We are excited about a new ministry opportunity with Grace missionary Ashley Ruffner who is serving in Quito, Ecuador. This team will spend part of its time in outreach in an urban setting in Quito, and the rest of the time in a tribal setting in the Amazon jungle. Both the jungle setting and the urban setting will entail working alongside churches providing support to them in outreach activities and service projects.
Updated Wednesday, July 21
After an extended layover in Costa Rica due to severe weather, our Ecuador team arrived home this morning, bringing to a close our first-ever short term ministry trip in South America. Thank you for following and praying for our team.
Be sure to plan to come hear more about Ecuador and the other Grace to the Nations ministry sites at the Summer Missions Celebration, Sunday September 19 at 6:00pm in the Worship Center.
Updated Tuesday, July 20
Stormy weather at the team's layover in central America caused a cancellation of the second flight of their trip home, and they will be staying overnight. Pray for a good night's rest for the team, and a safe return trip tomorrow morning.
Updated Saturday, July 16
Last night ended with an intense lightning and thunderstorm that lasted at least 3 hours. We lost electricity during our debrief and then ran together to where we were staying in the pouring rain with a single flashlight (Greta's) between us. What a fantastic display of God's power, majesty and might. And what a great way to spend our last night in the jungle!
This morning, just prior to us leaving for Quito, our team hiked 15 minutes outside of Shandia to the former home of Jim Elliot and his family, who worked to bring the Gospel to the people of the area. The building was old and abandoned. Parts of the inside were covered with vines and plants. Much of the wood was rotting and infested with termites. It was discouraging to think how the home has been left to decay, and how the town has moved away from the home over time. However, it was also encouraging to think how the same gospel of Jesus Christ that the Elliot family and others worked so hard to bring to the people of Shandia is still alive and well in the hearts of so many of the people there.
In our last days in Quito we will be working closely with Ashley Ruffner, a missionary from Grace Baptist. Ashley serves as a chaplain at Alliance Academy here, working mostly with the teenagers of the school. Tomorrow we will be priming and painting two of the rooms at the school. We also plan to help finish her move to her new apartment in the neighborhood near the school.
As I write this the rest of the team is either asleep for the night or playing taboo in the dining room. We all so appreciate your prayers and eagerly look forward to sharing all that the Lord has taught us over the last few days. We also eagerly look forward to what is yet to come. Grace to you!
Updated Friday, July 16
GBC Team Ecuador successfully returned from the Amazon jungle this afternoon after 5 challenging days. Our base was Shandia, which was the site of the martyrdom of Jim Elliot, Nick Saint and their team of missionaries as they sought to bring the gospel to the people of that area.
Our team spent 5 days and 4 nights in the jungle. In Shandia we worked on building a road to a new church site for the community. This was a challenge to many in the team as we worked through high temperatures, direct sun and major humidity. The greatest challenge was moving boulders out of the river and passing them, fireman style, up a hillside and then loading wheel barrels and carrying them about a half mile to the construction site of the road. I thought my arms were going to fall off! They didn't, of course, but I do have three beautiful blisters at the base of my fingers on both hands to show off when we get home!
The team worked beautifully together, supporting and encouraging each other all the way. We were even joined in our work by local children who decided to help, pushing wheel barrels, and carrying buckets of sand and gravel. Their smiling faces kept us going! Dan and Joe were the real work horses of the group, serving the Lord with all of their heart, soul and might!
In the afternoons on Tuesday and Wednesday we hosted a VBS for the local children in Shandia. It was great! I gave the lesson while Greta translated. Even helped complete the crafts, and coloring the gospel coloring books that we brought for them. The children listened so well to the gringos and seemed to have a fantastic time.
Yesterday (Thursday), we traveled to El Capprichio. There we worked in a local church which focuses on reaching out to the people who live in the remote areas of the jungle surrounding the village. We painted the inside and outside of the church, covering the wood with a mixture of diesel and additive to seal the wood. The smell was something else! The team worked so hard in the heat and the humidity.
Later that day, we had the privilege to witness the baptism of 8 people from both Shandia and El Capprichio. They were baptized in a local river. It was such an incredible experience to see other believers proclaiming their love of Christ to those around them. After the baptisms, we had a church service in the recently "sealed" church. I gave a sermon from Luke 11 about prayer. Michaelene, Rachel and Joe each gave their testimony. They did a fantastic job. It was great to hear how God has moved in each of their lives in such different ways. At the end of the service, we had communion together. What a special time of fellowship with other believers! During the church service, the rest of the team was hosting a VBS for the children right outside. Babette, Greta, Dan and Jennifer worked so hard to keep the children interested and involved, sharing God's love with the children.
I am so proud of this team and of the work God is doing in their hearts. Each night as we have debriefed about the events of the day, it has been both humbling and inspiring to hear what the Lord is teaching each of them about His love for others, His world, and the people we have been working with.
Updated Monday, July 12
We arrived yesterday after an extra stop in San Salvador, El Salvador. This was of course unexpected but we were very "Gumby" ("flexible" - Gumby is the Missions Dept mascot) and went with the flow. When we arrived in Quito we arrived with only 4 of our 14 suitcases. Another minor glitch! Our hosts picked us up from the airport and took us to a missionary "guest house" which has been really great for our accommodations. Along with Ashley, our hosts for our time here is Leigh (from Memphis) and Manuel who is from her in Ecuador. We settled in nicely but were of course extremely tired and went to bed early.
This morning we got up and went to Manuel's home church where we had an amazing sermon (interpreted by Manuel). He was speaking mainly to the students who have just finished up their school year here and he spoke on Daniel 1, about not living a life of mediocrity, but of excellence. It really spoke to all of us. After that we went to lunch (the food has been excellent so far) and then to the Basilica in the old town of Quito. It was a lot of fun as we got to tour around it and climb the towers. Had a thunder, lightning and rain/hail storm while there which added to the great experience.
This evening we organized all of our things for our departure to the jungle early tomorrow morning. Had a meeting with Cameron, head of short term missions for Youth World, who explained to us the importance and purpose which was totally enlightening to us all. We know we will be doing approx 3 VBS sessions, some road work/construction. Looking forward to our time there and all that God has planned for us!
Everyone is doing really well and we are getting along fabulously and building some great personal relationships. We will of course only be available by satellite phone until late on Friday. We will try to check in at least every other day. Love and blessings to All!
Updated Saturday, July 10
Phone call from Daniel
The team has arrived safe and sound in Quito, but most of their luggage did not arrive with them, probably being delayed in a short layover in Central America. Please pray for team to adjust well to this surprise, for the luggage to arrive, and for their ministry to get off to a good start this weekend.