Friday, February 27, 2009

Busses and taxis

Hm. the last two days. I have a story for you. My sister's birthday is on Monday, so on Thursday Grant and I went into the central to buy some ingredients to make cookies for her birthday and potentially find something fun to get her. We had no problems getting there and finding everything that we needed, and on the way back we had to take bus number 15 'Feria Libre' in order to get back to our houses. On the way back we just missed bus 15 and had to wait in the rain for a few minutes for another one. Not too long later we got on bus 15 and thought we were heading home. After a while we were looking around and thought, hm this doesnt look familiar. We thought that maybe we were on the wrong bus, but we looked at the front and it said 15 Feria Libre. So we rode for a little while longer and then we saw that we were about to go into the mountains. We knew we were on the wrong bus, but we thought that all of the busses took a circular type route and would eventually get back to where we were before so we could find the right bus. After about 1o minutes in the mountains, we (well mostly me) started to get really nervous and so I told Grant to call his sister. When he was talking to her she told us that we had to get off the bus right away because it wasnt going to turn around. At this point we had already been on the bus for almost an hour. So, we got off the bus in the middle of a mountain with no one around and little to no traffic. Grants sister told us that we needed to catch a bus going the other way and get back as soon as possible. Well we waited at a bus stop for a while and a bus passed but didnt stop. weird. then another passed and didnt stop. At this point it was starting to get really dark and I was freaking out! We called Grants sister again and told her that the busses werent stopping and they didnt have any passengers. So she told us that we needed to catch a taxi, but there were NO TAXI's around. There had been maybe one car that passed the whole time. So we waited, and I freaked out. Finally, a taxi passed and we tried to flag it down but he has passengers and he just kept going. At this point I was really worried that we were going to be there for a long time, and a stinking dog started barking and getting really close to us. It was not good. I was praying and trying not to freak out completely when the taxi from earlier came to get us, after he had dropped of his passengers. I was so thankful for God's provision and love at that moment. It was such a blessing. After and $8 fare and a 20 minute ride we made it home. Our families were freaking out and laughing all at the same time. Now that I look back it is a little funny, but while it was happening, it was NOT funny. I am so thankful that we made it back safely. When we got back our families said that sometimes they forget to take off the Feria Libre sign, so you have to ask and make sure. Glad we know that now. I would like to stay in Cuenca from now on!

Since that interesting incident, our lives have been alot less stressful. Today we had the opportunity to plan for the Sunday School ministry and learn from one of the leaders of the Church more of the structure and mission that the Church has. I really love seeing what their plan is for ministry and their vision for all of the people of the Church. We also met with the leader fo Sunday School at his office and he is looking for some changes to the ministry, and I cannot wait to get more involved and see what we can do to make it more effective. One of the really interesing things about Cuenca that the Verbo Church is seeking to utilize is the vast amount of Catholics. They think it is so important to recognize that most people in the Church and in the city come from a Catholic background, they want to teach to the Catholics more about Jesus and his redeeming sacrifice. I am really interested in knowing more about that and how they teach to the Catholics!

Tomorrow my sister and Grant and his sister are going to Turi, the highest point in all of Cuenca. Apparently we are able to see all of the city of Cuenca from the balcony of the Church there. I am really excited (and WILL remember my camara!) As we head into the weekend, Saturday with relaxation and Sunday with ministy all day, please pray that...
1. We will be safe in all that we do and trust in God's provision
2. We will be effective ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and give all that we have to Him.
3. We will be seeking Christ every day and not fall into complacency as we put alot of time into work and ministries.
and 4. That we will be living in the moment and recognize that everyday is a gift from God.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cuy: Guinea Pig

Now that Carnival is over, I look back and wonder how we fit it all into just four days. I cannot explain the type of excitement and pure joy that comes over everyone in Ecuador during this glorious holiday. We spent the last two days in the mountains again, this time celebrating with both My host dad's and my host mom's families. On Monday it was really warm here and we were able to have fun and get really wet without freezing to death, or as they say here, "Me muerdo de frio" For lunch, we had guinea pig. This wouldnt be that big of a deal, but they dont take off the meat and serve it to you, they cook the rodent over the fire right in front of you, and then just out it on your plate. Head, arms, legs and inner organs in all. It was quite the challenging experience, it took alot of mental preparation to get it all down. But, when I was finished I was really proud, it definitly wasnt the best tasting thing in the world, but with alot of hot sause and rice it wasnt terrible! Then in the afternoon when it started getting cold we all changed into warm clothes and sat around playing cards, getting up occasionally to dance. Fear not, it was 'choreagraphed.' The only bad part of Monday was the enormous amount of bug bites I got on my legs. These are not normal mosquitos around here, they left huge marks on my legs and are still driving me crazy today! Next time, Ill pass on the large insects!

