What an absolutely crazy crazy day! Up until today, my experience driving here has been tame, enjoyable, and (I will now emphatically add) sheltered. Today I got the REAL primer on driving in this city and I remembered why I must totally rely on the Lord to always protect and provide a way out (especially in instances of crowded streets, one ways, and watching minor collisions with the ensuing public spectacle of deranged drivers). When I pulled in to my little cage tonight and clamped the padlock, I was EXHAUSTED, my nerves were still working overtime, and I think my neck is permanently stiff. However, I have more reason than ever to give God all the glory and praise, because even in this He has answered my prayers.
Today was the first day back at the feeding center. We had been stirring up the new teachers and so a good size group wanted to go and experience the joys of sharing songs, laughter, Bible stories, and hugs with dear little ones on the top of a different mountain. I thought this was fantastic... until I found out I would have to drive four of them, and I got a wee bit nervous. They met me in the city and before we started our journey we prayed for the day, the safety of the trip, and that God would receive the glory. Because, you see, this is exactly the reason I bought the car in the first place. [Well, actually, I can say we and include all those supportive people back home who both prayed and financially gave so this car would be a reality.]
So, I took the LOOONG way around to meet up with Pastor Marcos because I was most comfortable with that route. We got to the gas station without too much incident, although the girls did get a pretty thorough tour of the countryside (PS I could NOT have asked for better passengers - they were so encouraging!). We left the car at the ESSO, locked and prayed over (totally safe to do, by the way - we've done it with other cars at this station), and jumped into the back of the truck. This so reminded me of my first time going to the feeding center and things really came full circle when I was doing the explaining and tour guide-ing.
All the newbies (Sara, Christa, Stephanie, and Cara) loved it. Hearing the words, "This is what it's all about. This is what we came to see," made my heart so happy! Of course they came to be teachers, but to see that their hearts are for the Lord's work in this struggling country, outside the walls of the North American compound, well, it's like ice cream on a hot August day.
We went to feeding center #1 because we were such a big group, so I actually hadn't been there in a long time. Nelson asked if I would teach a lesson to the older girls... which completely caught me off guard! So, after the prayer and singing, we split off into groups and I taught a lesson on Psalm 139 ... how well God knows us, inside and out. It was amazing and crazy at the same time. I'm sure I made lots of mistakes, but I also think the Lord totally worked through the little extemporaneous lesson. Those girls are SO precious. I'm thinking maybe we'll be going to center #1 this year for that reason!
Afterwards came the tricky part. We got dropped off at the gas station and watched a car parade (in favor of Mel) block off the street we would soon try to enter. I followed Melvin a little ways before I jumped the median with all the other cars because no one could pass. That was a first in a LOOONG list of first's'.
1. First time jumping the median
2. First time navigating the streets of Comayaguela
3. First time following someone through narrow, windy, confusing city streets
4. First time watching a bus-taxi collision
5. Oh, yes, first time with four passengers who all happened to be new teachers
6. First time driving in El Centro
7. First time stuck in El Centro traffic
8. First time driving by the stadium
9. First time dropping off passengers at the Rapidito
10. First time on the anillo
11. First (okay, second) time watching a pro-Mel car parade from behind my windshield
Whew! There were probably more, but that's what gave me edgy nerves and a stiff neck. The Lord is so very, very faithful. I know for certain He was there, guiding and protecting us the entire way.
I have much more to share... about what I am learning, the excitement that is building for this year, books I've just finished, and the decoration process of our wonderful little place in the city. It will all come soon, just you wait!