And here we are! It’s so humbling to think that after all the preparation beforehand and adventures shared together last week that we are on this side of the 2022 Ecuador Trip. As we close the book on these updates, I have two quick things of note for you:
First, I want to offer a huge thank you to everyone who donated toward one of our team members, prayed over our trip, and followed along through our blog. You were part of our team every step of the way and your time, energy, and resources were mixed into the seeds that were planted and the fruit that God will produce. Our team is eternally grateful for you all! (Also, huge shout out to Doug Hale and our Communications team for organizing and leading our blog efforts this year!)
Second, if you wish to find pictures for our trip, then you can find them here:
I just want to say thank you to everyone who donated, prayed, and followed the blog for this trip. You were part of our team every step of the way and your time, energy, and resources were mixed into the seeds that were planted and the fruit that God will produce. Our team is eternally grateful for you all! (Also, huge shout out to Doug Hale for organizing and leading our blog efforts this year!)
Greetings All! We are safely back and settled in! As we reflect on the trip, I would love to share our final student testimonies from the week.
Hey guys, I have had an amazing week here in Ecuador. I have learned so much about myself through facing the challenges of this trip, whether its sitting on a hot bus for hours going nowhere due to protests, or working through back pains while doing construction, this trip showed me how resilient I am. Another challenge that I enjoyed was learning how to show gods love through a language barrier. On Thursday we went to a school in Pusuno where the people there didn’t speak much English, so I had to figure out a way to communicate. My Spanish is ok but getting laughed at earlier in the week by the girls at Dunamis didn’t give me much confidence in my speaking ability, but I continued to try anyway. I was paired with this little girl named Jessi and she was so cute. She was super shy, so I gave her a big smile and she started to feel at ease. It was a bit difficult to communicate at the beginning, but by the end she was talking to me and smiling, and it was such an amazing moment that I’ll never forget. I’ve had an amazing time here in Ecuador and I can’t wait to go back if I’m given the opportunity to.
I don’t have to tell you how amazing your children are because you already know it. These kids have been an absolute joy to be around (pun intended) and you should feel incredibly proud of the job you’ve done as parents. Each day brought a new set of challenges, and the team made the most out of every moment. They each demonstrated incredible patience and flexibility during a time of uncertainty in a foreign country. I could list out a dozen impressive characteristics but the two that stand out the most are their relentless devotion to the Lord and their incredible work ethic. Their strong faith kept them focused on the mission while their work ethic delivered incredible results for the school. I’ve been so honored to serve with such a wonderful group of kids.
Hey guys it’s Charlotte! I am so grateful I got to come on this trip for the fourth time this year! This trip has been a crazy adventure, but I have learned a lot about God’s faithfulness. There were a lot of moments where it felt difficult, and it felt like many things were against us. I knew from these tough situations, that God had something truly special in store for us. We were able to see and teach kids, we were able to still develop relationships with them and with each other, and most importantly I learned to lean into God alone. He is a faithful God and his way is better than any other. I felt we were able to be very intentional while we were working with the kids because we didn’t know how long we would be able to be with them. It made me wonder how our relationships would grow if we were that intentional with other people back home in our everyday lives. God wants us to be connected with each other, whether that is all around the world or in our hometowns! That is something I will take away from this trip.
Hello from Ecuador. As I write, we have begun our journey home. We successfully averted the roadblocks by taking a flight from Ahuano to Quito instead of the normal bus ride. This is trip #5 for me – and three years in the making due to COVID. Special for multiple reasons. Heather and both girls came this time. Now the entire family has been at least one time. At Dunamis, this is the first time girls have been present during a visit. Seeing these young girls, and in some cases their babies, in person is a real gut check. How? Why? In the jungle at Antioch, the students were in virtual school due to the strikes, so we didn’t get to teach as originally scheduled. With some creativity, we were able to spend time with subset of students on campus after normal school hours. Staying flexible was definitely a major theme this trip. Perhaps the biggest highlight of our time in Misahualli, was that I got to meet Jeydan, the Antioch student we sponsor, and his parents. So many other moments and memories. I could ramble on. If you’d like to hear more, reach out and I’ll gladly talk your ear off. Many thanks to everyone who supports this mission trip in Atlanta – and to our incredible partners in Ecuador. I can’t wait to see you all again next year.
