Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A January of New Beginnings!

The month of January started off with a visit to Cotacachi- the town where CFC Missionaries, George and Linda Hege, were working with a team!  We not only had the joy of seeing George and Linda, one of the first missionaries we'd talked to about our interest in missions over 20 years ago, but we met two CFC'ers we'd never met before from our home church in PA - one who is friends with our son Josh!  We also began a new relationship with Washo, an Ecuadorian leader who is passionate about ministry!

George and Linda!
We participated in our first church work day - a "minga."  Many from the church came to clean up the property where our church building will be built  - Glenn worked outside and I helped in the kitchen - preparing lemonade through the morning and a huge Ecuadorian meal to thank the workers at 1pm!

before the work began...
the work in process...
after - a lot ready for construction!
The happy kitchen crew!

One of the Primero de Mayo youth, Alexandra, began her year of intense discipleship and training at Word of Life, Quito, this month!  We're SO excited for her - and for all those whose lives she'll touch!  Glenn and I got to visit her at the training center - the day before they left for further training and preparation at the campgrounds nearby!

We then visited with the PBU team who came to serve God in Quito!  What a joy to see my friend/fellow Social Worker/PBU professor, Juliet, and to share with mission-minded PBU'ers HERE in Ecuador!

Our month ended with a Pastor's Conference - the bi-annual meeting of our association of churches' pastors and delegates - here in Primero de Mayo!  Our church members provided and prepared the food for, and hosted overnight (in 7 different homes!), the 35 men and women in attendance! 

The Pastors, delegates, treasurer and secretary pose in front of our church property with our NEW sign...
and in front of the building where the church will meet!

Gissela helps Glenn transport the food to the Community Center where we are currently meeting!
I learned a lot about Ecuadorian cooking from Dilita, Paty and the kitchen crew!

Church members served the food to the pastors - here, Orlando serves the food Cayambe is famous for - bizcochos - while in the background Lynford gives the Crossworld missionaries' report!
Every church and ministry represented gave their report...it was a long 2 days of meetings!
We added new touches to our home this month...a photo of Rachel and Josh, that they gave to us for Christmas, and two statues  - a Christmas gift from our Pastor's wife here - so that "Rachel and Josh" could always be in our home!  :)

The photo is on the wall between the windows...thought I'd show you how well it fits in our living room!
We also ended the month with the joy of starting a new Bible Study in the city of Cayambe!  Glenn and Vicente, one of the Primero de Mayo Church deacons, met with 2 men last week and 6 this week!  Thank you for your prayers!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Josh Visits and we celebrate a Cayambe-area Christmas and New Year!

What a joy to have our son, Josh, visit with us Dec 19, 2011 - Jan 2, 2012!  What fun to experience an Ecuadorian Christmas and New Year!  Here's a review in fotos!  Enjoy - we did!  :)
We waited for Josh to join us to set up and decorate our tree...and we're glad we did!

We visited the Peguche Waterfall with Josh - just like we did with Rachel!

What a special place Peguche is now that we've been there with BOTH of our children!

Peguche and then Mount Mojanda were a photographer's paradise for Josh!  He especially loved riding in the back of the truck on our way up to Mojanda:

Josh and Glenn loved climbing up one of the peaks of Mojanda...tho it was cold and misty!  Susie stayed in the car and read...and listened to Josh hooting and hollering as they slid back down the mtn!

On December 22nd, the winter solstice, we visited the REAL middle of the world and posed on the equator - just 10 minutes from our home!

Then the ministry began!  As a church, we helped to coordinate and present four Christmas programs and went Christmas caroling in our neighborhood - Primero de Mayo!
Before Josh arrived, we presented the Biblical account of Christmas at our pastor, Pablo's, place of work - a Rose Plantation! 
What a joy it was to watch SO many children and their parents listen as the good news of God's love was clearly presented in skits and in songs - here by Pablo and his daughter, Estefany!

