As we dropped our last team off at the airport at 4am on Friday, I started to reflect about the people I had come to cross paths with. People from international relations that came from Pennsylvania, Canada, Ohio, and the relations of the people of Ecuador. From building life long relationships to maybe only a “Buenos dias” and/or “Buenas noches,” I believe these people all play an important role in my experiences and time here in Ecuador. Díos (God) set these people in place to challenge me, teach me, to stretch my faith with a broader world view, and to give me a deeper passion for the people of God and the eternal kingdom. I also believe God sent these people so I may do the same in return. So as I start reflecting and preparing for the trip home, I will keep these people and experiences in my thoughts and prayers. I will miss Ecuador and its people, but I will not forget them and what God is doing here.
For the past two and a half weeks I have been serving in the Amazon Basin in Ecuador. I have seen a lot that the Lord has been doing in the hearts of the one indigenous community. One of the things that I thought about as we were leaving, and reflecting on the time spent there, was that I was a witness. Personally I didn’t have a hand in anything that happened. The Holy Spirit did. Like I said I was truly only a witness to the miracles that God placed before my eyes.
Let me tell you about the community we visited and where we witnessed all these miracles. This community is a group of Shuar Indians of about 80 people living in and around the village. The name of the community is Peas (Peh-ahs). I had expectations of the people living there to be dressed in traditional clothing and living in grass huts. That was not the case. They lived in wooden slat houses with metal roofs. They were dressed the same as us with shirts, pants, socks, shoes, etc. Their clothing was not much different than our own. The village itself was about the size of a football field. The houses lined the outer edges and the middle was an open area of grass where they played soccer and volleyball, two big sports in Ecuador. The village was settled by the Shuar within the past 10 years after the government gave them the land. To get to the village you have to travel by motorized canoes up the river. It takes about 2 hours to get to the village from the main.
We stayed in one of the wooden slat houses that belonged to one of the community members in the village. Where we stayed was like the center hub for the community and social gatherings. We slept on air mattresses and under mosquito nets. Our bathrooms consisted of two toilets and a bucket to flush them. Showering was done in the river along with our laundry. The daily temperature was 80′s and 90′s and very humid, and nights were cooler. I recall getting cold during the night with the temperatures falling to lower 70′s and 60′s. Who would have thought of getting cold in the jungle? As far as wildlife I haven’t seen very much.
One thing about these communities in jungle is that they are fearful of outsiders. In order to be able to visit a community you have to be invited by them to come in. It is very difficult to get invitations into a community and that’s where the Holy Spirit works to grant us entrance. And before we left the community, after a meeting and discussing the issue, they granted us the freedom of visiting when ever wanted, a huge blessing and miracle from God.
The miracles we witnessed were amazing, to say the least. We were able to witness a wedding of two couples who were devoted to following Christ through marriage. (I can say I went to wedding this summer!) We witnessed a baptism of 12 people from the community in the river. We saw people come to Christ for the first time. We saw repentance, healing, faith through prayer, struggles, love, and friendship. It was truly a blessing to witness all of these things. The Holy Spirit was working in each and every one of them.
When I said I was only a witness I really meant that I was witnessing the blessings and events that seemed to come from scenes in the Bible. I say this because God was already working in the hearts of the community before we stepped off the canoe and into their community. We were just blessed to witness the fruits and the harvest of what past missionaries have been trying to do with the help of God, bringing the light of the world to them and furthering the Kingdom of God.
Even though I may not have done much, just being there to be an example of what Christ compels us to be was more than enough. We showed love with the people. We prayed with them. We cried with them. We laughed with them. We danced with them. We worked with them. We sang with them. We ate with them. And we worshiped with them. We did all these things through the help and strength of the Spirit of God.
After leaving, which was difficult to do, we prayed that God would protect the community and that his spirit will continue to work in the hearts of the people there. It is our hope and prayers that through all the joys and suffering within the community that they will become a light to the other communities like Peas in the jungle who have not yet heard or accepted Christ.
