Week 3 In Ecuador
This has been another amazing and wonderful week here. God has blessed us with continued strength, health and one good day after another. A couple of us have been a little bit sick as we get used to the new foods and try to avoid the water. But it has not been very bad at all.
Most of our days are still filled with Spanish classes in the city. That takes up about 6-7 hours counting travel time. For 2 more weeks we will do that for 5 days per week. Then we will cut back to 2 or 3 days per week. We are communicating more and more which is really fun.
On Sunday, the 20th, Bobby preached at a Church of God in a neighboring small town (Amaguana). He had an interpreter of course. This church has been going for 35 years and is very strong. They have a preschool program and are hoping to open up to older grades soon. The pastor of this church has endured a lot of persecution over the years. When he first began the church, a mob of 500 people took him and tried to burn him alive but miraculously his life was spared. Since then, God has used him in mighty ways to impact this community.
They serve lunch after church. Today we had pigskin soup!
Remember this church in your prayers. A local businessman has donated a piece of property for their expansion. However, this property is currently used as a prostitution center and the mafia is pressuring the church to leave it alone.
Here is Jonathan & Jordan with Mayra, their Spanish teacher. She has taught them a lot and she does it in a fun way so they are really excited to learn.
At the market, Jordan bought a blouse and belt made by the local Indians. This is their traditional attire (although they normally wear a black skirt).
We finally found a dining room table and a few other pieces of furniture. We had trouble finding something sturdy yet at a reasonable price. It seems every time they see Americans shopping they think we are all rich. But we finally found a good deal. Here is our beautiful dining room set.
After a long week of Spanish studies, we went on a roadtrip with one of our new friends. Concepsion is from Peru but has been working with the seminary here for several years. He works at the dean of students but is also very involved with many local indigenous churches in Quito. He is the overseer for a district here in Quito but also does more work in the rural areas too. He took us to a small mountain community to experience our first Quichua wedding. It was a 5 hour bus ride each way but it was well worth it for all we learned about the people and their traditions.
We left out on Saturday and spent the night at the seminary in Riobamba. This seminary is very different from the one in Quito. It is smaller and much more basic. It targets the pastors who live in the mountains and rural areas – most of whom are indigenous (similar to what we would call Native Americans). Most of these pastors receive no pay and work and live in very primitive conditions. Yet their hearts are sold out to God so they pay what they can afford to the seminary and spend one week out of every month there learning more about God’s Word. These churches are so raw that many of them are experiencing Pentecostal outbreaks but have no teaching or knowledge of what they are experiencing. Most of their congregation cannot read and many of the pastors have only very basic reading skills. Isn’t it just beautiful that God works with whatever we will give Him and uses it mightily for His glory.
On Sunday morning we left out and took another hour bus ride further into the country. Bus rides in the country and very different than in the city. Here the people are often carrying their wares to sell in the town markets. It is nothing to see bags of grain or produce tied to the top of the bus. Yet, the most amazing sites are the donkeys and sheep tied to the top of the bus! Our bus dropped us off at the foot of the mountain and we hiked straight up for about an hour. It was a very tiresome journey leaving all of us huffing and puffing (even with a few breaks). The amazing thing is that the people who live at the top of this mountain can make the journey almost effortlessly.
We stopped at the groom’s family home to visit and were able to see the women preparing the wedding feast. It was truly amazing to see their way of life. They live in primitive homes, many made from mud. They have no indoor plumbing and their outhouses have no toilet (only a hole in the ground!). They cook over a camp fire and wash dished with cold, infected water in a tub made from an old tire. Yet it is only from OUR perspective that any of these things seem sad… to them, it is another glorious beautiful day that God has given them to live and love each other. The heart of these people is something that always touches us deeply and reminds us to find our satisfaction in God and in others instead of in material things.
After a nice visit and a second breakfast, we headed on to the church. We were told the wedding was to begin at 9:00. Now, in Latin America, you always expect the “starting time” to mean an event will really begin 30 minutes to an hour after that. But this was a different timescale altogether. It was 12:30 before the wedding actually began! But we had fun while we waited by talking to the others who were waiting there and learning more about this culture.
As we waited I experienced something that has touched me deeply. I watched one of the women remove her baby from the pouch on her back and take care of her. She fed her and then estimated it was time for the baby to “take care of business”. This baby was maybe 6 months old – definitely not walking yet – but the mother held the baby up while she squatted to do her “business” on the ground. The mother patiently waited as this was a several phase process. The mother covered the “deposit” with grass much like an animal does. Then she looked around for some type of paper and found newspaper with which to wipe the baby’s bottom. This has made me think about many different issues. Obviously there is the need for sharing hygiene education with those living in these rural communities. While all of their customs are not necessarily dangerous, there is much information that could help prevent serious disease and health problems. Another is how much time I spent when my twins were little trying to find the most comfortable diapers and wipes. Isn’t it amazing how drastically different lifestyles are!
All in all the wedding service was very nice. There was an entire church service complete with sermon while the wedding party sat on the front row. Even after the official ceremony portion there was more singing. It seemed that the various singing groups offered songs of praise to God as part of their gift to the couple. The church was completely packed and busting at the seams with even more people waiting outside. After a three hour ceremony, it was time for the festival to begin. Marriages here are very important and they will party for several days after the service.
Here are some photos and videos of the service. Enjoy!
Thanks to all of you who are emailing us, sending us money or helping to raise money on our behalf. It is great to hear from all of you even if we haven’t been able to reply quickly due to our infrequent internet connections. Most of all, we cherish your prayers, and we feel your prayers covering us throughout each day. We return those prayers to you as you continue to live your lives for the Father and impact those around you.
See you next week!
Bobby, Tamitha, Jonathan & Jordan