After one of the most beautiful drives we’ve ever experienced, we arrived safely back in Quito Saturday afternoon. We did some shopping at the artesenal market and visited El Panecillo, a 45-meter madonna statue that looks over the city. The overnight flight home to Atlanta was uneventful, and everyone was glad to lay their heads on their own pillows.
Monthly Archives: June 2017
Ending on a High Note
On Friday, we got to sleep a little later than usual. We didn’t have VBS in the morning at the school, and so we used that time to see the 8-acre farm that is being developed in conjunction with Jungle Kids for Christ and the Antioch School. Rich (a missionary currently handling construction and work teams at the school) gave us a tour of the property and shared his testimony. We had a beautiful time of worship around a fire, surrounded by the jungle, with the sound of the river below us.
From the farm we stopped off at a local attraction of sorts. It’s called – not too creatively – “Big Tree.” It is aptly named though. It would take over 30 people to encircle its trunk. Standing at its base and gazing skyward, you couldn’t help but think that James Cameron used this tree as his inspiration for Avatar.
After lunch and a swim in the river, we pulled on the work boots one last time and headed to the school for an afternoon of work. The team did an outstanding job in the blazing heat (we’ve had far less rain during the trip compared to previous years). We continued to work to prepare the new building for students this fall.
We once again closed the day with a worship service and Communion. Ric and Rene reminded us that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet – that he came not to be served but to serve. Everyone shared stories of how the week has changed them, of how God has spoken to them, and of how they have a desire to serve him more faithfully moving forward.
Today we pack up, leave the jungle, head to Quito, and wait for our red-eye flight back to Atlanta. It’s been a beautiful time in a beautiful place with beautiful people. To God be the glory. Gloria a Dios!
Yesterday was another great day for our team at Antioch School, with VBS in the morning and construction in the afternoon. In addition, a small group from our team spent the afternoon with the teachers from the school, most of whom speak very little English. We shared (with translation) Scripture, worship, ice cream, and prayer.
God is leaving his imprint on many of our hearts through stories that can’t be captured in pictures. It seems that everywhere we turn we encounter a moment in which God is saying, “Stop. Savor this. Remember me. See me in this place. See me in these people.” Feel free to ask some of our team about:
- Deanna’s reaction when she heard that our team funds would provide sponsorship to one of the girls named Donna.
- Seth’s lingering good-bye hug with Jonathan.
- Abby’s experience in the classroom of how God is everywhere, regardless of language or continent.
- Rene’s realization that Eduardo was learning about worship from us!
- Reed and Ryan’s tireless work emptying the truck of sand…and rocks.
- Seeing Rich and Tiffany (missionaries) enjoy and soak in our worship time.
- Michael sprawled on the floor as school boys joined into the defeat of Goliath.
- Meghan’s story of being led by the hand to the new building and invited to place her hand on the building.
- Eunice (hostel owner) dancing with our team after worship.
The tears from these – and many other moments – will be wiped away. But the memories will linger in our minds and hearts forever.
A Special Week!
This is proving to be a very special time for everyone on the team. We continue to bond and enjoy our time serving together. Attitudes have stayed very positive, and our worship times in the evening have been led and filled by the Holy Spirit.
Today, we moved to 3rd-4th Graders for our VBS time. Once again, it was amazing to see our team loving, teaching, and playing with these students in a selfless way. Each day, many members of our team have made meaningful connections with some of these young students. They’ve shared in the evenings about what that connection meant to them – smiles and moments that they will never forget. There have been powerful lessons learned about the barriers that separate us (such as language) compared to the things that unite us (such as love and laughter).
After lunch, we returned to the school for our afternoon of work. Some of the projects since Monday are ongoing: mixing and pouring concrete, scraping concrete walls to prep for plaster, and digging a trench through very rocky ground for pipe/conduit. Today, we added a couple of extra things: scraping slick algae off of pavers, and digging a deep hole to receive shower water from one of the “cabins.”
Our day ended with a delicious dinner, a quick walk down the street for ice cream, and a powerful worship time that included two of the missionaries from the Antioch School. Thanks for your continued prayers – God is making himself known in our midst!