All in all just being there was as a witness was a blessing. I’ve learned that miracles still happen today, its ok to just to be there and witness the events of what the Spirit is doing, and that no matter how big or how small our needs or concerns, we can bring anything to God in prayer.
This next week I will have the opportunity to return to the front lines of missions by returning to the jungle, but this time visiting another community close to Peas. I pray for the Holy Spirit to be working in this community as well, and that God will be our strength and guidance as I am not sure what will happen. I pray that the team going with us to the jungle can learn to be a witness for Christ and that God will give them humble hearts and servant-like attitudes. I have faith that the seeds we may sow will be to the glory and goodness of God and that his kingdom will be furthered in Christ’s name.
This is where I have been for the past two week. The first week was spent in Huaticocha working with the Daybreak team, from Pennsylvania, at the mission school. The following week was spent in the village called Peas (Peh-ahs). The scenes of the children and the river shots were on the way and in Peas.
The past week and a half my team mates and I have been on an Amazing Race. Our training for Inca Link consisted of doing different challenges and task at different ministry sites within the organization. We ended training and the Amazing race on Tuesday with an Ecuador interns against Peru interns race. Through the race we as interns grew close together through the challenges, traveling, and sharing experiences about life and God. It was sad when we had to say goodbye to our new friends.
Today we are in our respected countries as interns. Peru has a short-term team coming tomorrow and us in Ecuador don’t have a team till the 16th, but we are kept busy. Yesterday was our day off, but it was still busy. We went with Fabian and Mabe, the couple that take care of Casablanca, where we stay, to Mega Maxi. Mega Maxi, despite such a weird name, is like a Super Walmart, but a lot smaller. They also have Super Maxi. Which is just a grocery store. We went to Mega Maxi to get food for ourselves with the monthly allowance that Inca Link gives for food. It was a fun experience to get food and make it later that night and for the rest of the week. I’m planning on making pico de gillo, which Sam, my college roommate, taught me how to make, and maybe some orange lemonade or just lemonade.
The plan for the rest of the week is paint on Saturday for an Inca Link missionary’s house. Sunday we might be going to a soccer game here in Quito with Ecuador against Columbia. Tuesday we will be helping Mark and Cheryl Shafer move from their house in Quito to their house in Huaticocha. Then we will stay there till next Friday. After that we have the team coming to help in the jungle.
Even though I know a little bit about what is going on, I still am anxious because I am not exactly sure what I will be doing or where I’ll be staying. It’s challenging, but from what I learned about missions so far while being here in Ecuador, is that not exactly knowing where you are going to serve or what is going to happen next is essential a part of missions. I pray that God will give me strength on which I can rely when I don’t know what is coming next. please pray that I will rely on God and his strength alone, and that I will find peace and be flexible and joyous where ever the spirit leads me.
Tonight we finally made it to Casa Blanca in Quito! To my surprise South American travel is much slower than United States. What would normally take 2 hours would take 4 or more hours here. The food has been great! Lots of rice and fruit drinks. We have been doing training Amazing Race style. This includes challenges and competing in teams. Challenges have included sand-boarding, Peruvian dancing, eating chicken feet and cow’s stomach, catching fish, surfing, taking public transportation, cutting down plantain trees (similar to banana trees), riding on top of a bus, clearing land, and more to come!
This is just a small update, but more details will come soon! I’m not sure when or where the next time we will get internet so updates and pictures will come when I can post them. Thank you all for your prayers and support! Everything is going great! I am safe and doing well!
Tomorrow morning, 6:29am, I will be on my way to Ecuador. I’ll be flying out of Sioux Falls and land in Lima, Peru at 10:22pm, with a few connecting flights in the US. I’ll be flying with Derek from Sioux Falls and meet up with Jen in Denver. There is no time change between Central time zone and Ecuador. They are technically on Eastern time, but since they don’t observe daylight savings time the time is the same. Please pray for safe travel for all of us.
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