Woke up to …. yes, another gorgeous morning!!
We had a great fireside meeting last night where Sterling spoke about being attached to the “Vine” and what pruning looks like in our lives. He challenged us to think through what things in our life might be hindering our walk/relationship with Jesus. Where do we need to do some pruning?
This morning everyone was up bright and early to go out and do their quiet time of devotions and journaling. A few climbed the mountain to the cross, some went to the Tree House, some actually climbed a tree, and some met at the playground to do their study and then worship for a while.
After a delicious breakfast of baked French toast, sausage and fresh fruit, we met at the carpenters shed to break into our work teams. Since we have gotten so much done, we only have four teams this morning: cement/rock splitting/arbor, climbing wall, irrigation ditches, painting the coach house/cement entrance/fence posts, and clearing walking trails on the mountain. Almost all the jobs were completed!!!!
During our free time we had a fun game of soccer with only one slight casualty. Marcus Harper sprained his ankle … But it’s wrapped up and he doing good. Also enjoyed a little volleyball, hanging out, some took showers, and some played cards.
I am truly amazed and impressed with all our students. They are such hard workers and have such great attitudes and caring hearts. It is a blessing to see God working in the hearts and lives of these precious kids.
Well, we are getting up at 4 am for the perimeter hike and have an incredibly long, jam packed day tomorrow leaving after breakfast for the market in Quito, then more Shoeless time tomorrow afternoon followed by zip lining, rock climbing and the Leap of Faith. Then we are having roasted pig and qui (Guinness pig) for dinner, followed by our last Bon fire team time. Then loading up on the bus to head to the airport for our midnight flight.
Please pray that our transition in Houston goes smoothly as we have to go through customs there and only have a little less than two hours between flights.
Looking forward to seeing you all soon!
Team Quito Quest
We’re back! We made it back safe and sound this afternoon around 4:00 pm. The jungle was amazingly beautiful and we had a wonderful time.
We left El Refugio around 8:30 am on Wednesday morning. We all had to pack everything we needed for two days (including towel and 2 pairs of shoes) in a backpack. We made the six hour trek through the winding mountains without anyone getting sick. However, I think most of us took Dramamine! We stopped 1/2 way to eat some sandwiches on the side of the road and made it to a small town called Rio Negro in time for dinner. We split into two teams: one team went to a Young Life meeting and the other group held a VBS for the children of the town. Both events went really well but it was a long day and we didn’t get to the house where we were sleeping until about 11 pm. It was raining really hard all afternoon, evening and through the night.
The next morning we were up early so we could load the bus and head about an hour into the jungle to hike up to the waterfall where about 13 of our students were gettting baptized. It was still pouring in the morning, but by the time we arrived at our location, it was only overcast and we had a rain free day. We took some time to hear the students testimonies before hiking to the waterfall for the baptisms. It was such a special time! It was even more special because both Pastor Sterling and Pastor Brian had arrived on Tuesday evening and Sterling was able to perform the baptisms and Pastor Brian baptised his son Micah.
That afternoon we went to the Young Life Center to have lunch and hear about their ministry. We then toured Nate Saint’s House. He was one of the 5 missionaries killed while trying to reach the Waorani Tribe. We then hiked to a waterfall called the devils Cauldron. A beautiful and powerful waterfall! After the waterfall hike, Rick Borman had arranged for us to have dinner at a local trout farm. I was amazed at how many of the students not only ate the smoked trout, but even tried the eyeballs!
Unfortunately, we had to say good bye to Rick Borman after dinner as he had to head back to the states. But we all feel so fortunate and grateful to have had him with us for so much of our trip!
After dinner, we headed back to the house and enjoyed a wonderful evening of worship and was blessed to have Pastor Brian share Gods word with us. We then had some free time of just hanging out. The house was very large and open so we had some students singing and playing the guitar and bongo drum, while several groups played cards, twister, hung out and talked, etc. it was a wonderful day!!!
This morning we got to sleep in just a little … Didn’t have breakfast until 8 am! We needed to get packed up and clean the house then loaded the bus for the long trek home. The bus trips were a lot of fun with lots of laughter, games, yelling through tunnels, and sleeping. Once again, Dramamine was in high demand, and no one got sick. Once we got near Quito, we stopped at a local supermarket so we could buy some food gifts to bring home to our family and friends. The “mora” jelly is one of the favorites items coming home.
We have our final full work day tomorrow. Please continue to pray for continued good health and good attitudes as we complete our last couple days.
Team Quito Quest
- Constructing climbing walls that are going to be attached to the outside of the equipment shed so that the shed can be used as a smaller bouldering wall.
- Cement/rock breaking crew continuing work on arbor.
- Ditch digging crew for irrigation system in gardens
- Clearing paths on mountain for catapult swing and new hiking paths
- De-barking trees
Our team split into three groups so that we could attend local area churches this morning without overwhelming the locals.
Group #1 went to a service that started around 8:30 am so they ate breakfast early and headed out.
Upon arriving, we were greeted by a handful of Ecuadorians. In total, there were probably around 35 people present including us. We started off the service by singing a few hymns in Spanish, and then the pastor began speaking (also in Spanish). Every 15 minutes or so we would break and sing more hymns. After goings through a few cycles of hymns and speaking, another person would stand and act as a new pastor. About halfway through the service, they played a little Sunday school intro video, and all the little kids would exit the small church to learn separately. At the end of the service we talked with the 3 pastors and took many GPs (group pictures). Talking to the pastors, we learned that, in fact, none of them were pastors. They were all just members of the church that took turns speaking. In total, the whole service lasted about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Written by Corey Shaunessey))
Group #2 went to a church that started at 9:30 in a small town close by.
The church that we attended is Ryan and Erica’s (two employees at el Refugio) home church.This service began with worship in Spanish with lyrics on the screen, so even those who didn’t speak much Spanish could follow along. We sang many worship songs in the contemporary style including one we all knew from campfire worship the day before, dos mil razones (10,000 reasons in English). After worship we were pleasantly surprised with the theatrical talents of a few younger members of the congregation. They acted out the story of David and Golliath as a preface for the sermon. The sermon was all about this well known Bible story, and comparing it to “gigantes” we face every day. All in all the service lasted for about an hour and a half and the “besitos” from everyone in the congregation made it an experience none of us will ever forget. (Written by Grace Higgins)
Group #3 went to the local church in town (Calacali) that started at 11:00am. We were able to walk 15 minutes to get there. This is Rick Borman’s “home” church and most of the EL Refugio staff and families attend here as well. It is a small church, only about 50 there this morning including our group of 12. They were so warm and welcoming. We worshipped together with words and video up on a screen. (They even had words in English for one of the songs.). The pastor spoke on The passage of Cain & Abel. Focusing on the question, “Are you your brothers keeper?” Encouraging us to not have an individualistic mindset, but rather be concerned for, and know what is happening in others lives around us so we can care for them, pray for them and love them. One of our students, Dillon Cooley, got up and shared his testimony while Katie Chenault interpreted. They did such a nice job! One of their members got up and shared a “God” incident that happened in his life this past week. We stayed and mingled with for a while after doing our best to communicate with each other..
Our teams all returned to El Refugio for lunch and then did our “Shoeless” activity. For about 1 1/2 hours, we took our Bibles, devotional and journals and went anywhere we wanted on the property. The only guidelines were that you had to be outdoors in Gods creation, you had to be alone, and you had to take your shoes off. (reference to Moses being on holy ground in God’s presence). El Refugio is 350 acres so it is easy to find a beautiful place to sit.
At 3:30 we loaded up to go to the equator located in Mitad de mundo. We got some GP’s on the equator and spent time shopping around the gift stores. We enjoyed bartering for Ecuador soccer jerseys, alpaca jackets, blankets, etc. It was a fun afternoon.
This evening we had the privilege of hearing testimonies from our three college graduate interns, Tom Ward, Matt Schuman, and Alex Carley. And then played an intense game of Shadows in the Dust. (Ecuadorian Capture the Flag) to end the night.
Tomorrow we have a 1/2 work day and then day #2 of our VBS. We appreciate your continued prayers as our schedule is tightly packed and the kids (and leaders) are tired, but doing really well.
Team Quito Quest
What a perfect day!! Started with waking up to yet another gorgeous morning. Some of us left at 6:15 am to hike to the cross at the top of the mountain. Such a breathtaking place to do our devotions and have our quiet time. Enjoyed a quick breakfast and loaded a bus to head to Carapungo where La Rocca Skate Church/ministries is located (about an hour away). I can’t even begin to tell what a blessing it was to be there today to witness their grand eye-opening. La Rocca had been closed for a month in which they more than doubled the size of their skate park. Something that FBCG had a huge part in making a reality. The pictures will speak for themselves, but there was a huge turnout and our students were able to witness some spectacular skate boarding, interact with some of the inner-city kids, and serve them lunch. We also started a soccer game on the field just outside the park so everyone had fun playing and socializing. Close to the end of our day there, our group walked to town and was treated to pastries and ice cream. After loading the bus, one of the skater kids from La Rocca asked to come on the bus to say “thank you”. He shared that when he first came to La Rocca he had dropped out of school and was into drugs. Through the skate ministry of La Rocca he found Christ, was baptised, and was given financial help to finish high school so he will be graduating after next year. He said that la Rocca is the first place where he has felt like he “belonged” and that it saved his life. He was thankful that we could come and see the ministry that our church help support and he was blessed to meet us and hoped he would see us again. It was really neat to see God at work in such tangible ways!
When we returned from La Rocca, we had a couple hours of free time to use as we wanted. The El Refugio staff opened up the “Leap of Faith”. Some of you parents might not want to see the pictures if your child participated in that activity. (Jk). It is a skinny climbing pole about 40 feet high that they scale, then try to stand up on, and jump to a trapeze bar and try to catch it. (FYI … They have a harness on). Of course, Noah Barbel was screaming, “Is this even legal????” As he tried to scale the pole. The answer? … ” In Ecuador it is!” Lol!!!
Some other students chose to nap, play cards, hang out and chat, shower, and braid each other’s hair with flowers from the field (?). Our students have been doing a great job of interacting with everyone on our team. It is fun to watch new friendships develop and see others strengthened as we get to know each other better every day.
One little side note, unfortunately, Marcus Harper got sick and was pretty ill for one day and two nights. He was unable to go to the skate park with us today, but thankfully was feeling much better by the time we got back. (Praise the Lord!)
Also, we had an Ecuadorian delicacy for dinner tonight. Most kids tried it and thought it tasted like beef or turkey jerky. When Rick brought it out and showed us … we found out it was … Seared monkey!
Team Quito Quest
woke up to yet another gorgeous morning! Everyone was up and out of their cabins before 7:30 am to either hike to a spot or just find a quiet place for their morning devotions. Had baked oatmeal this morning with bananas and honey from the property. And then split up into our work teams again to continue working on the projects we started yesterday. Once again, attitudes were great and the team had a lot of fun while working hard! We then had a quick lunch of “walking tacos” and started getting ready for our first day of VBS. Some of our students walked back into the town to gather the children and we had close to 100 kids attend our first day of VBS. (I’m sure there will be more on Monday after the word gets out!). We spent the first hour playing in the big field. There were children of all ages so we had a couple soccer games going, football 500, tag, jump rope, kick ball, bubbles, and their favorite … Piggy back rides! It’s always a interesting to try and welcome and get to know someone when you don’t speak the same language. But our students did an awesome job of smiling, hugging and interacting today! We then circled them up and sang some songs and split them into three groups. We had three stations for them to rotate through: Craft, Skit/Bible Story, and games. The Bible story for today was about Joseph. During the games section they played games with a big parachute that we brought from home. The kids loved it!
The exciting event that everyone is looking forward to this evening is watching Ecuador in the soccer tournament. The staff from El Refugio have set up a big screen in one of the meeting rooms so we can all watch. All the El Refugio staff are wearing their Ecuador soccer jerseys today.
Tonight our campfire worship experience was amazing. Rick Borman spoke about being completely surrendered to Christ. What better person to speak on that??? Each night ends with the students pairing off to do one-on-ones to process and reflect on what they just heard.
