Our day started with locally made biscochos (a flaky cookie type pastry) covered in caramel, passionfruit juice and ham and potato omelets. The team had devotions led by Melissa where we studied Acts 10:1-35.
Most of the team decided to walk to church down the hill 15-20 minute walk where we were accompanied by Pastor Jose’s dogs who led the way. We did not go up to Lote 3 to attend church- they came to us as well as people from all 11 Covenant churches in the Quicha district. There were over 1000 people who all come together to worship today. It was held next to Pastor Jose’s church in a covered soccer field. What an incredible experience to worship with all of these people in one place!
The service began at 9 am. We sang songs (and even recognized one as How Great Thou Art), heard a sermon by Pastor Jose, had communion together, and witnessed a consecration service. There were 12 church pastors and leaders who had completed 2 years of seminary training and they had a service to honor them and their hard work. After all of this, each church from the district gave a performance of their choosing. We represented First Covenant from River Falls in these performances. Paul even got a “woohoo” from some girls in the audience when he introduced himself.
There were still 8 groups to perform after we finished, and it was 2:00…so we decided to eat lunch instead of staying for all of the performances. That’s right – if you do the math, we were in church for 5 hours and left early! Most of the team returned to the hostel to relax for a bit. Mark, Sue and Sarah stayed at the service to visit with Ali and Blanca (2 teachers from the school at Lote 4) and to meet their families and children.
At 3:00 the team headed up the mountain in several trucks. There has been too much rain and the roads are not good enough for the normal bus to travel up, so Liz and Richard have hired 2 pick-up truck taxis to drive us up as well as their personal vehicle. Team members even get to ride in the back of the trucks which provides an incredible view of the scenery.
When we arrived in Lote 3, we were met with many smiling faces, lots of hand shakes and several good hard pats on the back. They held a small welcome service for us where 2 of the youth sang several songs for us and the women’s choir did too. After the service, we broke into 4 groups of people that was a mixture of Americans and Ecuadorians. We took turns answering questions about each other- things like our favorite food, where we would desire to travel if we could, what weddings look like in our communities, etc. It was a time of trust building and learning. After this, we were brought to the main level of the church for a snack. As usual, they wanted to set the room up and serve us, but we made them join us. While we waited for the snack, we sang a song together, and played a game called “Cat and Mouse,” which created a lot of laughter! We were served a traditional tea, and a fresh fried doughnut type treat.
After a truck ride down the mountain in the dark, we ate a late dinner of spinach soup, rice, French fries, and thin pieces of breaded and fried meat followed by warm strawberries and babaco (an Ecuadorian fruit). Our evening was spent sorting suitcases full of supplies, blog writing and prepping supplies for tomorrow’s work.