Monday, August 11, 2014

In Closing

We're all at home now.  If you haven't received your son yet, you can start to worry (except the Reeses from what I understand).  Some random pictures I haven't posted:

 I'd like to close the cycle of the trip for everyone with this post; meaning, just as we began the trip with goals and expectations in mind, we've reevaluated the trip and now see God in a light that deserves some consideration.  I asked everyone on the team to write for me a "growing point" from the trip, however they would define that.  I did not hear from everyone, but these are the responses I did get back, left anonymous (so as to not humiliate the guys who didn't give me anything inspirational to say)

"One of my favorite moments of the trip was the last day of the soccer clinic.  We really broke through to the kids as they came out of their shells somewhat.  We had a great worship time and they were singing they were [singing] the songs such as 'joy down in my heart' the rest of the day.  In Spanish of course 'Yo tengo gozo, gozo, gozo, gozo en mi corazon...' A great growing point for me as well as not only being able to give the kids and beneficiary families food and clothes, but also being able to really show them what the Lord is all about through the joy and happiness that we displayed"

"Pushing myself past my comfort zone by continuing to challenge myself in everything I do.  Knowing that I can take a leap of faith doing things that are out of my comfort zone because God has a plan for me.  Also, remembering to have fun and enjoy the moment
P.S. If you are in Ecuador and are wearing soccer socks, don't forget to put sun tan lotion of the back of your knees..."

"Growing point for me was in the beginning of the week, [hearing] from Mr. Phillips when he talked about how CHF would go to God in prayer before going anywhere or making decisions.  It hit me that I don't go to God and rely on Him as much as I should.  Even the little things and God wants to hear our prayers and take our burdens, I just have to ask."

"What impacted me the most was seeing how much of an impact a group of college boys can leave on so many different people.  Throughout the week, I kept hearing testimony after testimony of the lives we touched.  We were only there for 1 week!  For one Ecuadorian, she said she had the best week of her life.  Another was astonished by our energy and enthusiasm,  And another was reminded why he serves the God he does.  I had forgotten how much of an impact Christ can leave, if we let Him lead."

"Being that this trip to Ecuador was my first time out of the country, I learned a lot.  I learned a lot about Ecuadorian culture, people, and landscape.  I also learned a lot about missions.  With my personality, I like seeing tangible results to work being done.  During this trip that happened occasionally and helped me to see God at work.  However, I learned that sometimes even if results aren't seen, God is still at work.  I struggled with feelings of insignificance that tied to selfish motives and thoughts.  I didn't think I was doing enough to make an impact because I didn't see results.  However God pointed out to me that I needed to trust that He was working, despite the unseen.  Through this I also learned that God is at work even though our struggles and sins.  He worked in amazing ways this week through me and the team.  Quito and the people I met in Ecuador will always have a special place in my heart."

"Focus on God through short term missions -It is easy to think that we, with our American Dream ideals, can accomplish anything. On this trip we were a part of some awesome activities and experiences, but it wasn't because of us. Yes we prepared and prayed for this trip, but we didn't control it...God did. He was the one who orchestrated the relationships with La Fuente, Pan Da Vida, and Cumbra Alta. He used our open hearts and minds to create good.
-I think of how on Wednesday night, we had the exact amount of food to give out to the over two hundred people. That isn't an accident...that's how God works. This is just one of the many times God showed me that He was in control.
-Returning home, I hope that we don't forget that we are merely vessels in God's hands...that we can do nothing without Him. He deserves the glory and praise. We had and have the opportunity to give Him that glory through our lives.
-I give him thanks for the impact we were able to have on the Ecuadorians and how God used this trip to draw our team together."

"It's difficult to pick out one thing I've learned this week. God is certainly at work in Quito and it was a blessing to be a part of it for these short seven days. Seeing Him work and open doors for the team and various ministries was encouraging. It is truly humbling and amazing to know that the God of the universe chose me and the rest of the team to do His work. He didn't need us by any stretch of the imagination, but He chose to use us and reveal Himself and His love to us and through us. Because of this all the glory goes to God and I cannot claim any of the work as my own. I believe the whole team feels this way. Without Him, our efforts would be futile. Thank you Jesus! God willing, I'd like to return to Quito and reconnect with the people I have served with and have come in contact with. Thank you everyone for your support and prayers for this trip and the team."

"I was and am still struck by God's utilization of groups of people.  Our team was not all Believers going in, and yet it was our remarkably loving attitude towards each other that those viewing us most often commented on as impacting their lives.  To think that the Church is just an amplified version of this communal love gives me more motivation to be involved in it, loving it, and showcasing the best of it.  Regardless of the people I interact with, I now realize the importance of vulnerability like never before; that letting people into my life is life-altering for me, those working with me, and those who witness me from a distance.  Ecuador was also an important training ground for my prayer life.  God finds ways to reward the man who prays often.  Whether that is in answering exact prayers or turning our lives and/or personalities into what we hoped we'd become, God fully understands what we need and want, and very often meets both."