Hello, everyone. This is Tim Newton on our final day here in Ecuador. It is hard to summarize the experiences of this week. The people we have encountered (especially the children) have been kind, generous, and dedicated to God, their families, communities, and schools. The guiding them of our trip is to share the love of Christ through our labors and through the relationships we develop. However, I feel the people I have encountered this week have shared the love of Christ with me in so many ways and have done more for me than I have for them. It has been a wonderful week.
Hey all! We have worked hard this week and now it was time for some adventures. We had the chance to enjoy a few different adventures today. We visited a BIG tree (fun unique spot in the community), the school for the final time to shop in the school store, a local chocolate farm (where we also had the opportunity to pan for gold!) and the JKC farm for an afternoon swim in the river. After our outings, we enjoyed some shopping in town, dinner and our final worship time. It has been a truly beautiful day! Please enjoy some snapshots and student highlights below!
This week’s mission trip has taught me so much. I am so thankful that I have had this opportunity to help young children in their education. I’ve learned so much about purity this week. When we were interacting with the students, I realized that the children are so innocent and blissful, and it made me s happy that these kids were children of God just like me. I think that this week has given me the chance to escape from all the madness at home and step away to focus on what is important, God. When I go home, I will do my best to implement all aspects of Christ into my life. I know that I’m not always going to be able to be perfect and walk along God, but I can certainly give it 110%. Even when we make mistakes, God is always there, arms wide open. That is my favorite thing about God, his unrelenting love and grace and mercy. I thankful for everything that God has given me this week and in my life and I will continue to serve his will.
It’s been such a great week in Ecuador, its hard to count how many great encounters and sights I have seen. One that is special to me was when we went to Pusuno. It’s a one room schoolhouse that teaches grades 1st through 7th. At first, I was scared to go because I don’t speak Spanish and the kids don’t speak English, so it was going to be hard to communicate, but that was where I was wrong. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, a smile and a laugh with the kids made all the difference. I ended up having a great time and connecting with the kids especially a girl named Mery. I learned that God always has a plan for us and even a language barrier cannot stop us from sharing God’s love. I am super grateful that I got to go on this trip and can’t wait to come back next year!
The thing I took most out of this trip was just how God could create a place so different from our home but a place that could be so beautiful. I can still picture our first full day in Ecuador riding the bus to Dunamis, looking out the window, and seeing an entire mountainside covered in homes. All the houses were different colors tightly packed next to one another. I remember saying to myself “Wow” as far as I could see where houses covering the rolling hills in Quito. Later that day, we played soccer against some of the girls living at Dunamis, and during one of the games, a cloud moved toward us and covered the entire field. That is something that not everyone gets to experience often. Even with the nationwide strike, the people we have met may live different lives compared to us, but they are all friendly and openly greeted us. The trip was overall a great experience and hopefully I can come back and see how places such as Antioquia school have grown since we were last there.
Jo Lynn McCrossan:
Hello everyone! This is Jo Lynn McCrossan. I have had the blessing of sharing this incredible experience with my daughter Marin. It has been quite an adventure, one that she and I will treasure for a lifetime. This trip has given me the opportunity to grow in my love and faith to Jesus. God’s amazing works have shown through in so many of the things that we have done and seen. I have marveled at God’s beautiful creation in a volcano peeking through the clouds reminding us that He is with us. My spirits have been lifted by others opening their doors and serving our group when we needed a helping hand. God’s love has shown through in the warm and smiling faces that have been through such unimaginable things in their young lives. One moment that I will never forget and will always be a lesson to me was when a young boy of 11 years old named Anderson had one potato chip and broke it apart and shared it with four others. It was a reminder to me that it takes so little to share God’s love that we should be doing it each and every day. I am so thankful for this experience and am truly amazed at how God is at work in Ecuador and in my life.
