Bethany Hess        Network 21 Missions
patrizio's birthday

last sunday vanessa, lukus, and i had the privilege to celebrate patrizio's 16th birthday with him and his family. like i said in a previous entry, this family is wonderful! so full of love!they decorated with streamers and balloons, bought a cake, and then we all sat around the table with the lights out and birthday candles burning. and "whoughff" the candles were out. the lights come on and everyone sings out, "cumpleanos feliz..."! vanessa and i started cracking up...if any of you have experienced a birthday at my parents house, you would know that my family has like 7 birthday songs sung in a row at every birthday celebration. it is a tradition that my grandmother started years ago. anyways, vanessa and i were cracking up because the lasso family also have like 7 birthday songs they sing for the birthday boy/girl! it was an ecuadorian version of my family's birthday tradition! but i experienced a new tradition with the lasso family. after they had sung, given gifts and eaten cake, patrizio, the birthday boy, got up and made a speech to his family and his grengo family. ( by the way, grengo is not a derogatory word here. it simply states you are la foreignor).

he had words for the family as a whole, and words for each individual. he verbalized his love for each family member there. it was so heart felt...everyone was tearing up or crying. after receiving from his family he then gave back words of gratitude and love. it was simply beautiful!

we then listened as alex, the mother, and her 3 sons sang to the guitar strumming of their wonderful grandfather. the five of them harmonizing right there in the dining room.

like i said before, this family has been and continues to be the most wonderful part of cuenca!

it was a sunny afternoon in cuenca, and we (4 grengos) landed on a short runway. it was beautiful flying into cuenca...the city is surrouned by mountains (hence the short runway).

we were picked up by a sweet couple from the church, and then taken to meet up with our host families.

vanessa, lukus and i are staying with the lasso family. reuben, the father, alexandria, the mother, and the 4 children,(all teenagers) santiago, diego, patrizio, and carolina. we, along with our ecuadorian family, sat around the table exchanging spanish and english. we played uno, spoons, and some other card games....laughing constantly and feeling extremely welcomed! this family has been my greatest experience in ecuador thus far! the best word to describe them is joyful. they've been an amazing help to us with the language and being so far from the familiar.

while here in cuenca, we are working with a church, centro christiano. we've done quite a few different things with them. our first activity was setting up for this huge concert hosted by the church. they had been working on it for a year! it was a marcos witt concert, who is apparently like the billy graham of latin america. anyways, we were able to attend was quite an experience. the stadium was packed! we have a video of it that we will hopefully post soon.

the majority of the things we have done with the church have been children or youth related. we climbed a mountain with the youth group, and oh my gosh, i thought i was going to pass out! just to put it in perspective... cuenca is 10,000 feet above sea level...and we then climbed up and up and up. it was a long, tiring day, but i absolutely loved it. i remeber looking from the base of the mountain and thinking, how in the world is this going to happen? and when standing on the top of the mountain , looking over all of cuenca, i then thought, how in the world did this happen? :) while on the trek, a twelve year old boy named tomi, took to lukus and i. he has so much energy, and so many smiles to share.

i have to say, ecuadorian children are some of the cutest i've ever seen. we have had the chance to work in the churches childrens departement as well as the christian school. this last tuesday and wednesday we shared the message in the jr.high and high school chapel services. there are 4 people on our team, and most of us don't really like getting up to preach. but we as a team prayed about what to share, and it all came together. it was really great to see how God works! it was cool to know that God brought it all about....we didn't have to manipulate it...we just prayed and He gave us something.

i've lumped the majority of these first two weeks together...but i will post a few other entries to expound on some other happenings.

thanks for reading!

love, love!

it's been a while since i much has happened since my last entry...
the spaghetti dinner was a success and a lot of fun! 
lukus and i went to ohio for a week to visit family and friends before we head out.  we were reminded of how beautiful 75 degree weather is:)!  we were able to stay with my mother & father-in-law. that was a blessing! seeing them and being around them is always so much fun! they are really great people!  my brother & sister-in-law has a bonfire friday we got to see all our old Bible study friends....i love seeing old friends, but it makes me miss them all so much!  i was reminded that i know some amazing people!  
while we were at my in-laws house, lukus and i went back to the barn to visit with the horses...
lukus convinced me to climb up on the barn roof with him...i am REALLY scared of heights...but he looked like he was having so much fun climbing up there, so i gave in and decided to live a little.  we climbed on to the roof.  
it was beautiful! it was a perfect, untainted view of the pasture and the woods behind it.  
it was so peaceful, so quiet, so worth the climb!  it kind of took me to a different place...

while in ohio, lukus &  i, 0nce again, experienced the generosity of His people!  
i know there are people in this world that do some pretty horrible things, but 
those are not the people we've been experiencing.  there are so many people  that do some pretty amazing things!
God is so good!  there are people making a dent in the horrible, that is increasingly becoming bigger!  i am so excited to be seeing that of His people!  

we depart in a little less than 2 weeks...i pray we are, and will contribute to the dent in the horrible!  
how?  love God, and love his people, meaning all people.

in case you are like me, and find it hard to get a hold of a book that keeps your attention, here are a few suggestions:
the Bible.
irresistible revolution by shane claiborne
Jesus for president by shane claiborne
blue like jazz by donald miller
myth of a christian nation  by gregory boyd (don't let the name turn you off!)
under the overpass
a few that have challenged me!

thanks everyone!

love, love 
- bethany