June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
Today was a change for us. It was FUN day! And truly it was.
We had two different water outings today followed by a trip to a mall type place called Jumbo, where we enjoyed some ‘American’ style foods.
Our first adventure was an early morning ride to a place that has 27 waterfalls that you hike up, and jump off of to get down. Now honestly, I’m a big scaredy cat when it comes to heights and hearing about this trip earlier in the week kind of freaked me out a little. Well actually a lot. I was told there were many waterfalls to jump off of, with the highest one being 20-30′. yikes, really? It made my heart beat hard just thinking about it! I prayed. Really I did. I prayed for strength, a good attitude and for victory over fear (God hath not given us the spirit of fear…). I know this may sound petty to some, but truly it’s a huge fear of mine and I struggled with it.
I have to say that God truly helped me through this one. I went, and I jumped. Again and again. Each waterfall and rockslide getting more scary as we made our way down the falls. It was a victory at each one. I know that going as a group helped this tremendously because you had no choice but to go. It was incredible. The falls, the rock formations, the God-made lazy rivers and beauty of it all was unbelievable. Something I will always take with me. I recognized this experience as a gift, to be able to see this part of earth and the beauty of it, was a gift from God.
Of course the kids all had an amazing experience, and most did not share my fear of heights. We all did it. We all made the big jumps over edges of rocks down into beautiful white/blue pools of water. At one point we drifted down a lazy river in between tall rock walls on each side of us, narrow and smooth from water, and very very cold against the tropical heated air. It was a quiet beautiful spot. I still can’t believe I managed to jump. And not once but many times. I’m thanking God for safety and strength today!
There is much to be said about mind over matter, about conquering your mental fears. I feel this trip has pulled out fears in me and made me ‘conquer’ them without me having a chance to wrestle too much about them. I feel God has been stretching me to lean on Him more.
Our second part of the day was spent at Ocean World. It’s an aquatic center that has several different exhibits you can choose to be part of. Jonah and I were fortunate enough to go see a dolphin exhibit with four of the girls in our group. This was an amazing experience. We have both always wanted to go visit dolphins and play with them at some point in our lives. This was our first chance doing so, and we were able to touch, kiss and play some with a dolphin. Pretty cool experience! The rest of the group split between going to see a sea lion and swimming with sharks. (we had also chosen sharks initially, but the spaces were limited so we had to opt out and choose either dolphins or sea lion….of course we chose dolphins!) It was a neat place that also had it’s own ‘beach’ that was saltwater for us to swim in. There are also other things to see there, including a white tiger. Ocean World is literally right on the coast, so we can see the ocean behind it. The beautiful blue water. It was so pretty!
After our water excursions we headed to Jumbo (a mall type/ Walmart place with a food court), and were able to eat some delicious American foods. Jonah and I joined Justin at a place that served us Cuban sandwiches, fries and….papaya shakes. Amazing. The sandwich was delicious as was the shake. I’m not sure if it was because we had been eating a lot of rice and beans or if it was just amazing. Either way, delicious.
It was great to take this whole day and have it be one to ‘relax’ some.
We ended the night with a quick meeting with the girls (not sure what the guys do at Denny’s) in our room for a devotional. Two of our girls led it (sarah and megan). They read from Philippians 2, an appropriate passage that reminds us not to murmur or complain, and also how we are like bright stars in God’s eyes. Both good reminders to us now at this point in the trip.
As much fun as we had today, it’s truly reaching the point in the trip where I’m tired, and homesick for my little boy. The time where I’m starting to feel tired from the past few days, a little lighter from the lack of variety of foods in my diet. My spirit is not as enthusiastic. And I’m ashamed of that, but I also know it’s okay to feel this way, but not okay to complain and voice negative thoughts to others. Now is the time to encourage. Now is the time to lift up each other and hold our tongues if we feel ungrateful words coming out.
Going to Jumbo tonight, be it as brief as it was, was a quick reminder to me of how much my mindset has changed in a week. Having a full belly and sipping on a papaya shake was a luxury. Isn’t it funny what things suddenly become luxury items when you’ve been away from them for a while? I think I need to do this more often, so that I am truly grateful for what I do have. I have SOOO much! I have too much. I’m thinking now of the houses we passed on our way back from the waterfalls. Literally shacks. Cut out windows and doors. Structures that are standing, but I’m not sure how. And I wonder how I can easily just slip back into my own life again, just walking down the sidewalks of our beautiful house-lined streets. Homes that are just not even close to the homes here. I have seen so many things on our busrides. So many people and so many mothers holding babies, so many kids playing with almost nothing, so many men trying to sell from makeshift fruitstands, so many peddlers selling their wares for small amounts of money, just so they can get by.
And by getting by, I wonder exactly what that means. Does it mean one more meal for them? A pair of shoes? A bottle for the baby? Whereas getting by for most Americans would be finding money to pay for that cable bill, cooling that home, driving that SUV.
Truly we have been given much.
My heart hurts for the people that have next to nothing, but it also hurts as I’m seeing a new world view as a Christian, as a woman, as a mother.
My prayer is that I won’t forget what I’ve seen. That the pictures will be a reminder for me that this life is about Jesus. It’s about serving Him, not about gaining more possessions that don’t matter at all.
Just some thoughts that are compelling me to think harder and deeper tonight. For now it’s off to shower and bed. I have a feeling everyone will sleep pretty hard tonight!