Day 8

Today we spent the late morning and in to the afternoon at the beach. We traveled for 1 1/2 hours and arrived in paradise! So beautiful and we had the whole beach to ourselves. Such luscious vegetation. Beautiful flowers and trees. The ocean was so warm and you could walk for at least a kilometre before it started to get deep. You could not see the bottom of the ocean so we weren’t to sure of what we were stepping on but none the less we were in the warm Pacific Ocean, which I was grateful for! An ice cream man came down on his bike and we all enjoyed a delicious treat. Food is very cheap here and all the ice cream bars are less than a dollar.
It was such a beautiful day and the sun was beating on us. Some of the team fished and others walked the beach and gathered sea shells. Such a perfect way to reflect on an amazing week.
We left the beach and headed to a community where one of our translators Daniel pastors in. Israel baptist has satellite churches all over the country so this was exciting to see his community and where he works. We had 40 backpacks ready to be distributed to his community. We were greeted with beautiful warm faces and lots of laughter. We joined the kids in song and hugs and called them up by name to get their school supplies. It’s always such an exciting time to hand these backpacks out; definitely a highlight of my trip!
We headed back to our hostel and got ready to have a wonderful dinner with the whole team and everyone that we worked with this week. A few pastors and their wives joined us. The couple from the woman’s prison ministry team, and all of our translators! It was a great meal and each one of us got to share a little bit about our week. Both ourselves and Spanish friends. It was amazing to hear how much of an impact we have made on their ministries and their communities within the ten days! It was a wonderful evening with our new Ecuadorian friends! I couldn’t imagine a better way to end the week. All these people are so inspiring. The have a contagious love for Jesus that shines through their eyes and smiles. Each one has such a passion for their ministries.
God has left his fingerprints everywhere. I am always amazed by his detail in nature and more importantly the smiles on peoples faces!
Xo

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Day 7

Another hard day of working on the house! Throwing mud at the walls in the hot sun was on our agenda. We wanted to complete as much as we could as this was our last day working on it. It was so exciting to see the doors and sinks being put in. Floors are a rare commodity in this village. Most homes do not have floors just the dirt grounds. I can’t imagine this families’ excitement! They were still living in their bamboo house that was falling apart, but on the same property. Amerdia and her husband sell chickens and peas for money. They are both 71 and host the community Sunday church and children’s program once a week in their yard. We sat down with her and her husband and shocked peas with them. She told us all about her family and grandchildren. So lovely to hear her stories and to get to know her better. We also had a chance to get to know her daughter in law who also has a home on her property. She welcomed us in to her home and showed us her house. It was on big open room with blankets tied from the roof in order to divide rooms. She told us she was saving for flooring. Living on dirt as you can imagine is not good. My team was so touched by her and her story we pooled our own money together and was able to donate $500 to her aid. She was so overwhelmed, as we were too! I was amazed by my team and their unselfishness. Their love radiates and I could not be more proud to be a part of them! We changed the future for this one family. Floors, that we take for granted is value in this village.
We presented gifts to all the family members and the team of builders that were also working so hard on this project! Such an exciting day!

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Day 6

We worked on the home for a good portion of the day. We threw cement mud at the walls of the outside of the homes for hours. Thankful for an overcast day because it gets very hot and humid here. Some would mix the cement and others, like myself would have a tool that helped us throw the cement as hard as we could against the wall and pray that it sticks! Each person worked on one panel at a time. I would take that mud and swing with all my might to her it to stick. Sometimes it would be very discouraging when all the cement would fall off! But we kept on persevering and working hard. We want this house to be perfect for this family! It was hard work and I don’t think I have sweat so bad in all my life but it was worth it! We were not able to finish it today because it needed to dry then you level it off and fill in the wholes! It’s a long process.

We left the work site and ate lunch with the team. We were all hungry!
The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping in the market downtown. That is always a fun experience! Every vendor sold almost the exact same items! The market was massive and was easy to get lost in!
But a very fun experience! Lots of people trying to pull you into the little tiny shops and sell you something not having a clue of what they are saying!
After that we headed to the iguana park in the city. Iguanas everywhere in every shape and size! I was amazed by this park as it was right in their downtown core. They crawled up the trees and walked throughout the park. A couple times I almost stepped on them because they are everywhere! My boys would have loved it!
Another full day with my team! More blessings and love than I could have every imagined. God is good!
Xo

