Monthly Archives: June 2016

The First Real Day by Andrew von Hillebrandt

Although the first day of real work here was not as I thought it would be, I enjoyed it more than I ever thought I would, even the manual labor. We started off the day waking up at a crisp 7:00 am to a warm shower and differing expectations. After a nice warm breakfast, we left to Antioch at 8:15 and got ready to experience the school and its children for the first time. We went through our scheduled day with the kids and although it definitely did not go as smoothly as intended, it was a good day with the children.

I made a new friend during our intense game of freeze tag named Matias. As I was carrying him back inside me, Matias, Brendan, and his friend Fabian made a fire beat.

After spending the rest of the morning with Matias, we said our goodbyes to the second graders and got on the bus to get ready for the hard part of the day. After another wonderful meal, we prepared for VBS the next day and got on the bus for the working part of the day. I spent the majority of the time placing concrete blocks ranging from 50 – 170 pounds in wheelbarrows, with some wheelbarrows that were definitely more capable than others.

After spending around 3 hours moving these concrete blocks in order to build a path to improve the landscaping of the school, we washed off our muddy boots and got on the bus back. After a good stir fry meal made by Eunice, we had a devotion led by Spencer and songs led by our wonderful worship team. After an evening of soccer in the rain and resting in hammocks, we head back to bed around 10:30 and it didn’t take long to get to sleep, with the sound of rain on the tin roof to help. After our first full day, I look forward to meeting and teaching more kids about trusting god and making the school look more and more beautiful every day.

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The Amazing 16 by Karl von Hillebrandt

Within our group of 27 here in Ecuador, we have 16 AMAZING Teenagers between rising freshmen in high school to rising sophomore in college. This group volunteered their summer time to be here at Antioch School in the jungle at Puerto Misahualli.


They spend their time with the elementary students in the morning and work in the afternoon on improvements at the Antioch school. They were amazing on the first day as they were completely involved in the VBS with 22 very high energy second graders.

Our teenagers showed incredible amount of love with the kids and all left with friends by the end of the program. We came back for a quick lunch and then back to Antioch for our afternoon chores. These chores consisted of hauling 150 pound blocks in wheel barrows, clearing out fields, moving mass amount of debris, etc., etc. (major work!).

After dinner time, our devotion was led by our three timer sophomore at GT, Spencer.


I can’t imagine doing this mission trip without them as they have been such an inspiration and so incredible in handling all of our activities. All parents out there should be extremely proud of this bunch. In closing, QUE DIOS LOS BENDIGA PARA SIEMPRE!

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The Art of Being a Tacky Tourist By Sarah Miller

On Sunday, we had a touristy kind of day. The team took a tour down the river in long canoes/gondolas.

In the boats, we went to a wildlife rescue center where we were able to see tapirs, monkeys, and ocelots.

After that, we ate lunch in a small village up the river a little bit. In that village, they also showed us how to make chocolate, and we got to eat cacao seeds. The seeds were really slimy, and they were bitter if you bit them too hard, but overall they weren’t that bad.

After we got off the river and back into the bus, we visited another small native village where we watched and participated in their traditional dance.

In the same village, I paid one of the boys $1 to take a picture with the monkey he was holding, and it was definitely worth it! The monkey was so soft and cute and cuddly!

When we got back to the hostel, we got to walk around the town in which we’re staying, and a group of us got ice cream. Then, we had dinner and finished out the day by playing soccer in the street with some of the Ecuadorian kids that live in the area. We were definitely tourists for the day!

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Growing Closer as a Team by Noel Muehlbauer

1 Corinthians 12:12 states, “Just as the body, though one, has many parts, but all its parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” At the beginning of this trip, many of us barely knew one another. We may have known each other’s’ names, grades, and schools, but that’s about it. In the airport and at meals we all stayed in our little groups with only the people we knew. Today was different. This morning we went on a river tour and made various stops.

Throughout the adventure I noticed everyone seemed to be branching out and talking to those with which they wouldn’t normally speak. During these rides to both the zoo and the chocolate plantation I didn’t sit next to the same person twice, and I don’t think anyone else did either. Later during the meals the tables consisted of a mix of guys, girls, students, and chaperones all talking, laughing, and enjoying themselves.

