Yesterday (Sunday) was our day of relaxation, rest, play, and shopping. We started with breakfast at 9am (much later than our normal 7:15 breakfast) and then had our worship service at 10:30. Two of our seniors who just graduated, Malcolm White & Dave Burkett, taught us at the service. They chose to talk about suffering. Malcolm began by talking about how many people refuse to believe in the Christian God because suffering exists. Their argument is that if God is both all-powerful and all-loving then suffering should not exist. Yet their argument doesn’t consider the fact that God can and does have a good purpose in suffering. Romans 8:28 communicates this. 1 Peter 4:12-13 also talks about suffering. Dave then shared about the life of Job and Job’s life of suffering. Job didn’t know all God’s purposes or see what was really going on during his suffering, but God was definitely involved and at work.

Here’s how Malcolm concluded the talk: “The most important thing to realize is that nobody understands our sufferings better than Jesus. He understands physical and emotional pain better than we ever will, and more than that, he understands its purpose. How pointless must His death have appeared to the disciples! He to be their president and they his cabinet. But God demonstrated purpose and love in suffering by sending his Son to die a death in pain and abandonment. For with His resurrection, we find salvation.”

After our worship service, we gathered for a cookout around the pool. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad, and brownies. Then we all went into town to shop at the market and returned to the Posada mid-afternoon. We all then played cards, swam in the pool, took naps, played hide and seek/tag, and more until dinner. There is one large room at the Posada where we all eat and hang out, and there is always someone in that room playing cards or chess or some other game.

A group of us (Wayne Huff, Micah Barnum, Andrew & Sarah Haverly, Tyler Roberts, Clifton Hickman, Ernie Elbert, Chris Cole, Brent Kesler, Kellye Watson, Mary Norris, and Joe Burkett) went to part of the evening worship service downtown at the Alfa & Omega Church.

After dinner we all gathered for singing, Give God the Glory, and a brief talk by Wayne Huff (the Wycliffe missionary who is coordinating the trip) about our work projects. Then we broke into separate groups (girls/guys) for teaching and discussion. The guys (led by Brandon Stewart, Brian Granaghan, Kyle Gitchell, Tyler Roberts, & Carlton Alexander) chose to talk about man-centered vs. God-centered missions. They broke into groups and discussed the difference between the two and how the right motive for missions and evangelism flows out of worship (both obedience to God and amazement at Who He is). Acts 4:19-20 quotes Peter and John (after they were told not to talk about Christ) and says, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

The girls (led by Sunni Sonnenburg, Blythe Duffey, & Kara Bagley) also talked about how the perfection of Christ and amazement at who He is motivates us to do missions and evangelism. (By the way, they picked topics separately and yet ended up discussing the same thing.) Specifically the girls broke into groups and discussed how Christ has so many seemingly “opposite” characteristics but is perfect in all of them. Each group discussed a different pairing (justice & grace; all-powerful & submissive; Lion & Lamb; strength & gentleness.)

There were two things I specifically noted yesterday. (1) The group of seniors that graduated this year is stellar. I cannot wait to see the impact they have at the colleges they attend and jobs they start. They have been significant leaders for us. In addition to some of them teaching, a group of a few upperclassmen found a few of the underclassmen and they (about 10 of them) went aside during their free time to pray specifically for the trip and talk about the Lord. (2) The spirit of unity and genuine Christian fellowship on this trip has been amazing. Christian fellowship is more than simply some Christians eating a meal together. It is sharing in the things of Christ (talking about Him, serving together, and more.) Last night I looked around the room during our free time and saw several groups with their Bibles open asking hard questions and talking about the Lord.

One funny note. Our group uses every room at the Posada in Santiago and we need more. So several people who have homes right by the Posada let us use their homes. Dave & Malcolm (two senior TVS football players) are staying in one. Dave was so freaked out by some of the odd, weird-looking decorations that he moved his bed into the room where Malcolm is sleeping so he’d be less freaked out. (Sally, Molly wanted me to share that as she thought you’d particularly find that funny.)

Once again, thanks for your prayers. Pray for continued spiritual growth and Christian fellowship among the students. Praise God for this group of graduating seniors and pray for them as they move into new areas of ministry. Pray for our work on the sites.

In Christ alone,

Kathy Harrelson

High School Director at Christ Chapel Bible Church