8:15 a.m. Today is my sister Naomi’s birthday. Happy birthday Moinks! Last night we did indeed make it back to camp by 11:30 p.m. Peter and Terry had prepared a delicious meal of Mac & Cheese and North Carolina BBQ. Terry said Pete was the man! He also made strawberry cheese cake for dessert. After a quick 5-minute meeting and prayer everyone hit the rooms for bed. As showers were being taken we could hear monkeys and other jungle creatures in the trees behind us. During the night there was also an awesome rain storm which sounded so incredible as it poured down on our tin roofs! I slept like a baby opening my eyes to the bright, welcoming day only to discover it was 5 a.m. I went back to sleep until now. In a bit we are eating breakfast and then taking a hike in the rainforest. The plan is then a mirror of yesterday but at another church an hour away.
11:15 a.m. We just returned from a hike down into the edge of the rainforest here on the property. We had a good time and everyone - even the non-sweaters - are soaked with sweat. It’s great bonding! lol! On the hike I was trailing behind the group when I caught a glimpse of a long, black, sleek, fox-like animal with a long tail walking onto the bushes. I got my camera out and followed to see if I could see him again. Suddenly he ran out into a 10-foot clearing and I snapped a picture just catching all but his head. Mike, one of the nationals, said it was what is called a pizote. When I can get back to the internet I will look up some pics to confirm. Some of the girls wore flip flops for the walk which was quite muddy. While we were walking across a significant puddle, Tiffany lost one of her flip flops which was swallowed by the mud. Half of the team was in the muddy puddles up to our elbows trying to find it. Mike finally found it and Tiffany was quite happy! We really enjoyed seeing the ants who carry leaves for tens of yards in unity to put into their hills. They don’t actually eat the leaves, they eat the mold that forms on them. Also saw some really cool plants, one of which is carnivorous! It actually closes when something touches it which is how it catches the insects that land on it. We also saw a red dart frog which is poisonous, parakeets, butterflies, and Mike even jumped off a rock into the river. Some of the team want to swim, so if we have time we might take a group down. There are also vines that we can swing on, so we’ll see if we can get down there. Everyone is now rinsing off and in a half-hour we are heading off to our next ministry assignment in the town of Venecia.
9:30 p.m. We are on the bus heading back to camp. When we arrived at the church this afternoon we got straight to work painting. Within 2 1/2 hours we had painted the entire sanctuary. Today’s painting went the smoothest of our three paint jobs. The team is getting better and cleaner with each experience. We were all cleaned up and drinking coffee when I asked Mike to take us somewhere to kill some time as we had three hours with nothing to do before service. They drove us a mile or so to the town center. There was not much to do as it had rained, and most of the stores were along the lines of grocery stores or local supply stores, but it was fun to get out and we all grabbed some snack foods. When we came back to the church I gave a lesson on making balloon animals. OK, I really just showed them how to make dogs and swords, but ... After that we got changed and prayed for the service, especially for Giovanni who was to preach. After the church sang an opening song, they turned the service over to us. We did our dance “I Can Only Imagine”, Emily shared her testimony, Giovanni preached, we did “Everything”, and had altar ministry during which Ady sang a worship song. During the altar call two teens accepted Christ and others came forward for prayer. It seemed to be quite a struggle in the spirit when it came to decision time, but Giovanni did a good job. At one point he called all of the teenagers of the church forward and had our group surround them in prayer, and that’s definitely when the breakthrough came. Ady also spoke a word to them, and it was a really powerful time. After the service we gave away some Beanie Babies, balls, candy, made balloon animals, and played with the kids. It was a lot of fun, and it was tough to leave. Thank You Lord for a good day of ministry! John Long arrived at camp this afternoon and we are looking forward to seeing him within the hour and eating some of his delicious food for another late night dinner.
11:45 p.m. Finally into our room. When we arrived we were so happy to see John Long’s big white chef’s hat sticking up in the kitchen. He had an awesome chicken dinner waiting for us. Bobby & Kathryn were also with him as was our interpreter Cindy from El Salvador. After dinner we went around the table for a time of sharing. It was really great! Terry has just collected our team shirts to wash them because they are definitely smelling gamy with everyone sweating in the humidity. Tomorrow morning we have to get up at 6:30 a.m. so I’m hitting the sack.