Tuesday was really relaxing around here, but it was freezing. Here when it is cold, it is really cold, because the house is almost the same temperature as the outside. You cant get away from it, no matter where you are you feel cold. So we all gathered close to the space heater in the cabin and told funny stories. It was really fun to see people get really into their stories. They were standing up and demonstrating what they were doing, its great because it helps me to understand better too! I am really thankful that yesterday was relaxing because today is back to reality with classes and work.

One of the things that I have noticed and really appreciated about my host dad here in Ecuador is his calm demeaner and ability to think through situations before reacting. Yesterday, after a long day with family, we were heading home and our car started to overheat really quickly and we didnt have any water with us and we were in the middle of no where. Normally, I would have expected anyone to start to worry and get anxious, but my dad stayed really calm and was thinking of ways to get out of the situation. In the end we turned of the engine and coasted down part of the mountain to a house where he asked for water so that we could make it home. When we got home he just started working on it and thinking the best way to fix it. Never once did he freak out. Now, we are here with only one working car and this morning my sister and I had to get dropped of instead of driving and we will probably run into some problems later, but I am sure that it will be handled calmly and with ease.

As I finish off this week with classes, ministry and any other activities that come up, please pray that I...
1. have my eyes open to what God wants for me, and that I will be aware of those around me.
2. will react to situations more like my host dad does, thinking through them and not reacting too quickly
3. will continue to improve in Spanish and feel comfortable using it whenever I am around people
and 4. please pray that I will my words will be encouraging and uplifting in every situation.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pig's Blood: Karaoke: Flat Tires: Late Nights

Well, these last two days have been nothing like I was anticipating them to be. I need to first confess that if I was better at having my camara and taking pictures you would be much more interested, but because I am terrible at having my camara at the right time, I have no pictures for you. Anyway, on Saturday morning I went with my family into the Country, which here is actually the mountains, where they have a vacation home that they bought and are fixing up. They eventually want to be able to rent it out to people visiting Ecuador. It is really an awesome home even though it is still unfinished. They have this huge back deck that looks out over the whole mountain, and even though we are about a 45 minute drive from Cuenca, you can see almost the whole city. The view is breathtaking, and it is really rural so you feel like no one else is around. We took a little walk around their property and I could feel the presence of God surrounding me in this untouched beautiful land. We spent only a little time at the house, but you could see in my family's eyes that they love this place and have poured alot of their time and energy into making it theirs. After we left the country, the adventure began. We were going into another small city that my dad had only been to once, and although he thought he knew where he was going, we got really lost. Not only did we get lost, but we were on these small dirt roads going up and down this huge mountain with no one around. After about two hours of driving these windy and rough roads, if you get car sick you would have died, we finally found the place that we were looking for. Apparently they have the best chancho (pig) around. So we ate fresh roasted pig at a picnic table with tons of people playing Carnival all around! One of their favorite parts of the pig is the skin, they torch it until it is hard like a potato chip, and then they just break it off and eat it. It is actually really gross, but they all love it. At this stop we also bought some pig blood and karoake. Karoake is like this huge bottle of shaving cream with confetti mixed in, and for Carnival they spray anyone that they pass. It is actually really funny, because even my parents think it is the funniest thing ever. So we were going to drive around and throw the blood and karoake at people, but before we could even get a block away we got a flat tire. Luckily we had a spare and the tools to change it, because there was not really any place around that could have helped us. After we got that changed and set, we did some shopping, threw some carnival love, and then came home to relax. My sister needed to work on this project for her friend's birthday, so I sat down at the kitchen table and we talked, listened to music and had craft time together. I felt like I was back at school, that is a regular occurance for me at Taylor.

