Fausta & Lily have been feeding 100+ children after school five days a week for 15 years. Each child has a cup of avena (oatmeal and milk) and a bowl of soup (a little chicken, rice, and whatever vegetables come in). For most it’s their one meal for the day, and $30 a day pays for them all to eat. The kids come in excited to eat and to sing, pray and get help with homework after their meal. Pastor Fausta has been very ill and is unable to minister to the kids now. We will be making the long, hot, scrunch-yourself-in bus commute on Wednesdays to help out at the feeding center which is in the south side of Quito, known for its severe poverty. How can we say no!
Many of the girls here have been writing in their journals, divulging their various emotions which go so deep…one poured herself out for an hour this week after the activities ended. The gal who has been working with these girls for 2 years said that was the first time she has heard a detailed account of any of their stories. As we encourage girls to be vulnerable and to discover the beauty that is within each one, I believe those deep dark places will open to love and hope and healing…and each one will be able to stand tall.
Psalm 82:1-4 When all of the other gods have come together, the Lord God judges them and says: “How long will you keep judging unfairly and favoring evil people? Be fair to the poor and to orphans. Defend the helpless and everyone in need. Rescue the weak and homeless from the powerful hands of heartless people…”
Friday was a holiday…”Day of the Dead”…but we were very much alive enjoying a barbeque with Luis & Maria Teresa, family & friends! Full house and full bellies and hours of Spanish conversation that, even in the loving atmosphere, left me feeling rather on the outside looking in! Still the most challenging part of my time here–crossing that language barrier.
Everywhere I go, Ecuadorian Eyes follow me…as I jog through my neighborhood, in the mercado, on the crowded buses, taxi drivers in rear view mirrors, passing by tiny tiendas, vendors selling car to car, the drunks, prostitutes, homeless, cripples,… dark brown eyes fill my mind and heart day after day. I pray my smile will say, “I see you. You are beautiful, made in His image, full of His character, so unique and perfect.” Simply loving the one in front of me is my mission…
The highlight of this week was our day trip to this sweet bit of heaven on earth tucked away in the rolling mountainsides of Ecuador. It was my second visit (last March was #1) and every bit as captivating as the first. Pachamama is a beautiful ranch sustainably operated by a very personable family who involve guests with getting in touch with the Quichuan culture and history of the area. We enjoyed their decadent desayuno & almuerzo (breakfast and lunch) and rode horses for two hours under blue skies, across patchwork fields, among a family of llamas, and herds of cows with surreal verdant panoramic vistas.
Spanish studies consume lots my time. I’m able to understand and communicate more clearly but still have a long ways to go! My desire is to be able to hold those intimate conversations with the girls we visit each week in rehab & prison so that they’ll know they are known and loved and can be free to believe and dream for a hope-filled future! There are around 30 in rehab and 20 at the prison. God’s love is big enough and personal enough to change the course of their lives forever.
We plan activities and teaching and encounter times every week. The plan is to use the book and workbook Captivating by Stacey Eldridge as a guide for teaching and discussion on identity. When they learn to know and value themselves, they will know and value God and ultimately others. We presented each of our 5 girls at the prison with a tea cup signifying their value in the eyes of God–not a disposable paper cup to be used once and then thrown out, but as a precious, delicate cup to be put on display to admire and enjoy. We then prophesied over each sweet girl lavishing them with His love which never returns void.
He keeps making me glad; His love and kindness always keep me secure.
I wish I could take pictures inside the youth prisons and rehab centers that we frequent. Las chicas y los chicos son preciosos! Youth are hurting and hungry to experience freedom, to know that God is real. Our plan is to provide those opportunities now that those doors are open. We asked our five girls from prison what kind of animal they would be and why. They all responded with some type of bird or butterfly so they could fly away from where they are. When asked where they would go if they could go anywhere in the world, they answered: New York, Italy, Spain, Quito, Guayaquil–all places where they have family members. We’re honored to step as friends who love them right where they are.
It’s been a rainy week and central heating is not installed in homes here. We went to the market and bought colorful alpaca blankets that we’ve nestled up in quite well. I took my first solo bus ‘n taxi venture to the mall where I signed up for the “We Run Quito 10K” on 11.11.12! I’ve slowly acclimated and can now jog for 30 minutes without thinking I’m dying!
Highlight of the week was spending an evening on Plaza Foch enjoying a variety of people who encountered the love of Jesus: Dania, a transvestite who knows that the God who created and cares for all living things, cares and loves her. A young wife & mom newly arrived from Colombia, Erica, was in tears as Jesus’ presence engulfed her, leaving her wanting more. Jarod reeled as he told us that he was struggling for direction, and then we came along and assured him that he was an amazing father and businessman~~the right time, the right place. Two guards whose countenances totally softened as words of affirmation touched their hearts. Nothing comes close to the joy of seeing people change before your very eyes as Love reveals, rescues and restores.
