The last spring team left yesterday. During this outreach we saw a lot of spiritual growth in the team. There were 38 participants from a church in California and most of them were in high school. They arrived last Saturday and the leaders mentioned to us that a goal was to get their students to sing during worship time. From Monday night until they left, they were up every night, at least until 11pm, doing praise and worship, and many of the students sang. With every outreach we schedule the teams to go to bed at 10pm because they have to wake up early to get the day started at 6:50am. This group however never wanted to go to bed and they just wanted to be outside singing. One night they were even singing in the rain!
There were many students that re-committed there lives to Christ and there was even one student who came to know Jesus. One of the leaders was talking with Vicki and said that usually on mission trips the last night of the outreach is when they students really seem to connect with God. That's when they open up to the group and share their hearts. However this happened on the second day of the team arriving! It was truly amazing and very cool to hear.
This last outreach taught me a very valuable lesson about who God is. Let me explain...as you know it is Easter today and here in the DR the week before Easter is called Holy Week (Semana Santa) and things are completely different. In the D.R., Semana Santa is a vacation time. Schools are closed, some businesses close and most people take the week off. Because of the Holy Week traditions, we knew that our ministry sites would not look the same primarily because many people take the week for vacation. For example, at the Special Education site and Developmental Therapy site there were only 8 kids and usually there are at least 30 kids.
The reason that this church team was here was because they were supposed to go to Mexico but the trip got canceled because of the events happening there. So, 3 weeks ago we were asked if we could host them. We said we could but we were not sure how things were going to go.
This is where God started working because as Vicki and I made the schedule I was thinking to myself that the outreach is too short, I mean they are only going to have 4 work days at their ministry sites. And with their ministry sites having less people to work with I did not think they would be impacted and I felt that the students might have a negative experience. But was I ever wrong. I was completely limiting God and His awesome power. God was teaching me and re-emphasizing to me that it is not I that changes people but God. I really learned that Vicki and I are just here to help create the best atmosphere we can for people to encounter Christ and serve others but that God is what changes people, God is who saves people; Vicki and I are servants trying to do our best to serve God and His purposes. Sometimes we do well at our service, other times we learn through our failures and we continue to serve God.