What a trip we had in Nicaragua! We took a group of 20 for our first overseas mission trip with a large group. Samuel has been to Ecuador and Peru. Together we ministered in India and Columbia. But being responsible for a group of 20 was a new experience.
Fortunately, we had our youth pastor, a Nicaraguan native, as our team leader. That, however, added a new level of stress for me: relinquishing control. I was not the coordinator; I did not know "the plan"; I felt helpless.
My friend, Karan, recently wrote a blog concerning personalities. She even included a link to take a personality test. I answered each question as quickly and honestly as possible. My result: the commander! Sometimes the truth hurts.
I really try hard to make "right" choices. I focus on the well-being of the entire group. I think I am just being helpful until I see the "eye roll" or someone stomps off mad or someone makes a comment about me being bossy. Then, I'm hurt. I reevaluate each action. I am often confounded not even aware that I've said or done anything offensive. I'm trying to let go of these emotions. It's definitely a conscious effort for "the commander" to allow another to lead.
That's where our youth pastor stepped in. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder. The gesture brought tears to my eyes, and he said, "You be you." Three little words could not have come at a better time. For in my mind, I'm reeling, "What did I say wrong?"; "How should I react differently?"; "I want to be a positive example."; etc. So, what better advice to put my mind at rest: "You be you." I'd love to tell you I never had another negative thought, but it's going to take time. But, in reality, all we can do is be ourselves. I'm grateful for the patience and understanding he showed me in that moment.
There are always improvements we can make. Life is a journey, and we learn from our mistakes along the way. This man who spoke into my life isn't perfect, either, but I need to readjust my focus. Instead of picking apart the problems, I want to point out the praises! This charismatic, fun-loving leader brought together a group of teens and adults and led us to meet the needs of others. He saw a specific need, and instead of following the norm, he planned a way to fulfill the need. He grew up as one of these Nicaraguan children, and he recognized the importance of spending time with them. Even though my heart leaps as he climbs the tree to grab a coconut, and then I watch teenagers do the same, I can relax in knowing he is leading them to Jesus, too.
The biggest lessons I learned in Nicaragua are: God is still working on me; it's OK to be myself even if myself isn't perfect; and, finally, sometimes the commander must relinquish control to another.