First of all, I want to apologize for not posting in several months. On outreach I was very busy and rarely had time and afterwards, I honestly just didn’t feel like it. Neither are an excuse, so I am doing my best to get this blog up to date. Again I apologize for not making this more of a priority.
Alright, I left off with Ecuador, we stayed at an orphanage call “The Ark.” The husband and wife who run it are wonderful people. We spent many days around the place helping with kids or work projects. A couple of the kids that stood out to me were Romina and Catie. I will explain more of why later. We stayed at an elevation of about 10,000 feet above sea level and practically at the base of the worlds tallest mountain measured from the core of the earth. The views were spectacular, Ecuador is such a beautiful place. We were blessed with great accommodations and food. We learned that fried eggs, rice, and ketchup make for a very interesting breakfast. haha
The first couple days that we were there, were pretty chill. We helped out with random things. Caleb and myself dug out a drainage ditch for two of the first three days. It felt really good to do some physical labor. That Friday, we went to a hospital with a local youth group and prayed for those that were there. We handed out tea and got to pray for many there. Andy on our team became a translator for us and did an awesome job the entire time we were there. That Sunday, we got to hang out and play football (not to be confused with American Football) with the youth group from the hospital. That night, we went to a church in the mountains to do dramas and speak. When we got there we found out that the power had gone out, so we each pulled out or cell phones and used the flashlight on our 8 phones to light the church. Even thought the power was out, the people still came. God made Himself know in a wonderful way that night. The youth group there was so encouraged and touched by God that they were in tears. It was a wonderful night.
The next two days were our free day. We went to a nearby town called Banos. There we stayed at a guest house that was absolutely stunning. We got to explore the city and some of us went zip lining and the rest of us rode 4-wheelers around the city. It was so much fun to ride around the city. Carmen, Andy, Franco, Jenny, and I took the 4-wheelers out. We drove to a spot outside the city and then came back. On the way back a police officer tried to stop us. Carmen and Andy (who were leading us in a two seatter buggy) drove right past the officer. Jenny was next in our line and stopped for the officer. He tried to tell us that the tread on our tires was too low and said other stuff in Spanish that we did not understand. Once he realized he wasn’t getting anywhere, he let us go. By that time Carmen and Andy were long gone. We had a map and so thinking I knew were to go, I tried to lead us back to the rental place, instead I led us out the other end of the town. haha By that time we were already late for our return time. Franco took the lead and tried to ask a local who gave us good directions. Well at least until we go to the top of the hill. It was a four way and we had no idea which way to go so we asked the Holy Spirit and Franco head Him say to go straight which we did and found our way back to the rental place. It wasn’t for another half hour or so until we met back up with Carmen and Andy and shorty after that we found those that went zip lining. We had a blast the whole day. The next day we got the privilege of going to the nearby town called Shell. It was the home of the famous missionary and martyr Nate Saint. It was an amazing experience to see the place where they lived and even the airport that they flew from. If you don’t know the story you can fine it here or by watching the movie End of the Spear.
The next several days at the orphanage we continued to help out there doing whatever was needed, mowing the grass, watching toddlers, entertaining kids, feeding them, or playing games. Romina was one little girl that my heart broke for. She has a beautiful heart. She is only about four or five I would guess. I helped her eat almost every day along with Jenny. Her and I would take turns feeding Romina. Romina suffered some sort of injuring that caused her to loose sight in one eye and some brain functionality. She is a beautiful little girl that my heart broke for. I love that little one. Catie was the other little girl that I would have loved to take with us. If I had been married and like two years older, I may have adopted her right then and there. She had the cutest laugh and a really sweet heart. The kids in this home are not orphanages, even though we mistakenly call it an orphanage. They are children of the King of Kings and many seem to know that. Ron and Glenda, who run the home, do a wonderful job in instilling identity into these children.
The second Friday we were there we got to celebrate Caleb’s birthday! It was fun we had cake and even some gifts for him. We also got to go back to the hospital with the local youth group form the week before. We also spent time in worship beforehand with them and it was amazing! God’s presence was really there.
The second Saturday that we were there, we put on a kids program for the neighborhood. The previous several days we walked around and handed out invitations to as many neighbors that we could find. For the kids program we started out by having many games set out to play, from ring toss, to sack races, to musical chairs. For about an hour or two we did that as people showed up. Then we gathered every one and did a performance with skits, messages, and puppet songs all with a puppet translator. We finished with an alter call of sorts and invited people for prayer. Later that night we again went to a church in a mountain village. This was a large church and thankfully they had power. We had prayed about what skits to do and who should speak and and what we should say and we presented what we felt led by the Lord. When we finished the pastor spoke briefly and about half the church came up for prayer! It was amazing. We saw at least 10 healings that we know of and one woman encountered God in an amazing, overwhelming way.
We spent the last several days working at the home with the kids. We also kept trying for about a week to get into a prison to minister the men and women there. The door finally opened up the last day we were there. We spent time asking the Lord what we should do for our program and we got it figured out and set up. We got to the prison and once we got inside, we began to set up and discovered that the songs we had for our skits would not work on the sound system except for two songs. One we had planed on doing and the other we had not. So we improvised. We did the skits we could and Caleb preached a message to the prison in an open air style. The men could come and watch if the wanted because we were in the middle of the yard. Only about 10-15 men sat and watched us, but all had to listen because we had a microphone. haha Caleb’s message started out much like one of Paul’s in the book of Acts. The first thing he said was, “Men of Ecuador!” It was a very powerful 5 min message of the Gospel. When he was finished, ALL the men who sat there listening came forward to receive prayer. The Father touched many hearts there and five men gave their lives to Jesus! Later we were told by our translator that she has known one of the men since he was a boy and he had been in and out of jail a lot. She said she has never seen him like that before, he was weeping as he was touched by God’s love. When we were praying for him, I felt like he needed to be hugged so when we finished praying for him, I hugged him and that’s when he began to weep. Love never fails. We hugged for about 5 min as he wept and got wrecked by the Father. Our translator also told us that the man that Carmen prayed with to accept Jesus was one of the most well known criminals in all the city! God is amazing! None of us had any idea who he was, who any of them were really, but it was amazing. After that we got to spend a little bit of time with the women before we had to leave. They were also very touched by the Lord. We only had maybe 20-30 min with them but by the time we left, their countenance had completely changed for the better. On a funny note, we were told before hand that if we were not out by a lunch time, we would be locked in with them until lunch was over. We also had to get stamps on our arms to tell the guards that we were not prisoners. We found out that these are not high quality stamps and they would easily rub off so we had to be careful. haha
Ecuador was an amazing place. We got to spend a little more time with the people at the kid’s home before we left and then the following day we said our goodbyes. We then left for the airport as our 4 day travel to South Africa started…..