Now Sunday, what an insane and wonderful day. We woke up really early because we were going to go to the vacation house with my dad and his sisters. At least that is what they told me, so we got up around 6:30 and left by 8:00, it was supposed to be 7:00 but I think we all knew that was not going to happen. On our way to pick up the sisters they were talking about how many people there were going to be and I thought, ok he has three sister so there will be eight of us. Wrong, there were 27 of us, his sisters and all of their extended family. It was loud and crazy but so much fun! We were all in this fairly small house talking and making food and playing cards and taking walks and making taffy and building large bond fires. It was really fun to get to know some more of the Fajardo's family and get to practice more Spanish. I am fairly confident that not one person in their family spoke English, except for this four year old boy that knew his colors and numbers in English. We had alot of fun together because we would talk and then he would always ask me how to say things in English. It was really precious, he is a really bright boy. Anyway, at night when the bon fire was going, the whole city of Cuenca was lit up and it was incredible. The lights and the houses on the mountains and the carnival music playing, it was all really surreal. We were at the house until almost 10p.m. and we still had a long drive home. Once we got home we were all beat and ready for bed when we got a phone call. One of my dad's sisters, that was at the house with us, came home to find that her apartment had been robbed. She was a wreck so we all went over to her house to help her talk to the police and try to help calm her down. It was a terrible ending to a beautiful day. We spent two more hours at her house talking to her and praying with her and helping her figure out what to do next. My heart was breaking for her and her two girls. The only thing that was great about the situation, was the way that all of the men in her family and most of the girls too came to her home to support her and love on her. I think that it is pretty incredible the bond of family here and the protective spirit that they have for each other.

We have two more days of Carnival left and I think my brother and I are going to go for a bike ride today. As we enter into these next few days, please pray for...
1. My dad's family, especially his sister and the trauma that she has just been through. Please pray that she will feel God's protection and the love that He has.
2. Rest, I think every one in the family is beat after the long day and even longer night.
3. God to be apparent to me everywhere that I go, that He would be eminating everything that I do.
and 4. that everyone would be safe and have fun in these last two days of Carnival!

Friday, February 20, 2009


Well, the time has come when Carnival has started. It is an ancient tradition here in Ecuador that they have a four day vacation at the beginning of the rainy season to mark the time of planting. While it used to be a time when the natives would laugh and enjoy each others company while celebrating the time of a new season, now it has turned into a four day water fight for all. As my sister and I, and Grant and his sister, were walking home from work today, Grant and I surprised our sisters with a first splash of fun. The excitement isnt really in getting each other wet, the excitement comes in finding creative ways to surprise your friends! Everyone here in Ecuador is so excited about Carnival and praying for warm weather so we dont freeze when we get water thrown on us!

There has been alot of happenings in these last few days. On Wednesday Grant and I had our first planning meeting for the Discipleship ministry down here, and we are really excited about the possibilities that come with that. We are pumped to learn more about their plans and see the ministry in action. Also on Wednesday we had another meeting for S.O.S. It was definitely a small accomplishment for me because one of the girls that came was the same girl that I talked to on Friday night, so we were able to talk again and there is a relationship starting. It is really exciting to see that happening. She was really vulnerable during the small group time, and I am hoping that tonight we will be able to talk again and that a trust can form. I know that it is only a small step, but I am hoping that it can be a relationship that is encouraging and glorifying to God.

Yesterday was an encouraging day, and I felt like I got alot accomplished. After our early morning Spanish classes, I spent quite alot of time studying Spanish and working on homework for various other things. In the afternoon I had some free time so I was able to get on skype and talk to a few people. It is always really encouraging to talk to friends from home and learn about what is going there! Then, after dinner my sister and I cleaned up the kitchen and cooked lunch for today. As we were cooking my brother David was playing songs on the guitar and singing. We had a ton of fun singing, cooking and sometimes dancing. I love spending time with my family, it is so much fun and they are so kind! Everyday that I can communicate with them better is an accomplishment and exciting to get to know them better as well.

As we look forward to this Carnival Vacation, please pray for...
1. Our ministry here, that we will be glorifying to God and spreading His love wherever we go.
2. The safety of anyone traveling, they have had alot of mud slides from the mountains, and the roads are really bad around here.
3. Our emotional health, alot of people are struggling, and that makes everything so much harder to experience with an open mind.
and 4. Please pray for the people that we meet and the people of Ecuador, that they will experience God and come to know Him as their Savior.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Today has been a really refreshing day. This is the first day since we have been here that we do not have a meeting in the afternoon, or someplace to be after lunch. This was so great because I was able to play catch up and feel like I was accomplishing alot. I was also able to spend a little extra time with God today and spend alot of time in prayer. It was just such a refreshing afternoon, I am really thankful for this time.