Pablo immediately saw Josh's potential as a clown and asked Josh to join him in the Christmas program at one of our church attender's nursery school in Juan Montalvo!
Josh, Glenn and I helped out in sharing the message of salvation from sin using puppets!

Our third Christmas Program was in the small, indigenous mountain community of Pesillo.  One of our teen's friends is the director of a nursery school there and asked us to co-lead their program:
The team from our church once again began by making animal balloons - which the children received at the end of the program with a gift and a bag of cookies and candies - an Ecuadorian tradition!
What a privilege to share God's Word here!  As an indigenous community, their belief in the spirit-world is strong.  This nursery school had just added a new building and their part of the Christmas program included a "huasipichai" -  a ceremony to clean out the evil spirits and inaugurate the use of the 2 classrooms.

Then we participated in the Primero de Mayo Christmas program, where the community president, Rene, presented the Christmas angels and their court!
Our church's part of the Community Christmas program involved Pablo and Josh as clowns, our Biblical-Christmas skit and puppets, and our youth, including Josh, singing Christmas songs! 

That night we gathered with some of our amazing neighbors to celebrate Christmas together!

Later that night we went Christmas caroling with the youth of our church in 1ro de Mayo!

On Christmas Eve day we decided to go up Mount Cayambe!
Although he struggled for breath due to the altitude, Josh made it to approximately 16,000 ft with his dad and enjoyed making a snowman!

We got home that evening and enjoyed watching our neighborhood's Christmas Eve celebration:
Besides a soccer game, there was a greased-pole with gifts on top - an activity they repeated on New Year's Eve!

We celebrated Christmas Day as a threesome and were blessed to be able to talk to Rachel and others in our family via Skype!  We joined our church in an afternoon of praising God for the gift of Jesus - and salvation and thus hope in Him!  
The next day the three of us took off for the beach - and to Isla de la Plata - the "poor-man's Galapagos!"
Blue-footed Boobies were EVERYWHERE on the Island and we saw 3 other species of birds, sea turtles and, while snorkeling,  tropical fish!  God's creation is amazing!

We came back to Cayambe and Glenn got to know some of the neighbor boys when they joined he and Josh in a game of soccer on the lot in front of our apartment...

And then Josh and Glenn had the joy of helping to build our church's "monigote."  The New Year's Eve tradition here is to build a representation of someone or something that represents the old year...
Our church, under the direction of our artistic pastor, Pablo, built a Papa Smurf!  When he was done, three of our church members cars paraded him around Cayambe!  Here they are, with Josh, passing our apartment building (on the left) while our neighbors were beginning their New Year's celebration!
He was brought to the center of the basketball court in the Primero de Mayo  Community Center, where we celebrated New Year's Eve with the church and community!
It was a great night getting to know the community.  Our church sponsored a monigote contest and Josh participated as one of the judges!  
It was a cold night, thus the bonfire, but the community participation was great!
Besides the monigote and old-year-widows' presentations and prizes, Josh had the joy of sharing his testimony of how God transformed his life!
After a great church-sponsored fireworks display, the community left and our church remained to say goodbye to the old year, by burning our monigote (another Ecuadorian tradition), and to pray in the new year together!  What a different, but special New Year's celebration for us!

On the way home we drove through Cayambe and Josh counted at least 150 monigote fires!

Back at home, on the lot in front of our apartment, some of our neighbors continued in their New Year's celebration, burning eucalyptus trees and dancing to loud music through 3am!

On New Year's Day we joined with our church again in the afternoon to thank God for the New Year.  Josh got to play soccer for his 3rd and most favorite time after the service.

Besides playing soccer, climbing Mount Cayambe and serving God with us, Josh wanted to eat "cuy" - guinea pig.  Our good friends, the Vivas family, gave us the FULL experience, MUCH of which I won't show you here:

Finally, it was time for Josh to return to PA...we were sad but SO thankful to God for the great 2 weeks with him!  Thanks for your ongoing prayers for us here in Ecuador - and for our family in PA!