¡Gracia y paz! Grace and peace!
May this blog find you well, growing in the Lord and thriving in His service. I am excited to share with you what He is doing in Ecuador!
We spent last week in the Amazon rainforest—hands down, one of the coolest experiences of my life! I truly consider the selva my new favorite place on earth, specifically Shell, a missionary town where Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian were martyred in their attempt to introduce the natives to the Gospel.
The entire village is built around their legacy. The airport exists because of the mission, the missionary’s house is a museum, and everyone is somehow connected with the infamous story.
I can understand why. After much prayer and preparation, the five men made contact with the violent savages, with whom the outside world had never connected. In great faith, they took the risk and paid the price, leaving behind five widows and young children—who then moved to the rainforest to live with the people who murdered their beloved, in the hope of converting souls to Christ. And God worked the amazing miracle of redemption!
I could spend hours reading about it. It was powerful and emotional—a strange mixture of sorrow, excitement, admiration, and calling—to be right there where they were. I have always felt a strong attraction toward missions, and I’m not sure it will ever go away.
In reality, the whole trip was spiritual. Even the fun things we did were blessings straight from the hands of God. We went whitewater rafting in the middle of Amazonia! A Christian pilot prayed over us and took us for a sobrevuelo above civilization and rainforest. We packaged soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes (from my orthodontist) to send to kids in remote tribes.
Every day was packed. We climbed El Chimborazo, one of Ecuador’s volcanos that surpasses Mt. Everest if measured from the center of the earth (6,263 metros or 20,548 feet). We made it to the second refuge at 16,510.
We hiked to two different waterfalls, climbing under one and swimming beneath the other. We swung off “the end of the world” on a columpio at the edge of a volcano. And we visited a comunidad indígena (indigenous community), where the kids invited us to dance and play.
What’s more, a native gentleman paddled us down the river in a hollowed out canoa, we strolled through various tiendas y mercados (stores and markets), fed one of the world’s largest freshwater fish (paiche), and glimpsed the esteemed soccer game between Ecuador and Paraguay, streamed at a restaurant in Puyo.
Speaking of food, wow. We sampled both delicious and disgusting, from cholos de guano (fresh biscuit-like bread filled with panela, a type of cane sugar) to tilapia to tripa mishqui (cow intenstines cooked over charcoal). Plus, colada morada, a warm and festive fruit drink; chontacuros, massive larva harvested from tropical plants; and guaba, a fruit that grows in sections with gigantic seeds inside pods as tall as humans.
Then there’s always our ice cream breaks and coffee shop stops. I most definitely enjoyed avocado helado de leche with caramel hidden in the center. It was incredible.
One of our stops was Baños, named for its many pools (and bathrooms, apparently). We had the thrill (for some of the girls, terror) of zipping across a gorge in tarabita (a cable car basket). In one of the shops, we learned how tagua is used in place of elephant tusks to form carvings, jewelry, and household items. Known as ivory nut or vegetable ivory, the seeds are durable (almost impossible to bust) and diverse in color.
A final blessing for me was waking up early on our last day to run in the rainforest. God gave me the peaceful and invigorating experience of jogging across bridges (puentes) and rivers (rios) while trying to capture every sound and smell of the Oriente.
Back in Quito, God gave us time to recover from stomach complications before diving back into daily life and ministry.
The jóvenes met to share testimony of what God has done in our lives before helping with a special evening for the women of the church, who also offered testimony. In planning and executing the event, Lucy heavily involved the NILIs, who each had a job—to greet the ladies, make name tags, or take pictures.
It was a special time to witness God’s goodness and recall His faithfulness. Then we gathered together the following day to worship Him, hear His Word preached, and instruct the children in Bible school.
Psalm 22:22 says, “I will tell of your name to my brothers (hermanos); in the midst of the congregación I will praise you” (ESV). This is our anthem. God is at work, so we talk about it! We overflow with gratitude and delight that God is with us, Emmanuel.
God’s Provision: This week, God sustained us in our sickness. Lucy took very good care of us, the timing was as good as it could get, we suffered together, and the weekend offered us much-needed rest. Even in the less-than-ideal moments, God’s faithfulness prevails!
Palabra de la Semana (Word of the Week): Lanza. Spear. The very weapon that killed five determined missionaries in 1956 (as well as countless innocent lives by the hands of the Huaoranis) is a poignant reminder of our Christian mission. I want to be willing to give my life for the advance of the gospel, the will of my Father, the glory of God. Sin duda. Without a doubt.
¡Que Dios te cuide! May God take care of you!
For a summary of the missionary story, I have included the following article from The Voice of the Martyrs: https://www.persecution.com/stories/stories-of-christian-martyrs-jim-elliot-pete-fleming-ed-mccully-nate-saint-roger-youderian/. I do encourage you to investigate more!
A news flash alerted the world: “Five Men Missing in Auca Territory.” The date was Monday, January 9, 1956. A team of missionary pioneers trying to make peaceful contact with an infamous tribe of Indians in Ecuador, the Waodani, had failed to make a scheduled radio call.