Monthly Archives: June 2019

We’re home

After a long day of travel starting early Saturday in Misahualli back to Quito and on to Atlanta, we returned safely home early this (Sunday) morning.  Now that we have access to more robust Internet connectivity, we’ll get additional photos posted over the next couple days and some parting thoughts from Lucas and any of our team members who may want to share more.

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Additional Friday thoughts from the team

This post is a little late, but I wanted to get it up.

Andy Garcia:

Hey, its Andy, so today was a very special day for all of us. It started with us going on a boat ride to the chocolate lodge, where we were able to see the whole process of making chocolate from a cocoa bean. We were able to help make some chocolate and then eventually able to even try some of It as a spread. After that, we docked the canoe and had lunch on the river. We had some delicious empanadas and the made our way back to the hostile to get ready for the end of the year celebration at the school. At the celebration we were able to see all our favorite students partake in the dances and the award ceremonies. It was tough to say our final goodbyes to our friends, but it was nice to see them all dressed up with their families. We took some good pictures and then went our separate ways. After the ceremony we went back to the hostile to do our final worship. We said our prayers and then made our way to the soccer field to have a friendly match between some of the students, Lucas, our bus driver Willi, and a couple other friends. It was nice to have one final sweat before beginning our long journey back home.

Doug Hale:

We are coming to the end of an incredible trip.  I have been lucky enough to make this journey each of the last four years.  To see God at work in the missions we serve here in Ecuador and in our students is awesome.  I find myself at a loss for words to express how I truly feel, so I’ll just say this:

Thank you – for a church and it’s leaders that support this mission, for the people who have supported me personally through prayer and/or financially, for the parents of our students who allowed your child to go on this trip, and for all my fellow team members.  Thank you!

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Friday thoughts from the team

Bri MacFadyen:

Hey,

Going into this trip I tried to keep a very open mind. This is my second time going and I didn’t want to set any expectations. Its been such a blessing to be able to serve with this amazing group. The kids have a very special place in my heart. It’s so incredible to be able to come back and have a kid remember you. We don’t realize how much we mean to the kids. This week God really spoke to me about letting go of the past and being reborn through him. A constant word that resonated in my heart this week was strength. Joshua 1:9 was a verse that I found that spoke about how strong we are through God and that he will be with us wherever we go.  As we all go home and disburse back into our lives, I pray that we don’t forget the messages and connections we made with God and these amazing team members. I’m so beyond blessed to have been able to have this opportunity to serve our heavenly father.

Much love, Bri

Haven Donnelly:

Hello,

So I’m currently in the lobby of the hostel being forced to write this by Dougie Fresh.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to write about or say, so let’s see how this goes, I guess. Avery said to talk about the little girl I had grown close with, Meritxell. She’s just this one little girl that I’ve started to feel some sort of responsibility over as we’ve become close. I got the privilege of spending her 10th birthday with her, and we now have matching bracelets I bought in the little city square here in Misahualli. We’ve exchanged many hugs and laughs, and there have been many confused faces on my part from when she speaks too fast or uses a word I don’t know. Oh yeah, and everything has been in Spanish. Its been great practice and its amazing to see the product of my years learning Spanish. It’s just great to see the new people you can reach by just having some knowledge of a language, and I can confidently say that I’m so glad I decided to learn the language even if my classmates say its redundant or useless. But yeah, its been great to step away from my life for a bit and just spend time with wonderful people in such a relaxing, easygoing place. And mom, they have taken really good care of me regarding food. Even though Mrs. Eunise isn’t here, there’s this one really nice woman here that reassures me on everything, constantly saying “No milk”. Anyways, I don’t know what else I’m supposed to write about. I’ve gotten very close with a select few people that I’m so grateful to have gotten to know, and I’ve been able to spend good time with my brother before he goes off to college, which has been such an amazing opportunity. Today was cool though, we went to a little chocolate making place thing on the river and Emily got baptized, and then we played soccer in the street (don’t worry mom we did it safely). But yeah. That’s it I guess. Peace.

Mike Dilworth:

This week culminates my third visit to Ecuador visiting both Dunamis and Jungle Kids for Christ.  How blessed I am to be able to attend the three trips.  Like the previous two trips, I have been encouraged by our youth and the youth leadership of our church.  What a great group of young people who energetically engaged in all that was asked of them.  This was evident in teaching the students as well as the physical labor activities each day.  No complaining, joyous hearts and a willingness to make a difference.  God’s presence and the many prayers of family, friends and our church were certainly with us throughout.   I love the last verse of Les Miserables “ to love another person is to see the face of God.”  How true!

