Okay, I know it's long, but it's worth the read.
I recently had the opportunity to spend a week in Nicaragua with a group of 18 men representing The First Baptist Church of Irving. Our mission was to build housing for two pastors that had been leading congregations in remote villages outside of Puerto Cabezas. The pastor whose house my team was building had been traveling approximately 50 miles, weekly, from her current home in Puerto Cabezas to shepherd her flock on the weekends.
Now don’t gloss over 50 miles. I understand that many Americans commute equal or greater distances to their place of work on a daily basis. You have to consider we’re talking about a 3rd world country 50 miles. Translated: 50 miles = about 5 hours! And you thought your commute was bad.
Our team departed from DFW, had a lay over in Miami, caught a connecting flight to Managua, Nicuragua and then boarded a single prop twelve-seater with a weed-eater engine, which carried us on into Puerto Cabezas.
We spent the night at a mission house/ranch-place. We went over some logistics for the week, divvied up various responsibilities for each team, then the following morning we loaded up in an old yellow school bus and made the 5 hour commute to some remote villages along the Wawa River (which I have now bathed in…don’t drink the water).
The first night both teams, 18 of us total, crammed into the tiny church, where my team would call home for the next week. The church was a wood building, four walls, a tin roof, and a mud floor. We laid out our cots and mosquito nets and bed down for the night. The next morning we got the other team reloaded in the “Ole Yellow Dog” and on their way to their destination for the duration of the week.
As we were rearranging our camp for the week one of the men in our group made an interesting discovery, three feet from my bed. Sitting happily on the wall three feet from my bed was a big fat hairy tarantula…three feet from my bed. So I walked over to the proximity of my bed and sure enough three feet from my bed there was a big fat hairy tarantula, three feet from my bed. Awesome! So needless to say throughout the rest of the week I was very attentive to my surroundings, especially about three feet from my bed.
This brings me to a very important part of my trip. For those of you who haven’t yet had the opportunity to sleep in a place that requires a mosquito net please allow me to offer a smidge of insight. Whilst sleeping under a mosquito net, the last thing you want to do is have to get out of that net in the middle of the night for any reason.
Let me recap for you the events of Thursday night. It is a tail of one man’s struggle against his own mind and body which unknowingly lead him to a great blessing of wisdom and insight from God.
At this point in the week it had been raining almost every night and this night was no different. At times throughout the week the rain on the tin roof was very soothing. On Thursday night however, the rain came down angrily, seemingly taking vengeance on our roof. It was pretty awesome to hear. Despite the raging storm I managed to find sleep, little did I know that when I next awoke a war would be waging.
Consciousness crept over me suddenly, not fully awake but very aware of one thing…I had to pee. What ensued over the next five minutes was a battle between my mind and my bladder. I will now recount for you the internal dialogue that took place in my semi-conscious-state.
Bladder: Wake up dude, I seriously need to purge.
Mind: “Oh, no, no, hold it till morning man.”
To which the rest of my body agreed as it was weary from work. Except Bladder…Bladder answered sharply with a contrasting opinion to my inner dialogue.
Bladder: “You’re an idiot!”
Mind: “Dang it!” “Maybe if I rollover?”
Bladder: “No, NO, you’re making it worse!”
Now at this point I had no idea what time it was when my bladder reached its full capacity. I had no watch, no cell phone, no clock, and one mentally retarded rooster that crowed at dusk, dawn, twilight, midnight, and everywhere in between. So I sat up in my cot, still fortified in my net. I peered out the open window above my cot. I could hear the storm had calmed to a gentle rain on the tin roof and judging by the moonless cloud covered sky I was assured that the sun was still sleeping and had no intentions of rising early so that I might relieve myself.
Bladder and Mind had now formed an alliance and were clearly telling me that I had no choice. I’m not sure what a bladder feels like moments before rupturing but I knew I had to be getting close.
I briefly considered just going. It had been raining for a week and everything I owned was damp. So really if I just went in my cot no one would notice. No, no that’s going to smell once the sun starts beating down on the tin roof.
Left with no alternative I bravely freed one hand from my mosquito net and blindly pawed at the bench at the head of my cot where I had place my head lamp. I was trusting the Lord had not allowed a giant hairy tarantula to bed down on my head lamp; as this would have no doubt caused me to immediately empty my bladder while simultaneously screaming like a little girl.
I blindly found my lamp, spider-less, praise the Lord! I donned my head lamp, not wanting to disturb my sleeping brothers; I groped in the dark under my cot for my sandals. Ah-ha, holding them by the toe I gave them a few firm taps against the ground to shake out any unwanted guests that might have made my foot ware their home.
Okay, sandals on, headlamp on. I bit the bullet and fully emerged from my impenetrable fortress of fine netting. Now standing I was completely awake and very aware of the full weight of my bladder. I shuffled painfully, blindly, towards the front door in a pair of Keen’s, a headlamp, and my REI seven day underwear; thankfully it was a moonless night.
As I made it to the door I turned on my light so I could inspect the door for big fat hairy tarantulas before I reached for the handle, all clear. I stepped outside into the mud and made my way to a barbed wire fence about 15 feet from the building. It was still raining lightly and the grass was wet and cold on around my ankles. Once I had my bearings I switched off my light as it was a beacon to all flying insects in the Nicaraguan jungle.
At last, at last sweet relief! As I stood there in the dark relieving myself I could think of no greater feeling in the world. As shivers went up my spine I was suddenly blinded by a flash of light. I looked up into the sky now brightly lit. From one end to the other as far as I could see from left to right the entire sky lit up.
As I stood there mid-stream I felt very small against the sky. I’m sure this all took place in a matter of seconds but it seemed like the lightning flash lasted for minutes; followed quickly by a slow deep rolling thunder in the distance. It was as if the power of God had come crashing over me.
Within an instant of lightning flashing out of the darkness I saw the silhouette of the mountains in the distance and the cloud line just above them. It was as if I saw Earth and sky collide before me and my vulnerability in that moment knew no bounds. In that moment when the sky seemed limitless and the Earth illuminated around me I felt the absolute ginormousness of God, and when the thunder rolled in the distance I felt His power, and in the midst of it all I felt very, very…small.
Instantaneously, like the tide crashing into a rocky shore I felt a word of God come over me. “Yes, you are small; but you are not insignificant. What you do matters.”
Wow! I was amazed, and inspired and felt so empowered. The crazy thing is that this entire revelation took place in less than 30 seconds. As a matter of fact I was still peeing after it was all over and I realized I was standing in soggy horse poop…awesome.
As I walked back to my cot I thought less about big fat hairy tarantulas resting three feet from my bed and more of how often we miss opportunities to be significant because we think so little of ourselves.
My prayer for each of you is that you would realize the full potential of who you are in Christ. And the moral of this story is; when nature calls in the middle of the night, always answer. You’ll never know what message you might receive if you don’t.
If you would like to see pictures from the trip, you can visit the Nicaragua picture site by clicking http://firstirvingmensministry.shutterfly.com/.
Thanks for reading,