Friday, August 8, 2014

The day of Fries

Faithful followers,

Today was the end of our scheduled ministry schedule (though I'm not ruling out spontaneous ministry).  Our morning was the same as the past two days except for some little details.  Breakfast and worship prep simultaneously, breakfast with our little Spanish-speaking friends, worship time, quick game time, change for soccer, go to Alliance's facilities and play soccer (Yay, grass!), get sunburnt, return to Pan de Vida for lunch and a ceremony for the kids, complete with diplomas and medals, and then say emotional farewells to children and staff .

Worship time finally reached the energy level that I had a feeling the kids had in them, which was so much fun, but also so sad in that it was our last day with the kids.  Highlights include:

Dale combined Justin's lesson on our rejoicing in God's glory and Tim's lesson on God's rejoicing in us into presenting the Gospel through the Romans Road.  He got to point out exactly why Pan de Vida is what it is to the kids, and got to lead them to pursue God, and ask Pan de Vida's staff about future steps in the process of faith.  We had Mario to translate today, which was perfect for such an important lesson.

Lastly, farewells were difficult.  The kids had grown to love us for loving them, and the staff of Pan de Vida has been all too wonderful for us to fully appreciate.  Joyful tears were shed for what was called the best week many had ever lived.  I look forward to hopefully hearing about GCC Men's Soccer doing more with these hard-working people.

After we finished with our Pan de Vida responsibilities, we took a break and planned an evening of sightseeing in Quito.  Our bus never showed up (probably because Alberto was no longer our driver) and so we were forced to use the trolley to get across the city and then taxis to get back.  Boy was that something!  We saw cool things in the night-life of Quito, and it was the perfect peek into what Quito has to offer, without being stressful after such a tough departure from Pan de Vida.

I am very tired, so I am going to wrap this up quickly.  We did a majority of our packing today, and will be sightseeing all of tomorrow before going straight to the airport and awaiting our arrival home.  See you soon, everyone!

Because of all He's done, is doing, and will do, we praise God,
GCC Men's Soccer

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Hiya folks!

So coach asked if I could upload videos to this thing, and I got all excited because it was a brilliant idea and I hadn't even considered it.  Below are a few videos of our worship and teaching time (including some Spanish singing practice) and a piece of our game with local team Cubra (<-Not sure about that spelling) Alta.  I hoped to include some others, but today's been a day of technical difficulties, including Coach Edwards's camera's memory card becoming corrupted and requiring reformatting in the middle of the day, and now this.  Due to this, I'm afraid we only have pictures of tonight's game, nothing from the morning :(





Today's morning schedule was the same as yesterday.  Wake up before 7, get to Pan de Vida, meet and feed the kids, teach and worship, play fĂștbol, and send them off after lunch.  We did a quick stair-painting job for Pan de Vida but after that we returned to Alliance and took naps in preparation for our game that night.  We awoke, ate dinner, and played zoo (our patty-cake signs game), this time with Mario (Who has the most adorable perception of an elephant I've seen recently) until we decided it was time to warm up for the game.

The game was equally as much a blessing as a challenge.  We knew entering it that it was a ministry opportunity, but we also had a strong desire to win.  We had to understand Christ's ability, passed onto us by The Spirit, to radiate love while still giving His all in whatever He did.  We weren't perfect by any account.  If I may boast of my weakness for a moment, I played angry at various parts of the game in response to what I considered unjust reffing towards me.  In actually, it was simply a different soccer that we were playing.  The rules were more lax and the result was not as important as the game itself but I was playing a game of conquest and victory.  Thankfully God salvaged what could have been a poor witness of a life changed by Christ, and I was able to have a conversation in Spanish (kind of) with my competitor-turned-friend Andre after the game.  All of us were also treated to a well compiled and presented post-game discussion of the Gospel of Grace by Chad.  Christ was very much in control, which I am not just incredibly thankful for, but direly in need of.

We returned to our rooms and decided to storm the kitchen because dinner had been a long time ago at this point.  Leftover chicken, burritos, and popcorn made the night a good one.

Off to bed.  Our last day of soccer clinicing awaits us...right after a morning that shows up a little too early for my liking every time.

John 1:12-13,
GCC Men's Soccer

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I will begin by saying that this has been my favorite day of my summer thus far.  Now that you've got ridiculously high expectations I will do my best to reflect my positivity (ever realize how there's some serious persecution to this word but not "negativity," huh. Does it say something about our culture that only the negative noun gets "real word status") about how God is choosing to display Himself.

