While I was in Ecuador, I kept an electronic journal of everything we did. This is more or a less a journal of each day in Ecuador. At some points, you will see how God shaped me on this trip, but there will be a blog just for that. However, I would like to encourage you to pray about God sending YOU as you read this. God is at work among the nations; God loves the nations; and He has commanded each of us to Go!
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Day 1: TRAVEL DAY
Ecuador Team Photo
On the flight to Atlanta, I sat next to an interesting man. He is the manager at a local bar, has two kids, and was on his way to Florida. I knew as soon as the man started small talking with me, it was going to get serious fast. I remember thinking, “Already God? Okay. Here it goes!” After asking some questions, I found out he didn’t really believe in anything, including a heaven and a hell. I told the man the best way I could show love to him was by telling him if he didn’t come to a place where Jesus is his personal savior and Lord he would be forever separated from God, meaning he would be in hell. I could tell he was uncomfortable, but he asked a bunch of questions about how the Bible was reliable and how I was able to be confident in the Word of God. I answered his questions the best way I knew how and invited him to church, but regardless a seed was planted.
It was around lunchtime when we landed in Atlanta, so everyone went and got something to eat. Eventually everyone met back up at the gate. We started noticing all these other people with matching t-shirts on and found out there were two other mission teams headed to Ecuador. One of the guys from a different mission team, went to the boarding counter and started speaking on the microphone (with permission of course). He immediately shouted, “The floor is LAVA! Don’t touch the LAVA!” and several people in our gate hopped up on their seat. I never anticipated playing the Lava Game in the middle of the airport; but immediately after the Lava Game, there was an alarm of some sort that went off. It went off for a good while before it turned off. We had no idea why it was going off, but it was quite the coincidence it went off after playing the Lava Game.
We were extremely blessed with a flight that offered blankets, pillows, and free movies! It was a very long flight, but Delta Airlines fed us dinner and I watched a couple of movies. The guy next to me was a forest fire fighter who laughed (belly laughed) at all the movies he watched. Towards the end of the flight, Dan and I shared the gospel with him. He had some spiritual belief, but wasn’t practicing anything in particular. Dan presented the gospel very clearly, and the guy appeared interested in the gospel, but believes he has a relationship with God.
Our Hotel Room
To be quite honest, I was a little nervous about going through customs. I didn’t know what to expect, but they literally asked for my passport and sent me on my way. They didn’t even look in my bags (which I mentally prepared myself for that). We met up with Deb and a couple of our translators at the airport. Then we loaded the bus quickly–buses are only allowed to be in the parking lot for 15 minutes total other wise they get fined. The drive from Quito to Patate was about 4 hours. I was thankful for the bus seats in comparison to the plane seats, but I found myself waking up every twenty minutes. Everyone anxiously awaited the hotel, and we made it there around 3:30 in the morning. Emily, Lauren, and I roomed together. I think we were settled into sleep around 4:30.
Day 2: CHURCH AND EXPLORATION
El Tambo Church
Our day began with church in El Tambo at 10:30. We were greeted by very friendly Ecuadorians where the custom is to kiss the cheek. The Ecuadorians were very excited to have us for their ONE year anniversary of being a church. The room was decorated with orange and blue balloons with streamers. The little kids (ages three to middle school) were recognized because they completed their lessons by Samaritan’s Purse. They put on a little graduation for the kids where Bobby and Matt were asked to present the graduation caps and completed lesson books, which was super sweet!
Playing in the Park
After the ceremony, Brooke and Jake (two of our high schoolers), Elizabeth and JC (two of our translators), and I went to the local park with all the little kids while the adults had church. While at the park, we played games and hung out with the kids. We actually would teach them a little English as we played with them–things like fruits, colors, and numbers. The park was extremely nice. It had a bathroom that you had to pay to use and one cool thing was the playground was more like miniature workout machines for kids to pull their own weight to promote exercise at a young age.
After about an hour we got back on the bus to return to the church for lunch. Lunch was delicious! We had rice, chicken, and fries! The rice was my favorite and the fries have a sweeter taste there.
After church, we were given time to catch up on sleep or chill time. Most people took a nap, but there was a small group of us who went and toured the city of Patate.
