Friday, July 21, 2006

Ecuador 2006-The MegaPost

I really don't know if I can explain just how wonderful everything was...but I'm going to post pictures anyway. So here's pretty much how it worked every day:

We would all be sleeping soundly in our respective "rooms" of Marcelo and Sandra's house until Sarah would walk in at about 7:00 with a sickeningly-sweet almost to the point of irritating "BUENOS DIIIIIIIIAS!! ES LA HORA DE LEVANTAAAAAAARSE!!!!!" Then we would wake up...or just throw things at her until she stopped. We would get ready for the day, then go downstairs for breakfast, which was usually some form of banana and some form of weird cheese. Sometimes they were combined into something doubly weird. During breakfast we would be reading our daily devotionals, and after breakfast, we'd walk over to the church with the Peruvians and some of the guys from Ecuador and we'd sing some songs (some in English, some in Spanish), we would say what we would like to thank God for that day, and we would talk about the devotion from that morning. That was a good time. It was great to start off each day answering the question, "Who would like to give thanks to God today for something?" It really set the tone of the day. It was cool to see the guys from our group connecting with people from other countries. Even though a lot of them don't speak much spanish, they were still able to communicate through the common language of music. That was neat.

After the time spent in the Word and in prayer, we would begin our day's work in the new church building that they are renting (trying to buy). There was a lot that needed to be done. We cleaned, we painted, we painted more, we sanded wood (tons of wood...with little squares of sand paper-trevor smith is a sanding machine. I think he sanded for four straight days. without stopping). we built cabinets and tables, we knocked down walls (with just a little hammer and a little sledge) to make bigger rooms for the kids' classrooms (they do a saturday kids' program in which they feed the kids breakfast, play some fun games with them and then teach bible classes...they need a lot of space), we put up doors with locks so that they don't have to continue moving all their sound equipment from one building to the other and back every single day.

It was a lot of work, but at the same time, it was a lot of fun. Work is another common language...and although sometimes not knowing the language makes it more difficult (like when you're trying to tell somebody how to put a cabinet together and they just don't understand...other times you just don't need when you paint someone's neck when they're not paying attention. All in all, the morning time was always spent very productively.

We would head back to the house at 1:00 for lunch, after which we would have until about 2 or 3:00 to just hang out, play with some kids in the street (because you can do that in Ecuador and it's really ok), take a nap, go check your myspace...whatever... (yes, when everybody else went to an internet cafe-if you can call it that; it was really just somebody's house with like three computers and they charged people to use them-when everybody else went to write home, niall went to see who had commented since he'd been gone.)

and then after that we'd go in groups to visit in people's houses or we'd go play an organized futbol game with some youth in the neighborhood.

At about 4:30, we'd come back to the church and start getting all the sound equipment, musical equipment and puppet show stuff ready to carry to wherever we were going to have an evangelistic campaign that night. Sometimes the campaigns were just down the street in a parking lot and sometimes they were miles away in the middle of a busy street. We would just walk to wherever we were going, and someone from the church would walk up to a house or a business and say, "hey, can we use your electricity tonight?" and they would say yes! so we'd plug in and start the program.

First it was a puppet show, and dancing and games with kids. You know, we have songs like the hokey pokey...they have songs that sing about a bird that's slowly dying, and about noodles and dancing. i guess something's lost in the translation. or maybe they're just weird.

After the kids' program, we would do a program for the older crowd. We would sing some worship songs (some in English, some in Spanish). The Peruvians would do a couple dramas, the Ecuatorian girls (we called them the yellow T crew) would do a dance, and our team would do a drama as well. Then Marcelo would talk for a little while and at the end, people would come forward for prayer and to talk with us about Christ.

It was cool to be able to offer something to the program. Last year, we were more like spectators and less like participants. The really awesome part is that by the end of the week and a half that we were there, we had taught some of the Ecuatorian youth how to do our drama and so on the last night, they performed in it with us. We told the story of Peter, and how he denied Christ, and went through the guilt and shame and pain of that, but then how Christ redeemed him in the end after he was resurrected, and put his church under Peter's care. It was a beautiful story set to music and narration. We also were able to leave the costumes behind for the church in El Recreo. They really do a lot with drama down there, so hopefully they will be able to get a lot of use out of them.

Every night after the campaigns, we'd go back to church to worship some more and hang out with our friends. I made a lot of new friends this year, and got a lot closer to old friends from last year. It was cool that my friends, Manuel and Gabriel from last year...

are still around this year....
and it was really awesome to see the changes in them; how much stronger leaders they are now. I was able to spend a lot of time talking with both of them; something I wasn't able to do last year because of the language barrier. I am blessed by their friendship. And I'm blessed also, by the new friends I made this year. I think that one reason God took me to ecuador this year was to meet Pablo and his family, and to encourage them and be encouraged by them. (I posted about them previously...Liliana, Junior, and their parents who I got to spend some time with). I have been able to talk with Pablo online a couple times and I hope that God will continue to bless this friendship. He was really a blessing to me those first few days when I didn't feel I could talk to anyone.

There was so much more that happened. So many good things that God did, and is still doing there even right now. We made so many friends, our own team got a lot closer, we have lots of stories and inside jokes and memories that are fun and beautiful. There's no way I can fit anymore into this post. But i will say this...that stopping in Costa Rica was a perfect way to end a
trip filled with so much spiritual beauty. The last night of our trip, we went down to the beach and looked out over the water and just stood in awe of God's amazing creation. We didn't even speak to each other for like an hour, we were all so absorbed in the majesty of it. It really was beautiful to stand 50 yards out in the ocean, knee-deep in the calm, warm water, listen to the waves crash farther out and think about all that had just happened in the two weeks before. God is good. And God is doing good things. I am blessed to be a part of that, and I pray that He will continue to use me to build His kingdom. I hope if you have never done anything like this, that you will have the opportunity someday. But it's not just going out to other countries that changes our lives. It's simply being willing to let God in and work in us. It's easier to do that when we're on a "mission trip" and our tasks each day are specifically for the purpose of building the kingdom. But we can do it at home in our every-day lives too. All it takes is willingness.

Monday, July 10, 2006

just a little note to say...

the Ecuador airport in Guayaquil has got The Wireless.

This is Liliana. She's eight. I love her.

Most of the kids don't speak very clearly (because kids don't speak clearly in any language) and so it's hardest to understand the kids. and when you tell them to repeat something, they just say it again faster and weirder. The first time Liliana said something I didn't understand I told her that i'm still learning spanish and it's difficult for me to understand and could she please speak a little slower for me. From that moment on every single word she said to me was slow and clear. She was a sweetheart. I was able to print out this picture while we were in Guayaquil on Wednesday and I gave it to her. Last night at the church service, she came in and gave me a picture of herself from her birthday party last year. I almost cried. Her whole family was great. I went this morning to leave a note for her and her brothers since they were in school and I wouldn't be able to see them. Their mom invited me in when I gave her the note and I spent half an hour talking with their mom and dad. I feel really blessed. I hope that God will bring me back here again.

These are her brothers, Pablo on the left and Junior on the right. I can't even begin to explain how awesome it was to spend this time in Ecuador. I have been encouraged so much by the people in this church in El Recreo. They are a real blessing to me. Pablo was the same way that Liliana was. He always spoke very clearly to me so that I could understand him. and anytime someone came up and said something too quickly, he would hit them and say, "You have to speak SLOWLY!!!!" I made a lot of good friends this year and grew in friendships from last year too. It was awesome.

We also spent a little bit of time mocking the history and heritage of the people.