Yesterday was a first for many people. I had talked to the leader of the Atlanta team that is working here for the next week and asked if they would be interested in taking a youth group from one of the mountains to dinner & a movie. We agreed that in spite of the language barrier, the idea would be a lot of fun. I ran the idea up the flagpole with one of the leaders of the Los Pinos Church and we were off. The plan was for Timoteo & I to go to the mountain in our trucks to pick up the anticipated 17 or 18 kids and take them to meet our TORCH group at the mall. When we arrived at Los Pinos - there were 43 people waiting and two pick-up trucks. No hay problema! I just loaded 23 excited people in my truck and Timo loaded the rest and we were off to the mall. I think that 23 in my truck may be my record for carrying a group - once I counted 18 in the back of a tiny Toyota but - I had 9 inside so there were only 14 in the bed of the truck. Anyway it was sort of funny going through a police stop because they just waved us on through. That is funny because I've been stopped with only 8 gringos in the back and told that I was breaking the law which only allows 6 in the back of a PU.
We made it to the mall and met up with the Atlanta group and were forced to make a quick change of plans. Originally (with 17 in mind) we were going to eat at TGIF but our new size required a change in plans and that led us to the food court. Our group of 43 from Los Pinos and our team of 20 enjoyed Pizza, cokes, & laughs. We later went to Shreck (in Spanish) and took the group home.
What our TORCH group didn't know was that of the 43 kids from Los Pinos - more than 30 had never been to the mall and more than 35 had never seen a movie in a theater. These kids were all smiles and were as happy to be in a new place with strangers as anyone that I've ever seen. Our blessings have led us to be complacient with what we have and because of that our expectations and demands for instant gratification sometimes keep us from experiencing the simple joy that the kids from Los Pinos had yesterday.
Some long team joy also happened this past week in Santa Ana. A group of ministry students wourke with Noel and the community and there were 14 people that made a decision to give it all up for Jesus! The work in these mountains is fruitful and very worthwhile. The dedicaiton of many of these workers is amazing. Working in a community like Los Pinos means walking up and down the mountain just to meet the people and to talk to them about Jesus. I met a 60+ year old lady last week that leaves her house every Sunday morning at 6 so that she can walk to be with her Christian family at 9:30. That's dedication!
I am blessed to be here!