Bahamas Trip 2019

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Hello From the Bahamas!!!

This is Ellie and Laney :) 
It’s easy to say that the events of today came as a shock to most of us. We arrived in Nassau to discover that despite all the warnings about heat; it was hotter than we anticipated. It was also surprising when we got on the bus and they drove on the opposite side of the road. The school we are staying at looks like a scene from a movie. The whole building is cement and the upper floor is under construction. There is no AC, but we have lots of fans. There is a playground that kept the rowdy teens entertained while we waited for dinner, and after we were joined by some local teens in a game of basketball. The most interesting/shocking part of our day (Laney and Ellie) was when we encountered the woman we have lovingly dubbed Jamba Juice Lady. We had a tricky encounter with a woman who, upon seeing are matching shirts, decided she should have priority service over us. Bear with us, the story turns out well, after agreeing to let her go before us, we made small talk and told her about the missions trip. She was genuinely interested and seemed to support our goals. Then later she treated us to smoothies. It’s been a great first day, and we look forward to the rest of the week. 


A Case of the Tuesdays

I (Katie) have a running theory that on any given week-long mission trip, 75% of the trip participants will have some sort of emotional breakdown on Tuesday. By the time Tuesday rolls around the excitement of being in a new place, meeting new people, and exploring new cultures has started to wear off, but the excitement to go home has yet to set in. By Tuesday the exhaustion of the long days and physical labor has you rolling over on your air mattress wondering if you really need to get out of your pajamas to eat breakfast. By Tuesday you’ve figured out exactly which quirks of your teammates are tolerable and which are incredibly frustrating. 

Tuesdays are rough. But our God is greater than Tuesdays. 

Teams Yellow and Purple got off to a slow start this morning. Half of that group is helping lead a VBS in the mornings, and all of their HVC training is being put to good use! There is another church group who prepared the VBS materials, and their leaders can’t stop raving about how great of a job Mia, Julianna, Nadira, Chris, and Dougie are sling acting out the Bible stories. Laney and Wendy Seefried have jumped right into crafts, while Ryan and Sean are outside leading the kids in recreation. Liz and Stacy are in their element helping kids apply the Bible story each day. Our VBSers are loving getting to know the local Bahamian children, and are loving the chance to be in air conditioning. 

The other half of the team, however, spent all morning scraping 6+ layers of paint off tables at the church’s preschool. 

Paint scraping on a normal day is a tedious process, let alone trying to get 6 old layers of it off with only putty knives. It would be easier to just paint over it one more time - clearly others have done just that - but we realized it would only leave the preschool with an even bigger mess a year from now. So instead, they committed to the tedious, draining process of scraping and sanding. 

Morale was down this afternoon. Although some struggled to articulate it, many were discouraged at the lack of visual progress on the job, even while they were getting stuff done. The change just wasn’t as dramatic as clearing an entire (jungle) yard from a house or school, as the other groups were doing. 

After a long conversation over lunch to rework the game plan, Bonnie led the team in a great conversation about persevering even in the mundane. She reminded the kids that oftentimes God does His greatest work through mundane faithfulness. The team talked about the little kids who will be attending school there this Fall, and how they wanted to create an environment where they will feel welcomed and loved just by walking in the room. They finished with a prayer, and jumped back in. 

As they got back to work, though, they realized they had a bookshelf with 24 cubbies in it - one for each team member working on the project. Each student and leader grabbed a pencil to trace their hand and write their name or a brief prayer for the kids who will store their stuff in that space this year before painting it for good. The team loved getting to leave a little piece of themselves in the project, even if no one will ever know it’s there! Morale dramatically improved and the kids are excited to finish the project on Thursday. 

While we had quite a few more incidents of the Tuesdays throughout the evening, we ended the day in worship with Wes surprising us all by adapting choruses of several songs to fit life in the Bahamas (“...Don’t stop believing, hold onto that feeling, palm tree people...”), and then leading us back to sing about how God’s love is greater and declare that we truly will build our lives upon that love. 

Our scripture passage came from 1 Samuel 12 as a call to consider, or remember, the great things God has done for us. While often our fear, frustrations, or disappointments may color our memory, God is so patient with us and reminds us again and again throughout scripture to remember how great He is and all of the great things He has done. Small groups spent over an hour talking about the great things they have seen God do in their own lives, and more than a few rolls of toilet paper were passed in lieu of tissues as stories were shared. 

The night ended with lots of hugs, a dance party in the rain, and watching fireworks on the balcony as Nassau kicked off their Independence Day celebrations at midnight sharp. We were just climbing into bed as the government shut down the electricity across the non-tourist side of the island - I guess that’s one way to shut down a party? But definitely a bummer to lose the fans overnight. Tuesdays, am I right?!

Tomorrow (or since it’s 1:46am as I write this, later today!) we have a rest day, as it’s culturally inappropriate to work on the holiday. We’re excited to go to the beach and experience a bit of the celebration with the people of Nassau. It will be fun to all wear Turquoise, Yellow, and Black to fit in with the locals!

Here’s to our God bringing new mercies every morning. Thank you Jesus for being for being greater than Tuesdays - and thank you Jesus especially for Wednesdays!!!