Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11-12, La Red and Remanso De Amor

On Saturday we went to the New Jerusalem church for leadership training with LaRed, the ministry of Youth World which focuses on training youth ministers from within the Latin America community. All of the youth leaders are volunteers. We started the day by the team making and serving a breakfast which represented our Minnesota culture and traditions. After breakfast we participated in a "bingo" mixer to get the groups to know each other better. Tom led a leadership training seminar focusing on serving. The highlight was the washing of feet which was done by Tom, Rick, Chuck (Charles) and Larry. After the team was finished, the LaRed leaders spontaneously began washing feet. Many people had their feet washed several times! It was a very moving time, demonstrating servant leadership.
The LaRed team prepared and served us a traditional Ecuadorian lunch of rice, lentils and meat, along with fresh pear and blackberry juice. That was a real treat for all of us. After lunch we participated in youth group at the church and observed an Awana group meeting. There were about 200 people, grade school through high school.
We finished the day with dinner and team debriefing and devotions with Brad, Sandi and Hanna at the Miller's home. It was a full and challenging day, where we continued to see God at work in Quito.
Explaining the breakfast to the LaRed leaders

Serving "North American" breakfast to the LaRed leaders

Jose Luis and Sally during the group mixers

Two of the LaRed youth leaders at the leadership training

Rick and Pete and Barb and Kandace at our team debriefing on Saturday night at Brad and Sandi's

(The team praying over Hanna Miller as she prepares to serve in China for six weeks this summer)

Align Left
On Sunday we enjoyed a great day of worship, fellowship, shopping and debriefing. We started our day back at Remanso De Amor where we led Kids Club and workshops on Friday. This church is located in a very poor area of Quito. Worship was wonderful as we heard testimonies from Sally, Larry and a local church member that tugged at the hearts of all who were present. The church service lasted about two hours and was filled with singing, liturgical dance, prayers and of course a message. The Pastor made an interesting announcement at the end of the service. Three children would be moving to the area next week and he needed a family to volunteer to house them for the next YEAR!!! This church truly is a light in the poor community and cares for those with needs the best they can.
After service Pastor Ramiro shared with us about the ministry of Remanso De Amor and how it serves nearly 500 children every week through the school and Compassion International program. They also have job training, seminary classes and social ministry to the community. We were blessed to be in partnership with these faithful brothers and sisters, please keep this ministry in your prayers.
After church we went to one of the local malls to see the great contrast between the rich and poor in Ecuador. The mall was as fancy as any that you will find in the US. After the mall we hit a local market for some shopping, several Lama's were needed to transport all the local goods that we purchased :)
We spent the remainder of the evening sharing and learning from one another. It has been an incredible week with God with us at every turn. We have seen the results of your prayers and look forward to sharing so much more when we return to WLC.

Sally giving her testimony - she did a fantastic job. We were also blessed to hear from Larry and his life. What a great day of worship!
The Liturgical dance team in action.
The team receiving a gift from the church of Remanso De Amor.

Pastor Ramiro and Pete exchange pleasantries and planning the new chemistry wing for the school.

Remanso De Amor's Missions throughout the world.

The team after worship at Remanso De Amor (Haven of Love)

Tom with Pastors Ramiro and Jenny

Linda and Andrea helping the local economy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

April 9 - Remanso de Amor

Today was an awesome day spent at the Remanso de Amor (Haven of Love) church and school located in southern Quito. This is another part of the Youth World ministry. The ministry is led by Ramiro and Jenny Maldonado and is multifaceted, it truly is an amazing place. The church houses a school with approximately 100 kids, a Compassion International center which feeds almost 200 children daily, social programs, educational training, women's ministry etc. etc. etc.

Our day was crazy as we helped put on a kids club for close to 200 kids (Chuck (Charles) Kenow), a teachers workshop for 25 (Pete and Barb Fleming), cooking and serving (and eating)lunch to the students and Compassion International kids alongside the locals, moving cement blocks and a parenting/women's ministry time. The Lord was at work in each of these areas in some incredible ways. We were all blown away by the love of the children, the movement of God, the opportunity to serve and the opportunity to be served.

One of the highlights was the women's ministry as the ladies shared about the joys and struggles of being a mother. It was amazing to see the common struggles that we all face as parents and spouses. They commented that during the hard times they turned to the Lord in prayer and look to those around them from the church for support.

Another highlight was working with the local children. This is a very poor area with limited resources for kids. Many children in Ecuador are forced to find work at a very young age and fore go their education. This church and school offers them a chance to receive an education as well getting to know Jesus. It truly was a joy to play with them, hug them, hold them and try to speak Spanish with them! Please keep these kids in your prayers!

Our day finished up at a small neighborhood restaurant that had amazing food and amazing atmosphere, a once in a lifetime experience with chicken foot to boot. One more thing a Happy Birthday to Pete Fleming, what a joy to spend it with him! (See our pics below, especially of Charles (Chuck) Kenow). God was and is at work in our lives and in this community, today we were privileged to see this first hand, praise Jesus!

