Exploring the Community- Bethany

Today was our first day to truly experience the culture of Ecuador. In the morning we had the opportunity to experience worship at a church in Quito. The people were extraodinarly welcoming and kind. The worship was cheerful and upbeat. Even though songs were in Spanish, it was clear that everyone was able to feel God’s presence during this time. They graciously provided us with a translator for the sermon so that we could continue to feel included in their service. We were also given the opportunity to participate in communion. Overall, church was a great experience. It allowed us to see God at work in the community of Quito.

After church, we ate lunch with a few church members at a local restauraunt. Despite the extensive language barrier that we faced, we enjoyed attempting to get to know each other. God was definitely at work, as he gave our new companions great patience as we communicated through our limited Spanish! We all enjoyed creating these new relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our most exciting adventure of the day occurred when our new friends took us on a community walk. We observed what community life is really like in Quito. Along the way we saw many children and families enagaging in various different sports competitions, which is something that brings the whole community together. We hiked up one of the steep hills along the mountainside and listened to some of the kids from the church talk about their neighborhood. I was astounded by the profound way in which many of the children spoke about their relationships with God. They gave me a fresh perspective of what is really important in life. God has shown us today the importance of faith, trust, and love. We ask for continued prayer as we go to school for the first time tomorrow. God is at work here!

God bless,

Bethany

5 Days and Counting…

We have been “busy bees’ pulling together the final details and securing and understanding our roles while in Quito. We have been preparing to become teachers, mentors, roommates, community members, tourists, friends, and God’s vessels during our busy week.  I have seen how acquiring these roles has been challenging, especially since we have had only a few months to prepare.  But, I have been a witness to the fruits of the challenges as we are melding together, seeking the best interests of the team.  I have no doubt that our actions will be God-centered and will speak volumes to those who we meet.  And, I know that our actual words to the children and staff at Rey Sabio Salomón school will be an encouragement as they echo Proverbs 16:14, which says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul & health to the body.”

And, truthfully, as I look out on the snow and experience the cold, I also look forward to milder temperatures at the equator! 🙂

Hasta más tarde!

Dr. Sarah Hamsher

P.S. If you haven’t noticed, our flight itinerary is posted for your reference.

2015 Flight Itinerary

MALONE UNIVERSITY                        
2600 CLEVELAND AVE NW
CANTON OH 44709

SERVICE               DATE  FROM           TO             DEPART  ARRIVE

DEPARTING FLIGHT INFORMATION:

DELTA AIR LINES       28FEB CANTON AKRO OH ATLANTA GA     1107A   1253P
DL 5248                       SATURDAY AKRON          HARTSFIELD JAC
X ECONOMY                     TERMINAL S
NON SMOKING                   NON STOP
RESERVATION CONFIRMED         1:46 DURATION
FLIGHT OPERATED BY EXPRESSJET DBA DELTA C
AIRCRAFT OWNER: EV  EXPRESSJET AIRLINES
AIRCRAFT: CANADAIR REGIONAL JET 900

DELTA AIR LINES       28FEB ATLANTA GA     QUITO          545P    1111P
DL 673                      SATURDAY HARTSFIELD       JAC MARISCAL SUCRE
X ECONOMY                   TERMINAL INTL
NON SMOKING                 SNACK      NON STOP
RESERVATION CONFIRMED       5:26 DURATION
AIRCRAFT: BOEING 757
 

RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION:
DELTA AIR LINES       07MAR QUITO          ATLANTA GA     1229A   546A
DL 680                      SATURDAY MARISCAL SUCRE    HARTSFIELD JAC
X ECONOMY                   TERMINAL INTL
NON SMOKING                 BREAKFAST  NON STOP
RESERVATION CONFIRMED       5:17 DURATION
AIRCRAFT: BOEING 757


