Friday, June 22, 2007

he will fill our mouths with laughter . . .

OK, so I've told some sad tales about our time in the village. And I've toned it down, believe me.
But the thing I remember most when I think back to our outreach is laughter. In the midst of seeming hopelessness and despair, fountains of joy bubbled up in that dusty village.
It may have started with the team. From our first day in the village, we laughed together. From awkward giggles to unbridled guffaws. Brian Pine didn't even need to wear fake redneck teeth to keep us all in stitches. I can't even tell you what struck our funny bones. I think we were all just overjoyed to be there.

One night--and I'll admit I was a bit sleep deprived--I laughed until the tears ran down my cheeks and I couldn't breathe. We were all walking "home" from the missionaries house when I got tickled. Greg thought he was going to have to carry me when I doubled up with laughter, but I managed to stagger back to the rec hall, still trying to explain what caused the hysterical laughter.

I later had to wonder if the village folks we passed by suspected we'd been up to the missionary's place for a drink!

We laughed with Brother Bill, the village priest (we found out that's he's acutally a Franciscan friar). We all trooped down to the Catholic church one morning and offered to help him rebuild the stairs to the sanctuary. Brother Bill seemed leery of us at first, but he quickly relaxed and had a few chuckles watching Becca and I trying our best to be more help than hindrance. By the end of the morning, we stood with arms around each other, getting our picture taken together in front of the church.
He thanked us several times, all smiles, and we laughed for joy as we headed back up the hill. This was a connection we'd been praying for.

The children's laughter was the most precious of all. They giggled during the Veggie Tale videos and laughed at Brian's antics. They teased Jerry and Cory mercilessly and may have even laughed at a few of Greg's jokes.

There was such a high level of hilarity during the carnival, that I wondered if we were blowing out our ear drums. We crammed a cake walk, target shoot, ball toss, fish pond game, 7 helpers and 35 wild kids into the already cramped rec hall. We may have all sustained hearing damage, but it was one of the most joyous events I can recall. We had not one discipline problem in the two hour extravaganza and the kids loved the cheesy prizes and the sugary treats.

Later that day, I was sitting on a log near the rec hall, talking to my friend Carmen. She'd come to me for comfort and prayer and was telling me about the abusive home life of her 7 year old grandson. Suddenly, she stopped talking and her eyes widened.
"Do you hear the kids laughing?" she asked me, not sure if she wasn't imagining things.
"Yeah, I hear them, " I assured her. "They've been laughing all week."
"There hasn't been laughter in the village for a long time," she told me, teary-eyed. "This is a good thing."

Laughter is a good thing, indeed!

"Then our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with singing. And they said among the nations: the Lord has done great things for them!
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy." Psalm 126