Our trip to Nicaragua was full of so many things, but especially loving on people and baseball. Full Count uses the game of baseball to share the love of God with the people of Ocotal and specifically the men.
I genuinely love the game. I grew up playing ball myself, but also watching my brother play. We spent a lot of time at ballparks. I’ve been watching Josh Kelley play baseball since I was young. There’s not much I enjoy more than watching him play along side these men who have become people we do life with…we cherish them and their families. It was such a pleasure watching them play and seeing them use their talents and gifts to show Gods love to the men of Ocotal.
During the day the guys would split into three teams to do baseball camps, a service project and help with VBS. The ladies and I helped run the VBS at a local church all week and made visits to the battered woman’s shelter nearby. There’s just something really life giving about loving on others along side woman just like yourself. Woman who love Jesus, but struggle with everyday issues. Who are real and open and genuine. Who realize the value in being transparent. Who are willing to admit they do not have it all together. Woman who encourage you and can cry and laugh with the best. It was just an honor. Each of these ladies so unique and special and gifted in different ways. Open to share God’s love, snuggle and hug on kiddos, hand out suckers and bowls of food. Sing silly songs, play games of musical chairs, peel foam sticker backs and push through language barriers just so a child or woman could know they are beautiful, loved and valued. I cannot say how much I appreciated seeing each of these women love and love well.
The kids and the people in the community we were in just amazed me and brought me to tears. They gave and loved and ministered to our hearts even though we thought we were there to minister to them. Incredible people. People of faith and hope and a deeper understanding of who God is and His character, more than myself.
I watched a momma each night in church just absolutely praise God and love on her babies…her youngest being just days old. She closed her eyes tight, raised her hands high and lifted her voice to Him. She prayed over her children. And it was breath taking to watch. Her love true and deep right in the midst of her material poverty and struggle to feed her family. Absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. I feel like we have so many things completely backwards. We’re so material rich and yet so poor in spirit. I watched that Nicaraguan momma and begged God to increase my faith, my love and passion for Him…help me to love Him like she loved Him…give me just an ounce of her faith and trust.
We were also able to share Gods love and message of redemption. Each night 2 of the Full Count guys spoke, most sharing their own personal stories and each one God using specifically to share His good news. They were all different, no two stories the same, but all equally amazing because of Gods goodness and mercy in their lives. God never ceases to amaze me when we choose to step aside and let Him move in us…sometimes stepping far beyond our comfort zone, nervous as all get out.
Josh spoke one of the nights and I just beamed with pride because His message was clear and simple. We are low and God is high. We are sinners and He is perfection. We don’t deserve love and yet He created us in His image and loves us beyond all our wildest imaginations. Even as sinners, total screw ups, we still don’t have to clean our selves up to come before Jesus. His love is for everyone, just as we are. What an incredible message of hope for everyone. I’m a disaster all the time, continually making the stupidest mistakes so my heart is absolutely floored and grateful for His love for my messed up self. The hope we find in Him always amazes me. How undeserving I am and yet He’s there every single time, hands out stretched ready to take me in and love me just as I am.
I find myself breaking this trip down again and again and again. So much God wanted and still wants to show my heart and mind…so much He wants to affirm and teach. So much to learn. So much to be grateful for and humbled to be apart of. I might just talk about this trip all week long Hope you’ll stick around.