DELTA AIR LINES       07MAR ATLANTA GA     CANTON AKRO OH 900A    1036A
DL 1190                     SATURDAY HARTSFIELD JAC    AKRON
X ECONOMY                   TERMINAL S
NON SMOKING                 NON STOP
RESERVATION CONFIRMED       1:36 DURATION
AIRCRAFT: BOEING 717

El dia final (from Kristina)

Welp! Today is our last day in Quito, Ecuador. We are getting ready to head to the airport in just a couple of hours. Today was bittersweet. The children from Nuevos Amigos performed a goodbye program for us. It was amazing! We sat in the middle of the church while each grade came up one at a time to perform. The children were adorable. They danced to songs, did a human video, and sang for us. At the end of the program, every single student stood in line to give all nine of us a hug and kiss on the cheek! Many of us cried. I tried so hard not to cry, to just be strong, and say goodbye to each child. Then one of the students that I was privileged to teach these last couple of days, said, “Chao, Tia Kristina!” And he held on to me so tightly. It was so meaningful and authentic. I could tell that he truly did care and was sad that I had to leave. That was when I started tearing up. I have really enjoyed this week. It has been heartwarming, heart changing, and (today especially) heart breaking. However, I  know that God is in control of my time here, and even though I’m sure most of us would love to be able to stay here another week and keep playing with and teaching these children, it is the time for us to leave. I only hope and pray that we will forever keep in mind all that we have learned this week and will continue to bless and be blessed by those who are different than us.  Because in truth, these Ecuadorians are not as different from us as we originally thought. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and it brings a smile to my face when I remember that one day I will see these children again in Heaven!

Tia Kristina

Lo que en el mundo?! (from Emily)

Hola everyone!

I am writing from our 5th day in Quito!  It’s unbelievable that we will be returning  back to the United States late  tomorrow night already. This trip came and went so quickly, and I sure am going to miss everything about this place. Today, we taught our second day of lessons at the school with our assigned grades. I think it is safe to say we all felt a little more comfortable in front of the class today! As always, recess was a blast! You have never really experienced a real recess until you’re sprinting up and down steep hills and stairs, trying to avoid the super fast kids of Quito (who are faster than you, even in their school uniforms 🙂 ). As soon as we enter the school, it’s an immediate sense of belonging and warm welcomes, by both the children and faculty. The love that we all experience with the people of Ecuador is so overwhelming, and it is clearly a gift from God. We are all recognizing and thanking our Savior every day for this wonderful opportunity to pour ourselves into the children, teachers, and also community members of Quito. Without Him, we would not have been called to attend this trip. Without Him, we would not have the unforgettable relationships with the people of Quito that we do today.

We also concluded today with our last Professional Development meeting with the teachers! As a follow up from yesterday, we showed them different strategies and interventions to use with students who may have certain disabilities or weaknesses. The time spent with the teachers is such a blessing. They may view Professional Development as learning from us, but I know all of us have learned so much more through conversation with them. We concluded our night with a Chinese dinner. The teachers attended with us, and it was so awesome to have conversations with all of them! I know many of us have never laughed so hard (we’re not sure if everything was hilarious tonight or if we were trying to avoid our sad feelings of leaving everyone- but it’s fine, it’s fine!). We exchanged emails with many of the teachers and will continue to share what God is doing in our lives and encourage them in their faith and educational journeys! It is going to be so great to keep in touch with all of these wonderful people! They will always be in our hearts. As we know, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of Heaven…” James 1:17. The people of Ecuador, the Godly relationships we have built, and the new knowledge we are gaining, are all perfect gifts from above!

Emily Gahagan

Day 3 – Primera Dia de Ensanado (From Desiree)

Hola! We are having an awesome time here in Quito, Ecuador! (Also, I’m starting to think in Spanish, so…here we are.)