Our first stop was to the local Catholic Church–Catholicism is the main religion in Ecuador. As we walked up, there was a woman selling candles and candy. In the entry way of the church, there is a ticket booth to purchase tickets to the museum of the church; apparently the Catholic Church does whatever they can to make money. While we were there, Dave, the American missionary, met up with us and explained more information about the Catholic Church. For starters, front and center of the church is El Patate’s idol. It’s called the Lord of the Earthquake. Directly opposite of the idol is Jesus Christ on a crucifix at the back of the church. Just by walking into the church, you could feel the darkness. Off the front right of the church is a room that is dedicated to worshiping the idol. People will light candles to the Lord of the Earthquake, but based off Scripture what they are worshipping is an idol.
Catholic Church in Patate
The blue figure you see in the center is the Lord of the Earthquake.
The idol worship room.
Although most people have Bibles, we were also told the people in Ecuador are discouraged from reading the Bible simply because the priests believe they receive a word. Most nuns don’t have bibles for the same reason. The priests are the ones communicating what God says.
Honestly, this broke my heart for the lost people in the world and this knowledge of the cultural church created an urgency to share the gospel. A deep desire to share truth with the Ecuadorians grew a great deal. I didn’t want to see people following people, but rather people following God.
Christian and JC, our two translators for the afternoon, gave us great tourism information. We walked through a local market, and Patate is known for their fresh fruit–and it’s delicious (I don’t like pineapple and ate pineapple for breakfast almost everyday)!!!! We eventually stopped at the local cemetery, where it’s more like a mausoleum. Families often buy huge sections of space for their whole family. Some people here even pray that the spirits will be led into heaven even after they die. It was a beautiful place, but also sad to see the uncertainty of what came after death.
We came back tot the hotel and got ready for dinner. We were introduced to our restaurant for the week, La Mantoña, which is delicious!!! It’s one of the only places the Americans won’t get sick simply because the owners use purified water. Not only is the food great, but THE VIEW!!! Oh. My. Gosh. You’re up on top of the mountain looking down below to the city of Patate, and every time I looked below, God reminded me of how finite I am in comparison to His infiniteness. God is truly big and looking down at the city reminded me of how God is holding all things together–I’m much too small to think I can remotely control my life. That view–it never got old. Following dinner, we had an orientation meeting where we talked about the gospel and how to share it–especially in a way that reaches Ecuadorians based off their culture. We ended with acoustic worship! There’s just something about worship that draws you in to the nearness of God!
Day 3–GOSPEL SHARING ON THE STREETS
We began our day with breakfast at La Mantoña. We had fruit and granola topped with yogurt, toast with butter and jelly, followed by eggs and cheese. To drink they offered juice (freshly squeezed), coffee, hot chocolate. The food is delicious!
After breakfast, we went to the church in El Tambo to highlight and tab some bibles with different verses so we could quickly get to a verse when we were sharing the gospel. After about an hour of marking the verses, we headed out to share the gospel in the center of Pelileo, which was near the headquarters of the city. The streets were filled with students in different school uniforms (school was still in session). My team (Gloria, the translator; Neillie; and myself) set out to share the gospel for the first time in Ecuador with a group of four high school boys to share the gospel with them. They didn’t seem very interested, but they politely listened. I think more or less they felt a little awkward. One of the guys seemed more interested in the truth than the others, so we gathered all their information and are praying for follow up.
We looked for someone else God wanted us to speak to and that lead us to this man who was waiting for the bus. We began sharing the gospel with him and as we shared, another woman and her son came up and joined in on the conversation. That was a great conversation and I definitely felt as if they were closer to coming to know Jesus. We gave them all bibles and gathered their information. They seemed willing to come to church, which encouraged us!
For lunch, we went to the training center where Bobby taught about twenty pastors from Ecuador Biblical information about church planting. We got to eat with the different pastors and worship before going back to Pelileo to share the gospel more.
Sharing Christ in Pelileo
When we went back out to share the gospel, our first sharing opportunity was with Jake, Theresa, Elizabeth (our translator), Nellie, Gloria (our other translator), and myself. We found this younger guy sitting on a bench, walked over, and started talking with him about the gospel. We had about a 45 minute conversation with him and gave him a bible. He was very interested in the faith, but confused because of what the Catholic Church teaches. We encouraged him to look and study the Word of God to find out for himself what the Bible says because ultimately God speaks to us through His Word.
