Last week we hosted a 3 day leadership training for the leaders-to-be in each of our 7 villages, something I have been dreaming of doing for over a year now. Each day we were amazed at the opportunity to spend time with these amazing young men and women and to see glimpses God growing His Church as disciples made disciples!
Even though most of the 9 deaf in attendance had seen eachother before, they didn’t know much about where they lived, what their family life was like, which other deaf were in their village, ect. During the introductions they ended up putting a sticker on the map of where they were from.
We did several team building activities throughout the training but this was my favorite. Each student was given a different colored marker and a sheet of paper. They were asked to draw a house, tree and sun. When they finished they share their drawings with one another. Then, they were given a piece of poster board and asked to collectively draw a house, a tree and a sun. They weren’t allowed to trade markers. It was so interesting to watch them communicate with one another all with varying levels of sign language ability. If the person that had the brown marker didn’t understand that the group wanted them to draw a tree trunk then someone would act it out. If they still didn’t understand they would draw it on their hand with their color and then show them. They spent a good 30 minutes not only drawing a house, a tree and a sun but an entire landscape. Carlos from Tesorito lives near a river. He had the idea to draw a river. So they talked it out as a group, where the river should go how big it should be, who has the blue. Yajaira who lives near the base of the hills thought they should draw the hills with trees on them. Ondina who lives near a Dole plantation thought their needed to be banana trees. They added fish to the river, a hammock between trees, a family sitting at the table, a cat in the yard and a swing. We then discussed how working as a team wasn’t always easy, but the end product that they produced was more colorful, creative, and special. They were proud of their final product!
Any down time they had they were either talking with one another or watching “The Bible” (History Channel series). They couldn’t get enough of the stories. What was even more fun was seeing the leaders that already knew the stories helping those they didn’t know them to understand what was going on. They would pull out their Illustrated Bibles and show them where the stories were in the Bible to practice at home. One night after dinner I look over and see Nancy is explaining the Great Comission that was being acted out on TV. She then compared it to the leaders returning to their villages and the going out from there to share the most important story of all time!
Most of the teaching was centered around our call to be imitators of Christ (rather than the world). We planned to teach 5 qualities of Jesus that we could imitate but the questions they had ran so deep we only got to 2! Holy and humble, and we touched on loving. Holy took up most of the time and included a teaching on the narrow and wide gate. Nancy and Orlan had great dramas and shared their testimonies. During the break we look over to find Genesis, the youth representing La Ceiba and the youngest of the group, sharing her walk in the wide gate with Yajaira. She shared about how she came to know about Jesus and how she made a decision to repent of her past sin and follow Jesus in the narrow road. Yajaira in that moment asked how she could do the same. Nancy lead her in prayer to repent of her sins and her desire to follow Jesus. When she said amen Yajaira was beaming! Then Genesis shared how she was baptized in April as a public profession of her faith and Yajaira asked how she could do that too!! It was an amazing privilege to baptize Yajaira with Genesis in the same place we baptized Genesis just 3 months earlier!!! (Read more here about what Yojaira is already doing in her village with what she learned to makes disciples!)
Another lesson was on humility. Our original idea for a service project fell through the morning of and it was because God had better plans for us. We ended up taking the students to an elderly home that cared for 27 elderly people that are unable to care for themselves. We wracked our brains as to what the deaf could do with them. We came up with a few funny dramas and painting left over from camp. We threw in some dominoes, the giant dog costume and some ice cream for good measure. The students took turns greeting each resident and delivering ice cream. Several of the residents were blind so it made for some interesting and sometimes precious moments with the deaf students. Ana from Zamora was helping one man who was unable to feed himself. When he wanted more ice cream he would bang loudly on the side of his wheelchair until she game him some more. Some of the girls painted nails with the ladies and the boys dominoes with the men. They helped them paint with watercolors. The favorite by far was the dog costume. The 2 male leaders-in-training took turns putting on the costume in the ridiculous heat and greeted each resident with a “lick” and a “wag of the tail”. Some elderly laughed with joy, other wouldn’t let go from a hug, but my favorite was when one of the old ladies smacked “the dog” on the butt and told him to “scat!”. I was truly impressed by the leaders in training and how they handled situations outside their comfort zone and how they loved on other that were different than them.
The last day we discussed the expectations for the coming months for the students. One of which was to pray the “Armor of God” (the corporate camp theme) over each person in their village weekly. They were given a group photo of their village and little visuals to pray over each one such as believing truth, obeying God, peach and faith. We modeled it and help each one (many for the first time) to pray in front of others for each person in their village.
The last morning we also reviewed humility. Nancy and Orlan (the two that lead the programs) washed the feet of and prayed over each individual student. I have never seen Nancy and Orlan more beautiful in my 3 years here…beads of sweat dripping off their heads in the heat of the morning as they knelt with great reverance before each of the leaders in training from each village that they have been faithfully praying for and serving for years. They with great care washed their feet and with great intentionality and individuality prayed from their hearts and for the hearts they would go back and share with. It was a moment of reclaiming ground for the Kingdom and a moment of pure hope for those that these precious ones will share with. Nancy’s final group prayer over them included a vision of them to touch those that live in their households, that live in their villages, and that “cover to world” with the gospel of love!
Let it be so Jesus!