by sophomore Emily Rogers
Expectations play a big role in how we approach any situation. Last year when I first came to El Salvador, I had no idea what to expect and everyday brought with it a new challenge that pushed me to give more than I ever have before. Coming on the trip this year, I knew it would be very different. Most significantly, there is almost double the amount of people on this trip than there was last year. I knew the having extra numbers would change the experience of this trip as a whole, I just would have never expected how.
With bigger numbers comes the opportunity to love more and love deeper on the people here in El Salvador. At the schools, we can have people in classrooms hanging out with some students, people participating in a gym class with other students, while still others are able to share how much Jesus loves us with an older group of students.
It’s amazing to visit the community Tomas Rodriguez with more people and be able to more fully love on each individual child there. Every child gets loved on so well in so many wonderful ways from running around kicking butts in a typical roughhousing active game, to being held and tickled, to jumping up and getting flowers to put in everyone’s hair. The joy in every child’s huge smile and loud laughter is infectious in its ability to touch the heart of each member on our team.
More people also means there are more stories, more hearts that have been saved by Jesus in countless different ways. I have had the incredible privilege of hearing how God has worked in the lives of my teammates in ways I couldn’t even begin to truly understand. And with the sharing of these stories comes a connection between all, one stronger than any matching jersey and a pair of cleats could ever provide. Our community has found strength daily in these nightly moments of vulnerability. One of the first nights, Kelsey talked about freedom and how it has impacted her life in particular. It amazes me that 4 days later, that single word has had such a powerful meaning in the way girls have opened up and been able to create a deeper bond as sisters in Christ.
Zander, one of our leaders, asked one of our fellow female student-athletes at Lipscomb to write us an encouraging letter as we served the people of El Salvador this week. One of the first things she wrote was a challenge to “love each other boldly, fiercely, unconditionally, and fearlessly”. (A super-big thank you to Molly Spitznagle of LUV for her awesome words!) Who would have thought that this challenge would be so fulfilled on a nightly basis as hearts were freed from shame and guilt and love was poured out boldly, fiercely, unconditionally, and fearlessly?
As we ended our night with group worship and snapchats of our day, it was amazing to hear how the hearts of everyone here are being touched in so many different ways. We are here to be the hands of God, doing His will, serving in any way we can to bring His good news to the people here in El Salvador. How lucky we are to be tasked with the mission of sharing the love of God with every one we meet.