Day 7 and 8 (June 16-17): Last Day of Teaching and Nono
As we head into the end of our journey, we’ve had a lot of excitement, busyness, and then also some time to reflect, play, and rest.
Friday, our last day of teaching, was a bustling frenzy of chaos. We held the science fair that we had been preparing for all week to put on for the parents and the other students at the school. We demonstrated various types of rockets, catapults, mouse trap cars, aluminum foil boats, slime, and solar system models. The kids presented their projects in English and Spanish for their parents and recited verses in English as well.
Pity shared with the team how sponsorships work at the school, and about eleven of our students expressed interest and will receive more information about it on Monday.
The school put on a farewell ceremony for the team before our lunch that included songs and prayer by the kids and teachers, followed by a series of special gifts for each of our team members and leaders. They made us crafts and cards with our names and Bible verses on them to encourage us as we leave. The eighth grade class applauded their teachers Stephen and Evan. They prayed a special prayer for both the group of chaperones and for the seniors who just graduated and are headed to college (William, Dani, Bailey, Jonathan, and Natalie). After the gift-giving and prayer, it was finally time to say goodbye to the kids. The classes all rushed our team, showering them with hugs.
After the farewell ceremony we split up into several groups for the afternoon work: one group went to the construction site, one put on the party for the teachers of Amor y Esperanza, and then Bailey and I met and interviewed Pancho’s quinoa business partner Adam along with Pancho and Pity for a marketing video that Bailey will put together for them this month. Bailey filmed a lot of the kids holding the Healthy Hope Organics product boxes around the school for the video. Pancho wants this video to be shown to churches in the US, where they want to first start selling their products. It’s a huge help and blessing to Pancho, Pity, and Adam that Bailey is putting this together for them.
The teacher party was a success, with food (except we forgot to serve the dessert! but they’ll eat it on Monday), singing (Annie sang a few songs for them, and they loved it so much that they chanted, “Another! Another!”), and a white elephant prize game.Thank you so much for all of your donations! It’s a wonderful time to celebrate, appreciate, and give back to the teachers who do such good work for the kids and for us—and they really appreciate too.
(Below is Abel with his mother helping him to walk.)
(Below is Abel with his mother helping him to walk.)
We all met up at the construction site afterwards to finish up our work for the week: twelve walls! It’s encouraging to see how much we accomplished and to know that we helped get them closer to the new building. But they still have a long way to go, so please pray that they would be able to raise and receive the money necessary to complete it.
Back at the seminary there was yet another soccer game, this time with a pure US team and a pure Ecuador team—no borrowing of teammates. The construction workers that we were with all week has challenged our students to a game, so they played for Ecuador along with Pancho and his sons as well as some kids from the school. Grayson scored the first goal early on in the game for the US, and we held them off for a while. The construction workers told William that they were frustrated playing against girls who played so well! Maggie and Grayson were excellent. Alas, the score ended up being 3-1, Ecuador. There’s always next year.
Our devotional last night was led by the chaperones rather than Pancho and Pity. All four of us shared something that the Lord put on our hearts: Susan shared about how Jesus exists out of time, and therefore before the foundation of the world, we who are in Christ were saved and made his, and because of this we don’t have to worry that God won’t love us if we don’t confess our sins because he already forgave us before the foundation of the world; Opal shared about how she came to understand God through reading about his love for Israel in the Old Testament and what a relationship with God looks like (one point in her message was about how God promises us life in abundance, which Opal described as “forever condensed milk”—her favorite breakfast beverage); I shared about how it’s okay not to get the spiritual high while on a mission trip like this, because it doesn’t happen to everyone and doesn’t mean that you’re spiritually inferior or doing something wrong if you don’t, because God really calls us to act more than he calls us to feel; Dave used the classic chair illustration to paint a picture of how we are either facing God, facing God and feel far away, or facing away from God (the chairs were placed in these different positions). Afterwards we gave everyone fifteen minutes to journal and reflect, followed by “cabin time,” where we came together in three different groups to talk about and share anything that was on the students’ hearts.
Today, Saturday, was adventure time.
We got up early and drove an hour to Nono, a beautiful area in the mountains where Pity’s family has a farm. Some of the group went hiking at Pity’s farm while some of us went to Dr. David and Lois Wells’ ranch to ride horses (the Wells on the board of Amor y Esperanza and the heads of Alliance Academy where Pancho and Pity Sola’s kids go to school). Some of the more experienced went on a trail ride while several of the others learned how to ride in the arena. We had lunch at the Wells’ ranch—cooked by an Argentine chef who lives in the village of Nono, which means lots and lots of meat.
I will put up some pictures soon of the views in Nono, but they don’t do it justice, and I won’t even try to describe to you how breathtaking it is. (Partly because it’s really late at night at this point.)
The Wells have a heart for their neighbors in Nono, and so once a month on a Saturday they invite their neighbors, people from the village, people who are involved in Alliance Academy, Pity, Pancho, and some of Pity’s relatives, and whoever else will come, to have a meal and a time to meet together and talk about spiritual topics. They hope to draw people to Christ by inviting them to their house in an informal, welcoming setting so that they feel comfortable talking about where they are spiritually. We joined them today and led them in worship, then split into six groups to talk about lessons in faith in the scriptures under the guidance of one of the teachers at Alliance Academy. It was a beautiful picture of the what the church is—or perhaps should be. To see Ecuadorians, Argentines, Americans, Ex-Pats, Guatemalans, Jamaicans, Cubans, and who knows what else, all come together to share a meal (and an enormous amount of dessert and coffee afterwards) and to sing, learn, talk, and pray together outside at a mountain house, in the clouds and eventually the rain, was an amazing picture of how big and diverse, how kind and hospitable, how simple and beautiful, the church and its love for others can be.
We had dinner at Pity’s house, played a lot of charades, and then drove back to Quito. Tomorrow is our last day. I will upload pictures tomorrow when I have better service and update y’all on what we do tomorrow before we leave for the airport.
Cheers, peace, and grace to you all,