Today held a different flavour from the rest. I suppose there is never one day quite like the last, but this one still had a distinct, tangible difference.
Unlike yesterday's crazed sun-up to sun-down schedule, today held just one destination: Acoinprev School. Wow. After spending so much time in La Mesa, El Camino, and Golden Rule, Acoinprev was like getting splashed with a bucket of cold water.
Even the drive to the school was eye-opening. Hugo, our driver (and the sweetest ol' thug I've ever met) got us safely through the massive potholes, skinny roads, around the sharpest corners, and to the building. Acoinprev is the only true 'inter-city' school that we've visited, and it definitely made a difference. Crammed in between sketchy apartments and houses, the placement for these kids' education is less than ideal.
The difference in personality and behavior hit us as soon as we walked through the door. The wave of constant noise met our ears the moment we stepped through, and did not cease until we stepped out. These kids were crazy. They were beautiful, loving, affectionate, but crazy. Before we could have a pep talk, we were whisked away to teach in different rooms. After teaching 2 wild classes of Pre-Kinders and Grade 1, (I adored every single one of these kids,) we met back to debrief for a split second. Other groups coming from Grades 4, 5, and 6 came talking about how insane it was to try to teach them. The noise would not stop. Kids were always screaming. Shouting. Laughing. Whistling. Cheering. Crying. It was like our ears were forced to adapt to an entire new volume level that lasted for the full 7 hours. After grumbling and discussing the noise level and how teaching was nearly impossible at this school, our leader spoke up. She told us that we have gotten too used to the kids from Golden Rule. They are safer, slightly more wealthy, and many of them have better family situations. These Acoinprev kids are just as valuable as the Golden Rule ones. The only difference between them is that these kids come from unimaginably horrible home situations. We have no idea where they came from this morning, or how they've been treated. We don't know how they have been abused, or when they last were given positive attention.
She was so right. Who knows how much of the bad behaviour and hyperactivity were simply reflections of neglect, abuse, and a lack of Godly love? Although my afternoon was extra crazy with some of the loudest kids I ever met, it was a joy. It was a joy that stole my voice, yes, and a joy that burst my eardrums, yes, but it was a joy that came from knowing that we were being the vessels for God's love to the unloved. Is that not what we pray for? Is that not what we yearn for? Sometimes we just forget that being God's vessel can be hard work. But when our eyes are fixed on the prize, the work becomes the most fulfilling thing.
I'm sore from playing tag in the hot sun and tired from constantly shouting to be heard, but I am so satisfied with knowing that God worked through us today. Myself and two other team members were privileged to get to share our testimonies with the school. It was partly discouraging because of the din that made us feel like boring nobodies... but it was worth it to see the faces in the crowd who were listening intently. I had to just ignore the screams and restless chatter, and focus on speaking to the kids who were staring up at me with eyes of intense interest and curiosity.
I don't know if anything was lost in the translation, and I don't know if what I said has meant anything to anybody... but I said it. And, according to Felipe from Funza, the power of our testimony + the blood of the Lamb = power to overcome the forces of Satan. I am praying that God uses our step of faith and our broken words to minister to those kids, even though we could only be with them for one day. They've already made their mark on my heart, and it's more of a wound than anything. As we waved goodbye and backed out of the sketchy alleyway that led to the school's entrance, I watched the kids walk away and it broke my heart to think about what they were returning to. The buildings were crumbling, the streets were horribly dirty, the area was shady and made us nervous enough to close our windows... and that was their home neighborhood. These kids need the love of God. In truth, we all do.
It really is too bad that we forget how poor and broken we are without His Spirit, until we see physical poverty and physical brokenness. The corruption and emptiness in our first-world society is clearly a detriment to the Work of God, but we just don't notice because our hearts are tuned to have passion for the third world, only. Every person in every country at every moment needs the love of God. My prayer is that we will, as a team and as individuals, be able to take hold of the reality of the emergency of the Kingdom of Christ, and be spurred into motion by His Spirit.
This place may have stolen my heart, but I know that the Mission of Heaven is not only necessary in Bogota. I know that what is coming up after we leave this place will be the true challenge of faith and devotion. Being a missionary in one's own hometown among one's own peers has got to be one of the hardest things. And yet, after meeting all these people who have proven that it is possible, I cannot possibly think of any excuse.
My life will be spent on the Mission field. It has to. And where is that Mission field? It's the place where I'm standing at any given moment in time. Right now, it's in this guesthouse among my team members and leaders. Tomorrow, it will be at the young mother's home. Next week, it will be in the dorms back in Thrills. In a month, it will be in Europe. The game is always on. No breaks, no vacations.
Romans 10:13-15 - For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”