When I first found out that I was going to Ecuador I was both nervous and extremely anxious. The realization that I was actually in Ecuador didn’t hit me for a while and everything felt like it was flying by. Before the trip I had asked few people who had been on the trip before to tell me what would happen, and it all turned out completely different. The trip had gone in completely different directions than we had expected but I wouldn’t ask for it any other way. This mission trip has made me come to the realization that not everything has to go as planned and work out the way I want it to. God has a path that he wants to lead us down and although it may not be exactly what we want, it’s what is best for us. It is really hard to let something else guide you and not be in complete control, but having God be the one soul focus in your life is just amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. The plan was altered but I have still met and grown close to some truly amazing people and can’t wait to do it all again next year.
Greetings All! Another eventful day in the jungle here! We had the chance to partner with a small school in the Pusano area. We helped them with construction on a new classroom and did activities and simple lessons with some of the most precious students on the planet. Then we joined the Antioch Basketball Club for an afternoon of basketball games at Antioch School! It was a beautiful day! Please find some student testimonials and pictures below!
Hey y’all it’s Cami here! Ecuador 2022 so far has been one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had. All the way from the mountainous terrain, to the food, to the Ecuadorian people – everything here is so different from the bubble we live in back home and I am so grateful for the opportunity to see it. Now, I could go on and on about how I have seen God in the girls at Dunamis and the children from JKC but one of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned actually came from my mom. After a devotional one night when we were discussing our day, she had a wise piece of reflection that has stuck with me all week. We as Americans often come into a third-world country thinking we are the saviors, and we are going to help these people tremendously. However, when our route into the jungle got turned around late in the evening, we became the orphans, desperately needing a place to stay, and were graciously welcomed in by the Ecuadorians. Twenty-seven hungry, tired, and stressed-out people were fed immediately and given a place to rest our heads. If that’s not God, I don’t know what is. Looking back at this time of desperation and disappointment, it would be a shame to not see how intentional God was through it all and that He always provides.
I would say that today was the most eventful day for me. First, I started off with my best day working on the construction portion because I was more motivated to get the job done today more than the others. The job that was assigned was to dig a ditch large enough to fit a pipe and then we were told to cover the pipe back up. I really enjoyed todays work because digging is fun, and I didn’t care about getting dirty. Then, we got the chance to do a few of the teaching activities with some kids. And that was very exciting because one of the reasons why I wanted to come on this trip was to see the kids and grow connections with them. I think my favorite thing about today was going with Brittany and Charlotte to see their sponsor kids. We went to go see Brittany’s first and it was his birthday today. That was probably the sweetest thing I ever saw because seeing his little face bright up when he opened his gift from Brittany was so precious. And then we saw Charlotte’s kid when we went to his family’s store in the square and his family was just the sweetest and so welcoming too. This experience and this whole trip have really opened my eyes to what these kids live like, yet they are always smiling and always so much energy that fills my heart.
Throughout our 2022 Ecuador trip and my second Ecuador trip, I have had the luxury of being reminded of the power of a simple smile. Today we had a unique opportunity of going up to a school for some of the indigenous kids in the Misaualli area. Some of our team was responsible for painting one of the rooms in this two-room schoolhouse, while the other was hanging out and teaching the school kids. I was part of the painting group, which was good because I was able to use a combination of my height and reckless abandon to get to some of the tough parts of the wall we had to paint. If a picture of this painting is released, I’m sorry Mom, but I can’t promise that I won’t do it again. After this successful day of painting, I was blessed with the ability to hang out and play with some of the students. Throughout a solid 40 minutes of soccer, I struggled to even communicate a word to most of these kids as my horrible Spanish, and their limited Spanish, due to it being a second language, resulted in very little common ground. I struggled to understand how I could try and love on these kids without the luxury of language, but after about 10 minutes I decided to just wear a smile and see what would happen. Throughout the rest of the time, I was blown away by the shear power of this smile and energy. I have realized in writing this that one of the greatest connections we have with the world is the love and kindness that we can share with other people. As I move forward, I hope that I can always remember the power of a smile and the ways that I can use is to show love to everyone around me.