My favorite part of the day came at the end when we played soccer out on the street with team members and town members. It was so neat to see how encouraging everyone could be of one another when we are all from different walks of life. We really came together as a team. I honestly think God’s hand was at work throughout the day bringing us together as a team even though we didn’t officially work and instead had fun. Because of how close our team has gotten already, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us these following days and how God can use these relationships for His glory!

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Getting ready for the real work to begin by Noah Ashley

The size of the country of Ecuador really starts to come into perspective when you start the journey from Quito to Puerto Misahualli. We started by traveling through the city, but when you get out of town and onto the mountains, you can see for miles.


We stopped in the city of Banos for lunch at an Italian restaurant.

Exploring the city really let us see how similar we all are. Some of the stores and street vendors looked like they could be found in a small town city market in America. It was great to see all of God’s creation. When we left Banos, we took a ride across the gorge in an old and rickety machine that was run by an old man with a gas pedal.

The ride may not have been the most exciting, but the view was awe inspiring.  Eventually, after hours and hours of riding on the bus, we arrived in the jungle. The long and beautiful bus ride was a great way to set us up for the experiences of this week. I can’t wait to see what God will do with the group throughout the week!

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Day 4 Pictures

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Sunday Funday by Wendy Russell

Today was our “river day.” We were able to sleep in a little after our long bus ride yesterday and following a delicious breakfast we set out to explore the Rio Napo in motorized canoes.

The weather stayed true to the nature of the region (i.e. rainforest) so our river trip was even wetter than usual, especially for the folks in the front of the boat!  The trip was also more exciting than usual given the swollen river and strong currents that the canoes had to traverse, and we all have a new respect for the drivers of the canoes! We were able to experience the culture and our surroundings through our stops along the river. Our first stop was the “Amazoonico” an amimal rescue that takes in injured and trafficked animals and seeks to rehabilitate them and return them to their natural habitats. We saw so many of God’s creatures that are unique to this area such as tapirs, macaws and several species of monkeys.

Our second stop was at a community who grows cocoa. We ate a delicious lunch prepared for us by the hostess of our hostel and then we learned how chocolate is made from the cocoa beans. We were then able to sample the delicious final product!

Our third stop was at a community called Shiripuno where we learned about their sacred rock of wisdom, witnessed and participated in a traditional dance and learned how to make a drink from the yucca root that is consumed for breakfast, lunch and for snacks.

We finished the day with a wonderful worship service and a visit from the missionary, Roberto, and his family.

Our group is coming together beautifully and we are learning about each other as well as our surroundings. It is so exciting to see what God has already done and we are all looking forward to seeing what he has in store for us!

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Saturday Travels – Catherine Lightsey

A long day of bus travel on Saturday took us through majestic mountain scenes with waterfalls and miles of lush green countryside.

A stop in Banos for lunch (Italian restaurant)…

and a lot more bus time before arriving at our hostel – “home away from home” where delightful clean, fresh rooms awaited us.

We shared a delicious dinner prepared by our hostess (spinach soup with popcorn dropped into it for starters.) Sitting at tables in an open air area – covered from the sudden rain shower and surrounded by large beautiful red and yellow flowering plants – the conversations were warm and lively as the “team” continues to get to know one another with shared stories and laughter.



An early night for most of the tired travelers. We easily fell asleep to the soothing sound of the pouring rain on the roof – peaceful. All were anticipating the adventures and excitement our first day in the jungle would bring.

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We Made It by Abbie Holcombe

We made it!  We finally arrived in Misahualli, and I couldn’t be more excited. Today has been a long but fun day. We woke up around eight, ate breakfast at the hostel, and then got on the road.


The ride was beautiful; we passed through Quito, drove through the mountains, and then stopped in the city of Baños where we ate lunch and did some shopping in the marketplaces.

After lunch, we then traveled to a cable car where we zipped over a gorge and got an up-close look at a gigantic waterfall. It was beautiful!

After three more hours on the road, we made it to Misahualli, ate dinner, and then sang and worshipped together.


We finished the night with an intense game of soccer in the street, and of course, the Ecuadorian kids schooled us all.

The first part of our adventure has made me so hopeful for the rest of our trip. I can already tell our team has such a strong bond, and I am so excited to see what the Lord has in store for us. To the mamas and dads back at home, we love and miss y’all! Please keep us in your prayers as we start our week and get to work and VBS!

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Day 3 Pictures

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