Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A retreat to Susudel

I just got back from a retreat with the youth from the church. We went to a remote, needy area call Susudel. There we handed out clothes, and food to the people. It was such a neat opportunity to learn generosity. It was such a blessing for me to be with these youth and see their joy in giving. I hope to write more later.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A fishing trip

I just got back from a fishing trip with 5 other guys from the church.  We only caught a few very small trout, but the scenery and fellowship were excellent. 
We left Friday afternoon and spent the night at a rustic cabin.  The cabin was located way up in the mountains just at the tree line.  I'm guessing, but its elevation was probably at around 11-12 thousand feet.  After breakfast Saturday morning, we hiked for about an hour to a lake even higher up in the mountains.  I'm really thankful, the altitude didn't affect me a bit.  I could hike, run, etc. with no difficulty.  Instead, it was the scenery that was breath-taking.  Here are some pictures from the trip.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas friends

As I was away from my immediate family, I was ever more appreciative of the fellowship and unity with fellow believers this Christmas.  Fellowship and unity is what Christmas is all about.  Because of the distance, it was impossible for me to be with my family this year for Christmas, and in the same way, because of our sin, it was impossible for us to fellowship with God.  It is impossible for us to do anything to have that unity with Him and come into His presence.  The exciting part, is that God did everything.  He CAME to us!  "Joh 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..."  "Isa 60:1  Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee."  "Mt 1:23  "Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel" (which being interpreted is, "God with us")." 
When we couldn't do anything to go to Him, He came and dwelt with us.  He came and was, no IS Emmanuel!  All we must do is open the doors of our hearts and allow Him to come in.
Here are some pictures of different friends I was with on the evening of the 24th.  We had a church service, and then the pastor's family invited me over to his house to celebrate together.  I mentioned Camila in another post.  I included a picture of me holding her.

A GREEN Christmas

Well, there was certainly no white Christmas over here.  I spent all Christmas day with the pastor Santiago's family and their extended family way out in the country.  We went swimming in a cold mountain river, went for a hike, and played a couple good games of volleyball.  The scenery was gorgeous.  I've included a few pictures.
I'm ever so thankful to spend the last two days with pastor Santiago's family.  Their love for the Lord and desire to include Him in each area is obvious.  God is so good!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Program

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas program

Hi all,
This evening was the Christmas program at the church.  It was really casual.  Different people just got together, practiced and sang.  It was a really fun evening.  There were probably about 15 different numbers.  In between each number, Fernando or Cati would read different sections from the Christmas story.  Fernando is in charge of the music at PDD and Cati is his wife.  They are a young couple with no kids (yet).  Near the end Dario S gave a short message.
German, Paul, Pedro Soto, and I got together and sang Gloria Alleluia together.  They are a hoot.  All three of them are mature in the Lord and are hilarious characters.  Talk about a good time!  Poor Paul and German where nervous wrecks the whole program.  I don't think either of them had sung in front of people before.  They were in danger of bailing the whole time, and kept talking during the program.  Unfortunately, our special music was the very last so they had to suffer through the whole program.  They kept asking me how this part went, how it started, etc.  Just before we "went on stage" Paul passed around chocolates... caffeine to help everyone's nerves I guess.  I'm not sure what it did for the voices.  :-P  German and Paul, have a hard time carrying a tune as it is.  The song went over well.  It was by no means polished, but we certainly put all our hearts into it. 
Here are a few pictures from the evening.  I had a picture of the quartet, but it turned out very blurry.  The little angle, is Camila Landivar.  She's the youngest daughter of  Gerardo, one of the elders.  She's become one of my special little friends.  Every time I see her, I have to pick her up and ask how she's been.  This evening as we left the church, she hollered "Chao Justo" from way down the street for the whole world to hear.  :-)  I just love little children.  Camila is in kindergarten.
These pictures give a little bit of the idea about the evening, but I recorded some videos as well.  I'll have to see if I can get them uploaded to YouTube.
P.S. and yes, for those of you who know Spanish, there is a grammatical mistake in the letters behind the people singing.  Even this gringo noticed all by myself during the program. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Carpentry Lessons

One of the homeschool dads has a small carpentry shop, and had offered to help give some carpentry lessons to the homeschool kids.  A couple of weeks ago I had some photography lesson with the kids.  This week, we had carpentry lessons and made picture frames for the pictures they had taken.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

God is at work!