Dreaming and scheming about a safe home where girls out of prison or human trafficking can realize their full potential and become whole, body, mind and spirit. Hope to have our website and facebook page in English up soon so people can invest into our vision!
“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” John Wayne
We “adopted 5 girls at the Juvenile Prison for 12-18 year olds this week. Monday is visitor’s day. These 5 have not have any family or friends visiting nor have they received calls so we will be their friends and support. We are working at Nuestras Jovenes, girls out of trafficking rehabilitation center, once a week as well We’re excited to begin building relationship with these girls with our love, support and friendship…it pushes us to work even harder on our Spanish.
We had two opportunities to speak this week. One was at a public school where Mela used to work. We had two groups of over 100 secondary students (grades 8-high school). We spoke on the Father Heart of God, how often our relationships with our earthly fathers affects our relationship with our heavenly Father. We had many students asking to experience this love, ending with lots of emotion and breakthrough. At a home group we shared about our “supernatural evangelism” experiences because we’ll be going to the streets this coming week to reach out to the prostitutes and street people.
We had two amazing firsts this week! Our first true salsa dance lessons in our own home sweet home (we literally rolled up the rug!) and going to our first pro soccer game– between Chile & Ecuador! We’re feeling like true native Ecuadorians after those experiences!
Took a road trip to Cayambe, Ecuador’s flower capital (where hillsides are blanketed with enormous white tents packed with rows of blooms. Ecuador exports 1/3 of roses grown annually to the US for Valentine’s Day alone! Clouds obscured Volcan Cayambe but it was still a fun day with friends joining us for desayuno (breakfast) at Casa de la Vacas (House of the Cows!) where bizcochos (rich biscuits that taste like shortbread!) are as big of a rage as are the roses!
This week I’ve survived bus transportation from Quito to the valley and back again–twice! Talk about a cultural experience, survival of the fittest, how many can we cram through the door before it takes off! I love the marvelous views along the way, colorful buildings lining the streets or climbing the mountainsides; beautiful faces of people of all ages–big brown eyes, braided hair, shy smiles of children, deep creases in faces of the elderly–all with stories to tell.
Our new home is two homes in one. The owners (friends from church) live on one side with their grown son, and we live on the other side. It’s a huge area filled with books, art, artifacts, collections (spoons & bells, & alligators & animal heads)–has the semblance of a museum, closets and drawers still filled with deceased mom’s things. We’re enjoying the independence of being on our own, buying and preparing our own meals, coming and going more freely than we could in the valley.
After last week’s conference we traveled with the I AM BEAUTIFUL team of 6 girls from Oklahoma to the girls prison where we had a makeover event for the 33 girls–each got to choose a dress, have a professional hair cut and style, makeup and manicure. We were free to pray and prophesy over them, and the atmosphere was positively festive! It was so much fun! Next day we went to Nuestras Jovenes, the rehab home for 20+ girls out of human trafficking. The team once again shared skits and worship, makeup & manicures and they taught us some dance moves in return. Building relationships is the name of the game. Next day we were at the boys prison with 30+ 12-18 year old boys, who when Holy Spirit fell were precious little boys hungry for Papa’s love.
I love going to El Mercado where produce is cheap and oh so good! Ginormous vegetables aren’t just grown in Alaska! All 3 of us aren’t huge meat eaters, so we’re feasting from our weekly shopping trip. Soups are very popular here and we have a growing list of recipes that we’re excited to try.
My Spanish teacher increases the rules of grammar…it’s intimidating to say the least. I find myself more reluctant to speak, now that I realize how badly I’ve mutilated the language just so I can just communicate! I’m concentrating now more on my verb tenses, which does make me sound a bit more educated…if I hit it right!
“With its narrow streets, restored colonial architecture and lively plazas, this area is a marvel to wander. Built centuries ago by indigenous artisans and laborers, Quito’s churches, convents, chapels and monasteries are cast in legend and steeped in history. It’s a bustling area, full of yelling street vendors, ambling pedestrians (that’d be us!), tooting taxis, belching buses and whistle-blowing policemen trying to direct traffic in the narrow one-way streets. The area is magical and one in which the more you look, the more you find.” Doesn’t that just make you want to come check it out for yourself?!!
Ellie & I jogged (trotar) 3 times this week! 9350 feet in elevation challenges my lung capacity along with the air quality produced by no emission control! We found another bailaterapia class in a nearby park, so we jog 10 minutes to and from our wild hour class. It will get easier in time, I know! Every day is a new adventure! Life is good!