Wow!!! Where did the month of July go? For us, it was a blur because we had three consecutive mission teams who came to serve with us. What a blessing it was for everyone involved.
The first week we had a group that consisted of many of our friends from North Carolina. They came with the ministry “Orbie for Orphans” which is led by our good friends Carl and Jill Toth. We had connected them with an orphan care ministry here in Ecuador. So, they came for the week to work with this orphan care ministry here called “Contigo Ecuador”.
The first day was spent providing curriculum training for about 50 orphan care workers who work in orphanages all throughout the Quito area. Carl and Jill have developed a special orphan based animated curriculum and so it was a blessing for them to come and share with all the orphan care workers about their ministry and train them how to use the curriculum. There seemed to be quite a lot of interest from the people that attended.
Then the rest of the week was spent visiting different orphanages and teaching the children by using the curriculum and showing the animated videos. The team visited one or two orphanages each day and spent quite a bit of time ministering to the children. At one ministry location, although not an orphanage but rather a place to minister the Gospel to children who come from very broken homes, I had the privilege of sharing a message with about 10 of the older boys while Maria was in the other room translating for the women who were sharing with the older girls while Carl and Jill were downstairs with the younger group showing them the video and ministering the love of Christ. So, it was awesome that we were all in a different location in the house sharing the message of Christ with many.
Mid-week we invited the whole team to our house to have dinner and a time of worship and a devotional message. We had a great time with the team and were very thankful for them all laying hands on us and praying God’s blessings on our lives and ministries. Wow, that was amazing!
One of the orphanages that the team visited was the one that the Lord has given Maria and I an open door where we go once a month for now just to share a Biblical message with the staff who care for the children. So, it was great for Maria to be there with the group and continue to build a friendship with the director which continues to give us further opportunity to bring the Gospel to this place.
The team did great all throughout the week and it was a pleasure to see them and spend time with them. We hope that the Lord brings back Carl and Jill and others to Ecuador in the future to continue this much needed work among the orphaned and abandoned children.
The day that the team left was the same day that a youth team from our home church arrived in the evening. It was a group of 9 students with three leaders. We headed up to a rural Quichua area outside of Otavalo and spent the week there doing a VBS for a church there with whom we have been building a relationship with. The week was great and the youth led the entire VBS. They did a great job interacting with the kids and sharing the love of Jesus with them. There were an average of about 50 kids each day. The week also gave me the opportunity to spend some time with the pastor and get to know him better and begin to think about ways in which we might be able to help train and strengthen his church. I’m hoping to get him a copy of Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” in Spanish and begin meeting with him and a few others on a regular basis to take them through it.
The day after that team left, our third team arrived. The next day, we headed up to Otavalo where we spent the week ministering at Iglesia Bautista Canaan with Pastor Raúl. The team did a VBS each morning and afternoon so as to allow as many kids to come as possible. Then we also did some other various ministries throughout the week. One day, a group of them went to the local jail to share the Word of God with the prisoners there and give them hygiene kits. Another day, some went to an elderly home to minister to the elderly. On Tuesday night I was given the opportunity to preach at the church’s prayer service. This was sprung upon me at the last minute, so I just shared a message that I had preached a month ago in another church. On Thursday night, I had the privilege of teaching a marriage workshop. Also, the Youth & Family Pastor from the team shared during the workshop. I had no idea that I was going to do this also until the day that we all arrived for the week. The pastor sprung it on Maria and I like it was no big deal. That’s just how things operate here in Latin America…no planning ahead…no marking dates on the calendar, etc. But for me this was and is a big deal. And so I did not want to take it lightly. Therefore, I spent 2 whole days holed up in the hotel room just preparing material so that I would be equipped and ready. The workshop went really well even though I didn’t even end up getting through half of my material. Therefore I told them that Maria and I would like to come back soon and continue with this workshop. Unfortunately, Maria could not help me with the workshop as planned because I had to take her and the kids back to Quito late Tuesday night because Jake and Gabriela were sick with a stomach virus.
Anyway, the week with this team from Church of the Living Christ in Pennsylvania was absolutely fantastic! What an amazing group of young kids! And I was so blessed to see and hear how the Youth and Family Pastor is truly shepherding them and making disciples for the glory of God. The week was very Christ centered in everything that we did whether it was conversation at the breakfast table, hiking to a waterfall, or sharing a devotional message each night. It was truly a blessing. Another tremendous blessing was that the group just really embraced Isabela as part of the team from the very first day until the last. It was wonderful seeing these youth be such a positive Godly example for my daughter. We all had a great time. I would love to see them back in Ecuador some time.
So, that was the month of July! One of the busiest times ever, but so incredibly rich with the Lord’s blessing as we served with many different people. Aside from a stomach virus getting the best of Jake and Gabriela while in Otavalo and then really laying out Maria when we got home, the month was awesome…and exhausting.
So, the first week of August was spent just relaxing, spending some good time together as a family, and recuperating our strength…and maybe a little mountain biking:)
Thanks so much for all your prayers and support. We’re truly humbled that the Lord has called us, broken and weak people, to carry His Gospel message to the world around us. We cannot do it without you all living us up in prayer on a regular basis. So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. God bless you.
Enjoy the pictures!
Killer mountain biking trails
Nik, Pastor of Christ Covenant Church, teaches Christian Doctrine in Santo Domingo
Some of our team with a husband and wife who were new to the training
Jill Toth teaches the orphan care workers about the Orbie curriculum
Me and a team member with the group of youth that we taught
Maria and Jill Toth
Me preaching at the Quichua church in Tangalí
The Quichua women sing a special song during the worship service
The youth leaders from Lake Hills Church in North Carolina with Pastor Jose of Tangalí
The team plays with the kids outside the church
Team member sharing a lesson about the forgiveness of Jesus
Kids listen as the Word of God is being taught
Getting to know Andersen, one of the few youth in the church in Tangalí
Worship service in Tangalí
The team sings a special song for the Quichua people
Team member preaches during Wednesday night special service
Team member Kali was all smiles and a huge help throughout the week
Women from the church prepared lunch for the kids each day
Me and Pastor Jose
The women insisted that I take a picture with them
Me and Jakester in front of Lake Cuicocha
I love living in the Andes!
My lovely bride in one of her favorite cities… Otavalo
Awesome downhill trail…very challenging!!
Better lean way back over the seat on this one or else you’ll go over the bars.
Worship service in Otavalo
The team, along with Isabela, prepare their craft for the first day of the VBS
First hour of VBS at the church in Otavalo. They averaged about 50 kids each day between the two different groups
Oh yeah…time to eat some Guinea Pig.
Bring it on!!!
Would you do it? Truth be told, it did not really taste that good. Isabela ate one of the kidneys. Yummy!
Jake gets in on making the tambourine craft
The kids loved the puppets each day
Team performs a drama at the Tuesday night special service.
Me preaching in Otavalo during the Tuesday night special service
Photo with some church members after the service
Last photo before team departs.
Jake and Lela at the park in Quito during some down time.
Jake at play
Gabriela finds the stash of Dulce de Leche
New upgrades to my Cannondale….Disk brakes, Mavic rims, Shimano XT hubs, WTB Rocket saddle…and still more to come!