Thursday, October 4, 2012

sweet home arkansas

I'm freeeeeeeeeeee!  Thanks to God, and thanks to all your prayers, I was able to pick up my passport on Tuesday (no thanks to FedEx) and I was able to catch my rescheduled flight early this morning.  Emily kept calling the FedEx number on Tuesday to find out whether or not the passport had arrived in Nicaragua.  They said that it hadn't, but that there was no need to keep calling because they would call her in the US, and me in Nicaragua, when it had cleared customs.  We were all praying that it would come.

As I was talking with Angel, the pastor with whom we've been working, he wisely said, "Why don't you try to find the number of the local office here so we can start calling them."  I asked Emily to try to get the number of the office here (which they don't readily give out).  In calling them again, she found out that it had arrived at the local office, but too late for them to deliver it the same day.  The thought  of having to again reschedule my Wed. morning flight made me feel sick.  It's now 5 pm so I get the number, called the office, confirm they have my passport, get their address and find out they close in a half hour.
with Angel - pastor of the church who will provide
the covering for the new LEI Nicaragua team
 I showed the address to the pastor and he looked worried.....just then another brother from his church (Marlon) arrived on a motorcycle.  Pastor Angel says, "you can make if you go on the motorcycle."  I hopped on the back of the bike and we took off, whizzing in and out of traffic as if we were filming a mission impossible chase scene.  We got there with 6 minutes to spare.....I ran in and said I was that guy who just called about the passport.  They handed me an envelope that had Emily's beautiful handwriting on it and I tore into it in my own little world as if the three FedEx employees there weren't staring at me.  That old, bent, sweat-stained passport looked more beautiful than it ever had before, and I felt a sense of relief and freedom.  Being told I couldn't go home had left me with a surprisingly unsettled feeling.....almost as if someone had greeted me at my front door and said, "sorry, you can't come in right now."   So needless to say, we all thanked God for answering all the prayers.  We then celebrated by having a feast of chicken curry which their taste buds received with rave reviews, despite the fact that it was a giant leap for their "rice and beans" palettes.
Pastor Angel's family
As we suspected, the extra time in Nicaragua turned out to be a huge blessing, even though I was missing my family more than ever.  Thank you to all those who wrote and encouraged me......they were healing words that really did lift my spirits.   On Saturday I headed to Rio Blanco (where we used to live).  Pastor Angel was going to give me a ride to the bus station but got tied up (SEE THIS HILARIOUS CLIP from one of our previous trips to see how they try to convince Gringos that their bus is faster, more comfortable, more direct, leaving sooner, etc.)  So he sent Marlon to pick me up.  He arrived late so I was nervous that we would miss the bus.  As we approached the bus station I spotted the Rio Blanco bus pulling out of the terminal.  I said to Marlon, "There's the bus!!!"  We passed it on the other side of a divided highway which didn't have an opening for a U-turn for at least a 1/4 of a mile, which felt like an eternity due to the traffic.  I asked Marlon, "Do you think we can catch it?"  "We'll catch it," he said calmly and confidently.  We spent the next 8 minutes in super-pursuit-mode, passing on the left, on the right, on the shoulder, and threading the needle between 2 lanes of stopped vehicles at stop lights.  If cops would let you drive like that in the States, it would cut urban commutes in half.

We finally caught the bus!  I hopped on and before I could even look for a place to sit, I hear, "Hi Tedd."  It was a church-planter named Pablo whom we had trained to be a literacy teacher over two years ago....we did the first couple of classes together and then left the country shortly after that.  We had lost touch and I hadn't heard any news from him.  Turns out he's been teaching a class for the past 2 years now and is in the process of starting others deep into the countryside.  We spent the next 6 hours sitting next to each other and talking about the different obstacles one faces in this line of work.  That alone was a huge blessing and instantly confirmed that God was at work orchestrating my extra time there.  

I spent the next several days meeting with former students and teachers we had trained, encouraging them to keep reading God's word.  My visit was timely because Sunday was the "National Day of the Bible" (interesting considering that Nicaragua is a socialist government).  I helped wrap up 4 straight days and nights of an open-air reading of the Bible all the way through.  I played the piano underneath the reading of Revelations which started around 1 am.  By the time we had reached the last chapter there was an obvious supernatural presence that descended on us as the Pastor read, "And the Spirit and the church say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say: "Come!" And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wants it take the water of life free of charge."  I found myself playing a beautiful melody that I had never thought of or rehearsed before.  People were moved and weeping as the church together called for the imminent return of our Lord, "Yes, I am coming soon!" Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" It was the shekinah glory of God and such a special time.  
platform where over a hundred church members
took turns reading the entire Bible 
 Another highlight was showing our literacy students in Likia the documentary that we filmed last year and recently finished editing.  If you haven't seen it, take a second to click on the link above.  They got such a hoot out of seeing their friends and family on the computer screen.  I told them that their video had already inspired many people in Latin America and even Africa and Asia.  They laughed and started joking about how one might some day go to China and people would be like, "Hey, I know're that guy from Likia!"  Prayer request: one of the elders in that church in Likia has stopped going to church and is seeking divorce.  Please ask God to intervene and renew his faith and love for his wife.
 I almost forgot to borrow rubber boots before heading out to Likia...glad I didn't!
I went around with my laptop showing former students the video and
encouraging them to keep reading God's Word every single day. 
 Also, I had a couple more days to meet with the leaders of the new "LEI Nicaragua" team we're forming, and that was very helpful in honing in on some more of the specifics of the initial steps the team will take.  More to come on that.  

I'm now once again reunited with my beautiful family and so thankful!  Ian and Emily were waiting for me at the airport.  I know many dads have experience this, but for me it was the first time to be greeted by my son after he took off running toward me calling, "DADDY!!!"  I'll never forget it.

Lastly, I'll be heading out to India Saturday morning (with my American passport :)  More to come on that.  

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