Yesterday I returned from my trip to Cayman Brac. What a great adventure!! There is something extraordinary that happens when one takes time to get away. I’ll be honest, the hustle and bustle of living near and working in our nation’s capital can start to get old after awhile. While a vacation is key to taking a break to rejuvenate, I’ve learned that a mission trip serves a completely different and unique purpose. I’m exhausted but also spiritually awakened from all the experiences over there!
As I mentioned before leaving, our two main goals during our time at the Brac was to lead a youth soccer (futbol) camp and to start up some small group men and ladies’ bible studies at two of the Baptist churches. I feel that God really was preparing me for this trip with my love for soccer. I had so much fun with the kids and think that coaching would be something that I’d really love to be a part of in the future. The camp was challenging and yet it all ended up coming together in the end. The kids were a bit off-kilter on day three (a few punches and words were thrown), but Pastor Mike Irby, who leads two of the churches down there helped us out during our Bible study session of camp by focusing on humilty and how we are all out there to be teammates and lift one another up, not to beat one another down. The message must have resonated because the final day went smoothly without a hitch. We sweat a lot out there and had fun (maybe us adults even more so than the kids) singing songs (the Alligator and Banana songs and many children’s Bible songs), memorizing the verse of the week and helping the children read skit lines. Of course I’d place money that the most fun for the kids being was when we allowed them to run free while waiting for parents to pick them up; it was all about mass pandemonium giving piggy back rides, racing around, and overall being silly. Ahh I felt like a kid again and it was definitely hard to see those kids go on the last day. For me, it was so rewarding to see the growth in the children over just a four-day period; I witnessed the beginning of new friendships and scowls on the first day turned into full smiles the last. I do hope that this made an impact in some way on their lives and that the young adults and teenagers who helped us will step up to be coaches during the fall season.
The people of the island welcomed us with open arms and I left feeling like I now have a family I can always return to visit. The women (and men) seemed to really enjoy our Bible study of the book Radical. Although they (the women) were not as talkative as we expected, I could tell that it was something they needed–to have an opportunity to get together with a community of prayerful individuals.
And in our spare time we had more opportunities to spend with our new intern friend, Brad, as well as some of the natives who gave us a tour–Keno and Greg (who told me his nickname was Gregamas). The beauty of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman (where we went for a day trip on Friday) was amazing–How could you not feel close to your faith in a place of beauty where God’s creation is all around us! I was up early most mornings usually for my morning quiet time; one morning I did go out for a 25 minute run (which was very hot)! I ran by some abandoned homes and hotels (which there seem to be quite a few of). My main exercise though was definitely running around with the kids on the fields and afternoon swimming/snorkeling. It was a nice break from running and going to the gym. (although I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of my workouts and eating healthy–we were well-fed on this trip with dessert at every meal!)
And as a brief wrap-up, the friendships I made with my teammates were awesome. I laughed more this past week than I have in a really long time. Our team of eleven was the perfect size and we complemented one another well. Everyone had a different strength to bring to the trip and that was so neat to see how God works in that way. Some things that took my breath away this week, in no order of importance: sea turtle babies hatching and heading to sea; prehistoric-looking iguanas on Little Cayman; snorkeling and finding amazing colorful fish including zebra fish, angel fish and more; spotting a Loggerhead sea turtle just before it dove back underwater during the boat ride to Little Cayman; flying high over the waves during a roller coaster boat ride on my new Caymanian friend Royce’s boat; jumping off the docks into the water by the condo knowing that a nurse shark was lingering nearby; spotting two lionfish during snorkeling and the mean barracuda that chased us away; and the sparkling and amazing blue waters–seen from boat, plane, land and underwater!
I will post my favorite photos from the trip in a subsequent post, photo-journalism style!