The team is home safely following a week of fellowship, work, and opening our hearts to the Lord. We were very blessed to have little sickness and few difficulties. The team grew together and had many experiences of the Ecuadorian culture. More thoughts to come, but here are a few pictures for now ...
Thursday was a day full of construction work, teaching, visiting the equator, viewing the basilica downtown, dinner at Pims, and pizza back at the seminary.
This video shows the process of plastering the walls. First, a plaster mix has to be made from three parts sand to one part cement. After adding water to make a thick consistency, the plaster is thrown with a trowel at the wall. Once the wall is covered well, the plaster is scraped with a long straight edge. A second coat is added by throwing a thinner plastic mix at the wall with a shovel. After this is again scraped down, the wall is finished off by filling in holes and rubbing smooth with a wooden board. It is a long and messy process.
|Isabelle and Chris taking a break from construction.|
We are working on the second floor of the school building this week. The foundation is hoping to finish the first and second floors of the building in order to move classes in for the next school year. Pancho and Pitty will be visiting the states, including Atlanta, in early February to meet with donors and do fundraising to finish the building. Please pray for the Lord's leading on their trip!
The students really rose to the challenge of teaching English this week as well. We were planning to focus our efforts on construction, but the school is in the process of hiring a new English teacher. To fill in the gap, students volunteered to teach in pairs. It was challenging because they did not have lesson plans or much preparation. But all the students who took on teaching duties loved meeting the children and enjoyed receiving hugs and high fives. The Whitefield students taught everything from abc's to subject verb agreement to past tense verb structure.
|Lexi and BJ team up to teach third grade.|
Following a productive morning of teaching and construction, the team headed to the seminary for showers and then to the Equator. Hudson quickly became an egg-master, balancing an egg on a nail. We walked on the equator and felt the difference in balance and muscle strength when standing on the equator. One student was most impressed with the demonstration of how the water circles in different directions down the drain when in the southern hemisphere vs. the northern hemisphere. When directly on the equator, it doesn't circle at all!
|Cole demonstrating a hand-stand on the equator.|
|Kennedy and Kayleigh with the basilica in|
|Dinner at Pims!|
Muscles ache, the brain is tired from trying to speak in a different language, and the belly is hungry – but it feels so good to have done a good days work. We carried 400 blocks from the truck to the second floor. We finished weeding 3 sides of the building. We built walls. We taught English. We conducted afternoon clubs for the students at Amor y Esperanza. And a few of us were (mostly) successful at plastering a wall.
|The ladder that leads to a beautiful view.|
In the midst of it all, we partook of God’s beautiful creation. The ladder to the third floor was a little shaky, but it held each of us as we went up one by one to look together at the views of the volcano and the mountains in the distance from the top of the building.
I suppose we put our faith in things all the time – we have faith that the car will start and get us where we need to go, that the chair will hold when we sit down, or that our alarm clock will sound to wake us up in the morning. Today, we put our faith in that ladder. And looking back, it can serve as a metaphor for our faith in Jesus.
At first, the ladder felt steady. But about half way up, the ladder would start to shake with each step. It certainly did not look like a ladder that you would really want to put your faith in. But one by one, as I watched others ascend and the ladder held secure – my faith grew.
We can inspire faith in one another by walking out that faith – that trust – in our own lives. Even when my hands could feel the tremble of the wood and my eyes could see the ladder bending under each step, I had faith that it would hold.
When our walk with Jesus is a little shaky – when others see that – it is okay. In fact, it is good. When your faith wavers, yet you continue in pursuit of Jesus, not only will your own faith grow – but so will the faith of those around you. And when you reach the place that the Lord is taking you, there just may be a beautiful view and a time of rest for you there.
Trust in Him. Trust in your experience of the Lord. He will hold fast.
|The volcano Cayambe as seen from the top of the new school|
Random things I noticed today:
Mr. Unsicker can fall asleep very quickly on the bus. (Lots of experience from all the DC trips maybe?)
Chris hates spiders.
The children in Carmen Bajo are so very joyful!
Tuesday. Carmen Bajo.
It is very humbling to work alongside a master craftsman and try to imitate his craft. Today, we attempted to put cement plaster onto cement block walls which were built by teams that came before us. We worked alongside three maestros. After watching the process, we donned our gloves, mixed our cement plaster, and made one giant mess after another. The men would take a trowel or shovel full of cement, throw it at the wall, and quickly smooth it up the surface. Maybe a little would end up on the floor, but most of the cement stayed nicely where it was put. One team member after another – students and chaperones alike – would attempt to replicate this process. For some, the cement would slide off the back of the trowel. For others, it would hit the wall but fall on the floor. We were wearing cement, wiping it from our hair, our faces, and blinking it out of our eyes! We had cement everywhere! Unfortunately, only a few of us became even slightly proficient with the skill by the end of the day. It was a frustrating process.
We did eventually find some other helpful tasks with which we are more adept. I have never been so happy to whack weeds! Tomorrow, we hope to play to our strengths by breaking up into groups. A few will continue the plastering alongside the master craftsmen, while others will build walls, whack more weeds, or teach English at the school.
|The children met us in the patio and shared songs.|
Before construction time today, we were able to visit the school to meet the children and to learn some of the history of Amor y Esperanza. It was wonderful to see the smiling faces of the students and to hear their praises to the Lord. When Cole, one of the returning team members, entered the patio, the faces of his students from last year lit up with joy! I was able to greet Laura, Noemi, Jesus, and others whom I have known in past years. There is such joy to see their faces and to know that the Lord continues to watch over their lives. And it is good to taste of the Lord and see that He is good. He is kind to His children. He gives us His spirit. His love for us is everlasting.
This evening we shared time together. We remembered Mr. Holland’s encouragement from last night, to taste and see that the Lord is good. We built upon that foundation – the Lord is good, AND He is in control. It is good to have a solid foundation – postulates on which to build your faith, your worldview. We also invited the presence of the Lord, and we prayed for one another. Tomorrow will hold more experience of Jesus – and more togetherness as we pursue His grace for us here, and open the eyes of our hearts.
Random facts for today:
There are a lot of dogs that live in Carmen Bajo.
Mr. Holland has just recently learned to pronounce certain words correctly – like egg and sweater.
Hudson is fascinated by scorpions.
Claire takes great joy in smashing old toilets with a yard tool.