par·a·dox ˈper-ə-ˌdäks, ˈpa-rə- noun
: something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is actually true or possible
: a statement that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true
-This trip was so short and yet so long at the same time.
-It seems like we have been here for a very long time, yet it feels like we just left home.
-Lote Tres seems a world away, but the relationships make it feel so close.
-It usually takes awhile to get to know strangers, but our hearts are overflowing with love for them after only a week.
-Our last day in Lote Tres was joyful, yet sad at the same time.
-The men, women, and children were very similar to our culture, yet so different.
|Last breakfast at Pastor Jose's home|
|Saw the peak of Cayambe Mountain on our last day|
|Last time up the slope to the church|
|Daniela, Mary and Mandy - Our MERGE staff/interpreters|
|Women of Lote Tres giving gifts to our team|
|Melissa and her prayer partner, Cynthia|
|Our group singing Revelation Song and Jesus Loves the Little Children|
|Special songs by the women of Lote Tres|
|The whole group|
|Krista and Maria Lucia|
|Angie and her prayer partner, Maria Hortensia|
|Lanny and Rolando (from FACE)|
|Pastor Todd and Pastor Segundo|
|Looking down from the dome balcony of Pastor Jose's church|
|Trying cuy (guinea pig)|
|Layover in Atlanta (most of us had coffee...)|
The final church service of our time in Lote Tres was full of songs, prayers and words of thanks from many people. We sang Revelation Song, as well as Jesus Loves the Little Children. The Revelation Song required a little improvisation, since some of the notes in the music weren’t on the keyboard, since it was a smaller keyboard. Pastor Segundo had a good message from Genesis, where an angel of the Lord stopped Hagar when she was running away from Sarai, and asked “Where are you coming from?” and “Where are you going?” God’s Word tells us where we came from and where we are going.
The women of the church sang a couple songs for us, then invited the women of our team up to the stage, and sang an additional song for us. The tears started at that point. Our team and the women of the church had tears; tears of joy, tears of sadness for missing newly-made friends, and tears of gratefulness to God for bringing us together.
After the women sang a special song to the women on our team, they presented each of us with a gift, sometimes two. There were a few special gifts for specific members of our team from the children. There was a special presentation of gifts to Krista from her prayer partner from two years ago, Maria Lucia. She even managed to finish the scarf that Krista and she had started on knitting day yesterday, and presented it to her as a gift. There was a presentation of pastoral books to Pastor Segundo by Pastor Todd, then a presentation of Sunday School supplies to the two leaders of the Sunday School program. Then there were more words of thanks and two prayers; one by Pastor Segundo and one by Pastor Todd. When the service was done, there were hugs and tears, and lots of photos! Un photo, por favor! Uno mas, por favor! They wanted more pictures with one of us, several of us, one with their families, one with their child, and more. Most of our camera batteries died during this time.
Once we were done, we went down to our meeting room at the church to eat lunch. They had prepared a special meal for us: regular potatoes, small potatoes, corn, fava beans, passion fruit juice, cheese, and cuy. We all got to try cuy (guinea pig). After the meal and clean up, it was time to say our good byes.
Since it was raining, all the men, women and children were standing under the eave of the church to stay dry. We each passed around saying goodbye to all the men, women and children that we are now bonded to for life. It was almost a good thing that there was rain, since if it was nicer out, the good-byes would have been longer and harder. There were several children who had a hard time leaving Nikki and Danielle, as they had grown very close to them all week. Back on the bus, we all exhaled, knowing that this was an encounter with the Lord Himself, through the people of Lote Tres.
The rest of Sunday was spent learning about the Santiago Partnership that includes FACE, the Delp’s and Pastor Jose and his church. They are opening a medical clinic, a foster home for at-risk children, with the intent to work with the families to reunite them. The supper was at the home for youth, and we had trout, potatoes, and tomato and onion salad. There were presentation of gifts from their side to us, and from our side to them, and so many words of thanks and blessing from one side to another.
The trip back to Pastor Jose’s home was short, and we only had 30 minutes to load up the bus for the last time, for the ride to the airport. We said our goodbyes to Pastor Jose and his family, as well as Mary, who lives in Cayambe, and would be staying there while we went to the airport.
There were more goodbyes at the airport, as we said farewell to Daniela, our other beloved interpreter, and Mandy and Ricardo, our trip coordinators. We have so much love in our heart for these MERGE staff members who became part of our family for the week, and have been blessed by their friendship. They worked so hard to make sure this mission experience was well coordinated, safe, and fun.
The plane to Atlanta departed at 12:40am, some of the team was able to sleep, we had a short layover in Atlanta before boarding the last leg of our journey to Minneapolis at 8:30am. There was lots of excitement when we returned to husbands, children, and other family members at the church parking lot about 11:30am. This trip has surely bonded us with the shared experiences, godly encounters and tears. Praise be to God for his marvelous work! God provided for our safety throughout the trip, and we were privileged to be able to witness his work in and through us, with our partnership and friendships with the people of Lote Tres, and the others we met while in Ecuador.
We hope to see you in 2018!
Our trip in numbers…
Toothbrushes lost by getting dipped the local water: 4
Grams of Nutella eaten this week: 750
Jugs of water used: 24
Times the toilet paper had to be dug out of the toilet: 8
Kilometers driven up and down the mountain to Lote Tres this week: 424
Check under bags on the way to Ecuador: 28
Check under bags on the way back: 20
Scoops of ice cream: 113 (most popular flavors: coconut, mora, maracuya)
Boxes of Ecuadorian tea purchased: 14
Pairs of boots purchased: 5
Scarves purchased: 58
Jim’s hijas (“daughters”) at the market: 6
Puzzle pieces put together: 1000
New fruits tried: 9 (papaya, mango, rhambudan, red and yellow passion fruit, dragon fruit, ovillas, sapodilla, tree tomato juice)
Yards of sand hauled: 12
Number served at the community movie: 53 adults, 50 children
Females on the team: 9
Males on the team: 5
MERGE staff: 5
Rice Krispie boxes used: 9
Bags of marshmallows used: 8
Pounds of butter used: 5
Pads given out to girls and women: 1800
ONE big God!
“Donde esta Nikki? (Where is Nikki?)” - “Aqui estoy! (Here I am!)”
Countoff on the bus – “Uno, dos, tres, … ,once (11), doce (12), trece (13)… AND Lanny!
“If you don’t hear the melody, don’t sing.”
“If it stops tasting good, stop eating it.”
“Simeon, you can eat only one more fish head.”