Rene Watson:

We are reaching the conclusion of an incredible week in Ecuador.  God has shown us His favor as we have worked with the beautiful children at Antioch School and as we completed a multitude of challenging jobs on the worksite.  I am full to capacity with love and respect for this team, the missionaries here, and the friendly people of Misahualli.  It is rare, I think, to travel with 23 people for 9 days and still want to spend more time together, but that’s exactly the way I feel.  God has assembled incredible talent and heart within this team and each night as we have gathered for worship and counted the blessings of the day my faith has been strengthened.

Tonight we were blessed to attend the end of school celebration.   It is incredible to see God’s hand at work in the lives of the children here.  I have been given the awesome privilege of knowing many of these kids for 7 years, and God’s handywork is evident and real.  Tonight we saw kids get awards in Math, Science, and English.  We saw supportive families and proud sponsors gather together, many from very different worlds, but all so happy to see these precious children express hope and confidence in the future.  I witnessed two boys whom I love start a Bible study with two missionaries who are willing to answer the tough questions to help them accept this great love God has for them.

I am immensely thankful tonight for God’s provision and for the depth of these Alpharetta Methodist students from whom I’ve had the opportunity to learn.  They are full of love and faith, awesome leaders and followers, and they give me renewed hope for the future of our church and our mission of reaching people for Christ. I am thankful for every person who supported us financially and in prayer.  We have been able to accomplish more than I could have dreamed, but I’m sure it was exactly what the Lord envisioned when He called us to go and called you to send us!  We love you all.

Grace and Peace,
Rene Watson

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Antioquia’s End-of-Year Event

We had the pleasure of attending Antioquia’s end-of-year celebration Friday evening.  It was an opportunity to watch their students perform skits and dances, sing songs, and be celebrated for all their accomplishments over the school year.  There was considerable pride (and many smiles) from all the students and their families.  It was also an opportunity for us to exchange hugs and say our goodbyes to these special kids.  Truly a special evening.

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Emily’s Baptism

Today I was blessed enough to be baptized in the country that strengthened my faith two years ago. During worship last night, God placed the thought in my heart to ask Rene. I was uncertain but then a missionary was speaking and mentioned her favorite memory ever was watching the girl she sponsors get baptized in the river. That was a confirmation for me. So when we got to the hostel, I pulled Rene aside and asked her. Before I knew it, God was working and creating a plan for me. The entire team attended, and it meant the world to me. These people are amazing and loving and beautiful children of Christ. When Lucas and Rene were speaking while holding me in the water, I started to shake and tear up. I had so much shame and worthlessness held up deep inside. As I was being submerged, I felt all those feelings wash away from me. I rose smiling and full of love. I have been smiling all day long and feel like I want to sing from a mountain top. I thank God for this opportunity and the people I am surrounded by. Thank you also to everyone at home who is taking the time to read this. This day is one of the most important in my life and I am overjoyed to share the story.

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Friday morning on the river

After six days of work and travel, we finally have a day for rest and exploration and enjoy a boat trip to a small family owned cacao farm and lunch on an island in the middle of the Arajuno River.

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Thursday afternoon at Antioquia’s farm

The team reunited to work at Antioquia’s farm Thursday afternoon with a brief stop on the way there to visit “the big tree.”  In a jungle filled with many large trees, this one stands out from a distance for being considerably larger than any thing nearby.  And after a final afternoon working hard picking guayusa (a type of indigenous tea), working on the fencing for the pig pen, and finishing a path down a steep hill to the stream on edge of the property, we enjoyed relaxing in the shade and the cool mountain water.