Yesterday, Monday, was a really challenging but excitng day for me. Right after our Spanish class Grant and I were able to skype with Faye Chechowich (our CE professor) and Heather Sommer (our off campus director). This was such an encouraging time for Grant and I. We were able to talk about all of the exciting opportunities that we have had and also express a few concerns. But, I know that we both left the meeting feeling encouraged and supported. It is always good to hear encouaging news from home! Also, in the afternoon we had a meeting with Gustavo Leon to talk about our ministy experiences so far, and also to learn about the discipleship ministry at the Church. The discipleship ministry is something that Grant and I are both really interested in, and after hearing about some of the plans that Gustavo has we were really excited to get involved. I think that we can learn alot from this ministry, and also do our best to help out in any way possible. I am excited to see what God has in store for this ministry and for the rest of our experience here!

Last night we were able to go out with the Consolidation group into the homes of visitors that had come to the Church. During this time we split into groups of two in order to go into the homes and share the Gospel with these new people. Grant and I were split into different groups and taken to different homes. Although it was exciting to see this ministry in action, it was difficult being only with one other person and going into a strangers home. I spent most of the time in the home listening to what Joeh Carrera had to say and praying that God would do big things in the hearts of the family that we were with. I didnt have alot to say because John does this every week and he knows what is going on, so I talked some at the beginning about thier family and their jobs, but other than that I listened to John sharing the Gospel. He was very passionate and excited about what he had to say, and it was very evident in the way that he shared. At the end it was really incredible because this family of four accepted Christ as their personal Savior and were interested in coming back to the Church. After someone accepts Christ in the Church, they do their best to get them plugged in to a home group where they can be fed and encouraged as much as possible. I am really amazed at how proactive they are about sharing the Gospel and getting people involved. The experience was definitely uncomfortable most of the time, but the experience was well worth the uncomfortable feeling.

After this encouraging and somewhat relaxing day, I am looking forward to a busy week. As I enter into this week and seek to get more involved in the ministries at the Church, please pray...
1. That I will depend fully on God and be tuned into what He wants me to do Daily
2. That I will continue to improve in Spanish and feel more comfortable talking to native speakers in every situation.
3. That our group will feel the presence of God here and that they will not get discouraged with longings for home or the norm.
and 4. That the people of Cuenca will see the majesty of God and that they will be open to His love and saving grace.

Thank You to those who have been so encouraging and supportive during this time away from home. Your prayers and words have been such a blessing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Rainy Day

These last few days have been really rainy, but it looks alot different than rainy days in Indiana. Although there are clouds in the sky and rain falling, the sun is still shining and it doesn't downpour. It is the kind of rain that falls lightly all day long, and you just don’t seem to mind to walk in it! I love the smell of the air when I walk outside as it is raining or after it has just let up. It just seems to be so refreshing to everything and everyone!

On Friday Grant and I spent almost our whole day at the Church doing Church Administration learning. We learned alot of interesting facts about the Church and we learned some behind the scenes work that goes on in order for all of the ministries to happen and for Sunday's to run smooth! This was also the first day that Grant and I went to meetings and did some work projects without someone with us that spoke English. That is right, we sat in three meetings that were all in Spanish, and we actually did an ok job. In our last meeting, Grant and I took a taxi to Marcielo Avielo's office (He is the man at the Church who runs the Sunday School for the kids), and we sat, just the three of us to talk about Sunday School. As we were sitting there drinking coffee and conversing in Spanish I had this overwhelming sense of being a grown up! It was so funny, we are beginning to be able to do things here independent of others, and every little step is a big accomplishment for us over here! We also had our second meeting with the S.O.S. ministry at the Church. The Friday meetings are more like a hangout and form relationships time. I met some interesting people and had some good conversations. Friday was definitely a day that ended with the feeling of accomplishment.

Saturday, El Dia de San Valentine, was quite the hopping day around Cuenca. Apparently, Cuenca loves Valentine's day just at much as the girls in the dorm with boyfriends do! But, my group of other Taylor students had a small trip to some of the smaller cities around Cuenca where we did some shopping, went to a delicious smelling fruit market, and got to taste some interesting foods. At one of the butcher's that we went to we got to taste Pig Skin. Literally, they just torch the pig skin until it is very hard, like a potato chip, and they scrape off the burnt part and then just eat it. If I hadn’t known what it was I would have thought it was a thick potato chip, but one side of it was a little I was a little grossed out! Anyway, in the night time we went to Maria De Lordes' house where as a whole group we were able to just talk about our experience so far and eat some American Food (Pizza Hut Pizza!) We had alot of fun and it is always good to catch up with our other team members because they all have class together, but Grant and I are very separate from them. One of my favorite things to do when we are all together is to share stories of our families or experiences that have been different or maybe even a little weird for us!

