EMT 2018

EMT 2018
2018 Ecuador Mission Team
Friday, June 22

Honoring The Teachers of FAE

It was a high day in Carmen Bajo today. Teamwork was at its peak. The group was animated this morning before leaving the apartment and I really felt like this was a great start to a day that could turn sad with all the goodbyes that were before us. Absolutely no one was focused on that. They were all eager to meet with their classes and several of them couldn’t wait to share special letters they wrote for each child, give gifts they brought for the kids, and perform for the kids and the teachers as well.

It always touches me when the students pray for us.. With all sincerity they thank us for coming to spend these days with them, spending time to get to know them and praying with and for them. Today, after we received their prayers, thanks and appreciation, we moved right into preparing a party for the teachers and community moms who daily minister to the beautiful children of FAE..  This is always a blessing and a treat simultaneously. The FAE faculty and staff really know how to party J

At the party, our team did two songs for FAE teachers and after asking the 5th grade teacher to join in, the party really started. Teacher Fausto took center stage along with teacher Carlos and Pastor Nelson. Pancho got reeled in and it was a Hollywood moment because all the cell phones and cameras came out to record that moment. By this time the laughter was immense. If any stress entered that room before the party, it was all chased away with the laughter of everyone in the room. We had a White Elephant-type of gift giving time and in the true meaning of White Elephant, there were a few steals but all in good fun as they laughed and cheered on each other. In all the fun of today I was reminded of the words of Proverbs 17:22 – “A merry heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” It’s been quite a while since I have laughed the way that I did today. If no one else did, I know for sure that I needed that diversion.

It was an early night for us tonight. Immediately after dinner Pancho and Pity met for devotion time with us. With only two days left, they asked each team member to mention their high and low points of this trip so far.  From the responses, I can tell that God has stirred hearts within this group. From those who initially were not excited about this trip to those who decided to return (give it another chance so to speak), to those who had no idea what to expect; God has made some real changes. Parents, if you prodded and engineered the thought of making this trip, thanks! From your child to you, they are thankful. To the returning parents, thanks for supporting the decision and seeing it through to this moment and to parents who are doing this for the first time, I can’t thank you enough for the faith you are exercising even now. I know that many obstacles presented themselves for some families as you planned for your child to attend this trip but, God is the one who is really in control here and not our circumstances. There is a song that I love to sing and the opening line is, “Giants, do die, the bigger they are, the harder they fall…let God arise giants die!” When we return to Atlanta I hope that you will see that your child had a new encounter with God while in Quito this year.

I praise God for wellness for us all as we enter into the last few hours of this trip. God is able to see us through. Until we reunite, from us to you - have an excellent weekend as if we were with you.

Thursday, June 20

Emmanuel – God with us! 

And He is indeed with us. I woke up this morning praying that when I greeted the team I would see fresh faces and voila, so it was. Thank you Jesus! Since Wednesday was such a blessing to witness I felt like day 6 would be doubly blessed. We decided to take the afternoon sessions outside today and give the kids an opportunity to review their learning this week as it relates to the focus topics of the afternoon and also have soccer competitions. They never turn down a game of soccer so that went well.

Beyond that I must say that their responses to our review questions were on point at all times. I was able to see some of the kids who were more reserved in their responses earlier this week raise their hands and tell us in their own words how they would respond appropriately to different compromising scenarios if they were ever faced with such. It is Thursday and I do feel like hearts have been stirred. Praise God! Today was the end of our afternoon talks because tomorrow afternoon is set aside for the teacher/staff appreciation party.

We had passed by Margarita’s home (she is our main cook) and also Lorena’s home (lady getting married on Sunday) with the hope of doing some painting for them today but we had to change plans and paint the daycare center, (one of many belonging to FAE) that is directly across the street from Lorena’s instead. Margarita occupies a 1 room dwelling with 5 kids and a grandson. We are thinking of doing something special for her before we leave. Lorena is on maternity leave and we wanted to meet up with her before Sunday’s big event and meet the little man (born on May 21st) who is named after Pancho. His name is Francisco Ezequiel and he is just a bundle of sweetness. He is the third gift (gem) from God to Lorena’s family. We are so excited to be part of her wedding service on Sunday at noon.

I am excited to see what our audience will look like tomorrow morning as we present the final piece to the skit, sing the relating songs and repeat Isaiah 9:6 for the last time this week with the FAE family. We have given them a CD with the music and Pity has mentioned that they want to continue with the songs during their worship times and in classrooms as well. Our parting will be bitter sweet tomorrow for us and the FAE family but we will focus only on the sweet part of seeing them soon again.

