This post by Melissa

Today was the day I intentionally didn’t plan for. The day I didn’t think about until it came. When Pastor Shane called out “20 minutes to say our goodbye’s” it hit me, a shock to my system. Our last moments with the whole community of Nueva Florida, my new extended Familia.  What words could I say to express how I felt? Even if I knew enough Spanish to get my point across would I have any words? Thinking about what words to say while being pushed through a mass of my dearest new found amigos old and young, my head got fuzzy…

There was a time, ten days ago to be exact, I found myself a little lost and out of place. How could I possibly connect with these strangers? Not only are they strangers but hello, they speak a different language! Ten days ago I barely knew how to say hello in Spanish. I am a relationship builder, I build with words through deep conversations. At the beginning, my conversations broken and patchy left a feeling of hopelessness in my heart. I walked away, tried to find something else to engage in so as to not have to engage in wordless conversations. I immediately checked myself and reminded myself of the reason I was here. I was here to connect through God’s hands doing God’s work. I was here to make a difference.  I found a way, my place and the reason I was meant to be here. An angel found me which became one of so many angels. With almost no words at all an intense, deeper than words can build relationship was formed. It was her eyes, warm embrace, companionship and essence that broke all the barriers for me. What once would have been awkward silence became not enough time.

In between all the cracks and crevices of these ten days countless relationships were formed. I could never have imagined how deeply I would feel for all the people of Nueva Florida. Today was filled with laughter and sadness, dancing and tears, food and more food. Skits that were put on by the youth brought tears to my eyes even though I couldn’t understand the words. It’s ok, I didn’t need to. I felt God’s presence surrounding all of us and his holy house. I felt his spirit in all the beautiful people as they so graciously poured out their love onto us. My spirit felt their spirit and that’s all I needed. Now it was time to say goodbye and I didn’t want to. Still, I feel sad and I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe its just the thought of missing a dear friend, maybe it’s the worry of what may happen when we are gone, maybe its that I wish I could have said more or maybe it’s the fear of what was left unsaid. What I do know is that I will never forget my experience here. I will forever love and hold space in my heart and in my prayers for my family here in Nueva Florida. I pray one day you are lucky enough to experience all the love and wonder that Nueva Florida holds. May you have a big enough impact on them as they have had on me.