Sunday, The day of rest...or not! Sunday's are generally one of our busiest days throughout the week, because we get to serve and spend most of our day at the Church again. Today we had our first experience with the Sunday School ministry for the kids ages 5-12! Although it was really interesting and seems to run really well for the amount of kids that they have, 50-70 each service, this week was not a normal week. There was a special service happening downstairs in regular Church so most of the teachers were helping with that and not at Sunday School, so we did worship and then we just showed a movie. But, when it was done, we held a little simon says for the kids. It is ALOT more difficult to think of things fast and tricky for kids who speak the language MUCH better than you do. But, it was a fun challenge!

My favorite part by far of today was eating snacks with my mom and sister here in my sisters bed, having us all three fall asleep on a full size bed, and wake up an hour later all kind of in a daze. My family here is so close, and they have definitly taken me in as one of their own. I feel so blessed to have an amazing family and feel really encouraged by them! As I look forward to tomorrow and Tuesday, please pray for...

1. Our first experience going into the homes of visitors of the Church with the ministry of Consolidation. Please pray that Grant and I will have confidence when entering the homes, and that God will give us ears to really hear the needs of the people and also the words to speak back

2. Our emotional stability, as the time seems to be coming when reality sets in a little more that we still have three more months to go before we go home. Please pray especially that our entire group will learn to live in the present and see this experience for the gift that it is.

3. That I will continue to learn Spanish, and especially that I will see the progress I am making as such a rich reward from God. I know that He is doing alot of work here!

and 4. Please pray that The people of the Church and especially the People of Ecuador will see God and be open to the amazing plan that He has for their lives!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Learning to Listen

These last couple of days have been flying by! I never seem to stop moving or going to meetings or sitting in class. On Tuesday night we had a special Valentines Day service at the Church that my sister was helping to put on, so I went at 5:30 to help her set up and get everything ready. We cut out paper hearts, put red balloons in the hallway, set out candles in the front and passed out roses to everyone that came. It was a really neat project that they are trying to do for the youth in the Church. They are helping them to see God and put their focus on Him during this season when many young people seek love and affection from other people. After the service we cleaned up and got back around midnight, everyone was so tired, including me!

Yesterday I had my first exposure to the ministry S.O.S. It is a ministry that they have at the Church that is targeted towards those people who have addictions and are looking for a way out. It is for those that have addictions to drugs or alcohol, but also those that have an addiction to abusive relationships or an unhealthy way of living. It was really interesting seeing the way that the leaders of this ministry came along side these people and formed lasting relationships. They are helping them deal with their issues by living life alongside of them, encouraging them, and praying consistently for them. I am interested in learning more about this ministry, and finding ways to really serve the people that are seeking something new in their lives. One of the most exciting parts about last night was that after the pastor talked and was praying, there were three people who wanted to know Christ more and take the step of bringing Him into their lives. It was really powerful seeing these adults take the step out of addiction, and recognize that they can do it through Christ who is now living in them!

Also yesterday, I had a really fun day with my brother and sister here. Everyday I have a huge list of vocab words that I have to learn by the next morning, so I have this huge stack of notecards that I was trying to learn for today. Then my brother and sister came into my room and we were talking and they saw the list of vocab words, so my brother was quizzing me and separating out the ones I knew and didn’t know. When He went through all of them he counted how many I had right and how many I had wrong. Then He did the same thing to my sister, but from Spanish and she had to come up with the English word. Then, we had a competition to see who could guess them the fastest when He would act out the word and we had to guess what he was doing. But, I had to guess in Spanish and she had to guess in English. It was really funny, and some of the words that my brother had to act out were really funny to watch. Anyway, I was really thankful for that time. The more time that we spend together and laugh together, the more comfortable I get and the more fun we have!

Everyday I seem to be learning so much and getting much better at interacting with others. Tonight I have a meeting with the another ministry at the Church, and tomorrow I have a full day of Church administration. I am really interested in seeing what tomorrow looks like. I think we are going to have the opportunity to see more of how the Church is run. As I seek to learn more about the Church and continue my Spanish studies, please pray…

1. That I will seek God first in all of my decisions, and glorify Him with all that I do here.
2. That I will continue to improve with my Spanish and become more comfortable as I interact with others.
3. That Christ will be evident in my life and that the people that I work with will see Him clearly in all that I do.
And 4. Please pray that in the meetings tomorrow we will have clarity and have an open mind to all that we hear.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Finding time...

