Hey everyone!!! Jenna here!
We just wrapped up our last session of camp and man has this trip flown by. We’ve swam in la piscina for hours on end, played plenty of soccer, football, and frisbee, and ate tons of AMAZING food. Not only that, but we got to do it all while proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ to children of Paraguay. They have stolen a piece of each of our hearts with their kindness, acceptance, and love.
Coming into this week, I’d never been on this type of mission trip before, and I’d actually never been out of the country. I’ve taken Spanish classes, but I am far from fluent to say the least. I actually wasn’t that nervous about the language barrier, believe it or not. I knew and was expectant that the Lord could work despite that, but it was definitely something we had to work around. My biggest concern going in was having purpose while being there. It was hard to think of the ways that the Lord could really use me to impact these kids when I couldn’t tell them the Gospel. This is where we all really had to think and watch the way in which we walked out our faith. I wasn’t really sure what they would take away from me, or what they would see, but my only hope was that some how some way, they could see Christ in me.
These are a couple verse the Lord encourages and spoke to me through this week:
“Little Children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” —1 John 3:18
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” — Ephesians 5:1-2
For both sessions, I was a counselor. The first session I had 7-8 year olds and the second session I had 12-13 year olds. Although we were in a different country with different customs and backgrounds, they were still just girls. My first cabin loved frozen and frisbee and my second patty cake and braiding hair. We joked, we giggled, we played, and despite speaking a different language, got to know and love each other in a way that needs no words. It was crazy to see how quickly the girls accepted and desired to be around me. When I struggled to understand or communicate to them, they were so full of patience and understanding. At times they would sit around me in a circle, acting out words and phrases, putting it in different words until I could understand. They wanted to know me and be known by me, it was such a humbling experience.
As time went by, I got to spend more and more time with my girls and I started getting frustrated. I had so much time with them, so many opportunities to tell the about how much the Lord loves and cares for them, pursues them, and all He has done for them, but I couldn’t because I knew how to say none of that in Spanish. I wanted more than anything to be able to share with them, to explain to them, the reason I was there and the reason behind the way I live my life, but I couldn’t. I started to question if my being there was any influence at all if I couldn’t even tell them about Jesus.
Then the Lord spoke to me in the form of a simple shirt. Everyday I wore Nike shorts with a T-shirt slightly tucked in on the front. One morning after getting my cabin of 12-13 year olds, they all had their shirts tucked slightly into their shorts and I thought nothing of it. Then Tami, one of my girls, walks up to me and says, “Look Jenna, we’re like you!” as they all excitedly pointed to their shirts. That small action was enough to put me back in my place. They were watching. Even the slightest detail of how I tucked my shirt. If they could see and mimic that, then there was hope that they could see my love for the Lord and His mark on my life and be able to imitate it as well.
1 Corinthians 12:12-20 talks about the body of Christ, and how we all serve as different members. We may not have been able to be the mouth that spoke truth into campers this week, but we did get the gift of walking out that truth and love by being Jesus’s hands and feet. Verse 18 says “but as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose.” Each member of this team, each national staffer, served a specific purpose designed specifically by the Lord. Unified, we were able to share and show kids the love of Jesus Christ and each of us walked away changed. How beautiful are the feet that preach the Gospel. Let’s just say, I can’t wait for heaven!
The sessions came and went too fast, and although they’ve ended, the impact and love of my girls remains. Just like I told each of them, “Tu es en mi corazon por siempre,” they will forever and always be in my heart.
Tomorrow we head out to tour the capital city of Paraguay, Asuncion. Continue to pray for our team and our national staff and the campers we met this week! We will be headed home soon and can’t believe how quickly this trip has flown by!