Ecuador Base

T H A N K S, Ecuador

On the 9th of November, I left my first country of the race and headed to my second. At the beginning of my race, I told myself that after every country I would write a thank you letter to it. A letter commemorating the irreplaceable experiences and fantastic journeys I went on in that country. SO, since I now live in Peru on my third month of the race, here is a Thank You letter to Ecuador and the first two months of my race.

 

Thanks, Public Bus System//

Thanks for never being reliable and almost never having an open seat. Monday through Wednesday every week we traveled an hour on the public bus system to ministry. Another hour on the way home. The public bus is a good way to minister to people through the little things. When you have been standing for 38 minutes and the seat you have been eyeing on the shaded side of the bus FINALLY opens, ministry looks like giving that seat up and continuing to stand in the burning heat. Sometimes the bus is dead empty, usually when we are running late, and ministry looks like smiling at random people who pass by. People are everywhere in Ecuador, sometimes ministry looks like paying abundant attention to the guy who gets on the bus at one stop and tries to sell cake until the next stop who constantly gets ignored. Bus ministry is simple, and though it wasn’t a focused ministry, I learned what it looks like to live on mission while traveling to and from places. God works great through little acts of kindness. Thanks, Ca-tar bus and .25 cent daily rides.

From daniellehernandez.theworldrace.org Thanks, COVI//

Thanks for showing me that I still don’t really like kids, but I will love them as Jesus loves them. COVI was the Monday-Wednesday ministry we traveled on the public bus to. It is an after school program where we cleaned/weeded/swept the ground/made posters/ate cake in the morning and hung out/fed kids/cleaned some more/played WAAAAAY too many rounds of Uno in the afternoon until we left. I learned a lot about slowing down and appreciating small things when I was at COVI. Ministry doesn’t have to be fast-paced and physical all the time. It also doesn’t have to be evangelism or VBS 24/7. Ministry at COVI was slow and sweet. Our ministry hosts didn’t speak a lick of English but God provided a lot of grace in the language department. COVI was a place where I learned that ministry to kids can just be laughing with them about my Spanish and holding their hand on our walk to the park. Thanks, COVI for all the smiles and teaching me more about simple ministry. Thanks, God that you are good and allow sweet bonds to be formed with even sweeter kids.

From daniellehernandez.theworldrace.org

Thanks, Senior Home//

Fun fact, I also don’t really like old people. (Okay, not that I don’t like them, I am just not comfortable and don’t know how to minister to them.) The Senior home was our weekly Thursday ministry. When we visited the ministry just to learn about it, I was excited because I thought we would get to do more work with them and hang out with the folks but our first day of real ministry rolled around and we seemed to be more in the way than helpful. We tried to help out with the physical therapy, but we didn’t know what we were doing or how to help the Tia’s really. The Tia’s sent us outside and for the rest of our first day of ministry, we weeded. I learned a lot from weeding at the senior home. For a few weeks following our first day, all we were tasked with was weeding the concrete ground. Weeding from the concrete is HARD, tough soils makes the pulling process rough on the hands. Deep roots run under the layer of concrete and make it almost impossible to pull up. But, when it rained, the soil got soft and the roots were able to be moved. The weeds were infinitely easier to pull from soft soil. God showed me that my heart has to have soft soil to remove the things in there that are not of Him. God softened my soil for service to the folks. He pulled out the weeds in my heart that were grounded in comfortable ministry.

We also got to paint a mural at the senior home. The place was all white with a gray concrete ground. It was sad, and it needed some new life. We were able to paint flowers, representing the beautiful life God creates for us, and we are included in that beautiful life. Thanks, senior home for pulling me out of my comfort zone and for sloooooow+sweet ministry. Thanks, God for breaking my heart for a group of people that needed a visible reminder of how you make us new and beautiful. Father, your hope pours immensely over the lives there.

From daniellehernandez.theworldrace.org

Thanks, Mabe + Fabi

Fridays were spent at home with our hosts. Our team was the only team that got to do one of our ministry days at home, and I can’t explain how much of a blessing that has been in my life. Mabe and Fabi were building a new home for themselves on the property. They needed a place to live and a place to be filled up after constantly pouring out love to teams and missionaries. We got to have a small part in the help of construction. We dug pathways and moved rocks in the garden. We shoveled lots and LOTS of dirt out of the way of the home. We sanded and painted and swept and cleaned. We were able to say “thank you for your service” to them by serving them in return. Serving Mabe and Fabi allowed my team to form a special bond with them, and as we were serving them, they continued to teach us so much about Gods character. They are patient and loving when we bust a pipe that is vital for the home. They pour out forgiveness when we get our dirty fingerprints on the freshly painted white walls. They are abundantly kind and endlessly caring. Mabe and Fabi exude the love of Christ, and we got to experience that not only every day of living with them but every day we were able to serve them.

