Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Final Day by Rebecca Wallace

Sadly, today was our last day in Ecuador. We began the day by traveling to Dunamis and we listened to Boris talk about his ministry there. At Dunamis they take girls in who had been sex trafficked and they help provide them with the necessary skills to support themselves. Within this ministry, girls come and spend parts of the day there where they can learn how to do things such as making jewelry and other skills to help them make a living for themselves. Along with learning these skills, many of these girls are introduced to Christ, which is meant to show them that there is an alternate lifestyle meant for them, where they do not have to be controlled and abused. It was amazing to hear about this ministry. It shocked me that the girls ranged from 9 to 17 years old. I cannot believe they are so young when they are sold or introduced to this lifestyle, but I think it is wonderful that people such as Boris are willing to help them find another way to live.

After we left Dunamis, we traveled to the Center of the World, otherwise known as the equator. It was very cool to see this and to have the chance to stand in both the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time. 6N8A8407We learned about the history of the equator line, and we also learned about many of the native tribes of people within the Highlands region. After visiting the Equator, we traveled to the market in Quito where we had the chance to shop for all kinds of things ranging from jackets to blankets, chocolate to bracelets, and t-shirts to journals.

They had just about anything you could want there, and I loved getting the chance to buy items for family and friends who supported me on this trip. Our final stop today was the 6N8A8426cable cars which took us up the side of the mountain. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We got in a cable car with six people,
and it took us up to the top of the mountain where we had the chance to walk around and take pictures. I cannot even describe how beautiful it was up there. We spent a lot of time up on the mountain admiring the views and taking pictures with the group. I loved it up there, but we were about 13,000 feet up, so at some points the air became very thin making it hard to breathe.

I loved being up on top of the mountain, and it was a great end to a wonderful trip. It is hard to believe that it is all over now, but I could not have asked for a better trip or better people to spend it with. God is so wonderful, and it was so amazing to see him work in all kinds of areas of the world.

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Views by Matt Hashemi

Today, the last day in Ecuador, we spent exploring the inner beauty of the Quito, E6N8A8377cuador’s
capitol city. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the hostel this morning, as we overlooked the city from the breakfast table.
Next, we were able to see Boris’s ministry, Dunamis, and see how Christ is working in the lives of many of the women in his ministry. We were then able to go and see the equator, and learn about many of the indigenous cultures of Ecuador.

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In the afternoon, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch with some hot empanadas and rich ice 6N8A8418
6N8A8417cream.

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We also enjoyed the, fascinating, Quito market, and we bought a lot of cool alpaca sweaters.
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To cap off the day, we took a cable car up the mountain, and experienced the breathtaking views of Quito and the surrounding mountains.  Overall, I felt that today was a great end to the Ecuador mission trip, because we were able to experience the true inner beauty of Ecuador, and the unique culture it has to offer.

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Home by Kaylan and Tyler

6N8A7628For those of you who may not know us, we are members of other Methodist churches in the area and have been part of the Lord’s mission in the jungle for 8 years running now.  We were so blessed to have been asked to come along side Rene to lead this wonderful group of people!  We have truly found so much joy in getting to know each of the team members! We have learned so much from many of the team members and only hope that we made at least half of the impact on them as they have done so for us!

Right now, it is 8:00 am EST on Saturday, June 25th.  We just returned stateside along with Meghan, who is headed to catch another flight now, while our team is still south of the Equator touring the beautiful city of Quito.  We have had some time to reflect and think about our trip and a few things stick out… the awesomeness of the students at Antioch Christian Academy, the dedication and passion of the local missionaries and staff at Antioch, and of course the wonderful hospitality of the staff at the Hostal el Paisano .

However, what stands out the most is the willing, ready, and resilient attitude of our team. This team has had a tough week digging ditches in the hot sun, dragging tree branches down a large, slippery hill, pouring concrete in the pouring rain, and administering VBS to the hardest class of students on the first day and then continuing to love on a new class each day learning all new names and faces.  Through it all, our team remained strong and ready to work as we know that is what God called us to do this past week in the jungle. We are super proud of this team, our team! 6N8A7709

During this reflection time, we also find that we typically hit a small “depression” phase as we return to our everyday lives with real jobs and responsibilities, but this trip seems different for us… we seem to have a peace about our return to the states that only our kind and loving Father could grant us.  Yes, we are sad to leave this beautiful country and these beautiful people, and yes, we will miss the new church family members we have gained on this trip, but we both know that Ecuador will always be home for us, and that the next time we land in Quito, may just be on a one way flight.

Safe travels to the rest of our team who flies out of Quito late tonight!  May your flight be smooth and the immigration lines be short!

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The Mountains by Susan Miller

Today was our final day in Ecuador and we spent it in the capital city of Quito. In the morning we woke up and drove to Boris’s, a missionary who helps young girls out of human trafficking. He and his wife work hard to teach the girls life skills like typing, sewing, and other job skills, such as jewelry making.

Next we went to the Equator and got a crash course on the indigenous cultures of Ecuador before examining sundials and taking many pictures with each foot in a different hemisphere.

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Our last stop was the mountains surrounding the city. We took a cable car up the side of the mountain, which took about 10 minutes. 6N8A8426Once we reached the top, we took a dirt path that wound up through flowers and grass until we were surrounded by cliffs that dropped down into deep valleys between the mountains.6N8A8511

The air was cold and crisp and, at 13,000 feet, everyone was out of breath once we reached the top of the mountain. I was the first to the top and while everyone else was catching up, I just stood in silence and enjoyed the beauty and peace. For those of you who haven’t been to Quito, the city sits within a valley surrounded by a circle of mountains so in every direction so all along the horizon all I could see were the clouds covering the mountain tops and the city down below filled with its colorful buildings stretched for miles and miles as far as I could see. The view was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen and not something I will soon forget.

