We dropped the Pedernales team off and then 15 hours later we picked up our last Merge team of the summer!
We partnered with Northwest Covenant church from Mt. Prospect, IL along with Betél church and Jesús Divino Pastor church in Ibarra and Emanuel Church in Cayambe.
This was a really special group as we were able to spend the first week in Ibarra, our home town and where we are living here in Ecuador. It was so wonderful to not only partner with the team but get to know our community better and church family better.
In the mornings we did construction on the Betel church that recently moved and is rebuilding the church entirely. And in the afternoons we were able to join Jesús Divino Pastor church in their annual VBS to a small urban community about 20 minutes away. It was really fun to be able to join them and see how other churches in the areas minister to children.
We also had evenings of soccer and basketball games, which were super fun and SUPER competitive!
After our week in Ibarra we headed to Cayambe to help with the Santiago Partnerhip, along with the Emanuel church and the Delps, to expand the clinic they have there. Let me tell you, by the end of this summer Richard and I are going to have HUGE muscles after all the construction we’ve helped with! 😉
The team was mainly comprised of youth which made for a really energetic, fun week!
And now….now we’ve said goodbye to the team, the church, and even our awesome staff. 🙁
And although it is always bittersweet to end a Merge summer we are also very excited to be seeing my (Elizabeth’s) family soon! We will be meeting up with my whole family, including our French family, in France in a couple weeks!
Thanks for keeping us all in your prayers this summer and for all your support and encouragement! We could not have done it without you all, our awesome staff and friends here in Ecuador, and the peace, power, guidance, and strength of Christ!
Richard + Liz
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!