Today is Friday.
The Big Day. The culmination of years of prayer, planning, giving, and hard work. Our team has worked incredibly hard to get the facility as nice as possible. Today is the climax our our trip–the dedication of Hope.
We were a bit slow getting together for our morning announcements and devotions. But despite our slightly ragged beginning and the cumulative exhaustion of the week, everyone opted to leave for Hope right away despite being given the opportunity to spend a few extra hours at the hotel and come later.
The team had already accomplished a lot. 54 sets of bunk beds. Counters and for the kitchen. Shelving for the pantry. Bookcases for the library. Power throughout three buildings. Plumbing for 7 sinks, 12 showers, 12 toilets…two stoves…and much more. And every building has been swept out at least 13 times. Just for good measure.
There is always more to do…and the men were determined to get as much as possible done this last day before the kids finished school and joined us for our dedication celebration and dinner.
So that was the plan.
No clinics. No kids. All hands on deck as we got as far as we could making tables, benches, and cubby holes for flip flops and belongings. Then final set up and clean up and fun time with the kids–giving them their sponsor gifts and watching their excited faces as they saw their new home for the first time.
Yummy Gummy and Light & Shine rolled out of the resort something around 8:30. I was hoping this day would be a lot more profitable than the day before. There were a number of items on our shopping list to finish putting up fixtures and furnishings.
Somewhere in the course of the morning, I heard some rumblings about the day being a Bhuddhist holiday. But it was no big deal. We aren’t Buddhist.
Light & Shine was softly paying one of its three songs in its selection when we started noticing that we sure weren’t moving very fast. We were inching our way down the same roads we had been traveling all week. But rain the night before had flooded many of the streets and we found ourselves amazed at the cars forging the flooded streets. Some people were even bathing in the street. A few were washing their cars–using the street as a bucket.
A few times, we were concerned that we would get stuck, but we shouldn’t have been. These bus drivers are something else!
Finally, we reached what seemed to be the other side of the flood. That was encouraging. But if we thought we were going to be able to pick up the pace, we were wrong. Time ticked by with us just sitting in the road being passed by people on foot. It was a mess.
The busses were close enough and the pace was slow enough that we were able to go back and forth between the busses. It was then that we learned that the traffic mess had something to do with the BHuddhist holiday. School was out. People were out. It was a mess.
Pastor Paul, the linchpin of our local contacts also kept calling excitedly. There was some kind of intense storm due to hit Rangoon later that day. It was going to be even more of a mess.
We started doing the math in our heads. It was already 11:00. We had been on the road three and a half hours already and there was no end in sight. The road was combination parking lot and swimming pool. After dropping us off, the busses would have to return to pick up the kids. And then after the dedication celebration, they would have to reverse the process for us before taking us to the airport–a drive that by itself could prove to be an all day affair in this traffic. What a mess.
Our flights out Friday night and the wee hours of Saturday morning suddenly seemed to be approaching rapidly. Our work time was disappearing rapidly. In fact, the only thing not moving rapidly was us.
We hated not being able to see the kids again and not being there when the kids saw Hope for the first time, but between the ridiculous traffic and the impending storm, it was becoming increasingly clear that our plan was just not going to work.
So…We had to cancel the celebration and figure out how to turn busses around in the crowed street. It was about noon.
I was disappointed. But I didn’t feel bad for myself as much as for the kids, who had been looking forward to this; for the construction team who had worked so hard all week without getting to see much of the kids; and for the rest of the team who had traveled to the other side of the world to be ready for this big day.
But there didn’t seem to be any easy way out of this and the best plan seemed to be to stop the traffic and turn Yummy Gummy and Light & Shine toward the barn. As it was, we didn’t expect to get back until around 3:00.
The Agape home was near the resort, so we took the time to stop there, give the kids our gifts, and play with them for a few minutes. They sang for us in English–“Shout to the Lord!” and we were reminded by innocent voices of the incredible power of our God. We didn’t know the day would go like this, but He knew. “I sing for joy at the work of your hand. Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand…nothing compares with the promise I have with You.”
It was a tough afternoon. It was tough leaving with projects undone that we really wanted to finishIt was tough not having the closure of watching everyone get to spend time, take pictures, and give gifts to their sponsor kids. It was tough not having the climax of watching the kids see their new home. It was tough feeling like our best efforts in planning ended in a mess.
But the maturity of this team came through this afternoon in incredible ways. It wasn’t what we wanted, but people accepted the circumstances and the decision and made the best of a day that turned out exactly how God–in His wisdom–knew it would. To me, it was a mess. To God, it was a rainy Friday, but not the least bit outside of His control.
We finished by praying with the kids, then loaded back on the bus to leave Agape. I tried to let go of the regrets and rejoice in the work of His hand. The girls were crying. We said our goodbyes. We took some photos. We hugged. We waived. We hugged. We waived. We took photos. We said goodbye.
And I thanked God that even though we couldn’t take the kids to Hope, we were still able to share with them the Hope we have as an anchor of our souls. These kids know about storms. They know about floods. They know about unpleasant circumstances. So more than anything, after each time we come, I want them to know a little bit more about Hope.
P.S. – the worst news is, I lost track of the score, but I’m pretty sure we lost. I saw two huge rodents scurrying around my room in broad daylight today. Guess I didn’t make much of an impression.