Today was our first day teaching in the school, and oh boy was it eventful! We had been pre-assigned to three groups and prepared inquiry-based science lessons prior to coming on the trip. Arriving in the classrooms, we came in with it all planned out. However, we are quickly learning that God doesn’t care so much for our plans, especially here in Ecuador, so we put our trust completely in Him! Many of us adjusted our plans as we went and talked with the students and teachers through the translator, but all involved had a great time! I loved seeing the students’ faces light up as they discovered new concepts and learned in brand new ways, and it was so satisfying! (p.s. This was each of our first times teaching a full day, and we taught internationally!) We also did a professional development meeting with the teachers, and I felt just as much satisfaction in pouring into the teachers as I did with the students.

Though we are only here for a week, I know that we are planting seeds in the administrators, teachers, and students that God will continue to grow and perfect the work we are unable to see through to the end. During our devotions, we sang the songGod of this Cityby Chris Tomlin. Part of the song goes like this: “You’re the God of this City; You’re the King of these people; You’re the hope of this nation; You are… Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city.” This is very close to my heart this week, as I know that while I cannot fix or change or help with all of the things I see here, the God I serve is the King of these people, and that He has much greater things that are still to come and still to be done in this city, in this nation, for these people.

Tomorrow we continue teaching, so please pray for continued success!

P.S. Ask Emily, Lydia, Kristina, or me about dinner tonight when you see us. But it’s fine, it’s fine 🙂

“It’s like America but South.” (from Jaime)

Buenos Dias!

Day “tres” in Ecuador has been quite the adventure. We conducted day two of our VBS with the kids of the Nuevos Amigos community. I had a blast singing worship song with the kids. Most were in Spanish, but the San Pablo Youth tried out singing a few songs in English. We also played games that had the kids laughing and screaming, and we made bead bracelets and necklaces, which happen to be the perfect adornment for my wrist.

We also were able to go to “La Mida del Mundo”, the Center of the World, which was the equator line. We had a small tour about some historical aspects of Ecuador, such as gigantic spiders and snakes in the jungle or some of the native tribes. We also watched how the water swirls in different directions on the Northern and Southern hemisphere, and a few of us tried to balance an egg on the equator line.

Tomorrow we start teaching in the classes at Nuevos Amigos’ school Rey Sabio Salomon, and I cannot wait to meet the teachers and all the kids.

-Jaime Heller

Day 2-VBS started! (from Becky)

Hola! Today we woke up to an overcast city..but warmer temperatures than at home! After breakfast and morning devotions, we met the youth group at the church and set up for ourVBS games and crafts. At first not many children showed up for the day so we got to go out into the community in groups of 2-3 people to get more children involved. This was very interesting and exciting because we got to see our San Pablo friends in their community…see their way of living from their shoes. We actually got many children to come to VBS and had a blast with our games and crafts. The children really seemed to enjoy what we had planned for them and it was great to interact and come together. After VBS we got to take a bus ride with the youth group, going to an overlook with a beautiful view and sharing a wonderful lunch! The bus ride was fun and despite the language barriers, we got along great…singing and talking about our likes and dislikes. I cannot wait for tomorrow to see what God has planned for us, and I know I speak for the whole group when I say we are blessed to be here in Ecuador with our new friends!

-Becky Kolb

Day One!! (from Cindy)

Well here we are!! We landed safe and sound around 12:00 last night and didn’t get to our rooms until about 2:00am. We were all exhausted from all the traveling and extremely long day of flying. We woke up this morning to a gorgeous view overlooking the city and mountains and that’s when the reality sunk in that we were in ECUADOR!! The church service this morning was a great experience for all of us to observe and partake in worshiping our God with our brothers and sisters in a different language and a different style then what we are used to. All of the people are so welcoming and and so happy to see us. They walk right up to us and give us a hug and kiss on the cheek. The people and children here are so beautiful and we all can’t wait to build relationships and interact with them even more as the week goes on! Currently we are preparing for a VBS tomorrow and Tuesday and teaching in the school for the rest of the week!

-Cindy Jewel