Monday, August 17, 2009

Free Day!!

The Mission trip free day. This is a day- usually close to the end of a mission trip- that is free from mission trip duties. We do not usually have to work on this day; it is a day to enjoy ourselves and experience the local wonders of this great place we have been serving in all week.

Normally on the Venezuelan mission trips, our free day includes a trip to downtown Maracaibo, where the team has an opportunity to do some sightseeing in the older part of town and shopping at the Indian market. However, this year we had 3 kids on the team. I didn't think that they would like going to see old Catholic churches and wait around while the adults went shopping. So, before the trip started, Arturo (my co-coordinator) and I had been talking about the free day activities. I asked him to try to plan something different that the kids on the team would like. We did not discuss it too much more as he kept me in the dark (for the most part) about the plans he was developing for this special day for the mission team.
I did get a little information before the free day about the plans and was able to put 2 and 2 together to figure out what was happening for this special day. It was indeed a mission trip free day to remember- 2 actually.

The team actually went on a little trip. We boarded a private bus at 3:30am on Saturday morning and traveled for 7 hours before arriving at our posada in the town of Tucacas. Tucacas is the port city where you can take a boat to the islands of the Venezuelan keys.

When the bus arrived in Tucacas, the roads leading to our posada were too narrow for the bus to maneuver. So, we had to walk about 5 blocks. Not a problem as everyone was excited. We quickly put our belongings in our rooms and stepped through the back door of the posada which lead directly to the boats waiting to take us to the island. A 15 minute boat ride later, we arrived at our paradise destination.

We spend the next 6 hours on the island- playing in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea or walking along the sandy shores. My back pain had even eased up a bit in the water, allowing me to enjoy my time there. Until....

A few of us decided to take a walk to the other side of the island. About 5 minutes into the walk, my back muscles spasmed stronger than I have felt in a very long time. I was literally paralyzed. I could not continue. I sent the rest of the group on ahead while I went back. That 5 minute walk there took about 25 minutes to walk back. I literally could not move. This was the strongest pain I had felt in a very long time.

Fortunately, we only had about an hour or so left on the island. The difficult task, however, still remained, as I had to board the boat and return back to the posada. Once back at the posada, the pain increased. I actually got to a point where I could not sit up from a laying-down position. I literally could not move. I was in pain all night and by morning, needed the assistance of the wall to get up and to walk. I felt like I was 90 years old.

We packed up everything that next morning and headed back to the bus. Remember, the bus is 5 blocks away. I believe it took me about 30 agonizing minutes to walk those 5 blocks. Sitting in the bus for the next 7 hours was also not an easy task.

By the time we arrived back in Maracaibo, the pain medication had kicked in just enough to allow me to walk semi-upright and without extreme pain. We got back home and I wanted to just rest. However, we had to get ready for the closing of the VBS. While I was in a lot of pain still, I enjoyed the closing service and goodbye dinner that followed.

My back continued to hurt for the whole week, although not nearly intense as it did on the island. However, even in the midst of the pain that I was feeling, I really enjoyed the trip to the keys, and for 2 main reasons:

  1. I love the beach, especially the Caribbean Sea. It has always been my ideal vacation destination- my paradise.

  2. I didn't have to do any of the planning or leading of the trip.

Arturo had told me that he was taking control of everything for the trip- that I didn't have to worry about anything because he wanted me to enjoy the trip too. And he did- he took care of everything. I didn't have to do a single bit of planning, leading, not even a head count. I was just able to enjoy. That was probably the best gift anyone could have given me. Thank you Arturo!

So, despite the pain, the trip to the Venezuelan Keys was a wonderful trip. It was my 3rd time out there, and if given the opportunity, I would return again.

Disclaimer: This is not a normal mission trip free day. Please do not think that this takes place on all mission trips. It does not. Please do not be jealous either. :-P

No comments: