Bethany Hess        Network 21 Missions
  Last Thursday we met Pastor Lucy (who we later found, we would have many adventures with). She was our contact for our upcoming weekend trip to Canar. She went on to tell us what our Friday - Sunday would look like. Here it is: Friday at some time, we would leave for Canar (an hour and a half bus ride), arrive in Canar, and relax for the remainder of the evening. Saturday morning we would dress up as clowns, go to a park, and do some sort of children’s thing. Saturday afternoon at 3 we would be doing the churches children service, and then do an adult service at 7 that evening. Sunday there would be a church service at 10am, then to lunch, and then off to the bus terminal to head back to Cuenca.

Little did we know, there were protest starting to break out all over Ecuador!

We got on a bus Friday afternoon to head to Canar as planned. Arrived as planned, and then, the rest of the weekend was a constant surprise!

After arriving in Canar, we found out that we were learning a dance and performing it the next day, we also would be making some prizes for the children…we learned the dance, and oh…that is so not my gifting! But it got my heart rate up (yay for exercise)J . We then went on to learn how to make a clown holding a picture frame out of foam paper. Each little prize had about 15 different pieces to make it complete. We did that for a while with a cute, little lady from the church. Then to the dinner table with Pastor Lucy and her family. I have to say, I don’t know if I will ever get used to seeing a chicken neck or ankle in my soup! However, the soup itself tasting very good! Then off to bed. Lukus and I had a two person bed for the wk.end…it was a real treat! In Cuenca, we are sharing a twin size bed…nothin’ like being closeJ . In the middle of the night, lukus and I woke up to the sound of people yelling in the streets, glass breaking, and sirens.

Saturday morning over the breakfast table, our host, Pastor Lucy, went on to tell us of what we heard the night before. It was the indigenous people, or mountain people as they call them, protesting the fact that they have unclean water and the new president is doing nothing about it! Very sad news, but we had no time to ponder on it, we needed to start for the hour and a half walk to the park. While walking we came onto a pepsi truck and its’ driver….who we later found out was a guy from the church, but at the time, all we knew was that this guy was going to give us a ride up the mountain in the back of his pepsi truckJ . It was so much fun, and so random! Bumping around on the soda bottles, and then a quick stop…we were motioned to get out and look around. We were looking at the Incapirca…inca ruins. It was incredible! Then back on top of the soda bottles, they then kept one of the back doors open so we could see the viewJ . Once again, bumping around on top of the soda bottles, we came to another quick stop, and motioned to get out. Wow! What a view! A pond and then mountains, and more mountains. God is such an incredible artist! Back on the soda bottles…driving, bumping around, driving, and another quick stop. I was expecting another amazing view, but when rounding the front of the truck, I saw a 3 - 4 feet deep and 3-4 feet wide ditch dug out of the road, and on the other side, about 15 indigenous people sitting and watching our plans change. The driver of the pepsi truck could not complete his daily run, therefore, his livelihood is being affected, and we now needed to continue on foot. We said our good byes to our new friend, walked passed all the mountain people, who said good morning, and went on up the mountain road. While making our way up, we came on to many road baracades…some made of huge rocks, some of tree trunks. We saw many cars trying to get to their destination, but ended up, just turning around…the baracades won. Up ahead, we saw a truck backing up and then a smiley man motioning for us to hop in…another man from the church. We ended up going to his house for lunch. No one was at the park b/c of all the baracades. His wife made us a delicious 3 course meal, and then he took us in his truck a different way down the mountain. While going down, we came in contact with many more road blocks, but we were able to get by, but then we came to a bridge that had become unable to pass over, due to the protest. We continued on foot, were picked up by another truck, and then taken back to the church right in time to do the 3 o’ clock children’s service. I stayed down at the house, b/c my lunch had gotten a little to thrown around in my belly…my stomach has been quite moody lately! While the others did the service, I stayed curled up until the adult service at 7. We performed the dance we had learned, and then Estrellita delivered a wonderful sermon about the power of the tongue and how it is one way the fruits of the spirit can be exhibited. Pastor Lucy then expounded on the sermon and we all took communion together.

