on fire, but it was all worth it when one of our Brazilian church members said to me, "Cris, all of us are realizing a dream right now. This is something we've only ever seen in movies. We never imagined we'd have the chance to make s'mores." Rumor has it they roasted the rest of the marshmallows that night over the gas stove in the kitchen.
  • Our LST workers and readers this year have been cream of the crop. I've been so impressed with our workers from the US and how committed they have been to befriending their readers. They came here to do a job, yes, but they have also continued to do that job via Facebook and Skype even after returning home.
  • Speaking of impressive LST workers, I have been blessed by their example this year and know that the readers and church members have, as well. They have been so loving, giving, generous, interested in Brazilian culture, and prepared for the curveballs that inevitably are thrown their way during a missions experience in another culture. The strongest example of this to me, that will stick with me for a long time, was during FriendsCamp. The LST team that was already here, as well as the FC team, came prepared to camp out for the weekend. This means they brought tents, sleeping bags, etc in their luggage. The rain was not expected and really threw things off, especially when the "waterproof" cover on one of the tents turned out to not be waterproof at all. One of the families walked into their tent the first night to see all of their belongings standing in 2 inches of water. Their bags and clothes were soaked the whole weekend, and got soaked again when they happened to store their things in a corner where a shower was leaking. I did not hear a single complaint the entire weekend from them. They had great attitudes, participated 100% in every aspect of camp, and did not let this extremely frustrating challenge get them down in any visible way. I'd be surprised if any of the campers even knew this was going on. I learned a big, BIG, lesson about complaining at FriendsCamp. :)
  • Oh, did I mention we still have an LST team here? It's the last one for the year. And they are every bit as wonderful as all the other ones. I couldn't ask for a better group to close out this experience.
Later I will blog about the baptism we had at FriendsCamp, because it deserves its own post. I will also hopefully tell you about the other exciting things that have been going on here at the church in Natal. I say "hopefully" because, well, let's be honest. I'm not very good at keeping my promises. But I'll try. I'll really, really try.


Anonymous said...

I LOVED reading this! We loved our time over there and hope to return again! God bless you for all that you do!

the Jewell family said...

Oh, I can't wait to hear about the baptism.

the sweets said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for letting us hear about how God has been working! love you guys!
Jon & Lori