Friday, February 19, 2010

Ecuador Life

Greeting to one and all!

It has been an exciting and busy 13 days since my last update. With far more happening than I can possibly recount with my faltering "pen" I will simply try to expound on a few highlights. 

The first part of my first week I spent trying to organize my "horario" (schedule). On Tuesday I met with Pastor Saintiago Gomezcoello and Justo to get everything nailed down. Well, we really didn't get everything nailed down, but we got a good outline at least figured out. Plenty for me right now. :-) As I get into the swing of my schedule I hope to add a few more classes and activities to my week. 

Wednesday through Friday were "regular" days following my schedule, but the rest of the weekend was anything but normal. Carnival celebrations started in earnest. For those of you who do not know what Carnival is, you definitely need to visit someplace in Latin America the week leading up to Lent. I can guarantee that you will enjoy more than one unexpected bath. Carnival is the last wild "fling" before the penitence of lent sets in. In Ecuador it is celebrated with LOTS of water. The more unsuspecting the person the better! You have to watch what you are doing all the time, or you will become the next victim of some "Carnivalero." On Saturday Justo, German, and I went on a road trip. In every little settlement, every little cluster of houses, you could expect to have at least two groups of people standing by ready to douse anyone who didn't get their window rolled up fast enough. Justo only got caught once, although we had a bunch of other close calls. 

Sunday was Carnival at the church. The church service in the morning was pretty normal, although a bit low in attendance. (Many people take vacations over Carnival as Monday and Tuesday are bank holidays in Ecuador). After the service, everyone changed into more casual clothes, and we had a church picnic, followed by water, water balloons, corn-starch, and foam getting spread liberally around. Almost everyone got wet, and I mean drenched! We also played about 3 hours of soccer, but even soccer isn't immune from Carnival. In one corner of the field were a good group of non-soccer players, and every time someone venture close enough, they would be sure help "cool them off". In between all of the fun and water, one of the leaders in the church organized a time of group games, and also some Bible skits. It was really special to see the way the church can balance the fun, and fellowship so well. 

Monday, we played more carnival. A family from the church invited the church up to their place in the country, and after a delicious lunch, a time of singing and a short Bible teaching, and a walk up the mountain, out came the water and cornstarch, and everyone, or at least almost everyone, in sight became a target for water.  Again, it was so special to see how Biblical teaching is woven in, even on the "fun days." 

Tuesday was pretty quiet, (we stayed home most of the day, even though it was technically the last day of Carnival) but Wednesday was busy once again. Justo and Perdo Soto organized a fishing trip high in the mountains (up at between 12,000 and 13,000 feet). In the end there were 6 of us who went on the trip, including German (the guy who hosts Justo in his house), Chris and Timothy McWeeny (a missionary family living in Cuenca right now), and myself. In total we caught 9 trout. More important than the fish, however, was the time of fellowship that we had traveling in the car, and hiking to the lakes. 

 Wednesday night I moved from German's house, where I lived with Justo and German for the first week+,  and moved to live with Flores family. (Mom Lupe, and sons Pablo and Mateo) The plan is for me to stay with them for the rest of my time here. Lupe is a sister of Santiago Gomezcoello, the pastor of the Paz de Dios church. They are very welcoming and hospitable! The plan is that Mateo will also be tutoring me a bit in Spanish during my time here. 

Now Thursday and today I have resumed my "regular" schedule. With all my talk about my "regular" schedule, what does my schedule look like? Basically I class with home-schoolers every day 11-1 with lunch following at their house. On various other days I have a morning class (8:15-10:45) as well, and most afternoons I have other various activities, Bible Studies, cell groups, and other gatherings. Lord willing I will also be filling in my schedule with possibly some piano lessons, and teaching at the Bilingue. 

So what has the Lord been teaching me throughout this time? Well, quite honestly, even though I had a good grounding in Spanish, I have still found it overwhelming being immersed in it. I often times find myself not really following the conversation, or when asked a pointed question, getting a blank look when I try to answer (incorrectly). It has been quite humbling for me to make so many mistakes. However, it has caused me to depend all the more on the Lord. Ps. 61:2 has really been a special verse to me during this time. Dad shared it with me in one of the first days I was down here, and it has meant a lot to me. Along that same line, yesterday in my devotions Prov. 18:10 really stuck out to me. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe." I find that the weaker I feel, the more powerful the Lord shows Himself. 

Prayer requests: 
Language: I continue to make mistakes by the dozen, and simple comprehension of instructions is sometimes difficult. (Especially now that I am with an entirely spanish speaking family)

Teaching: That the Lord can give me wisdom and guidance in knowing how to teach the classes that I am supposed to be teaching, and that I can know how to motivate and encourage the kids. 

Protection: I don't really feel in danger, but the reality of crime is always before me. Almost every house is gated and the windows barred. 

Praise: For the really bright spots that there are in the church, the maturity in some of the members, and the real vision to continue to disciple the youth!

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly!" (Ps. 84:11)


PS I'd love to hear from you! Drop me an email when you have a chance!

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