Just how much wonders will God show us on this blessed Monday? We knew it was going to be a full day as this is the day scheduled for us to paint the main room in Feed My Sheep Center, the day where we are interviewing to hear the stories from the girls on life before FMSC, the day where the kids will have their medical check-ups (might be the first time for some of them), the day for the community outreach to the slums and dinner with all of the girls and boys at FMSC and our Hillside team.
We also knew to be prepared that any or all of the plans can change. So thankful for the "Flexible Grapes" Pastor Sarah shared with us during one of our training sessions in Walnut Creek before the trip.
Our day started at 9 am and it was expected everyone by then had breakfast so that truly was the start of the day. Some might think that's a late start. It was perfect.
We started off with the team practicing for "The Everything skit" which the team will perform for our Safe House family.
At 9:15, we were picked up and off we were to explore some possibilities for the future - for a home to welcome those who needs refuge from the dangers of trafficking or abuse. Even a school where education can help provide a life that God has chosen for His children here. The site visit was a pleasant change in schedule as we initially asked to see it but thought it would not be possible to go to the land. By the grace of God we were able to visit not just one, or two, but three possible land options. Each had shown promise but each also requires faith as each presented different challenges that would have to be overcome to see this to completion. It may seem fortuitous when our truck hit deep mud and David literally almost got thrown off the truck, if not for his feet and arms being held by those next to him in the truck bed. It was clear that this would not be an easy road. By ourselves, we would not be able to make this happen. Only God can make this land and the building of a school a reality for our kids. We just need to be ready to listen to Him. And we would need a lot of arms and legs to help us get there.
It was time to go to FMSC where we immediately went to work, setting up to paint, move the chairs, drums, keyboard and guitars. We were painting the main room that served as the church where we worshiped, the dining area where we ate, and also the room where we played games with kids and now would be the clinic where the medical exams would take place. The little kids were in school but the older girls and boys joined Hillside in taking on the brushes, rollers and blue tape. This was a labor of love and in the end, the beautiful colors selected by Leik and team did justice in showing the brightness and joy this room will bring. Michelle and Moses sang and played beautiful music which provided an inspirational ambiance as we painted. At one point the whole room was singing as we were painting. This truly be a glimpse of what Heaven must look like.
We took a required break to partake in what seemed to always be a bountiful feast. Despite the big group and modest settings, we always have an abundance of food.
At some point during the day some of the team started to conduct the interviews which will be shared with the larger community to learn and hear about their stories.
Coming home from school, the little ones' squeals, laughter and excitement upon seeing us and the transformation of the room being newly painted was a joy to see. It's amazing how a few buckets of paint and a lot of love sure makes a difference.
With the little ones home from school, Wes, our resident physician started the medical exams and assisted by several of the Hillsiders and FMSC staff helped to ensure that all the kids had a check up. What a blessing to have God send a Pediatrician to be part of our mission team on this trip.
As some continued to paint and the check-ups were being conducted, some went out to the slums to minister to those with even less. As we waited for the rest of the team to come back from the slums, and the medical checkup and painting done, one might think the team would rest. Instead the team set up games and played with the kids until the rest of the team came back. The Holy Spirit can be the only source of energy fueling the team.
In the midst of all the activities today, God also sent an artist in our midst. Michelle with her generous heart and led by the Holy Spirit made beautiful sketches of a lot of the girls and boys.
For the team that went to the slums, they went to help provide some relief, basic needs to shampoo the kids literally wherere's no sink and just sitting by the gutter and no hot water. However, providing lice shampoo and medicine then picking out each of the lice from the girls/boys in the slums helps to provide relief from the itch and discomfort caused by lice. Truly it is in serving the least of our brothers do we serve Jesus.
This has been a full day and yet some of the hardest things were yet to come. After a fun, loving dinner where all shared in noodles, rice and spices accompanied by laughter and joy was the brief ride back home. Leik shared stories and pictures of the kids who were beaten up in school by those that should have cared for them - teachers who beat them for not memorizing their work, or a mistake in their homework. The visual pictures of little bodies bruised were unimaginable in our community at home. The emotion the pictures evoked was indescribable. We had to get the kids home so they can do their homework and not risk being beat up by their teachers.
We closed the day with performing The Everything Skit which seemed to be Gods will for us to leave the children with this message of keeping our eyes on Jesus and He will protect and save us.
As we got back to our hotel, there were tears in everyone's eyes. Can we really make a difference when there is overwhelming things to overcome? We knew the answer. Alone we cannot. Only through Jesus can things happen. If one place in FMSC can shine as a light in raising kids that can effect change, maybe that is indeed His plan. When will things change?
That's all it took today.