A huge thank you goes out to our EMT parents at this time who once again gave and gave so that some teachers, drivers and community moms in Quito whom you have never met, will feel appreciated as they contribute to God’s work here at Foundation Love and Hope. On that note I am off to count my blessings and…sheep! 

Wednesday, June 19

Building Relationships

Wednesday was a very full day for us. We arrived
at the school and were greeted by some very happy faces on the school’s playground “patio” where we once again presented more clues in order to help the audience get closer to understanding or solving the mystery of who God is. 

Our welcoming audience was very responsive to the questions our Detective Do Tell (Kathryn Bracher) asked as our skit rolled on. Many of the kids talked about the clues in the skit such as the Bible, a crown, a heart, and the manger all pointing to Emmanuel. We hope and pray that on Friday we will see the evidence that many hearts were stirred this week.

Classes went on comfortably and the EMT members seemed to be in the swing of things as I passed by to check on who needed any help or resources. The story of the paralytic man was coming alive in classrooms via some very dynamic means. The kids were eager to act out the story and even complete short and long passages of the story which challenged their English vocabulary at times. On the playground I was blessed to see many instances of bonding taking place between EMT members and FAE children. It is wonderful to see how many of these kids connect with and look up to our EMT members. Frankly, I can’t wait each day to hit the playground with them daily. We are praying for these kids all week. We are aware of some of their needs and although we can’t make their challenges go away we are here, and we offer a friendship built on the love of God.

During the afternoon sessions we continued to impress upon them the importance of making the rig,ht decisions as it relates to respect for authority, dating and relationships and drug and alcohol abuse. Their questions in these sessions were very insightful and we made every effort to steer them right with practical responses and biblical references. 

We caught up with Janey Fugate (’11), EMT alum and sister to Alice Fugate (11th) for dinner at Pim’s restaurant in the city. No one complained of any serious injuries before or after dinner. Grace did hurt her shin playing more soccer right after lunch so we took care of that as much as we could before dinner. She complained of some discomfort but being the trooper that she is she did not let that hinder her from making it to the bus on time for our ride to dinner.

Thanks again for your prayers, I can feel them. Until next time…peace unto you all!  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Coming Together As A Team

We have a lot to be thankful for today. The second day of teaching was satisfying for the team. The connection with the kids is definitely growing. Many were able to recall names and specific things about the kids that made their day today. It was interesting to watch our team members share the detail of the biblical story of the rich young ruler with the kids in their classes. They used illustrations and resources to help bring the kids to this understanding - all the material things that we cling to in this life have little value in fostering a relationship with God. 

The younger kids demonstrated what the heart of the
rich young ruler might have looked like with opaque cups and dark colored paint. Of course, the outside of the cups were clean (appearing pure) vs. the inside of the cups which were painted with black paint. This object lesson was the practical representation of the fact that the ruler's heart was full of sin. How fitting for us, who also need this reminder from time to time.  We are all sometimes as Jesus stated to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25 states - clean on the outside but full of sin on the inside. But the good news is that Emmanuel is with us. We are to commit daily to allowing Him to transform and renew us from within.

After working with the afternoon small groups we were able to play some indoor soccer in a fierce competition against Pancho’s “Ecuadorian team." Needless to say that Atlanta took a fall as they were up against the champions such as Panchito “el jefe de futbol." The first aid kit was ready but I was not! I was determined that we would not need the kit or need a trip to the neighborhood pharmacy to bandage any wounds similar to a few years ago. God be praised because despite the terrible loss and blow to some soccer skills, everyone emerged injury free! As far as I am concerned, we were all winners J.

As we march closer to the end of the week we are looking forward to a successful culmination of the afternoon sessions which will end with a field day on Thursday afternoon. We plan to award prizes to students who can recap some of the main points that we discussed this week, share highlights of the discussion groups as well as those who demonstrate superior physical ability in the games we will play with them. We will be putting the finishing touches on our planning for the teacher’s party on Thursday afternoon as well. 

