Another un-eventful sleep, more bug-spray-filled air, more clunking boots on the wooden planks of our “house”, but this morning, we were packing up to move out.
The plan was to have everything packed up and ready to load into the boat before breakfast. The team was amazing! Slowly, the tents were emptied and taken down. The “checked” bags were put in one corner, and the “carry-ons” in another, so as to not get confused while we were loading up the boat. The kids gathered in the doorway, watching the show while Leo was outside talking with some of the elders.
Leo really connected with the men on this trip. The connections would either happen in church while he was praying with them, or on the sidewalk while they were passing by. This morning, however, he was in a deep conversation with one of the elders and his son.
The “medical brigade” that was happening when we arrived in Zaragoza wasn’t much of a medical brigade as it was a census where they handed out a few pills to help with the absolutely desperate situations. The census was because the Colombian government passed a law that said the indigenous families will receive more money with each child they have (not much unlike the welfare system in the States). The elder was talking with Leo about his frustration with his son because he doesn’t farm anymore, but just keeps having more and more children so he can rely on the government’s money. The son was frustrated because he didn’t feel like his dad respected him. So, here was Leo, helping a father and son communicate.
The son wanted to move away from the village so he could get a real job, helping with tourism. He is a Christian, but trusting God is something that he struggles with. He was just waiting for God to show him a “sign” about what to do next, as well as the approval of his own father. Leo spent over an hour helping him process what his skills are, and how he could take the first steps to actually doing what he wants to do. Leo encouraged him to not wait for approval from anyone, but to make his own way… trusting that God had given him the gifts and talents to provide for his own family. Both men were grateful for Leo’s time, and hopefully they will take his advice. They had a great time of prayer together before saying good-bye.
We ate breakfast, finished cleaning, and loaded up the boat. The mud was so thick that it was hard to really walk on the land next to the boat! We had to wash off our boots before even getting in the boat! Stefy and Luis Carlos were doing last-minute checks on the babies from yesterday, and all the fevers had gone down. The parents were so grateful!
Our 2-hour boat-ride to 2 de Mayo was filled with worship, prayer and laughter! We spent a lot of time sharing as a team what we felt the Lord had laid on our hearts for Zaragoza, and our individual experiences. The blessing of having such a diverse team is that we all connected with different people and had such different view-points of the village. Besides meal times, boat times between villages were the only times we were all together to share.
We arrived to 2 de Mayo and were absolutely shocked. The river had completely swallowed the village. The current was pretty strong as well! We arrived to the pastor’s house, and started figuring out where we were setting up “camp”. Our team was the largest we had ever brought, and we wouldn’t be able to fit everyone in the pastor’s house this year. We decided to split up into 4 houses… Leo and I took Kylie and the senior girls to Neil’s house. We were happy to be able to spend time with our dear friend! The doctors all set up camp in the pastor’s daughter’s house… “next-door”, and the boys were across the way in another church-members’ house. The Burgos’, Monica and the puerto-rican couple and the other girl tent all set up in the pastor’s house. It was cramped! I think the Pastor had another family living with them as well… and they all had beds this year instead of sleeping in hammocks.
Getting a team of 24 set up in 4 different houses that you have to get to by boat was a little tricky… and time-consuming!!! The kids all got in their little canoes to come greet us, and immediately started doing flips off the boat! Pravaas and some of the other guys got right in the river with the kids and started throwing them around. It was so fun to watch them!!! As the kids gathered around, I started calling them by name… Celita, Palermo, Ronaldinho… it was sooooo good to see their faces again!!! The majority of the team had their bathing suits in the “check-in” bag, but slowly we were able to get changed and finally enjoyed time in the river with the kids… and enjoyed cooling off!
We spent most of the afternoon just getting set-up in our different places. Leo and Neil were talking like old friends, and we were all just getting adjusted to life in the middle of a river. I started popping the pop-corn for the movie. The fire was so hot, and there were crazy mosquitoes almost in a cloud around me, even though I was in the smoke. I don’t know why they attacked me so much, but they did. It was frustrating!
I made about 10 batches of pop-corn, and Lauren and Liz helped fill the bags. We had a great system! We were a well-oiled machine, I tell you!
We found out that parking our big boat next to the church would be pretty much impossible because of the current, so the village let us borrow their metal boat. We loaded everything we needed for the evening into it, and the guys took turns walking us to the church. The paddles kinda worked, but because the current was so strong, they didn’t work as well as having someone personally walk us around. The guys really served us in that way! Most of the girls were on their periods and didn’t want to spend crazy amounts of time in the river… or wet, for that matter!
The first evening in the church, the people took turns singing. It was beautiful! Neil’s wife has an incredible indigenous voice, and she led the women. Then, it was the kids’ turn. We got up as a team and led some worship in Spanish as well. Then, we started the movie. The kids were hilarious watching and eating pop-corn. Pretty soon, the bags started getting thrown around in a big paper-bag fight, and the pastor’s wife had to step in and stop the kids from being so distracting. I just laughed.
Most of us were still exhausted, so we left the Burgos’ and Leo in the church to finish up while the rest of us went to bed. Again, it was tricky getting everyone where they needed to be, but everyone had such a great attitude! Even trying to step from wooden canoe to wooden canoe to get to our metal boat outside the church was hard!
Pretty much as soon as I got into our tent, I was asleep. Hearing the bugs and frogs outside, as well as the sounds of the movie in the distance was so relaxing! Eventually, the sounds of the movie stopped and I knew that Leo and Neil would be coming back soon. Kylie and the senior girls were sleeping on Neil’s “back-porch”, and as we could hear thunder in the distance, we knew we could be in for a long night. Neil hung up plastic on one side of the porch so that the girls wouldn’t get wet, and pretty much as soon as he was done with that, the storm came. Thunder, lightning, rain, splashing water… it was crazy.
Leo and I talked a little about the day, and could hear Neil in his room talking with the family. Listening in, we could hear him blessing his wife and children. He then started reading a Psalm and praying for us. He prayed protection over all of us, but especially the house, that the darkness would be kept out by God’s light. He prayed for what seemed like 20 minutes, and then the family all started singing together. The sounds of their family devotion pierced through the rainstorm. It was beautiful.