Thank you for providing a family in a different country. Thank you for giving the best hugs and for the cute nicknames. Thank you for showing me how my passions can be used to serve others. Thank you for teaching me the importance of having my cup overflow and having it pour onto others. Thank you, Mabe and Fabi for loving us for two months in-person and for many more months of love from afar. Thanks, God for placing me in the path of your Kingdom workers.

From daniellehernandez.theworldrace.org Thanks, Ecuador//

Thank you for being my first month of the race. Thank you for making me look at cities in a new way. Thank you for providing new experiences and laughs every day. Your people are beautiful and are so willing to lean into Gods love. Ecuador, you have produced trials of homesickness and loss, but you have taught me the importance of being here, now. You have shown me happiness in the mountains and joy in the historic cities. I have experiences love in the public park over sharing bubble waffles and have experienced life while exploring your land. Ecuador, you have now taken a piece of my heart. Thank you for the memories, and Thank you God for bringing me to Ecuador.

From daniellehernandez.theworldrace.org

-Danielle

https://daniellehernandez.theworldrace.org/post/t-h-a-n-k-s-ecuador

PHOTO BLOG WITH GAP V

In less than a week Gap V goes to Peru and says goodbye to Ecuador.

Month 2 has gone about 32X faster than month 1. Here are a few moments that describe the madness.

__________________________

For a week the entire squad went to the top of a mountain outside Quito to help move bricks. Two teams on the squad have been helping with this for the whole month prior, but now all 48 of us joined in. The wall will surround a home for girls who’ve recently been rescued from sex/labor trade through a ministry called Dunamis. It was hard, amazing work.

From alybadinger.theworldrace.org

From alybadinger.theworldrace.org

From alybadinger.theworldrace.org

Every week one of the teams I work with most, Team Abundance, helps prepare food for 200+ people. This means chopping carrots for eternity. Abundance almost always manages to make me laugh and I love them a lot.

From alybadinger.theworldrace.org

From alybadinger.theworldrace.org

I’ve had the privilege of a lot of adventure – visiting Cotopaxi Volcano/National Park and Quilotoa Lagoon. Nothing makes my mind rest like being small amongst beautiful creation.

From alybadinger.theworldrace.org

Another ministry site we work with is called Camp Hope, and it’s a day care for children with severe special needs. Once a year they have a fundraising event and invite hundreds of people to celebrate the volunteers and the dozens of places they come from. People enjoy food, dancing and history of the countries. America was well represented…by us.

From alybadinger.theworldrace.org

I went up the mountain to Dunamis ministry again last week, this time to document the girls about to live at the home and the jewelry they make. The thread they use is waxy, and they use candles to melt ends and remove frays. They were so skilled and kind in showing us what they do.

From alybadinger.theworldrace.org

Last but not least, here’s all my people at the end of our month 1 debrief in Banos.

From alybadinger.theworldrace.org

So here are just moments from a wild month. I’ve got more to say about the how the Lord is growing me, I’m stressed out, exhausted and thriving.

 

-Aly

https://alybadinger.theworldrace.org

The first day of ministry did not go according to my plan

The first day of ministry did not go according to my plan at all, and I’m glad it didn’t.

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 Yesterday I followed team Esther to Camp Hope for our first day of formal ministry. Camp Hope is a school and home for children and adults with special needs. The team will be assisting with physical therapy, occupational therapy, cleaning the property and feeding.

As a squad leader my ministry is the squad. However I will go with them to their ministry locations 4 days a week, but it’s not my main focus. So I planned to stand nearby and serve with them, but stay in the background and let them lead. I thought I could set an example if needed.

We walked around the campus and a receptionist sent pairs of girls to do different things – a few to clean, one to the small children area, two to the kitchen, a couple to the high needs adults space and then it was just me. I was ok being alone because I can speak Spanish well.

As soon as I arrived in the classroom the teacher stood up and asked me to read and play with two children while she went to a meeting. I thought, “ok, easy enough.” But that was the beginning.

Throughout the day I carried/assisted several children using the bathroom, complete with latex gloves (fill in the rest with your imagination). I took one adorable child to a sensory break room to rest in a space full of specific but mild sensory activities. I helped one child eat lunch – and this guy in particular has an incredible sense of humor and we made each other nearly snort milk out our noses.

This was extremely fun, but by 2pm, I was exhausted (mostly my brain from speaking spanish exclusively) and I was concerned about the team – were they serving well? Could they understand what’s expected of them? Why did I need to be separated all day? Am I doing a bad job as a squad leader because I didn’t stay with them? I saw the girls a few times and chatted very briefly because the campus isn’t huge, but I still had doubts that this was what the day was supposed to look like.

However, just when all my (dumb) doubts started to weigh on my shoulder, I was asked to take one little girl to practice the stairs. I had already done this with another girl, but there was something about this girls shakey walk that the Lord used to remind me of a valuable lesson I’d learned in the first week of my own race in 2015.

