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This post will be somewhat experiemental, I will explain things, but go into vignettes at the same time. Please bear with me.
Chatter and giggles from the whole back of the bus, but it was a tap that distracted my mind as I was trying to read a book about the biblical story and the painting the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen.
I was the exotic one, the Ecuadoreans have all seen white people, but to me a Asian person that they can actually meet was a treat.
I saw my hermano Benji (whom Erica told us to use as nickname with). He was sitting next to me, confused about the whereabouts of his hat and why I was giving him a confused stare back.
This was our team´s first time going to Lita, we were going for some reason that I actually did not know. Most likely for training for accidents and such for the Campamiento, one of the biggest reasons why we were in Ecuador.
I felt another tap on my back, turning around I discovered it was the impish Messi. Giggling he pretended to be innocent. After a short stare down all the tension evaporated with the word.
On that trip we also were introduced briefly to the German Impact team, a team of seven from southern Germany who lived in Ecuador for 10 months before going off into University.
“So will you guys go to Lita? To help us paint?” inquired Flo one of the Impies who wished to study Theology at Liebenzell.
“Yes we will” I replied “but in reality you guys will be helping us”
After being confused for a second, Flo smiled and laughed.
“I guess we will meet you there.”
It was in Lita when we were starting to get back into our perspective jobs painting the main building of the Campamiento when we saw the affects of a faulty ladder and a second story fall. It was tragic, but the ride to the nearest hospital in Quito was injustice. It took four hours for his convulsing frame to reach the facility that could have saved his life. We mourned for the loss of a friend that we have only just met and loved. The camp was almost cancelled due to his death, but it was decided that it would continue as planned. For us Messi`s death augmented the experience at camp, his death also gave us an extremely real picture of how close to death we actually all are. The affect of his death inspired to make this camp the best one there ever was. It also brought our team closer to the German Impact team that helped with the painting as well. The stories of Messi told by people touched my heart. It almost brought me to tears, which surprised me because I have not cried in six years. I loved getting to know him as a person, he was comical, energetic, influential, and eager. The memories I have with hims will be cherished forever.
Messi´s death was part of the start of a week for us to plan for a set of English lessons and Vacation Bible school. We took the time on the Monday after Messi´s funeral that Sunday to do something fun. We watched Harry Potter. It was pretty good movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The next day was hectic planning for the English lessons. We survived and I think we did quite well. I got much closer to the older girls during English lessons, espeically Ecky a girl we also saw at Campamiento the following week.
The Campamiento was intense, we came there to serve. We actually got to be campers. I was disappointed at first as I was hoping to help out with my favorite German Impact team, but I gained cherished moments loving in a different way to the campers and my family in Christ became much much bigger from our experience.
“Why?” said Janina sweetly
“`cause I really wanted to help out at camp, not be a camper”
Sweeping the floor with me, she gives me a funny face before saying “Well it will be fun!”
“Yeah I guess, its just I really wanted to help, you know, thats why I´m here.”
“Well have fun, it´ll be cool!”
“Okay I´ll try” I said begrudgingly.
There was another American team on a mission trip there. It was interesting to talk to them, Liana actually grew up near them which brings our world into a smaller community. They grew up knowing each other, inside of a community of believers. They also got to share their testimonies, something I wish we could have done as well. It was interesting to see Americans removed our normal perceptions.
The camp progressed, it was high energy we went to pools and rivers to cool down during the hot humid days. I got a lot of mud in my eye, lots of bruises, but in the end we left to recuperate. Before that we had an Awards Night.
“So this prize, the Heartbreaker award, goes to the person who was always called out to by girls and we saw him taking a ridiculous amount of pictures with them as well” stated Christian, a man whom I admired greatly.
Intriguing, I was trying to guess who this award would go to… It couldn´t go to one of us Americans… maybe Josh Brown if it was one of us gringos…
“Leo!” screamed the ladies of the Ecuadorean youth.
“And the winner is… Leo!” bellowed Christian.
I was stunned, literally I sat their waiting for the real answer for a good 30 seconds. Finally I got up accepted my award and took a picture with Christian. Did my fake crying act and sat down, feeling super embarrassed to realize that´s what the people thought of me.
The day after camp we all slept in, we decided to give the Impact team a visit as their time in Ecuador was dwindling… so we gave them a visit in Ibarra, a city near Cotacatchi our homebase. We said our farewells shared a bit of sadness, but glad to have met such amazing and cool people knowing we will see them again. I hope either later rather than sooner in Eternal time, but sooner rather than later on this Earth.
Running towards the screaming man I called out to my team “Hey, this bus is going to Ibarra, just wanna get on?”
“Sure” said Missy
The bus took an interesting turn, leading us onto back roads picking up passengers on the way.
“Where are we going!” exclaimed the boy wonder Sean.
Laughing we all tell him it´s going to be a story, and adventure.
Adventure, something we have embraced on this whole trip, something that in less than 24 hours we will be doing. We have friends along the way, met many people, loved many people, mourned with many people. Out community is small, but it has been a sustaining growth to my long healing journey.
Adventure, tomorrow we will be traveling towards Quito to an area called Mindo. An exotic locale with butterflies, zip lines, and intubes. It will be grand, especially with some of my favorite people in the world the Pozo´s (or most of them). When we get back we will immediately be thrusted onto a Vacation Bible school in Piaba a small community about an hour away, or a 15 mile drive. I hope my teammates do a good job relaying to you what has occurred in our near future.
I hope my comrades in other countries are doing well.
God bless you all. We are praying and serving always with our actions and words.
2 Corinthians 11:10-12, 16, 19-21
Last week was….quite the experience for team Ecuador. We worked all week in a small town called Lita, painting the house where the kids and ourselves will be for the summer Christian camps. On Wednesday afternoon, an Ecuadorian friend of ours named Messi fell off a ladder and was taken to the hospital in Quito. He passed away early Friday morning. The news came as a shock to us and we were not sure how to deal with it at first. But after mourning and prayer, we were able to share in the funeral services for Messi and have been giving as much of our Lords love as possible to his friends and family. Please keep us in your prayers back at home as we remember the life of an awesome young, God loving, man. These things dont always make sense, but we have to trust that Messi is with us in spirit now. May he rest in peace forever and ever in the arms of our Savior.
This week we have a busy schedule teaching English classes and helping to run Vacation Bible School for the kids of the church. Today was a bit of a challenge, as we had to improvise some of our lessons to fit the varying age ranges and levels of skill. Although a bit tiring by the end of the day, it was definitely a fun and meaningful experience. We are looking forward to the kids camp next week in Lita and ask for prayer and strength there as well…high energy will be needed and we hear there is not much time scheduled for sleep.