Tuesday. 20 minutes after finishing a four hour spanish class and I am beat.
This weekend was really fun. I didnt have alot of work to do because my classes had not officially started, and I was able to learn a little more about the culture of Cuenca and I was able to spend alot of time with my family. I spent all day Saturday with my host sister Sandy, and I met a bunch of her friends. I listened in on their worship band practice and I was so impressed. They have about 12 or 13 people in their worship band and it sounded so great! After worship practice everyone from all of the worship teams, probably about 45 people total, goes to someone's house for fellowship and prayer. It was so loud and crazy and so much fun!

Sunday was my first experience with the Church and I loved it. I met a ton of people at the Church, and I was even able to recognize some people that I had met earlier. I am beginning to feel a little at home which is so refreshing, but I still have a long way to go before I feel completely comfortable here. The rest of Sunday was spent studying, spending time with my family, and getting the opportunity to skype with some friends and family. Sunday was really refreshing and it was encouraging to talk to people from home. But, on Sunday night the cousin of my siblings here came over and we watched a movie and sat around and talked until after midnight. Needless to say, Monday morning at 6:30 was not a happy time.

Yesterday, Monday, was one of the longest days that I have had in a long time. I woke up early to get to class by 7:45. I had Spanish class from 7:45 until noon. I really needed that time of really intense studying of Spanish so that I can continue to improve with my Spanish, but my brain wants to shut off afterwards! So, I came home and had lunch with my family, took a 20 minute nap and then went on a bike ride with my brother. This was really fun becuase he speaks some English and helps me learn more Spanish, so as we were riding he was taking me through the city and showing me some of his favorite places. Then we got home just in time for me to catch a ride back to the Church for what I thought was going to be a 1 and a half or 2 hour meeting. From 4:00 until almost 8:00 I was in a meeting with Grant, Gustavo Leon (the Taylor Leasion for the Church), and about 12 ministry leaders from the church filtering in and out. 4 hours of meetings and I was so tired and overwhelmed. We met with almost every ministry leader at the Church in order to get a grasp on what each one does at the Church, and what their goals are. It was really interesting to talk to each person and see the passion that they have for their specific ministry. Anyway, after that I met up with my brother and sister who were getting the Church ready for today, which is a special service for Valentines Day. I was helping, and between the work that needed to be done, a visit to a friend who was sick, and a quick run to the Big Kahuna Burger stand, we didnt get home until 11 p.m. And I hadnt even started my homework. Last night was another long night, and today I am definitly feeling it.

Today during my Spanish class, I could already tell that I was improving, and my teachers here are so encouraging. They love to teach, and they are very helpful. I know that I am learning alot, because my brain hurts and because when I am in a conversation with someone, I dont have to say, "Como se dice...?" as much. This afternoon Grant and I are meeting to pray for the ministries that we met with earlier, and also to discuss what our plan of action is going to be for working with the ministries. Tomorrow we are scheduled to meet with the ministry S.O.S. (which is an addictions ministry) and the rest of the week we have more meetings with other ministries. As Grant and I meet, and as we anticipate investing time in other ministies, please pray...
1. That we will keep God as our focus, and seek to serve the Church in any way possible.
2. That the people that we meet with will be open to what we are saying, and will see Christ working in and through us.
3. That I will be refreshed and renewed each day with rest, and also in the Spirit.
and 4. That as I encounter new challenges and onstacles, that I will keep the goal of serving Christ, getting to know Him better, and learning new things in mind at all times.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A look into the weekend!

This truly has been an amazing week. I don't know if I have ever been challenged in so many different ways all at one time. Of course the language is a struggle, I was anticipating that, but I have also been challenged to see ministry in a different way, I have been challenged to get on a bus and just ride it to see where it goes, I have been challenged to embrace a new family as my own for four months, and I have been challenged to get on my knees in prayer more than I ever have in my entire life! These challenges have all made me think alot about God's plans and how different they can be then what we anticipate. It is pretty incredible to know that God has way bigger plans in store then I can even imagine. As I go through these different challenges, I continue to dwell on taht aspect of who God is and it is very comforting.

On Thursday I had lunch with a leadership team that runs a ministry called "Consolidation." Luckily they gave me a paper that explained alot about the ministry on it so that I could understand more while they talked. The paper was still in Spanish but I can understand Spanish quite a bit better when I can read it rather then trying pick up on all of the words while someone is in a conversation. Anyway, in this ministry that Grant and I will be observing and then serving in a group of people meet with anyone at the Church who is there for the first time and they have them fill out a first time card. This all sounds normal, but then on Monday nights they go into the homes of the visitors and they share the gospel! It was so surreal for me to hear that only one day or sometimes a week after meeting the visitors for the first time this group of leaders enters into thier homes and shares the gospel with them. I am really interested to see exactly how this works, on Sunday we are going to observe the ministry, and on Monday night we are going with a group into the homes of the visitors. I am really intimidated, but I am also so excited to see all of the different aspects of this evangelistic ministry. Apparently it is working, because in the last two or three years the church has grown from 300 atendees to 1700. God is doing big things through this Church and I cannot wait to see what else he has planned for them, or I guess now I can say us!

