A Very Short Mission Trip ; February 16, 2012

Hello all... Sorry I haven't been posting! I've been really busy. For the last two weeks (January 30-February 10), I went to Spanish class every weekday from 8:30 to 12:00 in the morning. I enjoyed it a lot because I learned so much! I feel like my Spanish is improving a lot, especially my listening and speaking skills. I can't wait to practice Spanish a lot with my host family. We meet our host families and move in with them tomorrow! :D

On the weekends we've been taking little trips around the area. On Saturday, February 4th, we drove to a city called Otavalo, north of Quito. There are a lot of markets there with handicraft-type things. I may or may not have bought some awesome things as gifts... hehe. I forgot to take any pictures of the markets. I've discovered that I'm not the kind of person who takes pictures of people or activities... I take more pictures of places and scenery. Besides, in crowded places there's a risk of my camera getting stolen :)

This is a lake we went to nearby Otavalo.

Last Saturday, the 11th, we took a double-decker bus tour around Quito... probably the most tourist-y thing you can do here. It was cool, but not that amazing because we'd already seen most of the places we went to. However, we did get to go up El Panecillo, the huge hill in the middle of the city. We could see the whole city... but we only had 20 minutes at the top of the hill, most of which was spent waiting in line at the bathroom. :D

Unfortunately, this is the best picture I got of the Virgen de Quito statue on top of El Panecillo.

So, this week we went to the jungle! For a two/three day "mission trip." We took a 5 or 6-hour bus ride, east of Quito, out of the mountains and down into the jungle. On the way, we stopped at a place called Jumandy, where most of us took a tour through a cave system. We had to wear closed-toed shoes... all I had were my tennis shoes... so, they got soaking wet! It was a tour in the dark with flashlights. We climbed up slippery rocks, went upstream through 4-foot deep water, squeezed through narrow pathways, and stood in a cave room in complete darkness for 5 minutes while the tour guide talked about stalactites and one of our leaders tried to translate what he said without knowing the word stalactite... it was funny. Then we hiked out the other end of the cave, and went back down to the part with a swimming pool and water slides. I went down a water slide... first time in a long time! I don't like water going up my nose... but oh well, it was fun! Then we got back in the bus and continued on to Misahuallí.

A pretty sunset as we pulled into Misahuallí.

A road at night in the tiny town of Misahuallí. The white building with the light in front is the hostal we stayed at.

My bed in the hostal. I was grateful for the mosquito net!

At the hostal, we had amazing meals served to us... breakfast, lunch, and dinner the whole time we were there. It was seriously some amazing food... lasagna... pancakes... soup... burritos... and to top it off for our last dinner, garlic-butter shrimp, and tres leches cake. We were so blessed by our hosts!

For the two full days that we were there, we did construction work in the mornings and a VBS for the kids in the afternoons. We partnered with a missionary couple who have adopted 6 kids from the area, with 3 of their own kids. They started a school, and they are building a house for their family next to the school. So we got to work on the house—for most of the time we sanded and lacquered wooden walls on the inside. They had to be sanded and lacquered 3 times so we finished most of that process. We worked in the mornings and went back for lunch, then had a couple of hours to rest and shower.

Then from 4 to 6 in the afternoons, we gathered a bunch of kids and went to another little school to do a VBS type thing. The kids came from all over the town — it was funny because we picked up a lot of them in our tour bus on the way to the school. There were about 40 or 50 kids. Our team was in three groups — story, games, and crafts — so the kids rotated through to do everything. The story group told them about Jesus in creative ways and the games group got all their energy out. I was in the crafts group—we made picture frames out of popsicle sticks and did coloring with the younger kids, and we made tie-dye headbands and bracelets out of pipe cleaners and beads with the older kids.

The evenings after dinner, we just relaxed and talked about our experiences. The last night, the missionary couple told us their story of how they got there and what they do. It is really awesome to hear about how God is working through them. They said that the area around Misahuallí is over-evangelized and under-discipled. People believe in Jesus, but they don't have people or churches to help them go deeper in their lives and relationships with God. So these missionaries' goal is to disciple the kids through their school, while giving them a quality education. They said they're just ordinary people following God and obeying His leading, and God is doing extraordinary things through them. It gave me hope to hear their story — hope for my own goals, dreams, visions, hopes. In my life I want to do the same kind of thing that they're doing... working with kids, teaching, discipling people to follow Christ... it encouraged me to just keep following God, and He will lead me in the right direction!

A couple of times we went to the little plaza in the middle of the town to see the monkeys. They really just like to hang out there... people come to see them, pet them, and give them food. They're kind of mean... probably because people bother them all the time. But they are very cute!

Jenna got a shot of me with a monkey!

A video of the monkeys!

Overall, it was a great trip. I loved the cave tour. I loved hanging out with the kids and talking to them in Spanish... plus, Latino kids are just adorable. I loved getting to partner with a ministry that is following God's will. I loved being able to bless them while they blessed us. I loved being in the jungle, with the beautiful, lush greenery and flowers and cocoa trees. I loved falling asleep to the sound of pouring rain beating on the metal roof. I didn't so much love the heat, humidity, and sweatiness, or the 15 or so bug bites on my arms that I now have to keep myself from scratching (yes, I wore bug spray... it just didn't quite do the job!). But hey, it's all part of the experience. And guess what? We get to go back to the same place at the end of the semester! I'm so excited to see what God will continue to do through this ministry.

A lake we passed on the ride back to Quito

A pretty moon-rise, with a plane about to land at the Quito airport. We see planes flying in all the time.

And tomorrow, a whole new adventure begins... we move in with our host families, to stay with them for a month! I'm excited! I will try to post more often, now that we're starting a more regular schedule. ¡Hasta luego!

7:56 PM  |  

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