Check here for daily updates from the team in Ecuador!
Day 1 – Our adventure begins from O’Hare. Pray for travel mercies!
Day 2 – the party ended last night at 4am and we woke up at 5am to depart Guayaquil for Manta. Despite being exhausted, spirits were good as we were received in worship by our host church. We even made it out for some time at the beach and about half the team swam in the warm Pacific waters. Tonight, we are grateful to be tucked in at our host homes for the night. May God grant us a good night’s sleep!
Day 3 – Today we got a glimpse of life for many of Manta’s residents. We went door-to-door with a La Victoria church member and a translator to survey the neighborhood. We were welcomed into so many homes we only covered one side of one block in three hours. Talk about an ‘open door’ policy!! We heard stories, saw earthquake damage and prayed with residents. The resilience of this community is humbling and inspiring. Please pray for the people in Manta. Many continue to live in homes that are in the shadows of what they once were. Pray for the pastor and members of La Victoria Covenant Church as they seek to connect with and care for their neighbors in Jesus’ name.
P.S. Soccer was played…
And connections were made. This is Damaris’s cousin… #ilovethecov!
Day 4 – We had a clear mandate to ‘build a wall,’ and so we did! La Victoria Covenant Church sponsored the “Nehemiah Project,” a program to help neighbors rebuild walls destroyed by the earthquake of April 2016. Today, we began to rebuild three walls for a family who have been living in a carport for 15 months. The husband cares for his wife who is diabetic and was struck with blindness on the day of the earthquake. La senora prayed for the rebuilding of her home. She said we were God’s answer. Our three teenagers were ROCKSTARS with the heavy lifting, hand mixing concrete all day!
PS – We celebrated 4th of July with a bonfire. We introduced Ecuadorians to s’mores and they brought us a cake decorated as an American flag and sang “Happy Birthday” to the USA.
Day 5 – We returned to our construction site this morning to continue rebuilding a family’s home destroyed by last Spring’s earthquake. This afternoon, we visited Pastor Freddie’s fruit stand for some sweet papaya and watermelon then joined him and a team from La Victoria in a newly built but inaccessible neighborhood of people relocated after the earthquake. While part of the team provided a bible story and craft with the children, others connected with adults who all lived at “ground zero” of the quake. They were still so traumatized by the earth-shattering event that few could talk about it. All had loved ones who died. All lost their homes and businesses. One told us of the hope we brought simply by visiting them. By our presence, they felt they were not forgotten. Pray for this community. For the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, relational and financial health.
Day 6 – La Victoria Covenant Church is an amazing body of Christ! For 5 years, they have been without a pastor and staff but not without a mission! After the earthquake, the 120 member church went into action providing water, meals, pastoral counseling, small business training, and home rebuilding. Today, we saw a glimpse of their new vision from God. They are praying to purchase land to open a retreat and discipleship center just outside Manta in the mountains. We visited this lush land, prayed over it, and planted symbolic plantain trees. We returned for another session of art, games and songs for the children. As we were leaving, the children were asking when we were coming back. Unfortunately, we had to say ‘chao’ (bye) as this was our last night in Manta. We said more goodbyes and ‘hasta luego’ (see you later), as we hope this trip is the beginning of a new friendship in Christ.
Day 7 – After time with our host families, we boarded a bus and made the 3+ hour drive back to Guayaquil where we walked the boardwalk, went to an iguana park and bought souvenirs. We ‘slept’ a couple of hours before we headed to the airport in the middle of the night to start our journey home.
Ecuador and its people have made an indelible mark on our lives. We’ve been reminded of the true mission of the church, participated in a body of Christ like most of us have never experienced, and have seen (and been) God’s work in the community of Manta. Muchas gracias, La Victoria! Hasta luego, Manta! Chao, Ecuador!