The central bus system here is so interesting, it is a very large system, but they do not have maps or even time schedules. But, if you ask any of the locals they can tell you exactly when and where the busses go. So, yesterday we learned how to just try it out and see where you end up. We did have a leader with us, but for the most part she was just taking us places so we could see a little about how it works! It was really interesting, but also kind of weird. We were definitly the center of attention, and we the 11 of us took up a good portion of the bus when we were one. I felt like I was back in second grade on a field trip! I hope that it pays off if ever I have to use the bus system!

I cannot even express how great my family is. Even though I cant communicate well with them they are so kind and always teaching me new things. I feel like my Spanish is improving everyday, but it is a slow process. Everyday something new happens where I feel like I am making a step in the right direction. Last night I went out with Sandy my host sister and a bunch of her friends from Church. We went to this place, I would describe it as an outdoor eating place where they served American food, and I had so much fun! I was able to interact with alot of them, many of them speak English because they are in the Univeristy here, so when I didnt understand they could use English, and if they didnt understand something in English I could try to explain it in Spanish. It was a really interesting experience. My favorite part of the night was when they got out their cell phones (interesting about here is that no one has an ipod, but they all have music on their cell phones and they use them as portable speakers!) and started playing music. One boy, I think his name was Andy, started playing YMCA, it was so funny because they loved it, but didnt know what any of the words were except YMCA. So, we were laughing, and I explained a little about the song and they thought it was hilarious! We probably listened to the song about 8 times! It was great, I am learning that sometimes I look like a fool, but they appreciate the effort. Alot of my free time is spent studying Spanish and then trying to use what I learned in the next conversation that I have.

I have felt so surrounded by prayers and encouragement throughout this week. I have found myself on my knees more then ever, and it has been such a rewarding experience. Thank you to those that have been praying as well, I so appreciate every one of them. As I look forward to the rest of this weekend and Church tomorrow, where I get my first experience with observing 'Consolidation,' please pray that...
1. The words that come out of my mouth will be encouraging and from God. (And in Spanish would be nice!)
2. I will continue to have bonding time with my family, and that I will be able to communicate better with them.
3. I will be open to what God has to teach me and be tuned into His will for my life.
4. The people of Ecuador will see the Maejesty of God that surrounds them, and seek Him first in thier lives.
and 5. (this is kind of selfish, but) please pray that when I speak to others, that I will not be so nervous with Spanish. [I have found that after I talk to someone, I think back and I know what they were saying, but i was too nervous at the moment to answer in a coherent way.]

Thursday, February 5, 2009


These last two days have been quite the whirlwind. We spent most of yesterday touring the city of Quito; we visited the Equator, took some fun pictures, and went to some really incredible and elaborate Churches. It is amazing to see buildings and architecture from the 1500’s that is so majestic and yet built without modern machinery. Also, the equator was really interesting; they did some experiments where we saw the water drain down in different directions in the sink on either side of the equator. Also, we were given the opportunity to try and balance an egg on the head of a nail. Apparently it is easier to do on the equator, but still only three of us were able to do it, and I was one! Ellie, Jenny and I all received certificates for our ability to balance an egg on the head of a nail. It was a really fun experience.

Then we took a 35 minute flight to Cuenca where we met our families! It was somewhat of a surreal experience because my host mom and dad were at the airport holding a sign that said “Kathie Barnes” (I guess just did their best to spell my name) and when they saw me they were so excited and speaking in Spanish so fast my brain was not keeping up. I felt so welcome and accepted by them, I just felt so bad that I couldn’t communicate better. We sat together and had dinner which consisted of Coffee and bread. I did it, I had coffee and it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but they have a milk base with a little coffee. I guess I can live with that. It was really interesting to just sit and listen to the family interact and try to pick up on any words that I could. I was able to jump in on some parts, but overall it was really difficult. I am praying that the more that I interact with them and the more that I am surrounded by the language the greater my vocabulary will become.

Today is my first day at the church. This morning we are meeting with Gustavo to talk about more of our roles in the Church. I am really excited about this, also Gustavo speaks English, so it will be nice to have a little break from the Spanish and actually understand everything that he is saying! I am sitting in the office of the Church right now and everyone is so kind and outgoing, I cannot wait to get more involved and get to know more of the people that I am surrounded by.

