When we arrived at the orphanage, the boys were a little stand offish, but once they realized who we were, the walls disappeared and it was an amazing mess of love. Again, there are no words to articulate the emotion...the spirit...the love that lives there at the Firs. Pastor Ashish & Seema are doing an incredible job raising them and instilling the goodness of God in each and everyone.
I took a new role this trip. I wasn't in charge of any huge event...I carried no task on my shoulders...it was a strange feeling. Many times I sat and wondered what the heck I was even doing there.
That is until our camping trip on day 2. I was sitting and talking with Pastor Ashish and he was telling us how thankful he was that we were there. I asked him what he appreciated most, and he said the love we show. He said that the boys are provided for...they have a roof over their heads, they have food in their little tummies...but when your raising 30 boys, there's not much time for holding and loving on them. Not to mention a culture that is completely different than ours (another reason I am thankful for life in Hawaii) Anyways, he said that he appreciated the way we loved. And then I thought to myself....wow, maybe that's why I'm here. I've never been good and a lot of things. I mean, I'm not sporty, I don't play an instrument, I don't have a college degree...and I often wrestle with that. But one thing I am confident in, is my ability to love. (thank you mom & dad...you taught love with your lives).
So it hit me that I needed to love from my head to my toes. That I needed to hold and snuggle and pray over the boys as much as possible. That I needed to tell them over and over again, that not only do I love them, but that Jesus loves them. So that's just what I did. I loved and I loved and I loved. Another difference in this trip verses last trip is just where I am personally. Last time we came I was in a much more emotionally volatile position. I literally cried from the time we got there, until we left...I cried there more than I've ever cried in my life. This time, I was much healthier spot. Over all, I was able to think outside my own ways and really trust and walk in the fact that God has those boys in His hand. And that no matter where they go...or where I am for that matter...that He loves them more than I ever could. It was a very freeing idea for me.
Then we headed to Woodstock. I was again a little hesitant. I wondered if I still had fun youth ministry in me. I mean, 6-7 years ago, I would have had no doubt...I was younger then...maybe braver. Walking into my time at Woodstock, I felt old and unprepared. And then I realized that all I was required to do was love...again, the one thing I can do. So that's what I did. And let me tell you, I realized that high school girl, among other things, are the same no matter what country you go to (right Elise?!) So there I was, running a small group, with 10 girls from all over the world and it was just the most natural thing for me. Hearing their struggles, their questions, their hopes...it was like water to my soul. Our small group times were awesome. The girls were incredible. We laughed...a lot. We cried...a lot. We bonded. It was crazy how God did it. We were only with the students for 36 hours and when we left it felt like we had known each other for years. It was powerful. One of the best parts for me is since we've been back, via facebook, I have been able to stay in touch with my girlie's and I just need to brag for a second. They have started a group called the agape sisterhood, where the girls meet daily to talk, pray and process...I mean seriously, what high schoolers do that?!? Not only that but many of them have stayed on track with devotions and I get messages almost daily about what God is doing in their lives. It is so amazing. They are also in the process of getting approval to run the worship for next months chapel. Ummm, have I mentioned how proud I am?!? Also, I challenged them to reach out to the boys at the orphanage and so this past week, they went up for the afternoon and loved on my boys! They played games that helped the boys with their english and said they had so much fun they are already planning more trips...they even took photos and added them to their facebook profiles so I could see my girls and my little boys all together. And of course as I looked at the photos, I cried.
It is so amazing how God orchestrates things without our knowing how it's all going to look. And in the end, it's a breathtaking piece of art, more amazing than we could have ever dreamed of...
Okay, there's two topics covered...coming soon to a blog near you, I am going to gush about our high school kids that came from Hawaii with us and how AMAZING they were...and continue to be.
I also wanted to thank you all for following my blog, I know so many of you prayed and loved the team through it all and I wanted to state, for the record, that none of what I mentioned above could have happened without your prayers. I appreciate you all so much and look forward to seeing what else God has in store!
In His amazing love,