Can you bench press 200 lbs? Can you squat 400 lbs? Can you run a 6 minute mile? As a male, these are some of the questions that we ask each other to show our strength. But is physical strength the only type of strength that we should be pursuing? What if true strength came from inside us, from our soul and the connection that we have with God?
Today was the day that I really felt God giving me a clear sign of at least part of the why I am on this trip. In the previous couple of days, I have struggled to understand what I was supposed to be getting out of this trip. Don't get me wrong, the last couple of days were absolutely amazing and in many ways very difficult days to experience but today was completely different from start to finish.
The day started with my normal bible devotion but I really did not feel that I was completely connecting with God. So instead of trying to force it, I grabbed another devotion out of my bible. This devotion came out of Mark 6:30-56. This is the story of when Jesus feed 5,000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish (a story that I have taught many times) and later when the disciples were out in the boat and Jesus walked on water out to them. What I had previously missed was the in between time and why Jesus was not with his disciples. Jesus was spending his time up on a mountainside connecting with God to build up his soul. Something that Jesus did a number of times in the bible, where he would serve others and then he sought solitude to connect with God.
"Strength", it was clear that this was to be my theme for today.
A couple of group members and I attended a Haitian church service this morning. Even though I was not able to understand many of the words, I was moved just by watching about 200 people (varying ages 3-65) praise God. I was in awe that this was a Thursday morning service and that so many people were attending. I can only imagine the connections that these people were making with God.
Today was water truck day and I had heard so many good things from people that have experienced this in the past that I was excited to get this opportunity to serve the people. We started off at the water filling station and got to see as our water truck was being filled. Then it was off to our 3 stops. What stuck out to me at every single stop was the kids that were so excited to see us and they seemed to come out of nowhere when we arrived at each location. Being one of my strengths, I felt right at home playing with the kids and holding them all day long. Helping carry water for people in buckets, jugs and barrels also really gave me a purposeful feeling.
Stop 17 was first. Towards the end of the cobblestone street was a ditch just filled with a mixture of water and garbage. It just broke my heart to see first hand where these people called home. A little boy with a Super Mario shirt was my side kick the entire time here. But it was great to see a couple of members of my group playing soccer with many of the kids here.
Stop 21 was next. This too was a cobblestone street with shacks built as far as the eye could see. While holding onto the little girl that ran up to me right away, I carried water for as many people as I could. Once, I was able to go a little further back into these homes to bring the bucket of water to this girl's front door. It was a very moving experience to walk through that narrow walkway. This was also the stop that someone was playing music at so we all got to dance to "Wrecking Ball".
Before we headed to our last stop, we got taken out for a beach walk to the seashell beach. This was extremely difficult, because this was the farthest we went into these homes and really were able to see life here. Once we got out to the beach, the view was incredible in the distance. But the beach was made entirely out of seashells which were beautiful but also covered in garbage.
Stop 26 was last. Before the water truck arrived, there was a near-bye pier that we got to walk out on to watch the fisherman pull in their nets while the people on the pier were cleaning the fish. The last stop was a long street with homes built up on both sides. A little boy latched on to me instantly so I ended up putting him up on my shoulders for most of the time here. This allowed me to really help others carry buckets of water and many times found myself carrying 2 buckets with the little boy still on my shoulders. I saw much of the same from my other teams members here and can honestly say that I was wore out towards the end of the time here but knew that we would only be there a short while and pushed on. Many of the team members voiced a very similar feeling at that time here. At the end of the day, I think we all agreed though with group members saying "today was the most fulfilling day yet" and "today was the best day so far".
This was a day that pushed my physical strength to the limit. My body right now is telling me that I have seriously neglected it
physically with all of the uncomfortable signals of soreness and pain, but even after spending the entire day serving others and doing good work, it was time for me to strengthen my soul and connect with God. Remembering that even Jesus took time of solitude to connect with God and let God fill his life.
All 3 groups here joined together for an evening worship service lead by Grace. This was an absolutely incredible experience as we all sang songs together and praised God in our own way.
My soul gives me signs during times that I am neglecting it as well. Times like when I give in to obsessions, addictions, imitations or even my broken relationships.
Today, God gave me a gift. And that gift is that I see now what "True Strength" really is and that it comes from inside my soul and with my connection with God.
Words of the Day:
Ben - Faces
Jason - Authentic
Jeff - Eyes
Jeremy - Water
Josh - Peace
LT - Tre
Mark - Strength
Ryan - Hug