One month and Riverside.
Wow, so, so much has happened since our last blog post! In fact, it has been almost one month since we’ve been back here in Ecuador!
It was one of my goals to write a blog post, at least, once a week.
Well, that did NOT happen but now that we are a little more settled with the Merge trips and planning and I am reviving my goals! So here we go! (although for these next two weeks I can’t promise much since we might not have internet where we are going).
Well, we arrived to Ecuador and two days later we received our first team of the Merge summer: Riverside Covenant Church from Indiana.
We spent the week partnering with dear friends from the church, Buen Pastor and the community in Cangahua (which is a town high up in the mountains in Ecuador, near the city of Cayambe).
Some of us stayed in host families, had s’mores with the local youth group, did some construction, helped out with the churches annual VBS, and taught English classes in the local elementary school. It was so wonderful, but two activities/ministries that really stuck out to me were the community road-side clean up and the field days.
We were able to go with some members of the church and the team and go around the community and pick up trash. Now this might not seem like a lot, and maybe not so sustainable, but it was.
Because a lot of Kichwa communities are mostly Catholic, and a lot of them require their community members to participate in different community events, which includes the celebration and worship of Saints, a lot of Evangelical Christians living in these communities feel a lot of strain and tension, not wanting to encourage nor worship the saints, but wanting to be apart of their communities. There is a real tension that exists.
We have had many conversations with our dear brothers and sisters who live in Kichwa Catholic communities and have tears in their eyes as they tell us of the persecution (water supply being cut off, extra taxes, and in extreme cases, their homes being burnt) for not wanting to participate in the festivals but of the ache in their heart to reach out to their communities and show them that they care.
That was why the road side clean up day was, although small, a tangible way to show the community that they care. It was the pastor’s idea and I think it was a really lovely way to continue to open up doors of reconciliation in the community. We are hoping to go back and continue these conversations.
Another really sweet time was when, each night, we would split up into three groups and visit three different families and their farms. Again, this was the church leadership’s idea as they really wanted to show us their livelihoods. So we’d all put on our boots (or for those that did not have boots, bags around our shoes…which made us look super stylish! 🙂 hop in the back of a truck and head up the mountains to our dear brother or sister’s homes.
We were able to see their livestock, help with cow milking time, help harvest potatoes and onions (the town of Cangahua is known for their onions), and other crops. Then, later on at night, we’d share a meal together in their home and share our stories, laugh, and prayer together. We all left feeling more connected and with a greater appreciation for their lives and culture.
It was a beautiful week with such beautiful people. We absolutely LOVE the Riverside church Community as well as the Cangahua church community; both are filled with such beautiful, strong, spirit-filled, and incredible people. It is always such a privilege for us to partner with these groups. And we are looking forward to next year already!