Hey everyone! Nancy Malone here. First of all, can I just tell you all that we have some pretty amazing kids / young adults serving from Alpharetta Methodist? I have witnessed (and experienced) incredibly HARD WORK and have heard literally ZERO complaining! You should be very proud to have such excellent representation here in Ecuador.
Now, to give you part of my personal experience on this trip. I can sum it all up by a single word: TRUST. This entire trip has been a reminder of God’s protection and a deepening of my trust in the Lord. We started our trip with a blown tire on the church bus on the way to the airport. We were protected. We came to Ecuador knowing there was some unrest in the country between the indigenous people and the government. We had no idea how it might impact our trip, but trusted we were making the right decision to come. We were stopped on the way to the jungle by a couple of blockades. We were protected. We turned around and unexpectedly found ourselves in Baeza. The people of Baeza agreed to feed and house us for the night. We were protected. We made it into the jungle without issue the next morning. We were protected. We worked hard at the school each day. We were protected. As of this evening, it was determined that we will not be able to drive back to Quito for our flight home because the unrest has been escalating. We have secured a flight to Quito to avoid all roadblocks and unrest. We will be protected. Every step of the way, we have had “God Wink” moments reminding us that He is here working ahead of us and He is asking that we lean in a trust Him…
NONE of these things are in my control. ALL of these things are in God’s hands. I choose to TRUST in Him and His plan. In the meantime, I’m working and sweating A LOT, playing with beautiful Ecuadorian children, and chasing adorable monkeys (and some not so adorable ones were chasing me).
Greetings All! Today has been a beautiful day here in Misahualli! Our team has enjoyed a full day of service at Antioch School. We continued work at the school this morning. It was a rainy morning but our team did an awesome job in persevering through the conditions. After another delicious lunch, we headed back up to the school and had the chance to teach some of the local students in 4th-6th grade. It was wonderful to have the chance to share with them some of the preparations that our Education Committee have worked so hard on. We haven’t had the chance to teach so far this week as the students have been doing virtual learning this week due to the local protest. JKC graciously sent out a special invitation to local students in the grades we would have taught at and presented the opportunity to work with them this afternoon. We enjoyed a bible teaching, math and science projects. It was a fun day! Please enjoy some pictures from the day and some testimonies from our students.
Today was a fun day. In the morning, we worked at the school. I helped organize bookshelves and then scrapped walls to get them ready for paint. In the afternoon, we went to the school to teach. We taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. We did math and science. Joy and I helped a little girl named Madelin with her work. After we finished the schoolwork, we got to play with the kids. We did things like knock out, volleyball and just hung out. So far during the trip, I have learned to trust God’s plan. There have been many things leading up to the trip and during the trip where I had to remember that God had a plan and He won’t let us fail. I have had a great trip so far and can not wait for the rest of the week.
As I’ve traveled through Ecuador this week there’s been lots of things that have stood out to me such as service and the worship sessions, but one stood out. Ecuador has spoke to me through God’s creations and beautiful views. Even on the first day of the trip I got bullied for loving the clouds and how we were playing soccer with the girls from Dunamis in a cloud. But it’s true, I was most set on the clouds during the days in Dunamis and the animals and jungle at JKC. It just shows me what God is capable of and what I’m missing out on while in Alpharetta. Every day of the trip I have sat down and marveled at a view for at least 5 minutes. I would just stare at clouds or animals or the giant cactus in the middle of a jungle. The waterfalls, mountains and volcanoes towering over the rivers and valleys have just been the highlight of my trip so far and have shown me that there’s tons of beauties even in countries we are sent to help. I’m not saying any other part of the trip has been worse, except for the riots, because I have loved bonding with the kids and helping the organizations out in any way I can. The views have just stood out more to me so far. Also, the food is really good, but yeah the views have been great.
I met a little girl, Jamie, who was very shy at first, but by the end of the day we were teasing each other while playing basketball. I was so touched that we were able to form a friendship in such a short time. My experience as a tutor allowed me to help Jamie understand the fraction activity with Legos. Later, I spoke to the group about the science topic of mixtures. I put rocks, pebbles, and sand in a jar as an example of a heterogenous mixture. The rocks represented the most important things in our lives (God and family); the pebbles represented the other things of lesser importance that still matter, such as friendships; the sand represented material possessions and things we can live without, such as the latest trends. Oh, and a baby monkey jumped on my back this morning! Today was so much fun!
