Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Assembling a team is risky-business. Different personalities with a spectrum of strengths and weaknesses. A lot of times it's a recipe for disaster. Some times it's a mix that works out okay, but not without incident along the way. Rarely is it a tight-knit group that laughs, loves, communicates, and supports each other with selfless abandon.
But our Bolivia 2012 Team was. And trust me, I've been on teams before that had those thorn-in-the-flesh kind of team mates, or those I-love-you-only-because-God-tells-me-to kind of members. Our group was a rare, almost once-in-a-lifetime-kind-of-wonderful, team that just worked. We fit together.  
We worked hard together. We sang loud together. We prayed passionately together. We laughed long together. We got dirty and muddy and sweaty together. We nervously, but with a clenched smile, tried new food together. We fixed flat tires and slashed machetes in the jungle together. We tickled kids, painted lots of little fingernails, and tossed frisbees together. We cried together. We shared Jesus' love together. 
We really were a team that was together. Not in small groups. Not with best friends. Just together. 
God didn't seem to think that getting a group of 10 college students together for a week in Bolivia would be a problem. He wasn't phased by the fact almost each member was in a different city or college for the months leading up to our departure. He wasn't overwhelmed with developing unity among a group of people that didn't know each other that well.  
In fact, I'm pretty sure he handpicked each of us for the team for those very reasons. Because when a group of people without strong ties come together for a week of uncomfortable and tiring situations and choose joy and love there is only one answer to that uncommon and scratch-your-head-because-it-doesn't-make-sense kind of team: God.
God handpicked each team member. No accidents. No happenstance. Twelve people became a team that became friends that became fellow servants. That's the kind of risky-business God is in.
And without further adieu, let me introduce you to some pretty remarkable, God-loving, hold-your-stomach-because-it-hurts-from-laughing, machete-swinging, off-key-singing friends who, try as they may, managed to misuse Spanish more often than correctly use it.
NickQuiet at first glance, but then you get to know him. I promise there is an unexpected sarcastic tone in that likable and easy-going face! This was Nick's fist overseas missions opportunity and he made the most of all that was thrown at him. From public speaking to impromptu church drama, from changing a flat tire to holding a baby on his hip, Nick took it all in stride. 
Heather. Heather, Heather, Heather. She is, well, she is exactly what you see in her picture. Full of life and energy and smiles and craziness and antics and oh-my-word-I-can't-believe-she-just-did-that moments. I've never met a child who didn't instantly love Heather - it's just who she is. (And yes, my boys are huge Miss Heather fans, too!)
Sean. This was also Sean's first overseas missions opportunity and I think he may have been the most excited, most prepared, and best packed team member. Sean has a smile - always - and it's absolutely contagious. He was usually the first to extend a hand and offer an "Hola!" to anyone he'd meet. He was a rock star with the kids. He was an encouragement to the missionaries. And he was a servant leader to our team.
Kelly. Kelly is one in a million - nope - one in ten million. She's beyond her years in maturity and fantastic with kids. I admit it: I think she could be a better parent than I am a lot of the time! Her adaptable attitude, bright smile, willing spirit, and genuine love for others was, and is, an example to me.
Carolynne. What would you do if you lost your voice - totally lost your voice - while on a missions trip surrounded by Spanish-speaking people? Well, if you're Carolynne you put your best foot forward, smile a lot, get creative with hand motions, and demonstrate an attitude that shows a willingess to participate even without a voice. On our third day in Bolivia, Carolynne lost her voice and didn't get it back until the Sunday we were leaving. I promise her pleasant attitude, however, was an example that did not go unnoticed!
David. With plans to follow God into full-time missionary service in the next few years, David offered some great perspectives and insights on how to love God by loving others. He is amazingly talented while being wonderfully humble. He is entirely others-focused and able to make you feel like the only person in the room when listening to you.
Cassie. Don't let her "I am woman; hear me roar" pose fool you. Cassie has a tender heart and gentle spirit, even with a machete and calloused hands! Since she's fairly fluent in Spanish, Cassie was one of our go-to friends for help with communication. She was a true lifesaver in that regard.
Suzanne. Quiet confidence. Servant heart. Mature insights. I remember seeing more of Suzanne with her Bible than without her Bible during our time in Bolivia. Always eager to see what God's Word says and how to apply it, she was a great example to our team of what it means to live in God's truth.
Caitlyn. It's an awesome thing to see someone enthusiastically and wholeheartedly use their spiritual gifts. For Caitlyn, her heart beats a tune of intentional evangelism for every person she meets. It was almost comical, at times, when someone would stop and say, "Wait a minute guys, where's Caitlyn?"... only to turn around and realize she was several steps behind, sitting next to someone with her Bible open and a salvation story bracelet in hand!
Carolyn. As precious as this picture is, it doesn't adequately capture Carolyn because Carolyn almost always has a larger-than-life smile. This was Carolyn's first overseas experience, too, and I know she made the absolute most of it. She went out of her way to talk to people. She wasn't hesitant to try new things. She gave her best attempts at Spanish. And, my instincts tell me this is the first of many more overseas projects for her.
Dana. Out team had the privilege of walking next to this beautiful woman during our time in Bolivia. Dana has served in Bolivia for almost 15 years with a targeted vision of enabling Bolivian people to go to other cities and towns and nations with the Gospel. She is a missionary that is mobalizing other missionaries and it's a powerful thing to see. Dana showed tremendous patience and grace with our team, and demonstrated quiet but confident leadership. A rare gem, for sure.
Grady. My man and my leader. But not just my leader, he was our team leader. Grady makes following easy because he leads by giving and serving and encouraging. He is quick to make decisions and patient to wait for answers. He discerns people well and anticipates needs before they arise. 
Us. Grady and I. A team. Partners. Friends. God orchestrated something truly amazing when he brought Grady and I together for ever and ever. He knew that we would be much stronger together than apart. He knew that our abilities together would reach and impact more people than they would apart. 

And, I'm here to testify: it is a joyride like no other to serve and lead and teach and share with your best friend and life-partner.


  1. Wow. Thanks Sarah! You summarized our team quite well! What a blessing!

  2. I love you guys!!! It really was amazing how God brought this team together and beautiful to see "building itself up in love" come to life!