Ecua-door of Opportunity Jan. 19
¡Hola! Greetings from the beautiful country of Ecuador!
Everything everyone told me is true. The landscape is breathtaking. The weather is agreeable yet unpredictable. The people are welcoming. And yes, we put our toilet paper in the wastebasket instead of the toilet bowl.
I am learning so much! I look around and see God’s majesty in the flowers, birds, volcanoes, and sky. I laugh with my friends and see God’s kindness in providing this experience for us. I adjust to a new cultura and see God’s gentleness in Christian Ecuadorian hospitality.
Our weekend in quarantine was the perfect blessing – a soft transition to a whole new world. Claire, Emma, Hannah, Katherine, and I spent time exploring the seminary campus, going for walks, playing cards, and experimenting with our cooking skills. We enjoyed our first taste of Ecuadorian cuisine, attended orientation via Zoom, and watched Coco in Spanish.
On Sunday, we had the opportunity to tune in to Iglesia del Nazareno Carcelén’s church service via Zoom. It was a delight to see dozens of faces so clearly dedicated to the Lord. Many of our host families were present too, though we had no idea who they would be!
On Monday, a little timid and a lot nervous, we received our Covid tests and attended our first day of class with Pastor David. He quickly put us at ease, making small jokes and offering the comfort of God’s truth. He gave us clear instructions and expectations for our semester together (it is only us five in class with him as our professor), reminding us that we are a team, a family, and a church. That means we work together and for each other, taking care of one another and always offering encouragement to one another in Christ.
Living right there on campus made our first day of class a breeze. We had the lovely opportunity to use some of our energy to play soccer and volleyball, and run around for a little bit in the field (cancha). Every day, we walk down and back up the hill to strengthen our heart and lungs, as the altitude here is at least 9,000 feet above sea level. There is also a small playground we frequent, a nice place to watch the sunset each evening.
As always, God’s grace abounds and all five of our Covid tests returned negative. NILI paid double just to get them back in that time, so we could move in with our families. All of us were sooo nervous, but again, God is sooo faithful! Who we would live with was a surprise up until the very moment each of us was dropped off. Luis, our loyal bus driver, made the rounds, one at a time until we were each safely introduced and left with our host parents and siblings (naños).
I am living with Lucy, Director of NILI, her husband David, the pastor of Iglesia del Nazareno Carcelén, and their precious hijos David (or Davidcito, also Dicho) who is 10 and Arleth (or Princesa) who is 7. I am so grateful for them and their generous hospitality.
I have a room to myself with a comfortable bed and access to a patio on the roof (!!). My Ecua-parents are patient, accommodating, and fully devoted to the Lord. We spend most of the day together and join hands for prayer each evening before bed.
Claire, Emma, Hannah, and Katherine also love their families. I mean, seriously! The morning after our first night with our families was full of beaming faces, joyful hearts, and lots of stories. I have this many brothers and sisters, and I tried this new fruit, and look what we had for dinner!
I thank God for His care over us and how He is constantly answering my prayers. Each morning, His mercy is new, and each day we continue to grow. The view hasn’t gotten old yet, and I don’t think it will.
God’s Provision: Every time I ask God for something, He provides it because He knows what I need. Countless times in the past seven days I have asked for courage, ability, and strength. I want to represent the Lord, which can be difficult when I don’t understand what is going on around me or I struggle to articulate my thoughts and feelings. But My Father has given me courage when I need it, ability to learn and grow, and strength to push through when I’d rather give up. Thank you, Lord, for your faithful provision!
Palabra de la Semana (Word of the Week): Pantuflas. Slippers. I learned this word when we first arrived because it is important to wear shoes in Ecuadorian homes. Socks are permissible but definitely not bare feet. It is something new for me, apart from the winter months when I occasionally wear slippers to keep my feet warm. I love the reminder that I am a guest and my family is sharing their cherished space with me.
Thank you again for your prayers. God is at work! I close with one of my favorite verses that I memorized in Spanish:
“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:10
“Aunque cambien de lugar las montañas y se tambaleen las colinas, no cambiará mi fiel amor por ti ni vacilará mi pacto de paz, dice el SEÑOR, que de ti se compadece.” – Isaías 54:10