A good chunk of the weekend was a much needed reprieve. We had all day Friday off, except for a fun social dinner and ice-cream later that evening. And then with the exception of a trip to the orphanage on Saturday from 1-5 and a home-church meeting from 1030-1130, we had the rest of the time together as a family.
Let me tell you, this was big for us; let's hope it helped our kids enough to carry them through this week. To this point, life in our apartment has just not been much fun. Leah has been cranky, sick, not sleeping well at all, and just generally upset for about a week now. So she cries and whimpers often. Noah has been those same things but his crankiness manifests itself in just general disobedience and lashing out. He is nearing his third birthday in a few months so part of this is to be expected, but it hasn't been pretty since we've arrived. Not a fun time.
With that said though, in total honesty Melissa and I are doing fairly well. We were able to have a few significant conversations together and really connect this weekend. And the culture shock that usually comes along a week or so into a trip like this hasn't been an issue at all. We're pretty sure this is because of how similar Venezuela can be to Azerbaijan--often we feel like we're back on Stint again, only with two little ones. So, spiritually and physically we are both doing rather well--trusting God with our lives and our project. But our emotions are sometimes off, which is to be expected with two constantly cranky kids.
The project has been incredibly fruitful. We have seen many come to Christ and have already shared the gospel with 391 Venezuelan students! Our students have really been faithful and have been going for it on campus. Alex Hill, one of the guys on our project, got to see 11 students receive Christ as their Lord over the course of three days last week! And both Melissa and I have really loved being on campus as well. The students here just seem to be generally more welcoming and willing to engage in conversation--even conversations in which they are told that their entire thinking about spiritual things could be wrong! It's just really refreshing.
Just about every conversation I've had here has been fruitful. The first few days a student involved in Campus Crusade for Christ here in Valencia and I went out to go sharing. We approached a group of three and began to chat. During the conversation I began to paint a picture of everything God wants to do in the world--that he wants to remove our guilt as far as the east is from the west, that in Jesus he has begun a new Kingdom and a renewed people to be loving and comforting and gracious, that God wants to heal every broken heart and wipe away every tear, that it is his desire for every person to be whole and not fractured and broken relationally, physically. One of the girls in the group began to tear up. We could tell this was what she wanted; she wanted to be made whole again, and for all her pain and sorrow to be washed away. God was working in her heart. Ultimately she did not decide to make a decision to give her life to Jesus (I think perhaps the pressure was a bit much for her with her two friends there), but we have planted a seed.
She finally heard the best story in the world, and that she could be a part of it.
Prayer for us would be much appreciated. For our kids and our continued faithfulness on campus.