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Day 5

Today we spent most of the day visiting the woman’s prison here in Ecuador. Packed up 200 bags of essential supplies for them filled in out suitcases and away we went. We were worried because when we arrived they were expecting us to bring our passports. Which we did not have on us. Thankfully Carito had an email copy on her phone and was able to show them. We met up with the team from Israel baptist who have a ministry inside the prison every Tuesday. To get inside we had to go through a lot of security and each one of us was searched. We were allowed to bring in a photo of our family but other than that nothing else. Police dressed in military uniform grazed the grounds outside the prison.
Where our service was being held at was in a building within the prison. The room was not very big but had lots of chairs. The woman started pouring in and the room filled up very quickly. All these woman were in prison due to drug related offences. Some were drug addicts and others were drug smugglers. Pastor Parrish (lead pastor from Israel baptist) joined us also. Many woman were baptized the week before and we were able to hand out their certificates. We sang with them, again all in spinach but still understanding their beautiful words, God was there and he was moving. I looked towards the back of the room and saw woman packed in the isles and so many were at the back trying to see through the doorway.
I had a moment of feeling overwhelmed. How did a mom of four end up in Ecuador In a woman’s prison serving Jesus? I really couldn’t believe where I was and where God had placed me. I feel many times in my life that God has called me to be a mother and to think of it as a ministry to my children. To teach them, nurture them, grow them spiritually, etc. But today I was surrounded by all these woman who were desperate for Jesus. They were clinging on to every word in the songs and every word that was spoken to them. And I realized that we are not all that different. We are both broken people and hold fast to Gods word. I may have never spent a night in prison nor to I ever plan to but I have had to endure some tough moments in my life were I had nothing to rely on other than Gods word and Gods love. In those tough times Gods is there and in the everyday moments of the toughest job on earth, mothering my children, God is there. As these woman hugged and kissed us and were so grateful that we visited them I was once again blessed by each one of them. God shows his mercy and grace everyday and I could not be more happier to be a part of it!

Hebrews 13:3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

James 5:13
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

We spent the afternoon back at our hotel. And enjoyed an evening at the market.

Today was a day that reminded me once again of the pure beauty of Gods love.

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Day 4

Today we visited the city of Cuenca! Oh my word, it was a beautiful city. Set in the top of the mountains, it is the oldest city in Ecuador. It is 9000 feet above sea level.

The adventure to get to this city started early as it was a 4 hour drive from out hostel. It is a very windy road that twisted right around the mountains. So beautiful to see waterfalls, lamas, vegetation, and of course the view. In the costal lowlands we passed mango trees and banana/plantain plantations by the dozen. In order to get to the city the highest we reached was an elevation of 13000 feet. It felt liked we had gone beyond the clouds. We were able to get out of the van at this point but many on the team was bothered by the air quality and had troubles breathing. It was also very cold and heavy rains which made everything slippery. So our stop was short. We were thankful to reach our destination safely!

The city of Cuenca is incredibly breathtaking. Streets are made of stone and the back drop is the beautiful mountains. We decided to take a tour of the city which costs only $5 USD on a guided English speaking tour bus with an open roof to get a grand view.

Tam and I were apparently eager for this tour and jumped on the bus we were convinced was the one we saw our team taking with who were all looking for washrooms at this point. We made ourselves comfortable and waved to the rest of the team that was slowly retreating from the bathrooms. But to our dismay the bus started moving. And it wasn’t looping around in a circle. The tour had started and we were alone. Sheer panic and lots of laughter filled us (I laugh patrusively laugh under stress and apparently Tam does too).

We were saved not to long after. Carito managed to call the tour guides cell phone (not sure how she found it, but was very thankful) and we meet up with the group who was about 20 mins behind us on another bus. We got off at the bank (where she told us to stay, not move, and talk to no one). We did just that and were so thankful when we saw the yellow bus pull up along side of us. We were really lost in translation, and it was a bit frightening not knowing where you are and you can’t speak the language. So thankful to see all of the team! We enjoyed the rest of the tour and made sure to stick close to our group for the rest of the day!

The landscape of the city is incredible. We climbed more stairs to see the most incredible view. the city of Cuenca in all it’s beauty. I have never seen anything like it.
We also visited a cathedral that was absolutely stunning.
We finished our visit with a stop to the flower market. Any flower you could ever imagine. The smells were indescribable. Fresh flowers in all colours and sizes. Truly a gardeners dream. Ladies who were working their could make any arrangement you wished for.

It was soon time to get back on the bus and make the 4 hour trek back to our hostel. Night was not too far away and the roads are steep and you never know what kind of weather awaits you in the mountains.

It was the scariest ride of my life!!! It rained most of the ride home which caused mud slides. I prayed so hard that whole trip home. Driving is aggressive here in Ecuador so add that with rain, steep cliffs, and mud slides it’s enough to make anyone nervous! But God protected us, we arrived safely back at our hostel ready to hit the bed. Thankful to be tucked in safely.
Xo

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Day 3

Today we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of a croissant and eggs at a little restaurant. We always have to be cautious of what we eat here and only drink bottled water or bottled drinks. I’m avoiding any fruit or veggies that haven’t been cooked also. It is not worth the risk as we are only here a short time and I do not want to be sick or hold the team back from all the work that needs to get done.

My team is amazing. I love each one of them. Everyone is getting along and mixing together very well. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to travel with.

After breakfast we went to Caritos family home. (Carito organized our trip and originally is from Ecuador). We were able to Skype with our church! It is so cool how technology allows us to connect so easily from all around the world.

