Not too long ago, our whole family was in the middle of a cloud forest on a rainy afternoon, stuck in the mud. We were driving a huge 15 passenger van (mistake #1), we were backing up on a steep hill on a rainy day (mistake #2), we were pushing the gas in efforts to get out of the hole (mistake #3). It’s amazing how I look back on this incident through different eyes.
After spending a week of serving 100 children at a camp in a nearby rural village God showed up clothed as precious little children showing me His joy through their smiles. Here I thought I was there to share His love with these kids and they were teaching me.
I learn so much about life, about God and about myself when I work with kids who have grown up with very little. I love seeing their smiles as they walk into the camp with their raggedy clothes and dirty little faces. They are filled with joy in the midst of their circumstances. Oh, how I long for that.
They loved snack time and the girls from the team made it extra creative by having snacks tie into their lesson for the day. This little guy was so amazing to watch, he had his little baby brother the whole time. Playing “daddy” for him all day and he did it with a huge smile. I’m pretty sure he probably plays “daddy” for him all day, every day. He didn’t really participate in any of the activities because he spent most of his time watching out for his little brother. It was touching to watch. God showed up in those precious smiles.
Here’s the group of kids with the team of young women.
Well, after the week of enjoying these precious children and some hard labor of painting, sanding and what not, we went to Mindo the cloud forest to have some different kind of fun.
It was raining like it usually does in the cloud forest around winter season but this didn’t stop the girls from enjoying zip lining. We headed back into town since we didn’t have rain gear. We found a little chocolate shop that grows it’s own cacao beans and apparently their brownies are to die for it’s called El Quetzal and the brownies are amazing. We ended up in an interesting situation pretty quickly as we headed up to enjoy some chocolatey goodness.
The little cafe is up on a hill.
It was raining.
We got stuck.
I love how God showed up in the cloud forest for us, disguised as three white haired elderly white tourist. Looking back at the situation I think about how often I do this in my life.
You know, the fall into the pit of ___ (fill it in with whatever situation puts you in the pit).
I get stuck in a rut, in that big black pit.
I can’t get out.
I try and try to get out not realizing I’m only making the whole deeper and burying myself in more.
God is in Heaven, saying, “Stop, Mari. Just stop burying yourself in the hole deeper.” But I can’t, you see I have this thing about NEEDING to figure out by MYSELF, how to help myself. Or thinking sometimes I think I’m trusting Him but I’m still doing it on my own.
So, I continue with endless activity but only end up frustrated because I’m exhausted from trying and I can’t seem to get out. God says, “Stand still Mari and call on me.” Finally, I give up as I lay in the hole exhausted and covered in dirt and I scream in anguish, “Help me, I can’t do this on my own.” He looks at me with His ever so calming and loving eyes and says, “I know you can’t and I’ve been standing here waiting for you to stop, to stand still. Here take my hand and I’ll lift you up.”
We did get the van out of the mud.
God once again showed up, as the ladies were leaving. All the flights were cancelled to the U.S. these young women who were looking forward to going back and seeing their families were now going to have to stay up to 5 days longer. What seemed like a dreadful ending God turned into a miracle with the help of the kindness of LAN employee they were able to get out on their flight that night even though everyone else’s flights were cancelled. God showed up disguised as a LAN employee.
This whole trip was full of God showing up, in endless ways. God showing us His faithfulness. When we agree to leading a trip I always wonder what God is going to do. You see we are the middle man in all of this. Sometimes there’s a Jonah on the team and we all suffer as God shows himself to this person. Other times there is a or many doubting Thomas’ on the team and He revels in showing us He can be trusted. Other times He just wants to remind us that He is infact in control of area of our life, reminding me to let it go. Whether it’s the first or the latter, in every time God uses these teams to show me who He is whether it’s at that moment in 3 months later.