Digging fence post holes through rock, mud and tree roots was difficult. Saying goodbye that last time to the children at VBS that so quickly befriended us so openly was difficult. Attempting to beat the Ecuadorians at their own game of soccer was difficult. But none is more difficult than saying goodbye to this beautiful country of Ecuador after just 9 short days.
As many wish we were home to celebrate the 4th of July with our families, each of us wishes we had more time here. More time with the kids, more time with our new friends, more time serving in the name of Jesus, no matter how difficult the work. This adventure down to Ecuador has been a trip for the ages. I cannot think of a time when I laughed more with my friends, all while digging a 3 foot hole in the ground, or of a time when I was more willing to give a new friend a piggy back ride or to make him superman however many times he desired.
Being my second trip down here to Ecuador, I thought I knew a lot of what to expect. However, God’s plan for us this week was far greater than I ever could have expected or imagined. For example, my new friend for the week was a little kindergartener named Matias. From the very beginning Matias attached himself to me, and was not to happy when I had to leave his side to go help out with the games at VBS. He befriended me on Monday, and each and every day the rest of the week, he became more and more attached as the week went on. He trusted me immediately to hang on to him when he wanted a piggy back ride or when he wanted me to spin him around or to make him superman. The connection I was able to develop was truly a gift from God, and something that blew any expectations out of the water.
Yes digging post holes was difficult, but because I was so blessed to have bonded with Matias, the difficult labor was worth every swing of the pick ax, and every scoop of the shovel. Because I now had a personal connection with one of the school children, I felt as though the hard labor truly was worth it to help in making the children’s educational experience and life that much better, by showing them that someone they had never met before truly loves them and wants them to know the Lord and all of his good works.
At the end of this trip, after having some time to reflect on all that we did and all that was said, I have come to two conclusions/realizations. The first is the power we all had this week, and will continue to have back in the States, to be such an incredibly bright light and influence not just in the children of the Antioch school or the kids of Misahualli, but even the people we see each and every day back home. I came to this realization at the end of the year ceremony for the school, as all the parents wanted pictures of their kids with the Americans, rather than snatching their kids away. We may never know exactly how much of an impact we were, but we can know we were enough of a bright light in these people’s world that they want to have a picture to remember us by, something that speaks volumes to me about the work we were able to accomplish in the Lord’s name.
The second realization I came to is just how truly blessed we are to have had this opportunity to serve the people from Dunamis in Quito to the Antioch School in the jungle of Misahualli. It’s been said many times, but it is truly incredible how going into a trip such as this one that we as the people serving, go into the trip expecting to be a blessing, but end up coming out of the trip feeling just, if not more blessed, and I can truly say that God worked through those children and the people of Misahualli to show me how blessed I truly am, all while being able to do the Lord’s work.
This trip has been one for the ages, and God worked in amazing ways through both us, and the people we were serving. Though I may not want to come home, I am thankful for every second I have gotten down here in Ecuador again this year, and I am excited to see what is in store for the Ecuador mission teams of the future. God is so great, and thank you to all who have supported our team throughout. Cannot wait to see everyone back home, and Happy 4th!