It's been a while since my last post, I know. These past few weeks have flown by - I've been super busy. Of course there have been ups and downs. At times I feel like I'm not doing much, and other times, I feel overwhelmed. I guess that is the life of a missionary. But despite not having organized ministry all the time, I know there are things I can be doing: researching the culture, planning kids' activities, brainstorming ways to make learning fun, etc. So here's a bit of what I've been up to:
Wesleyan Theology Workshop:
A few weeks ago, the National Office of the Methodist Church here in Ecuador sponsored a workshop on Wesleyan Theology. The leader of the workshop, who is from Mexico, had studied theology at Duke in North Carolina for many years now, and wrote his thesis on "Responsible Hope" as a Christian ethic. During the two full days, we learned about the roots of our Methodist belief that the gospel lived out is evangelism combined with social action. I found the talks quite fascinating, because despite the fact that I had grown up in the United Methodist Church in the U.S., I had never done an in-depth study of Wesley's works. Honestly, a few months ago I had found it amusing when some of my missionary colleagues were all gun-hoe Wesley, quoting him left and right. But this week, after reading some of his sermons for myself, I found them surprisingly inspiring.
There is so much to learn from great thinkers, even those who wrote hundreds of years ago. The message Wesley taught of putting faith into action holds as true and necessary today as it was then. One of the themes we talked about in this workshop was the idea of social holiness. Wesley believed that the only visible and valid sign of the Christian experience is a live transformed, as indicated by the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Not only must we know and accept the truth, we also must live it out. The wheels are now turning in my mind, and I have some new reading material.
Journey to the Jungle:
Last week I had the opportunity to go to el oriente, a.k.a. la selva, or the Eastern jungle region of Ecuador. The bishop and another pastor of the Methodist church had to go to check out a church there that wanted to become Methodist. They invited me along to help and get to know a different cultural area. It was about a 4 hour drive each way (thankfully we were in car, not in bus, which would have been much longer and less comfortable!). When we arrived at the town, we drove by the church, when had been built earlier this year. Later that afternoon we went to chat with a lady from the church, to see how things are going. I anticipated it being a formal meeting. It turned out to be nothing of the such. We hung out for a bit waiting for the woman's husband, and when he didn't come, we agreed to come to their house later that evening. Around 5:30 we went driving around to find the house, asking about 8 different people for directions! Finally we arrived, but no one was home. We waited for about 15 minutes, knocking on the door, and as we were about to leave, a woman came walked up the street, taking her sweet time. It turned out she and her husband were the ones who had been leading the church. Commence 3 hour meeting, ending in the fact that this church is no longer Methodist. What a day! However, we encouraged them in their ministry and assured them that our doors were open if they ever needed help or wanted to collaborate with us. I had never realized before what a messy business church planting is. Whew!
On the bright side, this town is famous for the monkeys that live right in town. Here are some pictures of Misahualli, Ecuador.
Christmas Drama in El Prado:
The past few months I had been helping Sara, my fellow missionary, with a biweekly kids' program in a small community north of Quito. We wanted to do something special for Christmas, so we planned a drama and program with the 40-some kids who come regularly. Despite only having 3 weeks to prepare, and some kids who had roles did not show up, the program went super well. Of course I was stressing, but 150 people came to see it, the kids had fun, and they learned something about the true meaning of Christmas. I think that makes it a success. Rebeca, a friend from the church in Quito, helped me immensely in designing the scenery, finalizing the costumes, and practicing the songs with the kiddies. And we definitely could not have done it without all the work Sara put into choosing the songs, buying the costumes, and making invitations beforehand. Here are some pictures from our afternoon:
|Precious little angels|
|The cast: Maria, Joseph, shepherds, wise men (and women), donkeys, etc.|
|We even had live animals! Isn't it adorable?!|