Pelileo with the man whose mom received a Bible
Our group split off into our original groups and Neillie, Gloria, and I walked over to a man where we had about an hour conversation about the gospel. This was quite possibly my favorite conversation of the day. We shared with him the gospel, and similar to the others we engaged that day, he had several questions about the faith. As he was talking to us, he mentioned that someone (probably from our group) had already given his mom a bible. God was totally at work in that man’s heart and it is apparent that God is at work in this man’s family. I genuinely would love to see him next year going to church in El Tambo. It’s amazing to see the interest yet desperation these people have for the gospel. Their hearts literally ache to experience God, and these people want hope. As we shared the gospel, you get a glimpse into their hearts. You can see their hearts begin to awake to the truth and their eyes start to be opened.
We got back to the training sight, where everyone was exchanging stories from the day. Listening to all the ways God was glorified was absolutely amazing!!! We then worshipped as a team and one of the women who was in on Bobby’s class started worshipping with us. She is a Cuban woman who is missioning with her husband in Ecuador to share the gospel. We were singing Oh How He Loves and the translators taught us how to sing the chorus in Spanish, but we would alternate between languages. I noticed this woman wanting to sing the English with us so I wrote it down on a sheet of paper and showed her how to sing it and she lit up. She was so excited and sung louder!! Regardless of language, we can all worship our God and that worship is absolutely beautiful.
On a less serious note, when we got back to the hotel; Emily, Lauren, and I would hang out and chat about our day. There seemed to be a repetitive event: every time Emily got up from her bed a quarter would drop out of her bed. Lauren and I died laughing because Emily would sit on her bed, then as soon as she stood up; change would fall to the ground! Not that this is supernaturally important, but it’s just fun!
Day 4–SCHOOL, PELILEO PARK, AND COMMUNION
Early this morning we got to La Montaña for breakfast. The yogurt was there today, but we had hard boiled eggs. It was delicious, but instead of toast they had these crescent rolls but without the crescent texture; I wish I could have taken them back to America because they were fantastic!
After breakfast, we headed to a private school, but not affiliated with any religion. We were told most of the teachers claimed to be believers in Jesus Christ, but their hearts are far from Him. They know information and church-like answers because they are educated, but don’t have any kind of a relationship with God as their personal Savior and Lord.
When we arrived at the school, we were given different rotations of students to talk to: the elementary, middle, and high school. During the first group with the elementary kids, we taught the kids a couple of songs, a Bible story, and played some recreational games with them. We didn’t have time for a craft because the rotations were pretty short, but we basically did a one-day VBS with the kids. Emily, Dana, Lauren, and Gwen taught the kids the story of Zacchaeus, which is how they were able to share the gospel. The goal of each story we presented was for the kids to see a relationship with Jesus is based around a heart change.
During the middle and high school rotation, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with the personnel director of the school. She was administrative, making sure students/teachers are running on time and on schedule. After talking to her, I felt like she was saved, Allison (my translator) had the opportunity to talk with her about her personal story. But the cool part was that we were able to encourage her in her faith. She didn’t need to be afraid. We encouraged her to get plugged into a church and really share the truth with those around her. The best part of all this was simply showing her verses that affirmed for her she was saved! It was absolutely wonderful! When the conversation was about over, she told Allison she wanted to ask me a question. She asked, “Out of everyone in this room why did you choose me?” I told her it was because of God. She nodded her head and told me that she tries to stand in the back and yet, every time a group of missionaries come they always come to her. When talked about God’s love for her, she teared up and cried because she realized an easily forgotten truth. It was a beautiful moment.
At the end of our conversation, the rotations had been long over and our team was eating a snack provided by the school. Shortly there after, it was time to talk to the teachers. Dana, Amanda, Theresa, and myself went to the auditorium to talk with the female teachers; while some of our adult guys went to another room to talk with the male teachers about teaching in America and the gospel. Once the women arrived, we shared our stories of how Jesus saved us individually and how that has an impact in our school. We had just finished our testimonies when Dave walked in. He sat down and confronts the women with the truth of the gospel. He shared the truth in love. He let them think. He ruffled their feathers, and the women potentially for the first time thought about religion for themselves. One lady said that she couldn’t be changed from her religion! She wanted to believe what she had always believed. Other women were more receptive to the truth. We were a little bummed that collectively we only had two Bibles to give out, but we are confident seeds were planted with both the men and women.
