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.]