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Eph 6:12


Carolina and Catalina are two sisters ages 13 and 15 who live with their mother Maria.  Like so many families in Ecuador, their dad is working illegally in the US.  They haven't seen him for 12 years!  Maria bought some land 7 years ago, but has been unable to build a house on it yet because of legal issues with the property.  Yesterday, everything was all set for a judge to come to the land, and make it officially theirs.  The church had helped buy some posts and a bunch of men from the church took time off work to be available to help make the fences.


On arrival to the land, the opposing parties were already there with all their papers and their supposed proof of ownership.  Notice I say parties plural.  Due to inheritance and family disputes, there are multiple people who claim ownership to the land and Maria is stuck in the middle.  She bought the land from one of the people who claim ownership.


Well, in typical Ecuadorian fashion, the judge arrived late.  The opposition presented their case, but the proceeding went forward and we began putting in the posts.  Unfortunately, the opposition wouldn't let things lie, and the judge had to call the police.  Two young officers showed up, but they did little.  The judge finished her duties and left us to finish the fence around the property.  With the judge gone, things really turned nasty.  The opposition started breaking the cement posts we put in and would not allow us to put up the wire.  They called us nasty names, and began physically pushing us around. All this time the believers did not respond, but quietly continued doing what they could.


"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony..." Rev. 12:11

It now became obvious that we were not going to be able to do any more.  At least most of the posts were in, so we began to retrieve our tools.  At this point, Pastor Santiago and I realized we had forgotten to pray before beginning the project.  He and I had prayed together at the church, but we hadn't prayed together as a group at the property.  We found a grassy section, called everyone together, and as the opposition watched, had a time of prayer and sang a praise song.  Meanwhile the opposition was ready to leave and as they walked by they muttered "...may God judge the believers".  The opposition turned around their pickup in order to leave, but didn't drive away.  Instead they got out of the truck and came back. 


"If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink;"  Pr 25:21

At this point we were about to have an Ecuadorian picnic.  A cloth was placed on the grass, and three large bowls were placed in the cloth.  One had roast lamb, another hominy and broad beans, and another fresh cheese.  Not what I'd expect for a picnic in the States, but very cultural for the rural areas in Ecuador, and VERY tasty.  After prayer, we all dug in... literally!  There was no silverware, or plates, we all just used our hands to scoop the food out of the bowls. 


The national believers invited everyone to come join in the meal they had prepared, and much to my surprise, they did!  A few from the opposition stood on the perimeter, but to these, the national believers took the food right to them, and they ate too.  As we ate, we had a productive discussion.  More than resolve anything, we were able to better understand the difficult mess, and the many parties involved in the conflict over the land.  By the end of the meal, the opposition expressed their gratefulness for the meal, and apologized for the conflict earlier.   


The whole issue isn't resolved, but we left the situation rejoicing in the Lord.  Through it all, Maria was calm, and relaxed, trusting in the Lord.  Please pray that the situation with the property could be resolved, but even more, please pray for the people involved.  Pray for reuniting of families, and that each would seek the Lord's forgiveness and know how to forgive others.  Specifically, pray that Carolina and Catalina's family could be reunited again.  As a result of the whole situation, Pastor Santiago was able to talk on the phone with their father (Maria's husband) in the States.  In their 30 min talk, Pastor Santiago shared the Word with him and clearly told him, his responsibility is with his family.  He was open to Pastor Santiago's words.  Please pray that that openness would turn into action.


Thanks for each of your prayers for the ministry here in Ecuador.  The Lord is working.  The humble baby born in the manger is at work today in a powerful way!  Hail! the heav'n born Prince of Peace: Jesus!


Rejoicing in Him,



Monday, December 15, 2008

Pie making

Last week everyone seemed to want to make pies.  I think I must have made pie 4 times!  I didn't imagine, I'd become a chef down here!  Here are some picture from making carrot pie on Thur.