American and Ecuadorian Teachers
For lunch, we headed back to the training center with the other pastors and Bobby. After lunch we rested outside because the team was pretty tired from playing and running around with the students from the school. Across the street from the training center was a little store. We looked for some chocolate and other snack items. Thankfully our translators knew how to take care of us by making sure we didn’t eat anything that was (maybe) a year expired.
Dan and Emily went with Christian (the translator) to an appointment with a family, while the rest of us loaded the bus to Pelileo Park so we could further talk to people about the gospel. On our way to the park, I started talking with Neillie about the gospel to help encourage her to share with other people in Ecuador, and continued our conversation when we arrived at the park. Neillie and I walked to a little park bench off to the side. I asked her some questions about her spiritual beliefs and after digging around, she came to the realization that she needed Christ for herself. We talked through several of the verses she had marked in her bible. Right then in the middle of Pelileo on June 27, Neillie prayed to receive Christ. (SMALL UPDATE: On July 23 Neillie got baptized!)
The park also had a little market. Several of us walked over to the workers and quickly shared the gospel with them before having to load the bus. JC and I shared the gospel with a college student. He grew up in the Catholic faith, but never read his bible for himself. We gave him a bible and grabbed his information for Dave.
The team at Pelileo Park.
We left the park and headed back to the training center to meet up with Bobby and the other pastors. La Montaña catered dinner for us. While we ate, we discussed the stories everyone had from the park and even from the school. After dinner, instead of doing worship; we all had communion together. We didn’t have an unleavened bread or grape juice, but what we did have was potato chips and water. It’s not about the elements, but what the elements represent. This moment wasn’t just an ordinary communion–it was communion between cultures, united together by the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ. It was a beautiful. God’s people joined together to share in the remembrance celebration together! After reading through the Scriptures and joining together with the elements, we gathered in groups and prayed for each other in native language, longing for the day when language is no longer a barrier!
Day 5– EL TRIUNFO
The day started with our morning breakfast at La Montaña! As usual it was absolutely delicious! Shortly after our breakfast, we took the long and windy road up the mountain without guardrails to El Triunfo.
Once we got to El Triunfo, there was a brief morning rain. When the rain let up, I noticed a woman in rain boats sweeping the rain. There isn’t much of a drainage system there, so to prevent the flooding, the woman came out to sweep.
Right after the rain passed, a few of our team members stayed behind in the church to get ready for the VBS, while the rest of us went out to do street witnessing. Pastor William, the lead pastor in El Triunfo, had several appointments set up for those of us going out. Most people were able to meet with them, but the ones Pastor William had for Lauren, Gloria, and me were busy. As we walked around we were able to hear about the spiritual warfare going on in the city. This city seems to be overcome with confusion, but thankfully God is moving in the hearts of people in El Triunfo!
We walked around the community and as we did, we stopped by a local hardware store where a young girl was working. Pastor William introduced us to her because they are neighbors. Lauren anxiously awaited her first time to share the gospel, and found this girl her open opportunity. Lauren did a great job as she spoke truth into this girl’s life. We gave her a bible because the girl was moved by the truth, but she wasn’t ready to commit her life to Christ. Regardless, we are all confident that God will use this gospel opportunity to glorify Himself.
We made our way back to the church for a quick lunch before the VBS. The kids were ecstatic about the VBS. They waited outside the church doors for the activities to begin. Several of our teenagers went outside to start playing games with the kids while everyone else finished getting organized. The kids were awesome and full of love. Before VBS, I went out to paint the kids’ nails, which allowed me to fill out what they knew about Jesus and other stories in the Bible.
Our VBS officially started! Amanda presented the lesson, while Neillie and Brooke used the felt board to give the kids a visual of what we were talking about. After the lesson, I taught the kids a Bible verse and they totally got it. It was adorable! For a craft, we had the kids make salvation bracelets. The bracelet was a great way to teach them the gospel. After crafts we took them over to the soccer field for recreation. The clouds outside eventually cleared up from the morning rain, and we saw the volcano from where we were with the kids. While the kids were in a VBS, many of the adults were able to share the gospel with people on the streets.