Yesterday I was reading in Isaiah, and I came across this verse that really challenged me as I have been struggling to keep up with the language and feeling a bit inadequate. Isaiah 2:22 “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” As I begin working at the Church today and have the opportunity to spend more time with my family, please pray that…
1. I will trust God with this whole situation and learn to let go of my pride.
2. As I spend more time here that my Spanish language skills will improve and that I will feel more comfortable speaking in all situations.
3. I will be open to new experiences and not be so intimidated by all of the changes.
And 4. please pray for the people of Ecuador and the leaders at the Church. Pray that they will see God and be tuned into His will.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Welcome to Quito!

Hola de Quito, Ecuador!

We made it! After a full day of traveling, some flight delays, and a long wait in the customs line we made it to Quito by midnight! We drove through the city, grabbed some food at the only resturant open at midnight and made it to bed by 2 a.m.

Today we spent the day traveling around the villages north of Quito. The weather and scenery here is incredible! I cannot even explain the majesty of the mountains and lakes in the area. It was about 75 degrees today and the sun was shining. It was the perfect way to being our long adventure in the country of Ecuador. Although Spanish is challenging and intimidating, the challenge of listening to the locals has been fun. I can pick up on most things, but forming sentances is the hard part. I've gotten pretty good at ordering food at resturants in the mean time.

After only getting 5 hours of sleep last night and spending alot of the day on a tour bus most of us are trying to keep our eyes open enough to get some contact with the world. There are five girls and I huddled in a stairwell, because it is the only place that we can get internet, all typing away and listening to Hannah Montana on a TV from the room we are sitting outside of! As we look forward to the adventure tomorrow, please pray...

1. For our flight to Cuenca
2. For the excitement and nerves that comes with meeting our host families tomorrow
3. For a good nights sleep tonight as tomorrow will be another long day
4. For all of our Spanish language skills, we are all a little rusty
and 5. for the continued growth of relationships with the other members of my team!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

One Last American Tradition

SuperBowl Day! It seems appropriate that my last day in the States is spent celebrating a very American tradition. Some part of me will definitely miss eating way too much junk food and sitting around a TV. I am not positive, but I don’t think that will be part of the normal culture in Ecuador. I am very excited to begin this new adventure, but I do think that it is going to be challenging to take on a new culture and new traditions for almost 4 months! Since I received the acceptance letter this summer saying that I would be going to Ecuador in spring of 2009 I was excited about the opportunity, but also very nervous about how I would do with the change in language and culture. Although I am still nervous and anticipating a challenge in the upcoming months, I know that I am supported by friends and family from home as well as my new family in Ecuador. Last Friday I received an email from my host family in Ecuador and we have been writing each other for the past few days. As I read the first email I was a intimidated but was able to understand most of what it said. Then I started to write back and realized that I am able to understand more than I can speak. I hope that in the first few weeks in Ecuador that my Spanish will improve and I will be able to communicate more effectively with my family as well as with the people of the Verbo Church that I will be working with.

Part of my experience will be taking intensive Spanish classes, especially at the beginning, so that I can get accustomed to the language. This is going to an interesting experience because I am the only one that will be in the 300 level Spanish at the beginning, so I have a one on one teacher. I am the only one in the class. I’m still trying to let that sink in, talk about a challenge. I guess I will have no choice but to learn Spanish! I will also be spending a good portion of my time at the Church learning from the leaders of the Church as well as getting involved in some of the ministries. My friend Grant, the other Christian Education Major going on our trip, and I have the opportunity to learn about ministry and people through and addictions ministry, meeting with new people in the Church, and also working some with the Youth Ministry. Something that I am really excited about is the amount of trips that we get to go on. Over the 15 week semester we will be in Quito (the Capitol city), a few day trips to El Cajas, Gualaceo and Chordeleg, and three 5 day trips to the Jungle, the Galapagos, and also to Gualaquiza (a smaller town where Verbo has planted a small Church)! I am praying that we will be able to learn from as much as possible from the people of the Church, and I am also praying that we can be useful and resourceful to the Church.

As I finish any small preparations to leave, please pray....
1. That I will be open to any changes that the new culture brings, and that I will have an easy transition from America to Ecuador.
2. That I will make meaningful relationships with other students studying abroad with me, and also with the families in Ecuador.
3. For safe and healthy travels of everyone going, and
4. For the ministries at the Verbo Church in Cuenca