By rising senior Emily Shuler
I cannot even dare to put into words what this week, let alone this day, held. All I can say is that we felt the burn.
It was incredibly hot at the SOI soccer academy this morning and we were falling apart. Black eyes from knocking heads with a teammate, concussions from getting nailed in the back of the head by a soccer ball gone rogue, and a few fair-skinned little ladies who acquired a reddish hue on the backs of our legs from the hours of being in the sun. Let me tell you, we felt the burn.
While we, the players, organized games for the students, our own Chris Klotz was breathing life into the hearts of the volunteers working with SOI. With the purpose to restore hope and sense of purpose to leaders who coach for The Lord, we ended up gaining a new brother in Christ. His name is Oscar (pictured above) and today, for the first time in his life, his faith was audible. There was a celebration in heaven and on earth and without a doubt, Satan felt the burn.
In the community of Thomas Rodriquez, an array of blessings came our way. A brave young girl shared her story of survival from being hit by a bus. A wave of candy distribution turned the once docile toddlers into Tasmanian devils ferociously crawling on everyone, leaving a trail of slobber and sticky residue from lollipops. Niamh unknowingly shared a message with a purpose so interwoven with other conversations from the week that it was without a doubt by God's beautiful design.
Then the reality of having to leave this place became all too harsh. The tears of girls and their sponsor children rolled with hesitation at first. Then giving in to the extreme emotions, the tears flowed freely. The strings of our heart were picked and played daily, but as we left, the strings snapped and good mercy, we felt the burn.
Then there was Matilde. She invited us into her house and as we prayed, she prayed. Her prayer sent us out with blessings on every place that we plant our feet. Like a sergeant leading her troops, Matilde, the 106 year old, accessed such power through the spirit that you could feel the army rising up. She stomped as she prayed and in those moments each individual sensed the immense presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The fire sparked in each of us and we felt the burn.
All selfishness and pride seared off of our hearts. We leaned into what The Lord was asking of us, and so we washed this beautiful woman's feet. One by one, we scooped up water and lathered her feet with love, tears, prayers and even kisses. Then to end the day we shared a meal with her at the El Salvadorian equivalent of a KFC. I mean how often do you eat at Pollo Campero with a 106 year old woman?
These moments today, along with many others this week, are moments that will forever be branded on my heart. I can confidently say that I felt the burn as I took these moments in and thank God, I will never be the same.