I’ll make another post from today that only contains pictures…
June 20 – Work in the Afternoon
After lunch, we continued our projects from yesterday. It was somewhat frustrating, because the holes and trench that we dug yesterday were filled in by the hard rain overnight. But our teams didn’t complain. They got straight to work, emptied the holes and trench of water, and pressed on. We made and poured concrete…a lot of concrete! Another group worked hard sanding concrete on the interior of a room that will be used for 7th graders during the upcoming school year. They worked really hard – not complaining about the constant concrete dust in their eyes, hair, mouth…
Every team member has been fully contributing, and each one has really been willing to work hard. Our clothes today were filthy after the work day, but I think everyone agreed that it was worth it. We trust that God will use the work that we’re doing to impact the students that will come to the Antioch School. And He’s already using it to impact all of us!
June 20 – VBS in the Morning
During this week, we are spending the morning with various grade levels at Escuela Antioqia (Antioch School). Each morning, we are leading songs, teaching the Bible story (David & Goliath) through a skit, playing outdoor games, having a snack, and making a craft. Our team has done great connecting with the children and jumping in to help out where needed. As you can imagine, flexibility has been very important!
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, because it’s to people like this that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.” Our team has experienced some of that truth this week.
Oh…and by the way…there are monkeys! These were scampering about just around the corner from our hostel.
June 19 – Going to School
Today was our first day at the Antioch School. In the morning, we led a large class of first graders in a mini-VBS. After lunch, we split into 3 work groups to accomplish various tasks. The school is hurriedly working on a new building that will host 7th & 8th grade students. All of our work today supported this effort. As part of our team’s worship tonight, we got to hear from 2 of the missionaries at the school (Ashley is from Oklahoma and Sarah is from Tennessee).
Here’s what some of our team is saying:
What’s one way you’ve experienced God during the day/trip so far?
Seth Leigh: I’ve seen God work through actions at VBS. I met a little boy and we had a blast playing frisbee and soccer even though we understood maybe 10 words each other spoke. Seeing the joy and love on his face was priceless and knowing that it came from purely actions astounds me. God was certainly working through us and between us to form that relationship that spoke no words. God works in the most unexpected ways and most of the times He presents Himself in the little instances that mean the most.
How does what you’ve experienced compare to what you expected?
Charlotte Williams: I didn’t expect for everything to be so relaxed and I’m so happy to have been able to see soooooo many cool things in only three days!!! ITS EXTREMELY HOT BUT IT’S WORTH IT!
Emily Bonfanti: I did not expect the food to be so good. Also, I did not expect to hear testimonies from inspirational missionaries, like Boris, that really touched me.
If you were talking to someone who was scared/reluctant about coming on a trip like this, what would you tell them?
Deanna Mathis: I would tell them I’ve been there! I understand what they’re going through but it IS MORE THAN WORTH IT! God has been so good and it’s only been three days. I’ve seen so much beauty from people and places and the team has been bonding and jumping in with both feet. It’s been amazing to see God moving.
Taylor Martin: I would tell them that it is so worth it in the end. I was nervous and had doubts about coming but you experience so many great things that you would never be able to experience in any other circumstance. I have only been here for 3 days and I’ve had so many amazing opportunities and life changing events that were so amazing.
Pictures Paint a Thousand Words
Our day today began with a delicious breakfast. After that, we met and prepared for our week of VBS that begins tomorrow. We shared a time of worship, then headed out to the Napo River. We took small canoe-like longboats down the river to a small farm that grows and produces natural cocoa. We were able to see the process – and taste samples – all the way through the process. When’s the last time you sucked on the gooey seed of a cocoa plant?? We watched as they turned the raw materials into a delicious chocolate spread, right in front of our eyes. After that, it was back to the boats to return up the river to our starting point.
From there, we rode to the cultural village of Shishipuno. This village strives to keep alive the indigenous culture of this region, and we saw examples of historical Amazonian culture. We witnessed native language, dance, drink, and arts/crafts. The WHOLE TEAM got in on the act and participated in a tribal dance. From there, it was back to town for some local sightseeing and hanging out before dinner. It was a good day! Everyone is looking forward to our work with Antioch School beginning tomorrow. Stay tuned for more, and keep us in your prayers.