Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 5 in Ecuador...Leaving the Andes Mountains, Visiting the Compassion Office and Meeting LDP Students

Each day up here in the Andes Mountains it's been cloudy and cool with rain showers here and there. On this 5th morning, we woke up to warm sunshine and a clear view of the mountains around us, even a couple of the volcano ones :)  I had never been in volcano land before so this was another new experience for me. It was wonderful staying up here at Hacienda Abraspungo, walking around it's green lush grounds, sitting by it's warm cozy fireplaces, having a game of pool with some fellow travellors (and winning is always fun too :), eating the fabulous food, being greeting each morning with Buenos Nachos Senora, seeing the lovely display of exotic flowers each day and enjoying a cup of tea in it's very cozy country dining room. The people are beautiful and very friendly and we are all thankful for our time here. This last night there, the party had stopped and we had a break from the loud speaker talks and music for our final night, which was a nice relief too :). They would begin at about 9 pm or so and go until 2 or 3 am. It had been a 6 night event of some kind and apparently the police had attempted to quieten their activities but were unsuccessful as they appeared to be a group of people that would not listen to the authorities and had a type of authority of their own. But God is gracious and with the help of earplugs, we were all still able to get some rest and enjoy the days we were there. So much of life is out of our control, ok, maybe everything, and we have to take things as they come and make the best of everything without arguing or complaining. God was doing amazing things and we got to witness a piece of His amazingness through the love and actions of Compassion. We are so so thankful for all that we've seen and done.

Our 4 hour drive took us back down through the valley and back up into high altitude back in Quito. So much of Ecuador is full of mountains including volcanos as well. We had a wonderful bus driver, Jose (pronounce Hozay) who stopped at a couple of great spots so that we could climb off the bus to take pictures of them. The largest/highest inactive volcano in Ecuador, and I believe in South America as well, was a sight to see and the other one we stopped to take photos of was the largest/highest active volcano which goes off continually. So interesting to see and the picture that I took even looked like it was smoking, but it was most likely the clouds. :) Of course there had to be bathroom stops along the way as well and there were always interesting things to see at those stops. It was a good bus ride back but coming from high altitude and then going down a bit and coming back up to even higher altitude in the city can take it's toll on a body that's not used to it. But again, God is gracious and He gave us energy and strength to finish the day.

Once we got back to Quito, we stopped at a lovely restaurant for lunch. We were told that their food portions are massive the famous Ecuadorian meals that were ordered for us would be 1 meal for 2 people. It was great food and yes, the portions were huge! There was still much left over so we put it all in take out trays so that we could give it to the homeless on the streets. I was so blessed to hear this! As I was sitting there, I was having a hard time imagining all this great food just being thrown in the garbage when we had just come from spending time with people in extreme poor conditions with hardly any food at all. It truly moved me to tears as we began dishing the leftovers into the styrofoam trays to give out to a hungry person. This inspired to begin to do this at home as well. When there is so much left over, why not have it put into a take out tray and give it to someone in need on the street. Such a great idea! We walked out of the restaurant with 8 trays full to the max with food. As we were standing on the street waiting for the bus to pick us up, a young girl, perhaps 6 or 7, maybe 8, and a little sister who was possibly 3 or 4, walked up to us holding out their hand and looking up at us expectantly. My heart surged with compassion. I did not expect God to give us an opportunity to give out our trays so soon. My eyes filled with tears as one of the women gave them a bag with two trays of food in it. They were so thankful for it and walked away in delight, holding each other's hands tightly while the oldest one grasped the bag of food in her other hand. I went through a series of emotions within a couple of minutes, but as I watched them walking away and climbed onto the bus, I was imagining someone much older than them tearing the bag of food out of their little hands and running off with it before they could bring it to their mamma or their home. I totally believe that our thoughts intercede as prayers as well, otherwise how could we pray without ceasing? :) So as I was thinking about them not getting to their destination safely with their food and hoping the God would somehow get them to where they needed to go to eat their food, someone in the front said, there are those two girls! I couldn't believe my ears! Could it really be? It was a very busy street and our bus had to make a U-turn in order to get us to our next destination. I looked out the front window just as we were passing the restaurant that we had been at, and sitting on the meridian in the middle of the street, were the two little girls with whom I assumed was their mamma, eating the food from the open trays before them. I could not help but weep as I managed to grab my camera to capture this amazing moment of God answering prayers that had only been thoughts in the back of my mind which I hadn't even been able to formulate into a prayer yet. Such a God-moment and a sweet picture of His grace and faithfulness!

For a couple of hours this afternoon, we would be visitng the Head Office of Compassion here in Quito. I was really looking forward to this visit as well as I was eager to meet the wonderful people who would be translating our letters that we wrote to our sponsored children here and would also be translating their letters into English for us before sending them on to us. Again we were amazed by the organization and clarity that everything is handled with. The paperwork and documentation of each project and child folder are outstanding! It is all handled with such care and skill. What a team of amazing people coming together to do such a great work...from the people in Head Office to the Project Directors, to the Project Staff, to the Tutors and cooks and janitors and guards and translators and tour directors and the many other workers and volunteers. Many of these people have been sponsored children themselves and now they are turning around to help others who are where they have come from. So incredible to see the whole picture to give us a greater understanding of how it all works together for the good of the children. Each part is  so extremely important, just like the parts of our body cannot function without the other, so it is in organizations like this and within the church itself, they need each other to complete the whole. What a blessing to see it all come together! God is so good!!  So thankful for our visit to the Compassion office in Ecuador!

We got back to the hotel with enough time to have a nap and/or go shopping at a small market area a couple blocks from where we were staying. Many of us opted to nap as the altitude issue was something we were struggling with today. A few had gone shopping and found some great local items to purchase. Those of us who decided to nap instead definitely missed out. :( But it was great to have a rest which we really needed. 

Supper was going to be super special tonight as we would have 4 Leadership Development Students join us for the meal. I love meeting these young adults who have been through the sponsorship program and were now attending University or College to attain a degree in Engineering or website design or architecture, etc... Hearing their stories and visiting with them through the meal was another blessing indeed! What they have overcome and how they have broken the cycle of poverty in their family because of what Compassion has done in their lives throught the projects they attended to recieve more of their needs because of Jesus. Wow! That's how I must describe it to you...simply wow! What a testimony each one had! They were a witness right before our very eyes as to what had been done in Jesus name! Also, the young lady that was sitting at our table, well it was her birthday, that day! No one knew, only God did! It was such an incredible blessing to sing Happy Birthday and to bring her a cake with a large candle on it. It brought her to tears! She had been able to maintain a relationship with her sponsor over all of her young years, which continued into her college years. Once a sponsor child graduates, it is possible for the sponsor to connect personally with the person to keep in touch through personal correspondence between the two of them. That is what this young lady had chosen to do and having that close friend through Skype, FB, email and phone calls was extremely special to her. Her sponsor had early that day, sang Happy Birthday to her over Skype and with us now singing the song to her in person made that relationship to her all the more real for her. I'm just amazed at how God uses EVERYTHING and EVERYONE to touch peoples lives in ways that we just can't imagine or comprehend. He is SO Good!! This was such a blessed evening!! 

So incredible that each day on a tour like this can just become better and better! My goodness! What will tomorrow bring? :) We know what it will bring....I think....but it will be better than what we can imagine right now because it will be an amazing day to spend some face to face time with our sponsored children....and we can't wait! It's what we have all been waiting for and the best is yet to come...although, what's happened already in these 5 days has been very outstanding already! :) God You are amazing!! We love how You have brought us all together for such a time as this!! <3

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