Today was our last full day in Caracol. It has been an extremely busy week. Many items have been crossed off our ‘to do’ list, still there is much work left to be done. We spent a wonderful day relaxing at Belly Beach. The warm water and sand was ours for the taking, as we were the only ones in attendance.
Our team consisted of 8 members, Mark (our team leader), Curt, Gerald, John, Lindsay, Penny, Steve, and Waldy. For five of us, it was our first trip to Caracol. We didn’t know what to expect, but suffice it to say, that we experienced Grace beyond expectations.
Not once, was a cross word exchanged between us, despite any individual frustrations we might have privately experienced. We each came with a heart for service which spilled over to our team members. This was evident, with our willingness to help each other with any task be it cooking, cleaning, or physical labor. We all seemed to be natural leaders in our areas of expertise, but far more importantly, we were good followers, never letting egos come into play. I personally witnessed (and will be actively practicing) from Mark and Steve their gift of encouraging speech.
Our strengths and weaknesses, complimented each other, and where there was overlap, we naturally stepped back and allowed another to take the lead. Mark lead by example and patience and set the tone for the team. Curt was our resident computer geek. Gerald, can operate and fix any piece of mechanical machinery. John, a pied piper of children was our designated team photographer. Lindsay, was our behind the scenes support, anticipating any need from a water bottle to pen and paper, note taker, and beloved by all the young girls at the school. Penny, our early morning riser had coffee waiting for us and ready to assist any of the men on kitchen duty, and resident blogger. Steve, probably had the most important job of all, water police. Steve ensured we had water for showers, informing us prior to every shower the amount of water available in the tank, (i.e. 1/3 full-very quick shower, 1/2 full-be considerate shower, or full tank-go for it shower!). And finally, Waldy, a Haitain born American, not only translated, but explained many nuances in the culture. But more importantly, Waldy entered every room with laughter, and with his rows of lotions lined against the bed, had a potion for any skin affliction we encountered.
We arrived, especially for the first timers in the group, noticing the extreme poverty which exists. We leave noticing the love of God and family, seeing their cups overflowing with the Holy Spirit. With our busy lives and routines at home, filled with distractions, I sometimes struggle with committing to my morning devotion and prayer. Yet, here, each morning and evening, there was praise and worship. This, despite the weary, labor driven lives led.
When initially learning of the CHE micro loans, my capitalist and cynical opinions surfaced. What incentive was there to repay the loans? Yet, in getting to know many of the citizens in Caracol, their sense of pride and integrity in keeping their word is profound. Though education is valued here, let us not underestimate the intelligence of those without formal education. The ingenuity involved in developing a business and providing for family is amazing. And all of this is done being fully aware, that is not for their extravagance (for that word does not exist here for the majority) but for the Glory of God.
For the first timers, we have made many new friends, and for the repeaters, friendships were renewed. I know that I will return in the future, and not only for the sake of those in Caracol, but for the renewal of my own spirit. We have truly experienced Grace beyond expectations!