(Remanso de Amor Church and school)

(some of the supplies donated by WLC members)

(one of the women of they church receiving a hand massage)
(Chuck (Charles) leading womens' ministry)

(the church is part of Operation Christmas Child)

(two of the great cooks and the wonderful meal)

(Amy working with kids on one of the crafts)

(Sally explaining another craft)

(Kandace with some of her new friends)

(the church playground)

(two of the school children with a project)

(more of the many great kids we met)

(Linda working with kids on a craft)

(Andrea passing out craft packages)

(Pete leading a class for teachers, with Dario as translator)

(Barb presenting her teachers' workshop, with Dario)

(teachers at the workshop)

(children listening to craft instructions)

(Rick and Kandace presenting the Easter Story)

(Tom with a new friend)

(the children wrote "Jesus Te Ama" on this craft - Jesus Loves You)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 8 - Hacienda El Refugio

We spent the day at Hacienda El Refugio, the rural training and retreat center ministry of Youth World, which is located on 300 acres about 45 minutes north of Quito. El Refugio's mission is to facilitate a deeper relationship with Jesus through adventure and nature experiences.
On the way to the Hacienda, we stopped at the "middle of the world", the Equator. The site we visited was recently determined by GPS to be the exact location, not the larger, more commecialized site which previously thought to be the location! This site was an interactive museum, with information about the culture of Ecuador and the effect of the equator on the laws of physics.

While at El Refugio, we hiked to the Tree House (at about 10,000 ft) for devotions and a time of personal reflection. The picture below does not do justice to the location, surroundings or view.

The highlight of the day was the opportunity to help with reconstruction of a house located across the road, owned by Pedro, one of the laborers who work at the Hacienda. This is a 4 room house (serving 5 people). Recently Pedro was attempting to replace the roof when one of the exterior walls collapsed. The staff at the Hacienda rebuilt the wall and put on new rafters and fiberglass roofing (to replace the tin roofing which leaked). Our project was to put in a plywood ceiling in the rooms which will help keep the home warm. It has no heat, and tempuratures do get close to freezing in this area. The plywood was reclycled from shipping containers and was only about 1/4 inch thick, at the most. Pedro was recently able to add indoor plumbing to the home.

Pedro's grandfather was a share-cropper for prior owners of the Hacienda and earned a small plot of land where the house is located. Nearly all of Pedro's relatives still live on this property, which they have divided up into small plots for their homes. It was an honor to meet Pedro and his family members and to be able to help out in this small way. Funds from our mission were used to purchase the plywood.

We finished the day with hot dogs cooked over a campfire, along with a sample of "Qui", an Ecuadorian delicacy, whieh we call guinea pig. The campfire was a great setting for our evening devotions.

We praise God for all he is teaching us this week and for all of the people we have met. Thank you for your contiued prayers.

(Pete cleaning the kitchen at the hostel before we left)

(Group picture at the Equator)

(Original house at Hacienda El Refugio)

(garden area outside of new meeting room)

(the Tree House)
(Qui - also known as Guinea pig)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 7 - Casa Gabriel

Today was a great day filled with many memorable experiences. We started our day visiting Alliance Academy where Hanna Miller attends High School and where Brad spent his first five years working with the chaplains office. It is an amazing school with a renewed emphasis on being a outreach post to Ecuadorians and International students.

From there we spent the rest of the day working with and learning from the kids and leaders at Casa Gabriel. Casa G as they call it is a home for street kids unlike any you have ever seen or experienced. They work very hard at training these street boys to become leaders for Christ. We heard some amazing testimonies and had a great afternoon of working on many projects including electricity, painting, cleaning, building and other various jobs. The highlight was getting to know the boys and hearing about the difference Jesus makes in their lives.

A boy by the name of Juan Miguel shared with us his story of coming to Casa G. After leaving a home with an abusive step father he turned to the streets to survive. He survived by juggling and petty theft. His life was changed after being introduced to Jesus and after many twists and turns he landed at Casa G where he has become a house leader and is pursuing his dream of serving Jesus through music.

It was a great day and the team still likes each other check out our day below. And by the way Chuck (Charles) Kenow is one funny dude! It rained most of the day, and fairly cool.

Andrea painting the bathroom (picture out of order, blogger error)

Brad, Hanna and her friend at Alliance Academy

Sally working on the cleaning crew

Miguel, helping with the painting

Pete and Phil Douce, Casa G leader, listening to Juan Miguel's story

Lunch time!

Rick and Tom remodeling furniture

Charles (Chuck) enjoying "Sunshine Yellow"

Larry and Pete installing a light fixture (yes, it worked)

Linda, Gina, Amy and Sandi - ready to paint

Kandace and Barb, shower cleaners experts

Kadance - stuck?

Juan Miguel, Jose Luis and Alajandro sharing a song they wrote