Guatemala was Nick's third mission trip. According to him, it was the best yet, and the most fulfilling. Our mission trip leader Elise laughs about this, as she has returned from each trip declaring it to be the best. South Dakota, Costa Rica, Vermont, Alaska, with Guatemala now topping the list.
The mission trip is usually late June or July, and the team comes together in September to share their adventures with our church. A special service with shared photos and recollections, followed by a coffee hour. I've always made a point of try to attend these mission trip Sundays. I remember how moving it was to hear the kids talk about their time with the children of the Rose Bud Indian reservation in South Dakota. Beautiful photos to go along with their life changing stories. Every year I marveled at this amazing opportunity offered by our church and looked forward to the day when my children could participate.
This year, when Elise was organizing the presentation, Nick offered to be an usher, and play guitar. No mention of speaking. She always asks that 3 or 4 of the kids offer their reflections on the trip. He didn't offer. And then, a couple of weeks before Guatemala Sunday, Nick told me that Mrs. S (Elise) had asked him if he could be one of those 3 or 4 kids, and he agreed.
The next surprise came when Elise was asking the kids to forward their intended reflections, so that she could make sure there would be no repetition. Nick advised me that he had nothing written, nor was he planning to. He was just going to get up and speak. From the heart. Noteless. Wow.
And wow us he did! Twice. Nick spoke at both the 8:00 and 10:30 services. Equally composed, thoughtful and hilarious both times.
The team, both students and adult leaders, donned their Guatemala t-shirts. Some wore jackets they had picked up in Antigua, where the group spent their last day before returning home.
He played guitar.
And he made them smile. And laugh! Take a look at the others in the picture. All smiles!
He was funny, thoughtful, eloquent and composed. As someone who is not fond of public speaking, I marvelled at the ease at which he relayed his thoughts and feelings about Guatemala. He compared one week of Guatemala to six weeks in France, which is how his summer played out. How he enjoyed Guatemala so much more, for that one short week. The hard work, and very humble meals and housing more appealing than being a tourist, eating rich French food, showering daily and sleeping in a comfy bed. How much more welcomed he felt by the Guatemalans, as opposed to the French.
Nick might stand out in a crowd because of his choice of hairstyle. It's longer than most at his school, our neighborhood and our church. While I can't speak for what he's like at school, around here, he's pretty quiet. He surprised and impressed a lot of people last Sunday. In addition to the many accolades he received, a lot of people were surprised and impressed by his wit and sense of humour. Me, I was proud. Very proud. Way to go Nick!