I surprised myself. I didn't know that I had it in me. I never knew that I could be so fickle. We had planned this trip for quite a few weeks and finally it is here. As I write we are now in Nicaragua; Pearl Lagoon to be exact. We are checking things out, "sp**ing out the land" (want to avoid any issues with the NSA so I don't use the S word :-). The trip started out smoothly but then things went awry and out it came, the DQ in me.
Our flight to Nica could not have been better. We arrived in Managua this Tuesday morning, even landed earlier than expected. We got our luggage and one of the bags was ripped up when we got it from the carousel. Hey, no worries it's just a bag, it can be replaced. We arrived at the hotel early but no worries they checked us right in. The first sign all would not go well was when we tried to book tickets for our flight to Bluefields the next morning we were told that it was sold out, we had to book on the 2p.m. plane. Slight problem because that meant we would miss the afternoon panga(boat) to Pearl Lagoon, meaning we'd arrive there a day later than planned. No worries still, a quick call to Br. Donovan in Bluefields and he found us a comfortable room in a hotel and we'd leave for PL on Thursday morning.
Then came the meltdown moments. Arriving in Bluefields my first instinct was to chase the plane down the runway and get back on it. I did not like what I saw. There were crowds of people just standing around as if they had no where to go. There were lots of casinos and bars around; It felt like a scene out of an Indiana Jones movie and at any moment a bar fight would break out and we'd be caught in the crossfire.
Reaching PL did not ease the pain. When Br. Hendershot met us at the docks he said " welcome to the ends of the earth!" as we got off the panga. He was kidding of course, but in a short while I would begin to wonder if he really meant it. As we walked to the hotel I noticed how hot and humid it was. There were again what seemed like thousands of people just hanging out on the streets, drinking beer and talking loudly. "What kind of place is this?" I thought to myself. When we reached the hotel we would be staying in I was a bit bummed out, it sure looked better on TripAdvisor than it does in person. To make matters worse the power was out, as it regularly is here, so there was no a/c in the room. As we tried to rest up a bit from our journey we were sweltering. I had to step outside to get a little breeze and cool down. It will get better I told myself.
So we started out in the field this morning and we walked. And we walked. And we walked. And just when I thought I couldn't take it any longer we walked some more. Yes this is a walking territory; I don't think I have ever walked so much in my life! To make matters worse there is a small village of Miskito speaking people that we went to in the afternoon. To reach it there is about a thirty minute walk down a road that is partially submerged in water, about ankle deep. So off come the socks and through the slightly murky water we go; drain out the shoes when we reach the other side and keep on walking. By the time we ended the day in service my feet were blistered, my ego bruised, and I was seriously doubting if I was at all cut out for this Needgreatering thing.
But then it happened. Our brotherhood is such a wonderful thing. I began to feel the support of the brothers who are serving here. We stopped by a home of one of the sisters in the congregation. She invited us in, we sat down, had a cup of coffee and she began to share her experiences with us. Later we went to have dinner with the Hendershots and after a nice meal and upbuilding conversation, I began to feel differently. I had my meltdown but I began to feel ashamed. I am not the only one who is out of their comfort zone. There are other Needgreaters here with us. Each of them has left something behind as well, surely they have their moments and make it through, so can I.
I also reflected on my day. We preached all day and not once was I turned away, told " I'm busy or I'm not interested". I actually had a few good conversations and at least two return visits to follow up on before I go. As I thought about the encouragement we received, the ministry we enjoyed, and the reasons we are here, I had a change of disposition. I had to put away the DQ and just enjoy the ride. Yep, it's gonna have some bumps in the road but with Jehovah's help I can deal with them. So over the next week and a half I'm gonna work on my attitude. From here on out it's all going to be copacetic! Now if I can learn to just go with the flow...