We are back again! Today was an amazing experience as we had the opportunity to invest for a full day at the school. Our work shift was in the morning and ran from 8:30-12:00. The kids did an amazing job furthering work on the projects we began yesterday! Some of our projects include helping with the foundation for a new classroom building, doing work filling around a new septic system for their new bathrooms and helping dispose of an old wood deck that was on the back of the residence home. Great progress was made today! After our work shift, we enjoyed a delicious lunch and walk downtown to enjoy some ice cream. Around 3:00PM, we headed back to the school and hosted a small field day for the girls in the residence home and the children of the missionaries on campus. It was such a sweet afternoon of playing games and connecting with those children. By the end of the time, we felt we had built some special bonds and many laughs were shared! Today has been closed out with dinner, worship and preparations for tomorrow. Please enjoy some pictures from the day below and also a couple more blurbs from our students!
Today was my favorite day of the trip so far. We started off the day by going to JKC and we worked on constructing a new building on the campus. We got so much done so that felt AMAZING! But my absolute favorite thing that happened today was having the opportunity to go back to JKC after lunch and play with the kids. I met so many girls who were so excited to see and hand out with us. They were constantly putting a smile on my face and were just so excited to see and hang with all of us. They are truly the sweetest kids and were the highlight of my day. I saw the Holy Spirit in each of these girls through their positive attitudes and bright personalities. I loved being able to spend time with them and they already have such a special place in my heart.
Hey y’all! It’s Lily Moore, and this is my first time coming to Ecuador! I was ecstatic to be able to finally come on the trip this year, and although it has not gone the way I thought it would, I am just so incredibly grateful to be here. Today, I got the chance to do the devotion and to share God’s word with my teammates and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to do so. I spoke about trusting the Lord and putting your full trust in Him. I referenced Psalm 62:8, as it talks about trusting in Him at all times and pouring your heart into Him because He is our refuge. He has the solutions to the problems, questions, and burdens that feel impossible to be solved. He has the wisdom we need for living each day. I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to share with the amazing people on the trip with me and I am so excited to see what else the trip holds for us. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers! Thank you!
We have had a great first few days! We would love for you to be able to hear from a few of our team members! Enjoy!
Hey guys! It’s Joy Greene, and this is my first trip to Ecuador. It’s definitely been a long few days but I’m grateful for every second of it. Our trip started off with a detour to a hostel where we were taken care of by some wonderful people. The following day, we made our trip to Dunamis and were taken on a tour of the property and introduced to the girls staying there. To see the progress made on the campus has been absolutely amazing, even though I’ve only seen pictures before. During the full day we were at Dunamis, we painted the top floor of what will be a home for 14 girls and their children, writing blessings on the wall to ask that God watches over the beautiful children there. To our surprise, the girls made their way into the top floor and began entering various rooms as we painted. Two girls entered the room I was painting in and introduced theirselves. Although we didn’t share the same language, the girls were speaking in their best English and I made an attempt at my best Spanish, and over the next two hours I got to know the precious girls in front of me. We learned about each others’ favorite colors, animals, foods, and what they like to do. Although these girls come from trauma I could never imagine, they painted to the point where it got all over their hair and clothes and proceeded to giggle as hard as they could with me. It was amazing to see these two girls so care-free and happy as we painted the walls of a building that will change lives, including their own, forever.
