|On the road to Lote Tres|
|Nikki and Danielle made so many friends!|
|Pastor Todd and Pastor Segundo|
|The pastor's wives - Melissa and Maria|
|Danielle and her new friends - they gathered bouquets for her and Nikki|
|The view of the Cayambe Mountain from the church at Lote Tres|
|P. Todd, Jim, Bob, Mark, Eric (recent missionary to Ecuador), P. Segundo, another man from church|
|The men planning their men's day events...|
|Packaging the feminine hygiene kits for the women's day, school lesson on puberty, as well as extra's for the clinic in Cayambe|
|Packing 200 kits for girls...|
What an amazing time we have had, bearing witness to God's creation and God's glory!
Dios es muy bien! (God is very good!)
We had an early morning, getting up and ready for breakfast by 7am. Another delicious spread, just as we have enjoyed before. Spirits were high, and we are feeling very blessed to be here - connecting and encouraging the people we encounter. God is here, and He is abundant in rich blessings!
After breakfast, we had a devotion, led by Melissa. We studied verses 12-30 of Philippians 1. Our discussion centered on conducting ourselves as "citizens of heaven", and to act in unity with other believers. This restful, focused time is just what we need to prepare our hearts and minds for the day.
We boarded the bus, with our driver, Edison, who is proving to be skillful at driving up the mountain on the narrow, winding roads, which sometimes make a full 180 turn, with a drop off on the other side.
Church (iglesia) was reported to start at 9am, but we didn't arrive until after that time. No one seemed to mind. They were joyful and smiling as we arrived, and we spent a lot of time going around to everyone, introducing ourselves. There was an chorus of "Buenos dias!", "Hola", and "Dios le bendiga (God bless you)!". Many of the older women hugged us all and kissed our cheeks. God has truly blessed us to come to this place, with these beautiful people. Greeting and introducing ourselves to the children of the church was an experience in itself as well, as some were boisterous and active, and some were shy and would not answer when we asked "Como se llamas (What's your name)?" Once you created a connection with one of the children, they were around you for the entire church service. They climbed on your lap, danced around in front of you, or pushed you aside on the seat to make room so they could sit by you. I think most of us first-timers fell in love with a few children today. The church service was simple, but the people were so gracious and welcoming! There were several prayers, several words of thanks and welcoming, and a several special worship songs. Two of these songs were sung by the women of the church. We could understand the words of one of the songs - Bienvenido, which means "Welcome". What an amazing gesture to have these special songs, sung for us as guests!
Our group sang two songs for the congregation, How Great is Our God (Cuan Grande Es Dios) and Cristo Me Ama (Jesus Loves Me). We sang portions of the songs in English and the rest of the song in Spanish. We invited the congregation to sing with us for Cristo Me Ama, and it was quite an experience, praising God with this church, so far away from our home.
After the church service, there was a time of socializing, while some of the women provided lunch for us. God gave us the words, the interpreter close by, or a connection with another's heart, spoken only in smiles and gestures. We all knew a few phrases and used them on everyone, and we pieced together a conversation, despite the language barriers. The children and adults alike all loved seeing our photos we brought. Mothers were bonded with other mothers, and children were excited to see the pictures of our pets and children. Even though they may have already seen our pictures once, they would gladly crowd around to see them again!
The women of the church prepared a special meal, just for us. They were so gracious, it wasn't even served to anyone but us. The menu was pork with delicious seasoning, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and a delicious frothy drink made of tree tomatoes, which tasted like a strawberry/kiwi smoothie. They had a special room on the lower level of the church, and kept it private, just for us, no kids allowed! Not that they didn't try to get in or peek around the doorway!
There was more socializing after the lunch, and then we had a tour a presentation of the milk collection facility that we partnered with the church to build. Such an amazing increase in milk collection in the community, since this was installed! You can just feel the pride in their voice when they tell us of the progress they have made.
We also walked a little ways to see Pastor Segundo's home. We talked about Lote Tres, Ecuador, and what they grow at their home. The children continued to follow us - Danielle and Nikki, especially. They collected flowers and greens as a bouquet for Nikki and Danielle, and were braiding their hair. We were invited to see the cuy (guinea pig) that the pastor and his wife raised, but we were summoned to the bus...
After a fun supermarket trip in Cayambe (there may have been bags of candy purchased), we arrived back at our residence for the week. It was about 6:30 when we returned to the house. The MERGE staff prepared a simple, but delicious supper and we were having lively conversation about our day, and the way God had been blessing us.
The girl's packages were all packed in an assembly lines (see photos above) in short order, while the men were in the kitchen planning the details of their men's day.
Can't believe we are in this place, and privileged enough to minister, support, work with and encourage the people of Lote Tres!
Sarah J. is healed - all better! Your prayers worked!
The new connections we made, and the established connections we strengthened
Beautiful weather = good roads
Sylvia was in church was with us all day, and she has been restored from her demons!
Very encouraging message from Pastor Todd today, beautifully translated by Mary.
Pastor Jaime (High-may) Lomeg's granddaughter, Mary, is one of our translators.
Don and Linda Lundstrom's exchange student, Daniella, is another one of our translators.
Recent Ecuadorian missionaries, Eric and Christina, joined us today, and provided additional interpreting assistance at the church, and Eric is willing to assist the men in their school lesson on puberty, which is definitely a blessing!
Continued safety during our trips up and down the mountain
Continued health for all, especially Helen's migraines
Grace and wisdom as we prepare for our school lessons on puberty, sanitation, and friendship, as well as cheese-making presentation by Sarah J.