Sorry that this took so long to do. The team has been back for just about two weeks now and that is how long it has taken me to get to writing this. Headings will follow. +)
As you know, our main ministry here was the VBS that we did. We started with about 60 kids and ended our last day with about 80. It is quite amazing how you can get to know the kids names and attached to them in such a short time.
One thing which really got to me was that most of these kids do not go to the church. The church on a given Saturday service has about 50 max — and this is their largest service since a lot of people work on Sundays. Out of that 50, there are probably like 10 — 15 kids. That means that 70 kids who don’t go to the church came out and heard the gospel. That in itself is quite amazing and a blessing from God. But another thing which struck me was the progression you would see of the kids from day to day. On the first day, some of the kids were more observers and not really participants. Listening and watching as the songs were sung, but not singing themselves. By the end of the week though, the kids were singing and following the hand motions. I even saw a few of the kids writing down the lyrics to the songs. A lot of you might know that I carry a small black moleskine notebook with me around which I jot all sorts of things, but never have I jotted down lyrics to praise music. Maybe it is something I need to do — a lesson from the children of Ecuador.
So we had VBS for five days. VBS consisted of getting together for singing, a bible lesson taught by the young adults of the Good Samaritan Church, then a craft time led by Master (and yes I am mean Master like Bruce Lee) Craftswoman Jenn Runyon, and games. At the end of the day we would get all together for snacks and some more singing before handing the children their crafts before they left for the day.
So after we finished VBS on Friday, they let the kids know to come back to church on Saturday. This was so that they would keep coming out to church. Our team wasn’t present on the Saturday during the day, but we did see some of them who stuck around for the Saturday night service and then we saw a bunch of them again on Sunday which was great. It is the hope of the Good Samaritan Church as well as ours that the kids will come to faith and keep coming out to the church but also that they may be an avenue for the church to reach out to the parents. Please keep that in your prayers.
So overall, the VBS was a great success. It is our hope as a team that our church will return to the Guachala area again next year and every year and we can do VBS with the Good Samaritan Church as well as other ministries and reach out to the area and build up the local church. Maybe in a few years, the Good Samaritan Church will do the VBS and we will do something else. Now that would be great.
I asked the team to respond to a few questions just to give me some ideas of stuff to write about and jog my memory. One thing which was repeated over and over again was the affection, warmth, and service of the Good Samaritan Church to us. As a member of the missions team, it is really an odd feeling when you go to serve another church but feel that you are being served. In some ways, I guess this is how it should be just as Roger spoke about on Sunday with each member of the body serving one another so much that people are just busy serving.
Here are some specific examples of the warmth, love, and service shown to us. We had two families invite us over to their homes. In each instance, they fed us delicious food and were so servant like making sure we were comfortable. And realize that these people are not wealthy. They work multiple jobs, six days a week in order to support their families and then they are still generous with what little they do have. If we were as generous with what we have, it would be a great testimony to the rest of the world. (And generally, I think IBC is fairly generous as a church but we give from our abundance and that is the difference.)
Another instance where their service to us and putting us first was evident on the night we had the Cuy — the guinea pig. They gave each of us half a guinea pig and potatoes and soup to eat. Best soup I ever had probably (Pastor Nam talked about the juices, I think the soup is the best thing in Ecuador). But while we were eating this delicacy which would be equivalent to eating Kobe Beef in the US, the rest of the church were eating chicken. It was a little sad but also thankful that they were showing us such love.
On our final day in Cayambe, an entire family rode the bus with us to say goodbye to us. They rode on this bus for four hours just to say goodbye. One little boy named Ariel even cried — mainly for Ben Hom cause they bonded during the our time in Ecuador through the universal language of futbol aka soccer. Ariel even sat next to Ben the entire two hour trip from Cayambe to Quito. Ariel’s affection and emotions were representative of the affection that the church had for our team.
The Team Itself
Many of the team members wrote in their answers to the questions that it was amazing how God brought our team together. In a way, our team was an interesting hodgepodge of people. We didn’t all know each other well or anything before the trip but each was gifted uniquely to fulfill a certain role in this trip and it all worked out well.
I was personally shocked that there was no conflict — none at all on this trip. There was much laughter and happy memories. Pastor Gary and Dave even commented that they were very happy with our team and that usually on a trip of this length, they would have to have a talking to to at least one person, maybe more. But no such thing on this trip.
We would all work together to get everything done from the crafts to cleaning up to just making sure we didn’t lose anyone as we hustled around the city.
One memory Christina shared that represents how God used each of us was in our worship leaders. Matt Tweedie and Sheila were our worship leaders and Lau as we affectionately call her as you should too said that she was touched how they complemented each other so well. Matt would focus on strumming loudly as he sang while Sheila would focus more on leading the kids in the singing.
Another example of the church’s affections is that one of the families asked Sheila, the Runyon’s and Tony to be godparents to some of their kids. The whole godparent pretty much means that you will watch over their kids and make sure they are on the right path is how it was explained to me. Tony is godfather to a kid named Abner which pretty much guarantees Tony will be returning to Ecuador every year because Abner is going to need some watching over — cute but crazy. +)
This is already getting pretty long, so I think I will end it soon with some funny memories.
Stood up by Missionaries — this was a joke that our team had. One night, we were suppose to meet these missionaries from McLean Bible Church in Virginia that we met randomly on the street. We told them we would go to eat dinner where they eat so we could meet. They said they would be there between 7 — 8. We go, we eat, we wait. 8 p.m. passes. We wait more. 8:30 hits and so we leave. As we are leaving, they walk in. So we got stood up by missionaries while in Ecuador. Of course, they were saving lives or something being on medical missions. +) We did meet them the next night and they sent a few people early to make sure they don’t stand us up again. If any of you are interested in doing medical missions in Ecuador, talk to me (Mark Choi). They are looking for people.
Tony “the Studdmuffin” Lee — Tony might kill me for this but I am banking on him having great affection for me. That and the Bible commands him to forgive me. This one, ask Tony or any other member of the team about. Let’s just say that Tony should have bought a shirt that says “Someone in Cayambe loves me.” Or maybe two shirts. +)
There is video of our beloved Pastors doing some funny stuff. You just got to see this. I believe Sheila will include it in the missions brief, maybe as a special feature or something but this will give you something to look forward to when we do our brief.
This one isn’t so funny, but does share some experiences of Ecuador. So the hostel we were at turned out to be on the main street of Cayambe as well as party central. On the weekends, they would have parties on the street that would last all night long consisting of guys singing karaoke and drinking. And for some reason, they would park their karaoke truck right in front of our hostel, right underneath the window of the Runyons. And in case you didn’t know, the Runyons spent their 6th year anniversary in Ecuador with us. And Marie celebrated her 23rd year of life in Ecuador.
As you all know, we got back safe and sound. About half the team had minor stomach issues coming back to the US. But we are all better now and look forward to sharing more about Ecuador with all of you.
Thank your for all your prayers and support . We totally missed our own IBC family while we were away and it is good to be back. Please remember to keep the Good Samaritan Church, Pastor Jose Tutillo and his family, as well as the rest of the of the congregation of the congregation.
Hasta La Bye Bye – MC