Monday, January 2, 2017

Church services, fireworks, and finally a day of building

Today was our first building day. For those of you who are familiar with the usual timeline of this trip, you will know that this is unusual. Although we arrived on Friday night, the New Year's celebrations meant that most of the area wasn't functioning as normal, so we had a bit of extra time to take things in before we were able to start working.

On Saturday, we met the ten families that we were building for. Despite the fact that we just got a small introduction to each family, it is already obvious that each one is unique. We are excited to hear more about each family as the week goes on.

We were also able to attend a local church on Saturday for a New Year's Eve service, and then again on Sunday for regular service. Although many on the team have experienced this before, it was my first time attending a service that wasn't primarily in English. As I watched the congregation worship God, loudly, despite the frequent distractions that came from the New Year's celebrations on the streets outside, I was reminded again that God is so much bigger than my worship, than my culture, and than my expectations. Taking communion, I think, was one of the highlights for many of us. There is something powerful about standing side-by-side with people who live in a completely different area, with a much different culture, and to know that we all serve the same God and that we are all connected as one body of Christ.

We also got a chance to see some pretty amazing fireworks. We all saw fireworks in the middle of town at around 9:15. Many of our team also saw and heard the fireworks that went off in all of the streets for hours and hours throughout the night. I slept through all of it, so you will have to ask someone else to explain it all to you when they get back. They may or may not be happy about it when they tell you. :)

Anyway, on to what most of you are interested in: the building. Technically, we are building in two communities, but these communities are less than 200 metres apart, so it feels like one. We split into two groups today and built a total of four houses. This is my first time on the team, so it all felt new to me. We were encouraged to see how many community members came out to help out. Although this often meant that we were left with little to do but to watch other people work, that frustration was balanced by the joy we could feel in seeing a community where people truly care about each other. Today wasn't without its struggles. Language barriers, injuries (everyone is fine), heat, and enormous rocks that took hours to dig out all caused us a bit of stress today, but as we sat with each of the four families after the houses were put up, it was easy to focus on the bigger picture of what God is doing.

I'm sure you will be getting more details about the families and their stories as the week goes on, but for tonight, I wanted to give you a general update of what we have been doing, since many of you have been wondering.

Thank you for keeping up with what our team has been doing! Please continue to pray for our team, that we may be open to what God will do in us and through us in the coming week.