Heroic Hearts

It has been a BIG day for us here. We are going to sleep tonight with grateful hearts for all that we have and all that God has blessed upon us and a renewed faith in the power of God and the purpose to which He has called each of us.

Today was our team “day off”. After a wonderful sleep in, we ate breakfast together and headed off to Pochomil beach. It is a beach that has many different small resort type areas where there are hammocks in the shade to rest in, places to eat, and a wonderful beach to play in and explore. The kids were so excited to get out of the van (which we like to call “Blue Carlos” for several reasons) and get their beach day going.

Pochomil is a beach that Corwin brings his teams to every year. Last year we met two little boys named Juan and Wilmer. They played with our team all day and helped us dive for sand dollars in the water. They were so cute and we wished we could have left some of the donations we had brought with us to Nicaragua for them, but we didn’t have any with us. We promised them that we would come back next year and bring them each a back pack filled with things. This morning we prepared those back packs at the Provadenic in faith that we would see those two boys. And, as faith would have it, Juan was the first kid we saw when we arrived. He remembered Corwin and me right away and he ran up to greet us. We were able to give him and his brother their back packs and were just amazed at the fact that he had held tightly to the promise we had made him. The Nicaraguan people are very much like that…they will remember everything and hold on to any promise made to them. We are glad we did no break that promise.

We had a fun day playing at the beach. We were able to rent surfboards and boogie boards and the team spent most of the morning learning how to surf. It was fun to watch them hit the water and encourage each other as they tried to surf. We sat down to a late lunch of fresh lobster, fish, and chicken. Some of the team had never tried lobster before and found that they enjoyed it a lot! We felt like we were eating like kings. After lunch the team got the chance to rent horses and go for a ride on the beach. April was in her glory as she galloped down the beach. She said she was fulfilling a life long dream to ride horseback on the beach. Some of us napped in the hammocks, or walked down the beach collecting shells, or just played in the waves. It was an enjoyable time.

Just before we were leaving…God gave us an opportunity to call on Him like most of us never had before. Nathan, Daniel, Colton, April, Denver, and Wilber were playing out in the waves. They had developed a little game with a soccer ball…throwing it into the waves and catching it as it came back to them. The waves had gotten a bit bigger and they didn’t realize how far out they had gotten. All of a sudden Nathan realized that he was out in the waves with Will way deeper than either of them could touch. They started to try to swim closer, but they were caught in a strong tide and seemed to be getting pulled out farther. After several minutes Nathan started to call for help. Colton & Daniel were nearest to them and saw they were in trouble and started to swim out to them. Wilber and Nathan continued to swim in, but because of Nathan’s height, he could touch ground far quicker than Wilber. Colton saw that Will was still in trouble and continued to swim out to him. Wilber’s arm had cramped up and he was struggling to swim and stay above water. Colton reached him and grabbed a hold of him and started to swim because Wilber could no longer swim on his own. Nathan reached Daniel and they both were able to make it to shore. Denver and April, who were a little closer to shore, saw that they needed help. Denver and April quickly swam out to them. They made it to Colton and Will. By this time Wilber was clutching onto Colton, who was growing very weary. Denver reached them just in time and was able to take over hauling Wilber into shore. Colton grabbed a hold of April. The two of them worked together to swim themselves to shore. Denver, in a burst of energy, continued to push forward with Wilber attached to his back and successfully, with so much effort, got himself and Wilber safely to shore. The six of them stood on the shore, holding onto each other, exhausted and praising God for their safe return to dry land.

They quickly returned to the rest of our team, and as often happens in times like these, the emotions that come along with such an experience began to emerge. We came together as a team to support these 5 as they walked through the realization that they had saved Wilber’s life. They shared the fears that they had had and the way that they felt that God had provided them with the energy needed to get Wilber to safety. As we sat and shared as a group, Esteban translated our words to a very shaken up Wilber. Finally, Will chose to say something to the group, something Corwin has never seen him do before. His words were epic and, I’m sure, have been burnt onto our hearts for eternity. He spoke of the fact that no one ever in his whole life has ever cared for him so much that they would do something like that for him. He never felt like any other person had thought he was worth it. He told our group that he loved us and that he was sorry for swimming out so far. He thanked those who were in the water with him, especially Denver, for being the hands of God in the situation. He called them ‘God’s angels’. He said that he had never truly had faith that God would provide safety and protection for him before. But now he knows that his life is worth saving! He spoke of the things that his “daddy” (Corwin) had taught him about God and said that now he truly believes. He thanked us all over and over again and told us he loved us.

It was one of the most defining moments for our team. To sit there and realize the goodness God has for us, the heroism of those 5 team mates, and the life that was preserved. If you are the parents of any of those 5…you should be extremely proud of your son or daughter. God showed his power not only in the safety of our team members, but in the changing of Wilber’s heart and mind. He now knows that he IS meant to be on this earth.

Nathan was particularly moved by all that happened. He said that he has always listened to other’s testimonies of God showing up in times of dire need and he had always desired to know that intimacy with God. He said that he never felt that realness of God before, but in the moment when he got to shore, it was all around him. He couldn’t help but feel the undeniable presence and power of our Lord. I think this is an encounter with God that he will not soon forget.

After many tears and prayers, we joyfully and triumphantly got into Blue Carlos, grateful in a way that we have never been before. We had McDonald’s as a treat on the way home and then enjoyed nice showers. The kids received their surprise letters from home, a real blessing after such an intense day, and are feeling the abundant love from each other and our communities at home. I think those words of encouragement were exactly what was needed to get them through another few days.

We only have 3 days left in Nicaragua. How did that happen? How did that time go by so fast? In the next few days we will go to the market, finish working on the house, visit the orphanage several more times, hand out back packs to kids in the community, and give the rest of the donations to the kids in the orphanage. It will be a rollercoaster of emotion, but we are looking forward to every step.

We continue to feel your prayers every step of the way. We are SO THANKFUL for the way you are all loving on us from so far away! Here are the latest prayer requests:
-for the 5 who were in the water today; that they continue to process their experience and praise God for His sovereignty
-for health & safety; we are starting to feel the “gurgle belly” affects of Nicaragua. Marshall, Regan, Jenna, and Sarah were feeling nauseated tonight. Pray they are able to hydrate and rest to stay well for their last few days here.
-PRAISE that Corwin is feeling much better than yesterday!
-Regan’s hives; we just keep on getting them! Pray that they don’t hinder him from experiencing things along the way
-Kristin Clark (the leader of the Belize team); she got tiny little bug bites on her legs on their first days there and they are now infected so she has not been able to work with her team on their work project. Please pray that she is able to heal quickly.
-preparing to be home; these kids have had life-altering, worldview-rattling experiences here…pray they know how to say goodbye and how to take what they have learned here and use it at home.

We are going to sleep with thankful hearts tonight. We send love to each one of you…especially those who wrote encouragement letters. THANK YOU for the love you sent us! We do miss you.

In God’s graces,
Chandra, Corwin, Daniel, Regan, Nathan, Mitch 1, Mitch 2, Denver, Colton, Marshall, Jenna, Sarah, Taylor, April, Esteban, & Will