Day 5: Este es el dia!

I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, 20 that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it. Isaiah 41:19,20

Another full day at Vision Celestial! 

This morning we got to lead some unique and fun activities for the children in the Compassion program (who attend VC's education center). We performed a couple skits, one of which Katie wrote and was such a beautiful living picture of the Life in Jesus. She found this awesome chemical that when mixed with water instantly solidifies the water. The skit has a thirsty girl, Anastasia, begging the children for water. One by one, popular people, beautiful people, and famous people approach her offering their "water". Each temptation pours water into a cup for the beggar, but when she goes to drink it nothing comes out (the mysterious powder was in the bottom of each cup). Finally, Jesus comes along, and his water remains, quenching the girls thirst. We ended each session with some songs; jumping, wiggling, and smiling. 

The time doing the skits and songs was humbling. I don't think any of us felt all that confident, but the Lord is good - for we are among friends who are simply taking pleasure in communing with us. Dan led a devo last night about our call to be childlikeness... to expect the Father's love and to live in full freedom like a child. It seems like we were challenged to apply those truths right away. 

After each group of ninos, we could take a less nervous breathe, to hand out bookmarks - the ones the Hillside family made at the 2016 Community Retreat. The children loved them, and they loved getting to choose from the many different creative options produced by our Walnut Creek church. 

At lunch, which is incredible by the way (have you tasted or seen the avocados from the DR!!!! They are a literal metaphor for the love of God...), Ernesto shared his story with us. There is too much to write here, but it was fervor-making to hear how he came to love Jesus, serve Jesus, and then serve the children and families in his little dense community outside Santo Domingo. He is crazy, and rightfully so! He has been walking with the Del Camino Connection, and he continues to see God provide in insane ways with their (starting as such) simple efforts. 

After lunch the group split up - half remaining at the education center to do a craft with the three classes - half heading to the new church-building worksite. The pillars are coming together with great progress. Vision Celestial's goal is to get the ceiling on the first floor of this building by December. This would allow them to begin using the new space, even before it's finished, for various ministries and as another source of shelter during seasons of bad weather. Hannah shared a craft with all the children today - a cross bracelet with different colored beads representing different elements of the Gospel: Dark Grey - Sin, Red - the Blood of Christ, Blue - Baptism, Green - Life to the Full, Yellow - the Holy Spirit, and White - Eternal Life with Jesus. There was definitely a challenge with the language barrier, but our new friend and spontaneous translator from Cuba, Antonio, was an amazing help. They kids, nonetheless, loved the craft. It was so exciting to see these little loved ones creating a craft that was prepped by our very own Avenues (Adult Special Needs) group. How can it be so simple to love a brother or sister so far away - no matter who you are. 

The day was wrapped up with some ice cream, Cuban sandwiches, and an especially sweet time of worshiping together. God has this team here for a reason! 

We are learning a lot, but know there is so much more to see and learn in the days remaining. Isn't it wonderful!

Abba Father, glorify yourself in all we do - here in the DR, at Vision Celestial, at Hillside, wherever. It's so easy to become self conscious when loving others. Yet you are with us - you hold our hand always - you call us friend. We need not to think with too much difficulty to love simply and extravagantly. Thank you for the humility today. Thank you for being gracious and merciful to us and to your Church! Show us what it is you want to equip us with.