Hey everyone! This is Brittany Grigorian and this is my 3rd trip to Ecuador! The past few days have been a whirlwind but I’m more grateful than ever to be back in the jungle! Working with Dunamis was extra special because we finally got to meet the girls that we have heard so much about. Hearing about their stories and seeing their faces made everything so touching, and it was eye-opening to hear about the challenges that girls younger than me have been through. While Charlotte and I were painting a room with primer, Charlotte asked the Dunamis girls if they knew the song “Waymaker.” The girls all broke out singing it in English and it was truly a moment I won’t forget. Then the next morning during our worship service with them, we sang “Waymaker” in English and then also in Spanish and it was a beautiful moment revealing just how much the Lord has touched their lives. Yesterday, before our departure for the jungle, I experienced a bit of altitude sickness, but thanks to all the moms, I was good to go by the time we left the hostel to go to the jungle. It was so exciting to finally be back in Misahualli after all these years of not going. During construction yesterday, I was put on photo duty since I was still recovering and rehydrating, so all the beautiful photos you saw from work yesterday were by me ;). Last night for dinner we had some missionaries from the Antioch school over, and it was very inspiring to hear their stories and how they have truly trusted God with their life, even when they don’t know what that would look like. I also got to hang out with their little kids, and they were adorable! This morning I was able to participate with the actual work in construction, and it was exhausting but fulfilling! Please keep us in your prayers this week and pray for us to maintain positive attitudes (even in the heat) and continue to build each other up! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings!
This trip continues to amaze me. While there have been many challenges along the way, God has been at work the entire time. The first day in Dunamis we were painting with the girls, and they all started singing the worship song Waymaker. A girl that I had been painting with, knew little English and we struggled communicating; however, we both knew the words to Waymaker. God showed me that even though we both don’t speak the same language God bonds us in an amazing way. I had a similar experience the next morning. We had an opportunity to worship with the girls and I shared my favorite bible verse Jeramiah 29:11. A girl in the front row got so excited because it was her favorite too. I read the verse in English, and she read the verse in Spanish. Again, God was showing me that even though we don’t speak the same language he is the same for both of us. Another amazing opportunity God provided me with today was seeing the student at Antioch I have sponsored the past 3 years. I met Jorge the last time I came to Ecuador, and I’ve sponsored him since. Today while we were working, he came onto campus and Grayson brought him over to where I was working. I screamed out of excitement. I was so excited, and I might have scared him a bit, but I was able to talk to him and see all God has done in his life. He didn’t 100% remember me right away but after showing him pictures of us he got so excited and remembered. When we weren’t sure if we would make it into the jungle this moment was all I wanted and would’ve been heartbroken if it didn’t happen. Luckily it was not just in my plan, but it was also in God’s plan. I can’t wait to see what God has instore for the rest of the trip, and while things have not entirely gone to plan God is still working and something Lucas shared with us Sunday night was if it not good, God is not finished.
Greetings All! We have had an eventful past few days! On Sunday, we began our initial travels to Misahuallí. Around Tena (about 1 hour from our destination), we were stopped in our journey due to a protest. We backtracked to a small town named Baeza and were able to stay at this lovely hostel for the night. After a night of dinner, worship and bonding, we were able to wake and press on toward Misahuallí and finally arrived yesterday around lunch! We are so excited to be in the jungle!
After arriving, we enjoyed a wonderful day of serving at Antioch School, dinner with Jungle Kids for Christ missionaries and our first downtown walk and ice cream run! It was the perfect afternoon and we are so excited to invest further this week. There will be many post to come today as we are settled in and fully ready to share this journey with you all. Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
During our devotion on the first night, we shared what we were most excited about and most nervous about for the trip. Today I experienced what I was most nervous about, putting faces to the stories I have heard about Dunamis. We spent the entire day at Dunamis, an organization dedicated to providing a home, education and future for girls rescued from sex trafficking. We met the 14 girls and 5 babies currently living at Dunamis. We spent time with them, painting the new building which will be ready in January (it will house 16 girls and their babies), playing a soccer match, and hanging out with them in their current home. I was afraid I would never be able to forget their faces. And I was right, I won’t, but not for the reason I thought. I will never forget that thanks to Dunamis, they are learning about a God that loves them. I will think of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I will never forget their smiles, laughter and resilience and I will hope and pray for their future.
Hey Everyone! Greetings from Quito, Ecuador. As of 9:00PM, our team has arrived and we are at the hostel that we are staying at for the night. We are excited to head to serve with Dunamis tomorrow bright and early. Thank you for all your prayers and support. We look forward to sharing many more updates over the course of the next days!