Today was spent entirely at Pan de Vida, and what a privilege it is to work with an organization that fills itself with servant-minded people!  Oscar wanted me to make sure I had fully connected you all to them, so if you'd like to see how they roll, they blog here.  They also apparently have a youtube video about the very family who's house we began rebuilding the last two days, but I have not found it, so I'll have to check with Oscar and get back to you.

Day recap: We had to start our day a tad earlier than normal so as to be ready to help Pan de Vida make breakfast for the kids coming in for our soccer clinic later, in the afternoon.  The self-acclaimed (though perhaps soon internationally-acclaimed) Kitchen Crew consisting of Wurm, Legs, Botz, Hinkle, and Jonny Rothgeb took charge.  Meanwhile the larger contingent of us were preparing Pan de Vida's property in and out for the kid's time with us including setting up dining places outside and worship and Bible lesson benches inside.  This was also some key time for Dale, Justin, and I to finalize what our mini church service would look like. 

Kitchen Crew
There's more of them, but I'll stop here

And then the kids walked in in droves!  Soap, water, name-tags, bowls of food, and Spanish were flying all over the lawn as kids washed their hands, grabbed breakfast, and grabbed a seat.  We did our best to sit nearby and begin the process of getting to know them, which was especially awkward in light of the fact that the deepest question the majority of us knew to ask in their native tongue was "Como te llamas."  I don't think anyone would argue that we hadn't broken down many barriers by the time we stepped inside to learn about the reason behind Pan de Vida's generosity: Jesus.

This was extremely effective time for a number of reasons.  1) We could sit with the kids without having to talk to them (Wow, that one doesn't read as well as I wanted it to sound).  Proximity was definitely good for giving us an opportunity to show a desire to be near kids without the confusion of us only sitting looking at them once we had taken that step.  2) We got to sing and be loud and active.  We started with a song in English that was our chance to prove our intent to make Christ known and glorified.  From then on we fought our way through several fun Spanish worship songs that included hand motions and confusing rhythm.  Despite our unjustified enthusiasm over songs that we could hardly sing, the kids still didn't really fill in the gaps, which I was very surprised about.  I thought all kids just wanted to sing "waves of mercy, waves of grace..." and wiggle their arms around, hm.  Justin then gave a tight talk on the joy God's glory ought to bring us.  We ended with a song Jordan knew from his missions work in Guatemala that started to get a tiny bit of feedback from the kids.  Still, it wasn't until fĂștbol was mentioned that some eyes perked up.

The kids got changed quickly and we lined up at the gate in order to walk to our field [Though I did just now have to verify that it was technically a "field" (Google's definition just leaves me more perplexed - "An area of open land, especially one planted with crops or pasture, typically bounded by hedges or fences.")]  We played on some sort of kind-of-field I guess...

We warmed up with some tag-variations that included soccer components and then moved onto some dribbling and passing basics.  Any coaching was done by one of two methods.  The first was by yelling "Mira, mira, mira, ..." (I'll translate since I haven't received any complaints yet: "Look here, look here, look here, ...") as many times as it took to get everyone's attention and then demonstrating the movement.  The second was by saying something ridiculous accidentally and getting some hysterically inquisitive looks. Coach Edwards told everyone to take two tacos instead of two touches ("!Dos tacos!" vs. "!Dos tocas!") and Coach Dreves at one point told everyone to put their hands on their ducks instead of their heads/hair ("Pato" vs. "Pelo") and continually told kids it was nice to meet them whenever they did things right for the first half of practice until heard and corrected by Sharon (""Mucho Gusto" - "Nice to meet you" vs. "Muy bueno" - "Very good").  As funny as such moments were, there was A TON of good Spanish learning that took place throughout the day that was a big part of our growing comfortable trying to speak more with the kids, and the kids becoming more comfortable with us.

After a quick drink break we ended the soccer time with some scrimmaging which was a blast for all parties.  The level of play here is definitely better than kids of the same age in the U.S... It was also just clearly what the kids came for, so they loved it.  After that we returned to Pan de Vida for lunch.

Lunch was completely different than breakfast.  Interactions were everywhere, and it leaves me very excited to return tomorrow and see what kind of new start we get.

After lunch the kids were on their way and we began the work part of our day.  We painted the basement in and hour or two while the Kitchen Crew got back to business preparing for the dinner Pan de Vida was serving to its beneficiary families.

Pan de Vida does an incredible job of offering this blessing to the downcast of Quito.  There is Biblical teaching for adults while their children are taken care of for them, then they are given a meal and in the case of families, some healthy ingredients for the week's cooking.  The team's 3 roles throughout the evening were 1) welcoming party (and boy were we ever!), 2) Horses for horse-racing... & 3) food distributors.

