Costa Rica: Day 3

Third Wave Emerging Leader Conference

Short Version:

1. Get an arm for your iPhone. If you don’t have one. I’m sorry.

2. Never let a friend who thinks she’s got Spanish locked down to create public signage for your ministry.

3. Always eat ice cream sandwiches if they are called Trits.

Better Longer Version:

Things were going great today. I woke up (victory in itself) and ran my miles.  6. Days. In. A. Row. Plus, for the first time in my life I was happy to run up hill because the wind was so strong it practically carried me to the top. Conversely, I had to punch the daylight out of it to get back down again. Imagine the Titanic pose, on the front of the ship, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Arms outstretched, wind blown hair. Except it was just me. By myself. Going absolutely no where down hill while retired missionaries lapped me with ease.

Since I’ve been drinking Just Water I’ve memorized every bathroom location on campus and the time it takes to walk to each. Which also makes me a great host. People can ask me where to go and I have the answer. #YOUareWELCOME

Today I finished up final touches on three giant photo booths that were supposed bring the energy during our opening ceremony that started at 5:30 PM. Youth from 40 different countries would come through the doors and see the GLOR-AY. I couldn’t wait to get to use my “woo” energy to get everyone PUMPED.

Except PUMPED isn’t a word that translates in any language (including English) and those kids didn’t need my ridiculously thought out, themed out, intentionally awesome photo booths to have a party. Nope.

They only needed a local Costa Rican band parade and a gazillion iPhone extension selfie arm sticks. When did this happen? When did everyone on the planet have one but me? It’s the ultimate party gadget.

I asked my friend Manhattan to remind me to get one of those. STAT.

About my friend Manhattan though… her Spanish is horrible. Bad bad bad bad bad. Why did I even bring her with me? She was helping me write  words on signs for one of the photo booths and she wrote “Purè Vida”. Why didn’t she know that those words translate to “the purèed life”. I guess life would probably go down a lot easier if it were purèed. But it’s kind of not what we were going for. Oh well, at least she’s keeping things interesting and welcoming to babies or people with dentures.

When the doors opened tonight, a dancing, singing, selfie taking party erupted in the room. I think maybe a few people used the booths I made but no once seem to notice our precision planning. So much planning had gone into this thirty minute entry. Here in Costa Rica, in Kansas City, in Lakeland, for months we imagined this moment. And youth did what youth do–they had fun. They broke the rules and made the night their own.

And it was all the more beautiful because they had the space to do that.

Youth ministry shouldn’t be about making it perfect. It should be about making it ready. Ready for whatever kids bring into the room.

It was evident tonight that our speculations are true. Youth ministry events boil down to incredibly organized CHAOS. Our job is to make the environment safe, fun, textured, dynamic, vibrant, open, and ultimately theirs.

So, after a long night of partying, celebrating, and getting my hair braided and wrapped by a local youth group. I asked some friends if they wanted to go to Walmart to get snacks. Five of us, including one who did actually speak Spanish. (Sorry Manhattan, you’re just really bad at this part of the adventure) put our hands in the air and called a taxi. The first one that passed pulled over and I promise it used to be a go-cart, it was that small. But we and found what I’ve been looking for for three days.

Ice Cream.

Let me tell you. There is nothing else like a “Trits” ice cream sandwich.

They are from heaven (where I believe, there will also be a wonderfully organized and chaotic youth ministry leading the way in our singing and dancing).

Good night friends, it’s already day 4.

 

 

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