A special treat is that we will assist with the wedding ceremony for Lorena, one of the long-term employees of the Foundation on Sunday and we are all excited about that! God is good and I know that He is perfecting our team daily as we work hard, play hard, and honor Him. It is almost 10:30 p.m. and it is unusually quiet for this time. Hmm….todos cansados (exhausted teenagers) perhaps? Yup, it is time to rejuvenate and recharge. Blessings to you all and good night from Quito.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Day of Teaching And Learning

Hola loved ones! Day 1 of teaching was in the words of our team members, “lovely, good and fairly good." We had an early start, of course, and everyone was ready to boldly go where some of the 2013 team members had not gone before. The FAE family was all set and ready to welcome us on the 
patio with worship songs after which we presented the first part of our lesson - the mystery of discovering who God really is to us. The kids loved the songs (and related actions) especially, “Emmanuel” and “Stirred." They really got into the action of  “stirring," as if stirring a pot (which is pretty much half of the chorus of the second song).

In the individual classes things went as well as Day 1 of teaching should go. Our kids talked a lot about how the children made them smile and touched their hearts tremendously. Kathryn was especially touched by the kids in her class practicing the songs, learning how to sing in English and learning how to say “repeat please” because they wanted to sing the songs over and over. The different talents of this group are certainly maturing before our very eyes. Alexa learned today that she is fluent in Spanish. She was a very valuable asset to her teaching buddy, Nile, and also to her afternoon partners who were imparting the truths about alcohol and drug use. 

Please continue to pray for us in terms of our impact during the afternoon small group settings. Today we had one student in the ninth grade mention that she does not believe in God or the Bible. However, she was very curious as she asked questions and wanted answers. Pancho did mention to me that ninth and tenth graders were posing quite some challenges for the administration this year. We appreciate your prayers as we are also praying for these students especially.

I am confident about the impact that we will have this week and I know God will manifest himself to our team members by sharpening their relationship with Him. Pancho and Pity will have devotions with us starting tomorrow evening after dinner. It is my desire that our hearts will be stirred for the Lord as we seek to stir the hearts of the students and families here. I believe Day 2 of teaching at Amor y Esperanza will be greater than today. We spent quite a bit of time in reflection earlier tonight and shared our thoughts on how to be more efficient with tomorrow morning's session. We had quiet time with God and the team had a chance to reflect, pray, and write in their journals. Tomorrow they will seek specific students from their classes to intercede for over this entire week.

Thanks for partnering with us as we continue to work in this part of the vineyard. Until tomorrow – Curling out!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 2: Praying and Planning

Dear Whitefield Families,

The planning has been rigorous for the team, but they have not complained once about that. Clearly the rigor of their usual academic work at Whitefield has properly equipped them to take on these tasks even with the pressure of tomorrow’s immediate deadline looming. We visited the school and did some decoration in the classrooms to complement the VBS theme and we also practiced the opening skits. The team is doing well at this time. Motion sickness is present but has not gained the total victory over us. God is greater!

A trip to the equator and several pictures “walking the line” ensued this evening and even some more small scale shopping. Pancho, Marco (our other driver), and Milton were blessed by our prayers this morning as we prayed over them for Father’s Day. We did not leave out our dads at home so we hope that they felt a special blessing come their way today as we committed each of them to our Heavenly Father. God bless our wonderful fathers for all for the roles they play as High Priest in their respective homes.

It is going to be an exciting week. The kids are in great spirits! Their talents are combining very well and I cannot wait to see how they will react when they connect for the first time and reconnect with the little faces we will greet at 8:30 a.m. in the morning. I will tell you all about it next time and there will be photos as wellJ. Chau! 

Opal Anderson-Curling
The 2013 Team Has  Arrived!

Dear Whitefield Families,

We are safe and sound and avidly preparing for our first full day of teaching and ministry at Fundacion Amor y Esperanza (FAE). Saturday was a full day of travel to Otavalo’s outdoor marketplace. The weather was great and so was the camaraderie among the team members as they soaked in the cultural interactions they had with the natives. Tomorrow we will have church in the apartment with Pancho and his family and head out to the school to do some much needed preparation for the VBS program that we will be sharing with the kids all week during the morning hours. The kids will solve the mystery of who God is via skits, music, journaling, crafts and exploring the evidences of God in our world. The team is excited about this especially since a few of them spent last week teaching this program at the Church of the Apostles VBS program. The others are doing very well with grasping the information. Please pray that nothing with deter the message that we are presenting to the kids at FAE in the coming week

Happy Father’s Day to all our dads at home! We will miss being with you tomorrow but we trust that our Heavenly Father will bless you abundantly on this day that the world dedicates to reflect on how you have nurtured and fathered us. It is 12:40 a.m. and we are officially jet lagged so until tomorrow, good night and God speed!

Opal Anderson-Curling for the EMT team