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Thursday visit to Pasuno

Greetings all! Lucas here. Today (Thursday), we were presented a meaningful opportunity to take some of our older students to serve a small school in a river town called Pasuno. This is a chance that our teams have not had in recent years and one that we jumped at the opportunity to lean into. We were tasked with preparing on the fly some music for the students, a bible story, and some crafts that went with the bible story (we brought snacks for everyone also!). Nancy Malone and Stephanie Newton did an amazing job putting together some programming for us and off we went. We were excited and anticipating a special experience but what we encountered was beyond inspiring. Immediately after getting off the boat from the road, we were on the school property. It consisted of a huge soccer field and a one room schoolhouse. Inside the one room, we met one of the most faithful teachers I have ever encountered and some of the most precious students on the planet. The teacher of these students travels 2 hours each way to work with this group of fifteen students. She also prepares either breakfast or lunch for them everyday to make sure they can eat daily. She was an inspiration to us all and we were amazed at how each student respected her and viewed her as a mother figure. We quickly realized that each of the student’s lives were immensely better because of the teachers influence and care. Even more amazing, the fifteen students all ranged from first to seventh grade and the teacher taught all subjects for all those grade levels. She instantly has become one of the top ten most inspirational leaders I have ever met. We also were so honored to have the chance to work with those precious students. They sung with us, listened to our stories, and allowed us the chance to color and make crafts with them. It was an extremely special morning. Lastly, we were able to talk about ways that we could partner with the school for some upcoming construction and supplies that they need. I can’t wait to look into the chance to help support this teacher that has given so much to these students. Furthermore, help get her further resources she needs in her quest to give these young students an opportunity for high level education and an adult who loves them and cares for them passionately. Praise God for the unique opportunities to serve he has provided us this week. We are honored that daily we have had the chance to advance God’s kingdom.

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Thursday thoughts from the team

Olivia Holcombe:

Hey guys its Olivia! This week has been a blast so far. I think I can speak for everyone on this team when I say this trip has been a wonderful opportunity to just slow down, sit in God’s presence, and listen; even when we have been surrounded by some crazy kiddos. Something I think God has been showing me repeatedly this trip is just the love these kids have in hearts; they love so easily. Today I was blessed with the experience of travelling down the river to a small school of about 17 kids where we sang, danced, performed a skit, and did lots of coloring. However, there was one obstacle in getting to know these kids, they barely even spoke Spanish. While this had me a bit concerned at first, God quickly showed me I had nothing to worry about. Even though we might not have spoken the same language, we were still able to connect through God’s love. I am so thankful to have had the amazing memories made and can’t wait for the rest of the trip!!

Brock Donnelly:

Even though this year was longer than last, it feels like it has gone by so much faster. This group of people has been really amazing, and everyone works so well and hard together. Throughout the week I’ve been working on destroying a concrete slab with sledgehammers and carrying the rubble to piles. Over the span of those three days, I have gotten the opportunity to learn about everyone I was working with. It warms my heart that in such a short time we could all get on the same page. The next thing is in the classroom. The moment I walked in the room and saw all the kids just smiling and having a great time really brought a smile to my face. Their energy is overly contagious, and it touches close to heart. The first couple days I was paired with Luis and Lucciana. They were both so excited to and so engaged even though it was their last week of school. Luis was just an energetic ball of fun who when he put his mind to something, he got it done. We really connected and the second day that I walked into the classroom, he instantly ran up and hugged me. During the second day I also started to connect with a kid named Johel. He was really funny and we had played a bunch of games together. The final day, I decided to take Johel for the day, which was one of the most important choice of mine this trip. He was so excited to see me and after reading with him he ran off to ask Abbie how to ask someone to play soccer with him. Abbie pulled me aside and told me which almost brought a tear to my eye. Now today we were at Tyler’s house for prayer and after thinking about it I made an amazing choice to sponsor Johel alongside Avery. It makes me so happy just thinking about it. Overall, this entire trip has been something so special. Every minute, even though we may be hot and sweaty, we’re all enjoying every single minute of it. It means so much to be a part of it and I pray that I can be a part of it next year as well.

Peace out, Brock

Brooklyn Clayton:

Hey you guys, this is Brooklyn. It is my first year on this trip and could not of had a better experience thus far. My expectations for this trip were all over, but this place has erased those and surprised me more times than I can count. Today was our last workday and along the way I have discovered my true mental and physical strength. Whether we were digging holes, painting a wall, or moving concrete it strengthened my understanding of teamwork as well as the value of encouragement. The love I have found here is immense. The kids and workers at the school could have not treated us with more compassion. I had the opportunity to work with a little girl named Jaelyn and got to connect with her despite coming from such different places and battling a strong language barrier. I’m so glad I got the experience the joy in these kids. I was also lucky to be apart of a group that traveled to the indigenous town of Pasuno, we got on a river boat and traveled upstream till we reached the community. Getting off the boat and seeing the one tiny structure where these kids attended school, hearing the teacher’s story, and seeing the love she pours into these kids, despite circumstance, reaffirms God’s work here in the jungle and I couldn’t be more grateful and excited for the rest of the trip! Thank you all for the prayers!

-Brooklyn

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Wednesday afternoon work party

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