It seems that God wants this team to get a taste of the full outreach experience despite our first-world location. This is manifesting itself in impossibly absurd and hilarious situations. I’m pretty sure God is pranking us, and very pleased with Himself.
Probably most of these situations are the enemy trying to get us down or distract us, but honestly it’s backfired every time, as the absurdity has turned into hilarity, which just boosts team morale. A hearty laugh always does everyone good.
It started pretty early on, with a broken shower. I believe it was the third night here when one of my teammates called me into the shower room with a worried voice and proceeded to show me the broken shower handle. I thought at first it would be a simple fix; something unscrewed or similar. But nope, the handle was definitively broken, sheared off halfway along the stem. She was so ashamed of herself I had to tell the team leaders. But obviously, it wasn’t her fault. Unfortunately, she had broken the cold water nozzle…so the showers that night were pretty steamy. I was seriously desperate and actually ended up near boiled lobster status, but did make it out without any burns. Sadly, that was only the beginning of the shower saga though. The next night around midnight, as I was spending some quiet time with God, I suddenly heard some yelling and stampeding from upstairs. Another girl had been trying to shower when the whole handle assembly broke off and water started GUSHING from the wall. We managed to keep the water contained to the shower area, but unfortunately some found its way inside the wall and started leaking through the kitchen ceiling. Mass chaos as we called the church leadership and all ran around the property, positioning buckets, searching attics, and hunting around the property for the water main to turn it off. Eventually we did shut the water off, and we finally closed the shower saga for good a few days ago (we had to re-caulk a few areas after the leaking continued after the repair of the handle). In the meanwhile, we took a couple team beach showers. But there’s really something very freeing about taking your shower in the open air at a public beach shower (in bathing suits of course…we are still in America).
For those of you who have been praying with us for a vehicle, thank you! The church decided to let us use their 15 passenger van! Hurrah! But until we had the insurance worked out, and a couple times when the church needed to use it, we were stuck using our little red truck. Fortunately, for the better part of the last two weeks, our team has only been ten strong, so we could actually squeeze eight in the bed of the truck and get our whole team from point A to point B only a little worse for the wear. Except for last Saturday when we had to be at a Habitat for Humanity site at 8 am, the church needed the van for the day, and it happened to be DOWNPOURING. After breakfast we all headed outside, not a little dismayed at what loomed before us. It was going to be a long ride. Most of us had functioning rain coats. The couple who didn’t cut holes in trash bags. We found a couple larger trash bags and cut them into tarps to protect our legs. Then we all hopped in the bed of the truck and hunkered down for a wet ride. It was very wet. And we laughed the whole way. (My old team leader Andy had a saying that I’ve been living by and think I’ll continue to live by; “Funny later, funny now.” If you know it’s going to be a funny story, might as well just laugh about it now and avoid the stupid grumpy part.) One girl even managed a nap, I think. Oh, outreach fun!
Tonight was absurdity number three. We had planned on having a team camping trip at the beach while we helped set up for a surfing competition that the church is hosting tomorrow. We arrived to find that our host’s idea of camping was different from ours…they had brought two ENORMOUS tents. A ten man and an eight man, I believe. I mean, I think we could have hosted a square dance in one. And the other one had a screened porch, two bedrooms, and paned windows (well…the panes were painted on). FireGenXtra for the win. Unfortunately….as we found out later…neither of them had a functioning rain fly. We had JUST finished moving our stuff down the million and ten stairs from the parking lot to the beach, pretty late into the evening for reasons I won’t go into (coughIlockedthekeysinthecarcoughcough), when it started to downpour. No big deal, that’s what tents are for! We brought everything inside and started to settle in. Then we started noticing a couple little drips here and there. I told myself it was just my wet hair. But nope, the more time went on, the more the drips turned into sprinkles, and within a couple minutes it was raining inside the tent and little puddles were forming around our feet. YIKES! EVERYTHING was getting soaked. We quickly called to the boys, thinking we could still salvage the trip by just combining tents! I mean, they were basically sleeping in a warehouse. But alas! They were dealing with similar troubles. So we did some quick thinking, piled all our things, and covered them with the rain ponchos we’d bought after the back-of-the-truck debacle. The decision was made to head home for the night. Which was actually a bummer. I think we all would have preferred to stay, but we have to care for about 36 children for three hours tomorrow morning, and that requires a good night’s sleep. So here we are back at the church. Fortunately we were able to salvage the night with s’mores over a gas stove. I think it’s possibly the most absurd thing I’ve ever done: abandoning glamping because of unacceptable living conditions.
I think one of my favorite things about all of this though is that God was mischievous enough to foreshadow it. The second day after we got here, we all did a prayer walk around the church. We literally just walked around the property, the sanctuary, and all the rooms and prayed for the church, the leadership, and the congregation. And we also listened to see if God had anything to say about it. When we convened to discuss everything, several people felt like God had spoken one thing or another, including one girl who said she just heard the words, “rushing waters,” although she admitted she wasn’t sure what it meant. In retrospect, I think it meant that God is rather enjoying this whole situation. Could be completely wrong, of course…but circumstances seem a liiiiittle suspicious. Oh, Daddy. I love your sense of humor.