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It Takes a Village by Doug Hale

As another afternoon work party drew to a close, I st6N8A8064arted thinking about all the manpower required to make the cement borders we worked on for the paths around the Antioch campus so these kids will have a beautiful, lasting facility in which to go to school.

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Which made me then start to think about all the people who have come before me and will come after me to help build this place, to maintain it, to teach the kids, to cook their lunches, to raise the money to allow the school to exist, to go into the surrounding 6N8A7910communities and convince parents to trust the school with their children.  It takes a
village.  The actual villages the kids come from, the village of school employees and our village of short-term missions.  So many layers.  How many layers are there to the village that is raising our kids?  It is incredible to be a part of both.  All this reminds me of a quote often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the true affection of their children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a gard
en patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

Not a bible verse, but powerful stuff.  Perhaps Emerson (or whoever wrote this) was a Godly person.  I think we are succeeding this week.  Thank you God for allowing me a part in all these kids’ lives – Ecuadorean and American.
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Giggles and Laughter by Emily McDanel

Ecuador is absolutely a great experience to meet new kids and discover new things. The third day when I hung out with the fourth graders was my favorite day by a long shot. I met two beautiful young girls named Mireya and Solange. Those two girls made my entire week! They were the joy and sunshine of Ecuador.

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I connected so close to them, and it was fairly easy because they both spoke English very well. Mireya and I had a special connection because we both liked the same things and she would always come up to me and hug me until I popped. I will never forget those three hours I got to spend with them, those were the best three hours of the trip. Those two bright and intelligent girls had such an impact in my heart. And the way they were smiling and laughing around me, they made me feel like I was at home. So them making me feel like I was at home was them making me feel like family. I’m now apart of their family and they are apart of mine. Leaving this place and leaving all the wonderful children and people there is very heartbreaking but looking at all the pictures everyday will make me feel like I’m right there in Ecuador with them, having a grand time. Every single word they said, activity they did, song they sang, dance move they danced, etc. will always have a strong place in my heart that I will never ever forget. Their powerful voices changed my life. I cannot wait to see them again! They are going to do great things in not just theirs but others lives. I just have to wait a year to see them again and that year will be the longest year of my life. I would give anything to see those cute, little smiles on their faces again!

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Jungle Kids by Suzanne Kebanli

Seeing my same boys from last year again this year was my absolute favorite part of the trip. Last year they were little 3rd graders and seeing how much taller and smarter they are now as 4th graders was amazing!

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They all remembered me and we hung out all week during any free time we had. All of the boys from last year that I became friends with still go to Antioch except two, so I was sad I didn’t get to see all of them but I made some new friends, too! They are the cutest kids ever and I cannot wait to see them next summer.

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What I really want to do is go back after I graduate and be an English teacher at the school. A few of the parents of the kids I met last year told me I should do that and I saw that as God telling me that the jungle is where I am supposed to be. I would absolutely LOVE to do that and I know it’s something I am very passionate about. I think it’s amazing how strong of a connection I have with them and how trusting they are towards all of us. I definitely saw God’s love through those boys and through everyone else at the school. I can’t wait to see how my relationships my group of guys grows and grows throughout the years!

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Day 9 Pictures

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Split Off For A Trip To Dunamis by Robin Wilkinson

Tuesday afternoon I split off from the team to go work with the Dunamis Foundation in Quito.  I took a taxi/shuttle that stopped in Tena to pick up 3 men (none of the 4 spoke English) and rode the shorter 5 hour route to Quito past land slides and beautiful countryside.  Just for reference, Ecuador drivers doIMG_2660n’t use road signs, rules, or any other of the driving habits we’re used to – horns are quite popular though!

Last year on the trip to Ecuador, my daughter Rachel and I stayed in Quito to work with Dunamis the whole trip, so it was great this time to be able to visit both the jungle and the Fundacion.  I stayed with Boris’ (Dunamis’ director) mother-in-law, MoniIMG_2682ca, again and loved every minute!  Dunamis works with government foundations to teach girls rescued from sex trafficking about God’s love for them, life skills, and various opportunities to learn a trade such as sewing, making jewelry, and computer programs.  I teach them how to make jewelry with polymer clay so that they can add that to their jewelry made from the local tagua nuts.  (Check out my blog to learn more about the girls, Dunamis, and our work together at http://robinwilkinsondesigns.blogspot.com)

There were 5 girls in the current program with ages ranging from 13-17 and one baby with another on the way.  Many times their families sell them into sex trafficking.  One of the girls was rescued from Columbia guerrillas when she was forced to transport drugs to Quito.  Her two year old daughter is still in Columbia.  Dunamis helps the girls to understand that God does indeed love them and that they have other opportunities for work, life, and their children.  It is heartbreIMG_2698aking to hear their stories, but they are beautiful, spirited girls who need healing and hope.

One of the girls who now works with the Dunamis team was in one of the first groups of rescued girls Dunamis was involved with.  She finished the program, got a job in Quito and worked for several years before coming back to work with Dunamis.  Last year we worked with 3 sisters ages 11, 13 (with a 1 year old baby), and 15.  The government was about to move them out of the program and they had nowhere to go.  They were to be split up and put in different government houses/programs.  However, the foundations worked to keep them together and they are now all together in a Santa Domingo foundation run by nuns.  God is providing hope in the midst of brokenness.

During my last morning with the girls, they shared what our time together meant to them and then prayed for me.  I was overwhelmed by the inadequate lessons I shared, the enormous difference in our lives, and their long road ahead.  The generous, loving, overcoming spirit of God is at work here in Ecuador and everywhere!  God is good.  All the time!

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Day 8 Pictures

Travel day to Quito.

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