Last weekend, some people from our church took a trip to Santa Ana in the jungle region of Ecuador. The purpose was to encourage and minister to the church there which is kind of like a daughter church to the one in Quito which we attend. The purpose also was to help the church by doing some ministry and outreach in the community. Seventeen people went, including me and my travel buddy, Isabela. She had such a blast. It was so awesome to see her jump right in making friends with the kids that lived in the jungle.
Our time there was very short, but very impacting. After about a 7 hour drive, we arrived Saturday afternoon and immediately started setting up for the weekend. We slept in the church which was basically just a one room concrete chapel with a tin roof. We slept in tents so as to protect ourselves from the mosquitoes and other huge flying bugs. As soon as we arrived, the children from the community started coming by eagerly awaiting for the activities to begin.
We then went over to the community area where some of the group led the children in songs, skits, and other activities. Isabela was part of a skit that taught the story of Zechariah. She did great. Many adults were looking on. Then some of the us decided to play a game of soccer with the kids. After playing for about an hour and having it handed to us even by children, we were all sweaty and decided to go bathe…in the river. That was our only place of showering or bathing. So, all the children and the adults piled into the pastor’s pickup truck and headed down to the river and jumped right into the cold stream. It was a great way to cool off.
Later that night, we gathered together for a prayer and worship service. We spent some time just praying for the church, the community, and the work that the pastor is doing there. We sang songs, read Scripture, and labored in prayer that God would move mightily among that small community where there is a lot of darkness.
I was so excited to go to sleep as early as 9AM since I was so exhausted from the long drive down. So, I climbed in my tiny little tent and passed out. But several hours into the night I was woken up by the sound of something like a freight train. There was such a massive thunderstorm and with the hard rain hitting the tin roof it was so loud that I thought the building was going to collapse. But it was awesome. I love being in thunderstorms under tin roofs. Anyway, the rain continued all throughout the night as I was periodically woken up by loud peals of thunder.
Sunday morning came and after breakfast and taking down the tents, the people from the community started filing into the little concrete chapel. By 9:30 there were about 35 people plus us gathered together to worship. I was thankful for being given the opportunity to share for about 10-15 minutes from the Word of God before the main sermon which was preached by the pastor that was part of our team. So, I shared with them from John 7:37 where Jesus, on the last day of the feast, stands up and gives an invitation to anyone who is thirsty to come to Him and receive the living waters. I really felt like the Word of God was doing its work as I looked at the people who were really intently listening and seeming to agree about how the things that we often seek in our life to satisfy that deep craving in our hearts just never seem to satisfy, and that only Christ can truly satisfy the longing in our soul because God made us with that longing so that it could only be filled by Him. So, I was so thankful to share God’s Word with these people and pray that seeds were sown. Then pastor Steve preached a great message from 1 Jn. 2:16 talking about the inner conflict that all believers face of wanting to do good, but always fighting against the lusts of the eyes, lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life. It was a great message.
After the service, as the kids were hanging all over us, we packed up our cars, took pictures, said good byes, and headed back.
On the way back, we stopped off in Shell for lunch which was pretty cool because that was the home base of Jim Elliot and the other missionaries who were killed while trying to reach the Waourani tribe for the Gospel.
Then, a few hours later, since I was driving my own car with a few people, I decided to stop at a beautiful waterfall in Baños to take a picture, and then we decided to ride the cable car that crosses the cliff and takes you straight to the waterfall, suspending you in mid-air over the waterfall so that you can take a good picture. It was really beautiful. Then we motored on and finally arrived back in Quito at about 8PM.
Overall, it was a great trip and I was really thankful to be able to minister the Gospel to a people that live so remotely that there are not many opportunities at all for them to receive the Gospel otherwise. I’m so glad that there is a new church there and that we were able to help encourage the pastor and spend some time helping him reach out to the community. I’m looking forward to going back again and maybe spending several days there helping provide some training or discipleship.