Monday, July 11, 2011

So much to be thankful for

As we look back over our time in Venezuela, it's hard to believe our time is almost over. We leave around 2:30 am on Sunday morning to fly to Margarita Island where we will have our team debrief. Although it's been a whole month, it feels so much longer. We've experienced so much. It has definitely been hard. There is no doubt about that. Yet at times it has been almost easy to be here with 2 young children. There have been times where we've said we want to go home. There are times that we wouldn't mind staying longer. It's been such an emotional roller coaster.

One of the hardest things has been that we as a couple haven't been able to experience a ton of project together. Sure we get dinner with the team and Melissa sometimes goes to the nightly meetings. But we never get to go on campus together, or go to the orphanage together, or even go to church together (unless we assign someone to "nursery" duty). But somehow in the midst of that, this summer project has gone really well. We haven't been able to touch base on a heart level much, but we're in it together. Our marriage has grown as a result of this experience. Our kids have learned how to be more flexible. They've had to. We've learned how to be more flexible. We've had to.

We've really enjoyed getting to know people on this project. In fact, I think we're going to be sad that we can't see all of these students on a more regular basis all the time. Luckily a lot of the students go to OSU, so we can track them down and make them hang out with us. Or just cook, and invite the guys over. That always works for college men. At the same time, our hearts ache that we haven't had more opportunities to be more involved in the lives of Vida (the movement here) students. We've realized that is just a reality to having a family. We can't do everything. Yet, we feel so blessed by them. Everyone here loves gringo kids, so they have loved on Noah and Leah so well. And for that, we are grateful.

We've been stretched in so many directions this summer. It is so reassuring that the Lord knows what he's doing. He wants to refine our character and shape us into people like Jesus. Even yesterday, the men decided to bless the women by getting them all a rose and a chocolate bar and handing a personal encouragement note. Oh how these men have grown, especially in the face of adversity. What, you ask? Well, the women have been on a pranking rampage. And for all of you men out there, you know how competitive men can be. But they've chosen to love the women well, by even walking the ladies home after dark. By the way, none of the ladies can go anywhere unless they are in pairs. The women have been so gracious in respecting these rules for everyone's safety. And the men have served them well.

This video is pretty dark, but we can give you the gist of it. We told everyone that we were going to have a water balloon toss game. We said to make it fair, we would have guy girl teams. The guys fell for it. They tossed the balloons to the girls and then the girls wailed on them with the balloons. One more reason why these guys are especially incredible.....they were stoked to win the competition and were pretty mad that they "lost." They ended up laughing in the end, but it was a challenge at first. But this sums up parts of this summer. We've just really enjoyed each other well!

We want to make the last week on campus a good one. We want people to really go after it hard and rest a bit at debrief. It's important that we follow up people, get contact information and just love Venezuelans this last week. Would you pray that we can close up our week on campus well? Would you pray that students would have energy this last week? We're excited to share more stories of what God has done this summer at the Universidad de Carabobo!

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