Tuesday, February 02, 2010

well...not priceless, exactly...but awesome!

The University Project is expanding here in Ecuador. We accepted our first non-local student into the program! Andrea lives in Babahoyo which is about an hour away from El Recreo by bus. Babahoyo is in a different province of Ecuador (El Recreo is in the Guayas province while Babahoyo is in the Los Rios province which borders Guayas). This is a new adventure for us. Andrea found out about the University Project through her boyfriend Miguel whose sister is one of our program members. Miguel heard about the project and told Andrea she should apply. Since she's from out of town and I didn't know her personally, I had to write up a pastoral reference form and have her ask her pastor to fill it out on her behalf. Her application was accepted and she is now part of the program.

I had the opportunity last week to take a bus out to Babahoyo and interview her in order to write her bio. I got to meet her family, have lunch with her in her home and spend some time in a part of the country I've never seen before. it was a cool experience and I'm looking forward to spending more time with Andrea as her project representative, and praying God will provide her with a sponsor. She wants to study to become a surgeon.

Yesterday afternoon I had the blessing of having to buy several folding chairs for my apartment, and the joy of preparing for the music ministry Bible study by moving my desk and bookcase out of the living room and into my bedroom since last Monday night there were 11 musicians squeezed into my tiny living room for our study! We're still studying James (it's a pretty detailed study...we're going on month 3 of the study and we're just beginning chapter 2) and it just keeps getting better and better. It was good I got the chairs because there were 15 of us in my tiny living room yesterday! I don't think I can fit anymore chairs in there. At least no one seems to mind being cramped in a small space.

God is doing really interesting things with this group of people. Last week after we finished our study we talked about what we were going to do during the week to put our faith into practice. We had been talking about not showing favoritism and Ismael suggested we do something to show love to a family in the church that, to be honest, not everyone gets along with. We decided that was a great idea and since they're a family of 7 we decided that maybe a food basket was the way to go. We decided we were all going to contribute something toward the food basket and started going around the room sharing what we were each going to put in the basket. It was awesome! God is changing hearts and attitudes for sure. For a lot of these guys, money is kind of hard to come by since they either don't work or if they do work, their jobs don't pay well. But I wish you could have been there to see the generosity rearing its ugly head :-). It was great...it almost sounded like some kind of auction going on in my living room last week. Jonathan said he would put in 5 pounds of rice. Someone shouted out, "Is that all? You have a job!" Jonathan's response: "Yeah...fine, and a can of tuna." And everyone laughed. Then José said he'd put in 5 pounds of potatoes after which someone shouted, "You work too!" To which he replied, "Ok, eight pounds. And five pounds of rice." Manuel said he'd put in a bag of lentils. Someone shouted, "And beans!" He said, "Yeah, and beans." Someone else shouted, "And milk!!" He said, "Yeah, ok, and milk too." Then things got more interesting. An anonymous member of the crowd in my house shouts, "Did you hear that, Jonathan?! Manuel's putting in lentils, beans AND milk! And your job pays way better than his!!"

(cultural note: apparently you can say things like that here and not offend)

In any case, Jonathan's response: "Cheese. Put me down for cheese." hahaha! It was hilarious. Everybody was trying to raise the stakes for everybody else, and nobody seemed to mind. It was actually kind of fun. And the best part, the absolute best part, was that everyone came through, not only with what they had said they would put in the basket, but with even more (Jonathan, for example, upped his own ante and made it TWO cans of tuna!)!! Our food basket was overwhelming! It didn't even all fit in the laundry basket we bought to put it all in!

Everybody gathered at my house at 7:30 last night with all their food and we put it all in the basket. We spent some time praying for the family we were about to visit and then headed to our destination. We spent some time sharing with the family, and most everyone in our little group realized that it was God's timing that we took that food basket over there last night. Their family is going through a really hard time right now that no one had known about until Sunday, and so it was good to be able to share love with a family that really, really needs to be shown love right now. We prayed for them and let them know we love them so much and they're not alone. It was really neat, and I can't wait to see what happens next time I ask what we're going to do to put our faith into practice!

1 liter of vegetable oil $2.00

1 package of cheese $2.50

2 cans of tuna $1.50

20 lbs. of rice $6.00

8 lbs. of potatoes $3.20

12 eggs $1.20

1 chicken $4.00

6 packages of pasta $3.00

35 green bananas $3.50

½ lb. of lentils $0.60

½ lb. of beans $0.60

2 liters of milk $1.40

14 packages of juice mix $5.00

5 onions $1.00

5 tomatoes $0.75

3 green peppers $0.75

12 limes $0.50

¼ pound of salt $0.30

4 lbs. of sugar $1.40

2 lbs. of margarine $3.50

1 lb. of instant coffee $5.50

1 laundry basket $7.00

taking food and love to a family who needs food and love: priceless!