The focal point of the mission trip week was Thursday night.  It’s the community carnival.  Simple games and simple prizes, plus food and a drawing.  With a double dose of relationship-building.

The games were simple.  The most polished was a putting green with auto ball return.  Others included throwing a foam football into a 5-gallon bucket, bouncing a ping-pong ball into flower pots, and rolling 6-inch balls into upside-down frisbees.  Mine was tossing home canning lids (the ring part) onto water bottles.  (The kids – and some adults – kept coming back to my game after the others had been abandoned.  I didn’t think it would work that well – but they even ran off with the rings at the end of the night!)

For food, we ordered 250 cheeseburgers from McDonalds, and served them with chips and a cup of instant drink mix (like Kool-Aid).  For dessert, we brought in a local snow-cone vendor.  Parents came and ate. 

And then there were the drawings.  A $20 bill.  A $50 bill.  A $100 bill.  And the CD player we had been using for puppet shows.  For many of these families, another $20 is a big boost, and for the family that won the $100, it’s a significant boost to household income.  We’ve done these in Virginia (larger denominations) and the winners tend to be – by God’s good planning – people with specific needs, and their winning of the money gives us opportunity to meet them and share the Gospel.  (How much is a family worth?)

Just after the drawing, but before the evangelistic puppet show, the skies opened up and it rained!  I kept moderating my ring-toss game until I saw a young (3-year-old?) boy, lost, standing in the rain with one shoe off, crying.  I grabbed him and his shoe and headed for shelter.  After a few minutes, he was getting heavy to hold and since he was hugging me tight, I sat down.  The daddy in me took over and I started rocking back and forth on the table bench, and soon he was asleep.  He got a good 15 minute nap, 20 minutes in the arms of a male adult.  He woke up when the rain stopped and I reached for the van keys, and then went home with his older sister.  I don’t know if he will remember those 20 minutes, but I will, and I pray they build in him acceptance and trust of future mission workers, enough to hear and accept the Gospel.