By Jolene Muir, a former Lipscomb women’s soccer player. Muir moved back to her home country of New Zealand this past semester, but decided to meet the team in El Salvador again this year.
“Congratulations! Today is your day, You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”
El Salvador 2015, day one. Just wow.
For the girls at Lipscomb, it was an early start followed by a draining plane ride from Nashville, through Atlanta, and finally touching down in the glorious lands of San Salvador.
For me, it was “the Waiting Place... for people just waiting.”
Waiting for my friends to arrive, waiting to get out of the hotel, just waiting, waiting, waiting. But, oh, how worth it that wait was.
The second they walked through those doors and into the sweet El Salvadorian heat, a spark set alight. This was what we had been waiting for. The months of planning, fundraising, praying and counting down was all for this; this first breath, this first step, this first glance at our home for the next week. And it felt so good.
With the embraces and greetings out of the way, we were full-steam ahead, straight to the school, Florencia, to help out with an elementary P.E. class.
“Oh, the places you go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.”
Immediately, their joy and laughter shared God’s light with us and just reinforced our presence. With some crazy relays and intense competitiveness, each one of us fully immersed ourselves in their games. For the newcomers, there was the realization that the dreaded language barrier was in fact no barrier, but an invitation to experience the weight that simply being there holds.
Leaving the school, we returned to the developing community, Tomas Rodriguez, where we spent much of last year.
Again, the waiting set in. The butterflies swirled and our palms wept as we anxiously awaited our arrival. For many, this was the home of the highlight of last year’s trip. It was where we built friendships, made families and truly left a piece of our hearts.
“And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.”
Armed with bouncy balls, cameras, candy and clothes, we stepped off the bus to see small, familiar faces grinning up at us.
Reuniting with these kids was an absolutely surreal blessing. We shared smiles and tears as they leapt into our arms. For hours, we played and laughed and simply shared the precious minutes we had together. We saw their mothers weep as they thanked us for our love and support of their children; we saw strangers sob as they witnessed us reunite; and we felt the joy of God pour out of us and into this community around us.
For a moment, it was almost as if we had never left.
But as the sun disappeared behind the distant volcanoes, we bid our farewells and dragged ourselves back to the bus. Letting the reality of where we are sink in, we all basked in the day that had been and the week that is to come.
“Your mountain is waiting, so... get on your way!”
We may not know what lies ahead, but with The Lord guiding our way, we know that whatever it may be, it will be incredible.
*Thanks Dr. Seuss*