March in Ecuador
Wow, time is just flying by. I can’t believe it’s been almost 3 months now that we’ve been in Ecuador. I guess we stay so busy it just makes the days go quickly. We are definitely thankful for each day and the gifts that God gives us through the precious people we meet each day.
We praise God who is continuing to provide all our needs beyond measure. We look to Isaiah 58:11 which says “And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places. And give you strength to be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” This is our prayer to remain close to the Father allowing Him to use as a life-giving spring to those in need around us. Beyond that, to me, this verse speaks to the character of the Christian people here. They live in a constant state of struggling for daily bread yet, they are full of joy and love of God and have such a passion to share that love with others.
We have met many churches over the last few weeks. They all share a common struggle with the daily poverty of this place. But they also share a powerful hunger for Christ. They are striving to make a difference in their communities amongst persecution and difficulty. These hungry Christians also share a common need for training. We are so humbled that God has chosen us to share what we know with these wonderful people.
The Shoe Shine Boys
We have shared with you before about the ministry of the Susong family (missionaries from Tennessee). They provide lunch, Christian discipleship and night school classes to the little boys who work shining shoes and selling goods in the streets of Quito. We are helping in their ministry. Tamitha is working with their Bible teachers to implement a curriculum guideline that will incorporate object lessons and creative teaching methods. The teachers are all eager for this training. We are praying together with the Susong’s for advancement in the spiritual maturity of these boys.
Most of these boys grew up in the small mountain communities and their families send them to the city to earn money for the family. The Susongs have been visiting the families of the boys in their ministry and have built relationships with several of these community groups. Recently, we went with them to visit 3 communities. It is amazing to realize how isolated and primitively these communities live from the rest of the country. Teresa Susong taught all the women about feminine health and birth control. To all of our shock, none of the 60 to 70 women had never heard ANY of this information… it was ALL new.
While the women were in the health clinic, we got to have fun with the children. In the first community, we gathered in the church building which is still under construction…yet they use it each week with its dirt floor and cardboard box pulpit. We didn’t have time to count, but we believe there were 50 or more children at this service. Jonathan & Jordan did their clown magic and the children were all amazed. We taught a Bible lesson and had a lot of fun together. We got to try out a LOT of our new Spanish although we had Lydia Susong to translate also.
Here is a video of these kids reciting the main point of this lesson (Jesus helps me love others):
By the time we reached the second community it was nearing dark. Mind you there are NO street lights out there. This time, we met with the children in the “old church” which is about the size of a small bedroom and has only one meager light bulb. These precious, filthy children’s eyes sparkled when they saw us with our crazy clowns in tow. They crammed into this room sitting mostly on the dirt floor and listened intently to our lesson. At the end of the service we painted all their faces. It was so dark we could barely see. I couldn’t help but laugh at how primitive the situation was. But the smiles on those precious painted faces were bright enough that no one could miss it. It was a miserably cold, rainy day. We got soaked, the van got stuck in the mud, we were exhausted and wet, but were filled with joy at having met these precious people. We will do it again in a heartbeat!
The next day, we met with a group of boys who shine shoes in the nearby town. We took them to the park for a soccer game, Bible lesson and then took them out to eat for lunch. (Remember that these are all tough boys who know how to survive on their own.) As we were telling the story of the Good Samaritan, I had the boys act out the various parts. Well, when I explained how the man encountered the robbers, these boys took their roles very literally. They began searching the other kid’s pockets, removing his clothes, etc. It was a funny situation, yet a commentary on their daily reality of life. One thing is for sure, through the relationship the Susong’s have built with these boys, they do know that this gospel message is one of love. Please pray that all these seeds will find fertile ground and these boys will remember that message of love and hope.
Here are some photos of this trip:
We are still studying Spanish but we are able to communicate much better now. Bobby is teaching his first official seminary class in a couple weeks so he’s really trying to learn fast.We have been working with the mission students to help them with their fundraising and their plans to go into the mission field. It is wonderful to see such passionate people sold out to the call to take the gospel to the far reaches of the world. Here is a group photo:Thanks to some unexpected donations on top of the already faithful givers, we were able to purchase a wonderful, dependable truck. We have already been wearing it out heading into many villages to visit the indigenous churches. The roads outside of the city are really rough. It reminds me of my childhood days 4-wheeling in the mountains with my dad… only these are the major highways!Bobby has been formally accepted into the doctoral program at Fuller Theological Seminary in California! He will begin his program of studies while we are in the U.S. this summer and continue it long distance for the next 5 years or so. It will be a lot of hard work, but it is something he knows he is called to do in order to effectively train cross-cultural students.As always, we can’t thank each of you enough for the prayers and support you send our way. It is humbling to see God’s hand of provision on our lives and we give Him all the glory. As you remember our family in prayer, please note the following specific needs:
- Bobby’s health (he’s having some inner ear problems from an infection and altitude issues)
- Jonathan’s health (he’s having some similar ear problems, but more minor)
- Pray that the missionary efforts with the street children will be fruitful
- Pray for the group of missionary students
- Pray for the local pastors and congregations here
We love you and pray for you often. Please send us emails to let us know how things are going there.
Bobby, Tamitha, Jonathan & Jordan