I’ll call the little girl Lila (for privacy reasons, I’m using a different name). Lila CAN walk, but she wants to hold your hand. I was encouraged by the teacher to walk backwards slightly in front of her, encouraging her without letting her hold my hand. So I said “Bueno!” “Perfecto!” “Puedes!” over and over as she barely touched the wall and walked with me to the stairs.

Once there, Lila really does need assistance. The point of the exercise is for the children to not set both feet on each step, but go every other, like you naturally take the stairs when you’re confident. Lila held the railing with one hand and my hand with the other and went for it. She’d get tired and set both feet on each step and I’d remind her to go every-other with a tap on the back of her knee and guide it to the further step. We did this several times, up and down two flights of stairs.

On the fourth time, Lila was tired and plopped down on a couch at the top of the stairs. I asked her if she was tired, and she grunted (Lila doesn’t speak). She then laid down on the couch. She wasn’t sad, just tired. I needed to her keep going because we had to do this a couple more times before we went back to class, but Lila wasn’t having it. I just met this child so I didn’t know how much to push her. I encouraged her and reminded her she was strong and doing a good job, and I wanted her to get stronger. She protested a bit more and I said, “I’ll go by myself. Byyyee!” (obviously joking) Well, she laughed really hard and then… farted and we both laughed REALLY hard (I couldn’t help but laugh even though I knew it encouraged not super desirable behavior). After that she got up and we went down the steps. I held her hand again as we went down.

Near the bottom Lila lost her footing and fell into me. I held her elbow and she steadied herself, but the stumble was sudden and scared her (honestly it frightened me a bit too). I told her she was ok. She looked at me with giant brown eyes and I tucked her hair behind her ear, and she smiled again. I decided that was enough stairs and we went back to the classroom together.

I believe firmly that my walk with Lila is exactly how we are meant to walk with the Lord. He asks us to be brave and take bigger steps than we think we can. He understands that we’re going to stumble but he reminds us that it’s ok. We can be stubborn and not move on when we need to keep practicing, but if you’re listening, he’ll encourage you to keep going (even if we stink, figuratively and literally).

That day I thought I needed to revolve around my team, but I was actually meant to focus on a classroom of 6 children with huge needs. During my first week of my world race in 2015 I wrote a blog about taking the middle seat on a plane to bless a family with a whole row of seats even though I was supposed to have a window seat on that very long flight.

Back then I learned that knowing Jesus is NOT about doing what you want to do, it’s about doing what’s asked of you. The Kingdom will come when we focus on who is front of us and when we walk with them.

In 2018 I got to learn that again thanks to Lila.

-Aly

https://alybadinger.theworldrace.org

Bricks-Shambly

This month we have been working at Dunamis.

An incredible place in Ecuador with a program for girls who have been saved from sex trafficking and abuse.

Currently, we are building a wall, laying the foundation to protect the girls who come here.

This is a safe place for girls to come and seek safety, freedom, community, and to experience the love of the Father.

Everyday team Fiercely Loved takes a couple of buses, walks down the hill, and gets to work.

We’ve moved bricks, mixed concrete, pushed wheelbarrows up and down the mountain, shoveled rocks, dirt, you name it.

We’ve found weird bugs, huge worms, and belly laughed trying to pass bricks down our assembly line.

Our time at Dunamis has been hard, challenging, and has pushed into unity as a team and within our relationships with the Lord.

He continues to bring us joy, strength, and oxygen in our blood to continue working on the wall.

Below is a revelation the Lord spoke to me as we passed bricks down the assembly line and moved them into stacks.


bricks

shambly, broken bricks.

That’s what it feels like when the lies sneak into our hearts and minds.

You see, we’re building this foundation with the Lord. Placing each brick, smoothing the cement, and placing another one right next to it.

You go to pick up another brick and see a broken, crumbly brick falling apart in your stack.

BAM.

That’s when you realize that there is a lie that has been hidden in your heart and mind for so long.

Maybe you didn’t realize it was there. It was so hidden, so deeply rooted/stacked that it was almost invisible.

Yet.

There is it. It’s dry, crumbly, shambly, and falling apart in your stack. Just sitting there, hiding.

But then.

The Lord takes the shambly, broken brick in his hands and repairs every crumbly piece.

He takes the lies, insecurities, brokenness, and uproots the place it had in your heart. And places so gently, a new brick that isn’t broken, it’s made whole. It’s made in his image.

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You see, these girls are more than worth it.

They see the love the Father has for them, and they want it.

Do they see the Father right away?

Maybe.

Maybe it takes some time for the girls to grasp even a glimpse of the Fathers love.

Yet.

He continues to provide for them.

He keeps his promises to them.

He takes their shambly, broken, crumbly bricks and repairs them. And holds them close within his arms.

He’s doing the same for me with every brick I move.

-Suze

https://suzannerinks.theworldrace.org