After that we went to Israel Baptist Church and enjoyed a great service with the congregation. Israel baptist runs 5 services a day. It was so exciting to me to see how people worship the same God from another side of the world! Such beautiful singers and people with such big hearts that truly love The Lord.

We had the honour of bringing a fruit basket and some money to a lady that had lost her husband several years ago. Then not long after her son who was in medical school at the age of 31 passed away of a heart attack. So tragic. We wanted to honour her in a special way. She is a seamstress in her community and barely makes end meet. She takes are of her very ill mother who is not able to walk. She was so happy that we visited her today. There were many tears and hugs of appreciation. This verse kept coming to my head
James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

It also reminded me how important it is to remember the distress, pain and suffering that occurs in every society and to not forget them.

We ended our day in a great way! A wonderful barbecue with many from the church at Caritos parents house. Carito invited a young man to enjoy the evening with us. She knew he had had a rough life and wanted to do something to help him. His mom passed away several years ago which left him and his brother on their own. We were able to bring 2 laptops with us from Canada and we thought these two brothers would be the perfect fit to receive these gifts.
Well Isaac was speechless and was so so appreciative! He could not believe what we had brought him! He said I believed in Gods love and the bible for a long time but today was the first time I experienced Gods love!
So happy to be here and see Gods love shining all around me. Again a day I realized I am extremely blessed
Xo

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Isaac and the team with the two laptops

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Day 2

Today was our building day! We enjoyed a beautiful breakfast here at the hotel (ecuadorians eat well!)
And headed to the village where the house was being built.

I loved the drive there, so many new things to see. We left the city of Guayaquil and went to the country. We passed so many interesting sights. Lots of dogs run free here along with pigs and cattle. It is not unusual to see animals running around on the road. But we were warned to never touch them as many carry diseases.

People drive very different in this country and it is always an adventure when we are moving. No one pays any attention to lane lines in the road. Cars make their own lanes and whoever can squeeze through first makes it! I am thankful I didn’t have to do any driving as being a passenger is enough stress!

We drove by a facility that had a massive line which were all woman. Hundreds of them. We asked our driver what was going on as we thought it looked like a concert, fair, etc. Come to find out it was a male prison and it was the conjugal visit day. I can not put in to words how many woman were lined up. We were shocked!

Arriving in the community I felt completely overwhelmed. The poverty in the village was devastating. The homes that some are living in are barely hanging together. The roads are full of mud and very difficult to travel through. But we had a beautiful welcome committee as we arrived. I leaned over in the bus to ask Tam why are there so many people here, is something going on? Not realizing the community was here to welcome us!! It was very exciting! So many beautiful children with the most precious smiles! I just wanted to scoop them up. Even though I don’t speak a word of Spanish (other than ci, no). I communicated well with them. Hugs are universal so I embraced as many of them as I could!

The children were all well dressed and their hair was perfect; they were so excited. We handed out backpacks to the children that attended Sunday school and they were so grateful! In Ecuador school is free here but uniforms and school supplies are not. So the children that do not have supplies go to school but are not able to participate. These children have nothing and were so grateful for this gift! My heart was aching because I could see my own children in their eyes which made things so much more real for me. School supplies is expensive in Canada also but we have so much. To see these children so happy for their simple gift was overwhelming. My eyes welled up with tears so many times as we hugged and handed out the backpacks! I have always wanted to be Jesus’s hands and feet and today I felt like I accomplished a tiny piece of that. Gods love is for everyone, there is no boundaries or exemptions. He can show us his love in so many ways and he showed me his unveiling love through these precious children today!

We also had the chance to start building a home for a family of 7.
The current home they were residing in was made of bamboo and did not have any windows, doors, bathroom facilities, or water. It was built on stilts due to flooding issues. Animals roamed the property. Dogs, cats, chickens, etc. The home was literally falling apart.

I was honoured and humbled to be participating in this venture of building this family a very well deserved home.
The new home that we are currently working on is made of concrete and although small it will have a toilet, water, windows, and beautiful doors.
We lifted, pounded, drilled the day away in the hot Ecuadorian sun. The walls were terribly heavy and required many hands to lift, flip and stand up. It was amazing to see a home being built before my eyes to a family that needed more than anyone I have ever known! Our work is not done their yet. We will go back and finish it in the days to come!

After a much needed shower back at our hostel the team assembled all the supplies and items for the woman’s prison we would be visiting later this week. We purchased toothbrushes, floss, toothbrushes, hair brushes, cream, feminine pads, Kleenex and toilet paper and put them in ziplock bags. Enough for 200 women.

We spent the evening in the city, touring. We climbed 400 stairs to the top of a mountain where a beautiful lighthouse and chapel stood. What a magnificent view and such a perfect way to end a wonderful day. Glimpsing over a city that our God has created so beautifully knowing exactly when we would be sharing this view together! This day was jammed packed full of love, heartache, thankfulness and realizing how much I am blessed.

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