The families got their food as they left which left us some time for two team-building moments.  Janela (I think) asked to take a shot on the basketball hoop that we had congregated around, and we decided she was gonna shoot until she made one.  As we watched intently, the tension built, and as the ball rolled around the rim and dropped in, human explosion took place as everyone on the court left their feet and everyone sitting nearby stormed the court.  It was so spontaneous and so incredible that everyone decided we might as well do it for the rest of the Pan de Vida workers (and Mario, who obviously made his first shot).  The second was much more organized, by Oscar actually, who suggested we talk about what we've learned thus far.  It was a very genuine time where all of us understood the pleasure it was to serve alongside each other.  Everyone was thoroughly appreciated.

For those concerned about Mr. Phillips and Mario, by all accounts, it's undeniably justified, but they have such blessed timing directly from God.  They have settled the 2 concerns that faced them entering Ecuador: Could someone help them get food through customs and was there a Church-web that could effectively store and distribute aid.  They had no idea how/if those things would be met, and those questions have been answered in 4 days, it still blows my mind the number of ways that they receive tangible favor from God.  They are planning on being able to spend a lot more time with us in the coming days, so I'm gonna start praying for a pair of wings and see if I can't get some effective-prayer juice from them.  That's not entirely a joke, but all joking aside, I know I want to get every possible moment I can with them, because they have much to teach me.

Thus, my list-stuffed post ends along with this endlessly ordained day.  We'll have a similar day of soccer tomorrow, but that's all the foreshadowing you'll get.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Real Tuesday (This title thing is kinda tricky)

Apology #2 is in order for being temporarily unaware that Monday followed Sunday in the American Gregorian calendar.  The post previous to this one is about Monday and the one before that is about Sunday for those of you who hadn't figured that out yet.  My sincerest apologies.

Today, Tuesday, has followed a similar schedule to Monday's with some minor tweaks.  We returned to Pan de Vida to start our day, made sandwiches, and then quickly departed straight to our work site since our team-building exercises were now team-built.  We also did not have our best English-speaking friend Sharon from Pan de Vida working with us.  This made the work all the more difficult/entertaining to discern what we were doing.  Dale was our best hope for picking up on Spanish clue words, if not entire sentences, which was a blessing towards our productivity.  Today's main task involved moving and dumping 234,576,347,895,638,476 (OK, it was actually 50 or so, but it was brutal) 50 kg. (110 lbs.) bags of gravel, fine rock sand, and cement mix to a central location to be mixed into concrete and then wheelbarrowed throughout the substructure of rebar on the ground to build the foundation for the house.  Henry Ford was probably the tango in his grave in rejoicing over our mastery of his assembly line manufacturing system to keep sufficient manpower shoveling & mixing while others were transporting and others were spreading and leveling.  Even before that, we made all our firefighter friends proud by executing the most beautiful double Bucket Brigade lines the equator has ever seen.

Jose and Juan Daniel were great leaders amidst the Spanish-English mental wrestling that we all had to do to get each job done right.  Both gave heartfelt goodbyes at the end of the day.

We also got to continue playing with the kids of the street, which brought them many giggles.  "¡Marce me!" was a common shout as kids jumped all over to get a chance to sit on our shoulders.  It was such a clear cultural difference for me to see mothers and children coming out of the woodwork and onto the street when they see or hear something fun going on.  Mrs. Dreves was as important to communicating in this setting as Dale was in the construction group, though you really can get by with just "muy bien," "Si," and "No" when playing with the kids, which is awesome.

During our lunch break, we walked down the street (and I mean "down" the road is literally on a 45 degree angle) to a park and were pleasantly surprised to see a small pick-up game being played on a gravel court, and so we quickly devoured our lunches so as to play with them.  We started, at their request, to play Ecuador vs. United States, but as we pulled ahead and started to substitute often , they agreed that we could mix the teams.  It was a very fun experience, and the natives loved it.

After lunch we returned to the house (or lack there of) to try to complete the job.  We got very close but ran out of time and concrete and after taking a few group pictures and praying, we split.

We had a pretty standard training session when we returned to Alliance, followed by a dinner of beef, rice, broccoli, and carrots.  We took a dessert trip to the McDonald's that is a short walk from Alliance and then played some card games as a team.  Half way through we were made aware that our beloved bus driver, Alberto, had been assigned elsewhere, and would not be able to finish the week with us.  We payed tribute to him, finished our games, and then hit the hay.  The days don't really slow down any time soon, so rest is very appreciated and well-received.  As were Alberto's last words to us "Go with God."

Thankful for the way God works everyday,
GCC Men's Soccer