Day 6–NATE SAINT HOUSE, SHELL ORPHANAGE, AND EL BAÑOS
The morning started early by being on the bus at 6:30. We drove about an hour with a beautiful scenic route to Nate Saint House. If you aren’t familiar with the story of Nate Saint, he was a martyr (one of five other missionaries–Jim Elliott being another) for the faith. His house in Shell, Ecuador was turned into a little museum. Nate was the pilot who took 4 other missionaries to the jungle in order to reach a people group known as the killers. The missionaries spent several weeks giving gifts to the people in the jungle, as well as sending pictures of themselves to the people. The missionaries landed on the beach to encounter the people a few weeks later. Three people greeted them: a chaperone and a couple. Together, they all shared a meal together even with the language barrier. The jungle people were friendly with the missionaries to the point that they took pictures together. Remember the jungle people are killers–they kill. Well, everything on the beach was going smooth, but the couple from the jungle went off alone and that wasn’t supposed to happen. The couple got caught by one of their family members. When they were confronted, the couple placed the blame on the missionaries; saying the missionaries were going to kill those in the jungle. The very next day, the killers came after the 5 guys and brutally killed each one of them. Every day, Nate’s wife waited at 4pm to hear from her husband via radio. When he didn’t call that day, she called for him and he didn’t answer. Immediately, she knew something was wrong and she sent the search committees out to find the team. What they found was a brutal killing. After awhile, the families of the men who were killed decided to reach out to the killer people in order to continue the mission of sharing the gospel. In fact, the killers themselves became believers and that village group has the Word of God now. Nate and the other men were martyrs for our faith.
Nate Saint House
The Radio Used to Call Nate
For lunch, we went to JC’s family restaurant. The food was delicious!! We were able to hang out and spend time together for awhile. It started raining but it was gorgeous. We packed up and headed to the orphanage and my heart is genuinely forever changed.
We got there and there were three girls sitting on a bench. I took a translator and together we went and talked with the girls. I quickly found out there was a beautiful girl there. She’s 17 years old. After small talking for a little bit I knew that I wanted to share the gospel with her, but she had to leave for lunch. In the meantime I talked with Elizabeth, one of our translators, and together we waited on the girls to be done with lunch.
When the girls finished eating, we took the 17 year old aside and started talking to her. For awhile we chatted, but then we dove in deep. We actually moved to a more quiet place over by her room. When she sat down, I asked her for her story. And she told me things, I had only heard about through Passion, but I had never met someone myself.
This precious girl shared with me that at a year and a half, her mom and dad left her. She was taken to her grandma’s house and her grandma raised her in the Catholic Church until she was 12. But at 12, her grandma began to get sick and could no longer take care of her. So at 12 years old she tried to go back to her mom, but her mom didn’t want her. She went to live with her sister, and her sister started to sell her body for money. At 12 years old she was forced to have sex with men and do things with them that no one should ever have to do. She was raped time and time again so her family could have money. She tried to move out with her sister and in with her dad, and her dad did the same thing. From ages 12-16, her life was marked by sex trafficking by her family. Eventually, she didn’t want that life anymore so she went to the police station. The police station led her to the orphanage and she’s been there since she was 16.
Once she shared her story, it took every thing in me to not start crying out of pure anger. My heart just sank and I felt sick. But I knew the only way to shed light on this darkness was to speak life. So being led by the Holy Spirit (because I have absolutely no idea how to reach someone with that kind of story), I began to share. Without a doubt though, Satan did not want the conversation to happen. About ten minutes after she shared her story, we were interrupted by a female police officer, detective, or lawyer to go and talk about the things that had happened to her (right now she’s in the midst of filing a lawsuit).
While we waited, Elizabeth and I started debriefing what we just heard. It’s just painfully sad. Heart wrenching. And that kind of darkness in the world is extremely overwhelming. Neither one of us could find words, but rather all sorts of emotions!
When she came back, we moved to the shade (because it got really hot). The shade however was closer to the moving of the water tank. It was loud and there was a lot of distractions, but nothing was going to stop Elizabeth and I from sharing the gospel with her. We shared with her the whole gospel and before we could ask if she had any questions, another interruption occurred. The nurses came and needed to check her blood pressure and do a little check up.
Shortly there after, she came back and we asked her if she had any questions about what we just shared. Instead of asking questions directly relating to the gospel, she had questions about things she had learned earlier in her childhood. She asked about the idols in the Catholic Church. She asked why the Catholics bowed down and worshiped Virgin Mary. She compared what she heard her grandma say to what God’s word teaches. She began to make connections that what grandma and that Catholic Church taught didn’t line up with God’s Word. She asked about baptism of babies and what the Bible said about it. And then she asked about the priests and why the Catholics needed one. Elizabeth and I took each question and answered it because each one was a doubt of hers. Each time, we were pointing back to Jesus being the only way we can get to heaven.
