Nicky led a devotion today. The ride from Cayambe to Lote Tres is 40 minutes long up a steep hill with several curves and sharp angles. The roads are cut away from the sides of the mountain, sometimes through limestone, other times through dirt, showing the soil profiles with dark and deep topsoil. Piles of rock lie along the side of the road, with families beginning to lay the rocks into the road. Fields dot the mountain sides, looking like a patchwork quilt from far away.
Quickly in the morning, Jim, Richard, and our translator Mario went with a group of 15 people to the town of Oyacachi. It was about an hour and a half ride to Oyacachi. Getting closer to the town, green mountains steeply rose, as a valley swept between them. Waterfalls burst forth from the mountain sides, while a thick mist drifting between the mountains.
The group arrived at the church, finding the pastor was not there. However, his wife was there, and she was able to direct us through our tour of the town. As with our experience yesterday, roads were dug up and impassible by our bus. But this time, the roads were dug up to put in a city-wide septic system. Without our ability to drive, we began on a long walk with the group. A blessing in disguise, we were able to find many examples of positive agricultural practices along the way. Jim and Mario were able to talk with the group about several topics. These included pasture management and rotation, cutting and storing of forages, the general health and management of the cows, a trout pond and raising system, a commercial guinea pig raising facility, cleanliness and natural cooling of milk cans, and other topics.
We continued walking and walking, being directed by the pastor’s wife towards the old, abandoned village. In the old village, there were old buildings, with deteriorating walls being taken over by grasses and trees. Further down the path, we finally met the pastor, who was very receptive to our group. After a long walk back up the hill, our group walked by the wood carving place. We also toured looked through and bought some cheese from two of the local cheese plants. The group was able to ask questions about the cheese production. Back on the bus, the group happily discussed their ideas of how to produce cheese.
Back at Lote Tres, the rest of the group (Mark, Keith, Kasey, Phillip, Jerry, Tony, Matt, Nicky, and Terry) worked hard all day on projects around the church. They sanded tables and benches in preparation for painting. Group members laughed as children helped them with the sanding.
In preparation for building bathrooms near the church, a large pile of brush had to be removed from the front of the building. Next, a large trench was dug for the bathrooms. The trench went around the front of the building and turned out towards the new road. It was obvious the group had worked hard on digging these long and deep trenches.
Concrete came on a truck, with group members transporting and stacking the heavy (50 kilo!) bags. The group was tired but proud of all their hard work they had accomplished today. Mark and Jerry built a small, portable toilet to be used until the better ones are finished. Sue worked today with the school teachers. She met with them, working with the seven teachers on their reading and math programs.
The group that worked at home also commented on how open and welcome the community has been. Kasey, Sue, and Nicky stated that it feels like we have been here a week with how far along the relationships are. Matt and Phillip played soccer with the kids, which helped warm them up.
There was a church service tonight. Women from the group sang a couple songs. Kasey gave a testimony, while Mario gave a sermon. Terry iterated the point that although she didn’t understand most of what was being said, she still was touched by the service. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.