Best Birthday Yet!

 Our ‘Merry in Canary’ team is a true family.  I woke up this morning to our room decorated with balloons and a big “Happy Birthday” sign.  The girls had gone to Walmart while we were in the States to buy decorations to surprise me on our last day in the Canary Islands.  It was so unexpected!  The time and dedication they took to plan ahead with the decorations, set them up while I was sleeping, and keep it a surprise the whole time made me feel so loved.  And this was just the start to an incredible day.

     After going to a fun birthday breakfast, we came back to our hostel to find Joanna there with a chocolate cake, a crown, candles, and temporary tattoos to continue the celebration.  It is so awesome to me that the Lord used not only my new friends on our team to make me feel loved, but also the staff with our partnership organization in country.  The Lord really used this day to teach me that as followers of Christ, we are truly family.  It does not matter how far apart we live or how long we have known each other, we love each other the way Christ loves us.  

     Now, to my favorite part of the day- practice!  We had spent two weeks forming friendships with our teammates and using atletismo (the Spanish word for track & field) to connect with them.  Today was our last day with them so we thought, now is the time to be bold.  The wonderful girls from Stephen F. Austin brought with them supplies to make these awesome bracelets that allow us to easily share the Gospel with the people we meet. 

At the end of practice,  we all got out our bracelets and shared.  One girl that I shared with who really stood out to me was Emma.  When I shared the Gospel with her and told her that I loved her and Jesus loved her, and that I was praying for her, she tackled me with a big hug and said “I love you too!” She was so touched that we came all the way to the Canaries to show them God’s love and share with them the hope we have in Jesus.  I was able to give her the New Testament in Spanish as well and a daily devotional for athletes called Corazón de Campeón (Heart of a Champion). 

At the end of our sharing we got together and Samantha prayed for everyone in English and sweet Emma prayed for everyone in Spanish.  It was an incredible way to end our time there and truly the best birthday present Jesus could have given me.

-Lauren, for the team