Eventually she couldn’t think of any other questions or doubts that she had so I told her, “you told me earlier that if you were to die today that you would be going to hell. You can change that today by praying to receive Christ. Is that something you would want to do today?” And she said YES. We talked about the commitment that she was deciding to make–to follow and commit her life (past, present, and future) to God. Even with talking about the commitment, she still wanted to give her life to Christ.
Right there on the side walk, she prayed to receive Christ. She now had hope. Now she was going to see God bringing about good to everything in her life! She was no longer alone. She was no longer without a family because she’s been adopted into God’s family. She no longer has to worry about her dad selling her because she has a perfect father.
I wanted her to tell people what happened so we could all celebrate with her. She went and told Dave and Deb about everything that had happened and she asked Dave to come do a bible study with them at the orphanage. God works in such great ways especially in ways that only He can be the Rescuer!
When you walk out of the orphanage, you end up walking out of a gate. I barely made it through the gate and emotions just flooded me. I couldn’t even continue myself. We were leaving these kids. The love they had experienced for a couple of hours was leaving, unless they had Jesus Christ. I was overwhelmed. I was mad. I didn’t understand why God allowed some people to have these great seemingly “clean” stories where they get to grow up in church when others out there have a story marked with pain and “messiness”. My heart just broke. It still breaks. I had so many questions. Who was going to take care of those kids because the government isn’t doing it? Who is going to train the girl that just prayed to receive Christ up in the Word? How will she be taken care of? I had questions for God. How in the world could he let a parent sell their child for sex? It just didn’t make any sense. So many of these girls are victims of abuse and my heart just couldn’t contain it. Even to this day, the thought of these stories rips my heart.
We got back on the bus to leave and I was still having a melt down, but all the other kids didn’t want to say goodbye. They literally ran to the bus, they even got on the bus at one point, and they didn’t want to let go. It further tore my heart. And then to know that we were just going to go to dinner and carry on with our lives; it made me mad. The whole bus ride I just spent time processing and praying just trying to be okay. Trying to see the good of God in the midst of such brokenness.
We got to the pizza place and I had calmed down, but Dave talked to me and brought me back to tears. He was just encouraging me to come back to Ecuador at anytime; telling me that I was welcome to come and stay with him and Deb anytime. And that he would get me my personal translator and I could go and see those sweet kids anytime!
We concluded the day with some shopping around Baños which was really fun! Several of us picked up souvenirs to take back home with us!
Day 7–PELILEO SHOPPING AND SAN JUAN
We started the day with La Moñtona for breakfast where we had a bit of share time where we talked about what was going on in our hearts. We had a chance to talk about how God moved in our hearts–really just a time to debrief what all happened over the last couple of days. We even had some worship time that was really special!
After breakfast, we headed to Pelileo for some shopping! Mostly everyone picked up some souvenirs to take home (blankets, sweaters, bracelets, purses, etc.). We were told to bring a jacket because San Juan gets chilly at night. I picked up an alpaca sweater (along with several others).
We drove to San Juan after shopping and we quickly realized that it was our last day in Ecuador to share with others about Christ–hopefully I will be back! On our way there, Dave informed us of some spiritual warfare taking place in the city. At one point, the San Juan church grew tremendously, but the Catholic Priest wasn’t happy. He started informing the people that if they went to the church, the adults could potentially lose their jobs and the kids would have to repeat their last grade. It was our prayer as a team for us to engage the priest at some point with the truth. The priest has a lot of power of the people in that community; however God’s name is being glorified!! People are thirsty and hungry for the Word of God.
Once we got there, our teams looked a little different. I was with Emily and she wanted to share the gospel so it was awesome watching her lead and share her faith with others. As we walked around the city, we found three girls on the street. They all happened to be sisters. Emily started sharing with them about all that Christ had done for us, answered their questions and when it came to actually accepting Christ, two of the three wanted to accept Christ.