Tomorrow we are headed out to La Roca, the Skate Park Ministry the Lugenbill’s started down here several years ago. So stay tuned for info on our escapades tomorrow.
Team Quito Quest
Woke up to another beautiful morning! A lot of students chose to get up early enough to go out and have their quiet time and do their Bible study before breakfast.
We enjoyed another home made breakfast which consisted of scrambled eggs from hens on the property. We also get to try juices at each meal made from local fruits. The white pineapple is to die for!!! Immediately following breakfast we all met down by the Carpenters Shed and split into our 6 work teams.
One group is digging trenches for an irrigation system in the gardens.
One group is splitting rocks, pouring cement, and hoisting tree trunks to make some Arbors near the garden area.
One group is cutting drywall in order to move existing electrical for the new kitchen.
One group is measuring/cutting/drilling/nailing wood to build a frame for the equipment trailer at the climbing
One group is clearing trees and stumps from the side of the mountain. They are also de-barking the trees they have cut down.
One group is clearing brush, small trees and stumps to continue a path that works it’s way up the mountain.
The kids have worked incredibly hard today. And when say they worked hard … Wait till you see the photos. Back breaking digging, hours of using a machete to clear trees, shovels and pick axes to de-stump the hillside, pick axes to break up rocks to use in the cement, sledge hammers to loosen bark on the fallen trees and bare hands to pull/strip the bark off. HARD labor, ALL day! And NO complaining. Just a lot of blisters and some pretty tired campers.
Every day that we are here at El Refugio we have a “free-time” between 4-6pm. Some kids take naps, but some of the other activities the kids engage in are: cards/games, volleyball, soccer, laying in the sun, completing their daily Bible study, hiking and hanging out talking and getting to know each other better. Today some of us met in our VBS teams to go over details of what we need to know/do tomorrow afternoon for our first day with the children. Then a group of kids walked together to Cale Cali, the little town we are near, to invite the children of the town to our VBS tomorrow.
Tonight after dinner the kids were able to scale the climbing wall. What a FUN time! Between the running commentary from Noah Barbel and the technical difficulty with Marcus Harper’s harness, we were all laughing a LOT!!!
Tonight’s worship time around the bonfire was wonderful. Ken O’Brien talked about where we find our identity: Sports, friends, looks, money, etc? What would happen if any of those things were taken away? How would our life look different if our identify was found in Christ?
Again, thank you for your continued prayers. We are healthy and well and enjoying all that each day has to offer.
Team Quito Quest
PS). You will notice a dog “Lola” in some of the pictures. Everyone LOVES Lola. She is a dog that lives here at the mission and spends the day “hanging out” with the students where ever they are. I am sure you will hear a lot about Lola when your child gets home.
Hi all, Yes, we made it safe and sound … just a little late! We ended up sitting on the tarmac in Houston for over 1 1/2 hours before taking off. We made it through customs fine. And only had one student get sick on the wild bus ride to El Refugio … poor Grant (he’s feeling great now, just a quick spell of motion sickness). ;) Most of us were settled into our rooms and in bed by 3:00 am. We woke up bright and early to an amazingly beautiful morning and delicious breakfast. We then met the El Refugio staff and kicked off our Bible Study the topic being “From ashes to His image”, using the Greek mythological bird the Phoenix to symbolize Christ’s death and resurrection. We went to the field to play some ice breaker games and split into three teams (Lola’s, Llama’s & Duck’s) where we then spent the rest of the day working through team building/leadership activities such as low-rope course, free-fall, the lava pit, the whale watch, the spider web and one of the favorites … the high-ropes course. We ended our day with a worship time around the bonfire that was enjoyed by all. It was an amazing day of growing, building, sharing & bonding. The students have been wonderful today working on few hours of sleep. We’ve had no complaining and a lot of expressed gratefulness! Everyone is ready to head to bed tonight so we are ready for our first work day here at El Refugio tomorrow. Enjoy the pictures and know that we are all well. Will post again tomorrow evening. Thanks for your prayers, Team Quito Quest