Half of my time here in Ecuador has now passed. It's been eight and a half months. Despite not being exactly sure of the fruits of my efforts here, I know at least that I have helped many children to learn; made many new friends; shared many ideas in developing the church; and visited, listened to, and encouraged many people. Often immediate results cannot be seen in the type of work I am doing. But seeing smiles of joy and understanding shows me that the purpose of our work goes deeper than numbers on a page or reports of conversions or graduations. It has to do with relationships, showing grace and love.
Over the past 8.5 months, I have learned many things and grown in innumerable ways. Here is a brief summary of what I have done here in Romerillos:
- Started an after-school program. Lesson #1: Structure is good and must be put into place from the beginning, but kids also need a space to be active and learn through games and dynamics. Lesson #2: If you should fail, try, try again (the way we started out doing the program is not working anymore and we have been working to change it up).
|Kids from the after-school program|
|Pastor Blanca telling a Bible story|
- Became an amateur English teacher. Lesson: It is absolutely 100% necessary to establish a clear-cut discipline system that will encourage kids to learn in a positive and productive environment.
|The kids I teach English too at their school "El Sembrador"|
- Shared and accompanied on pastoral home visits. Lesson: Presence speaks louder than words. At times you don't know what to say, but just being there comforts.
- Participated in folkloric dance. Lesson: Praising God is most beautiful and meaningful using the music and traditions within each culture.
|Folkloric dance ministry|
- Spent hours with kids at my house giving homework help and playing games. Lesson: Being with kids is more important than having a clean house or another hour to myself.
|My little 4-year-old buddy who came to visit me|
|Dying eggs for Easter with kids from church|
- Preached in Spanish. Lesson: God can use me to share his message despite my fear/dislike of public speaking!
- Organized worship services. Lesson: Working together is key. No one person can do it all. We have to use the gifts and talents of the entire church.
|Special outdoor service for Holy Communion|
|Worship team with youth|
- Helped revive and plan for youth program. Lesson #1: Prayer is key to change. Lesson #2: If even one person comes, it is worth the effort.
- Attended several conferences and workshops put on by the Methodist Church of Ecuador. Lesson: The Methodist Church, as well as the Christian church in general, is very diverse but can do great and wonderful things for the Lord when we come together.
|New friends from the Methodist church in Otavalo|
|Praying for the birthday girl|