I asked the one sister who wasn’t ready to accept Christ what was holding her back and she said that she was afraid that her life would be harder. I told her that Jesus doesn’t promise an easier life, but he does promise to be with us. As I started talking with her, she had tears welling up in her eyes. Right in the middle of a climatic moment; her phone rang. She stopped and answered the call, then came back and sat down. She was less emotional, but as soon as I finished talking, she still said no. I then explained to her that without Christ in her heart she would be in hell forever. She fully understood that, but she did not want to receive Christ. However, we weren’t going to let this one sister stop the other two from making a profession of faith. Along the sidewalk that day, two more sisters were added to the kingdom!
Sharing with the Sisters
The Sisters on the Left Side Accepted Christ!
We continued walking around the town and we passed by the school. Christian (our translator) talked with the school principal and asked if we could come and share the gospel with the kids. He was really receptive and said yes.
Right next to the school was a local bakery. We talked with a young man who was working. He was extremely confused about the gospel. After an hour conversation, we left with giving him information about the church and collecting his information.
Question and Answer Time in San Juan
We concluded the day with a church service at the San Juan church. We had about 10 people in attendance plus all of us. Dan preached a message of encouragement. Then they had a question and answer time for the people. Disicpleship is so key here. There are so many people praying to receive Christ who are so thirsty to come to know him, but they aren’t enough people to disciple. The people are many who want to know Jesus, but the workers are so few. It’s amazing how elementary these people are in their faith, but how much they want to grow.
Day 8–ZIPLINE AND TRAVEL TO QUITO
This morning was our last morning in Patate. We started at La Moñtona for the last time and I was definitely sad because they were excellent in their service. Everyone went out to the view to take pictures! It’s sad that we are all leaving because my Ecuadorian sisters and brothers are awesome! Their heart for the Lord is contagious and they definitely want to share.
The Zipline Right Behind Me
We loaded up the bus and went to Baños for the zipline. That was so fun–although I was absolutely terrified to Superman the second time. It was just a good time to be able to hang out with everyone and just enjoy God’s creation. We ziplined for $15 and we got to zipline twice for that price. After the first run, we had to climb up the mountain. That was quite the challenge. It was straight up, but the view there was absolutely breath-taking. Ecuador is beautiful. And it’s cheap. I could without a doubt live here. As most people have seen, I slightly freaked out because on the second zipline the guy started removing my harness and putting it on me a different way. He was putting me in the superman position which meant that I would be head first. So I freaked out but wanted to get it out of the way. It was a LOT scary, but it was really fun. We went so fast that my eyes watered.
We went to grab lunch at a chicken place. It was great, but shortly after that we had to say goodbye to half of our translators. Elizabeth, Gloria, Alex, and JC all got off the bus. It was sad to see them leave, but we know that we will be reunited again some day. Then we spent the rest of the day traveling to Quito and looking for a hotel for the night.
Day 9–CHURCH IN QUITO, MIDDLE OF THE WORLD, AND FLYING HOME
Our last day in Ecuador started in Quito with church. Immediately when we pulled up to the church, we were greeted with such warmth. The people of Ecuador are extremely friendly and loving. The church greeters gave us a tour of the church. The church itself is so useful and intentionally even as a building. They have a room on the top floor just for missionaries to come and stay.
When church started, people slowly gathered into the sanctuary. The worship was so genuine. Again, the people have such a joy when it comes to worshipping the Lord. After worship was over, the pastor called all of us missionaries to the front of the church. They wanted to present a gift to us–an Ecuadorian hand-made bag. The women of the church made them for us because they wanted us to have something to remember Ecuador and for us to have something to hold our Bibles. The moment itself was extremely touching.
Bobby preached with Javy as a translator. In America, I have a hard time keeping up when I take notes with Bobby as he preaches, but even with a translator, I still couldn’t keep up. Bobby preached an incredible, encouraging yet challenging message to the Ecuadorians.
After church, we headed to the Middle of the World for lunch and tourist fun! We were able to walk around the park, take silly pictures, and see some crazy things that are only possibly on the equator. There are actually two Middle of the World sections in Ecuador and they are right next to each other. The first one we went to had several shops, restaurants, and statues. This one is not the real middle of the earth, but they thought it was, but when GPS became a thing, they realized they had the equator in the wrong spot. We got to go to both and we were able to get our passports stamped at both locations.
Without a doubt, there were so many amazing things that happened on this trip! I know I have missed some and if you have genuinely made it to the end of this blog, give yourself a pat on a back. Then go on a mission trip yourself! It’s life-changing! I can explain that in a later blog!