We had a good dinner at Pastor Lucy’s house and went to bed….we were all pretty exhausted. The next morning, we found out that there was no service, we were going to go preach in the market! We walked to a nearby market, and set up camp. Pastor Lucy led the lesson, and later gave us tracks to hand out in the market. To be honest, I do not really like doing this kind of thing…it feels so impersonal, and so I don’t know, I just think Jesus might do it different…but that is what we were told to do, so I had to do it….I am only telling you all this, b/c this was my mental processing. I don’t know if I am right for feeling this way! After the market, we were shown a Cuenca museum were a satanic festival takes place every year. That was a different experience.

Then another lunch at Pastor Lucy’s house. Over lunch there was a lot of talk about how we would get back to Cuenca because of all the protest. The road from Canar to Cuenca was completely blocked! How were we going to get back??? It seemed like a different plan was presented every 5 minutes…so we were all pretty confused as to what was happening. Around 2 in the afternoon, we got news that we needed to pack our things, we were going to take a bus back to Cuenca! We quickly packed up, still not knowing how we were taking a bus when the protests are still going on and therefore, the road was still blocked. But, we packed and boarded the bus just in time to get a seat instead of a space to stand in the isle! The bus ride was double the price and double the time of travel…they were taking a different route. We were there experiencing yet another adventure! The road was the width of the bus for at least half of the trip, and it was usually lining a cliff! I happened to have the window seat…looking out, not able to see the road b/c we were on the edge, looking down and seeing the side of the mountain, I thought I was going to pass out! I’m super scared of heights! Anyways, I did not pass out, but we went over a big rock and it messed up one of the front tires. So we stopped for a half hour while the bus driver fixed the tire. We got back on the road, and faced quite a few more attempted baracades, and stopped a few times to let other cars pass b/c remember, we were on a one lane, dirt road up in the mountainsJ .

We arrived safely in Cuenca and were picked up by the missionary family we recently met. To our delight, they had prepared chicken and dumplings for our team and their son (who served as our translator in Canar). It was a wonderful ending to an adventurous, stretching weekend!

Thank God/Dios, for hospitable people, coco crackers, water, patient people and working legs!

Well I am back again with more of what has been going on with us as a team and me as an individual.

While out with the medical team from Indiana Wesleyan, we met a family that is living here in Cuenca. They are serving as a pastor to missionaries in Ecuador as well as surrounding countries.

You know when you meet certain people and you immediately enjoy being around them…you just like them from the very beginning? This is how it was with them. While talking with their sixteen yr. old son, we told him of where we are staying while in Cuenca. He went on to tell us that they live very close to there. (This conversation happened a little more than a week ago.)

While here in Cuenca we have had some people to work with, but we have also had quite a bit of down time… so earlier this week, we decided to start contacting some of the other ministries we had met while here. We really wanted to see this family again, but we did not have their contact info, and even worse, could not remember their names. Yikes!

Tuesday morning, Vanessa, Lukus and I were walking to the bus stop like every other morning, and Lukus spotted a blonde hair lady walking down the side walk. Lukus discretely ran after her…and yes, it is the family we wanted to see again! They live about a 3 minute walk from where we are staying.

We stopped by their house on Wednesday and chatted for a bit, and ended up going to their house for dinner that night. It was a great time of fellowship, and we had spaghetti! Yum, yum! My stomach has been a bit if-y while here in Ecuador, so it was nice to have something that was familiar to the tummyJ . This family is so hospitable and a lot of fun to be around. It was cool to hear about all that God has done since they arrived here last January. They actually invited us over for dinner last night as well. We had steak, mashed potatoes, and veggies…it was oh so tasty. They also have wireless internet at their house, so that is how we have been able to post our blogs! We have traveled to the center of the city many times, but the internet connection is just not very dependable there! So thanks to this loving family, you all are able to read these entriesJ .

Today is Friday and we are leaving to go to another city to work with a sister church this wk.end. We are preparing three or so lessons to do while there. Jordan, the families 16 yr. old son, is going with us to help translate the lessons. He is truly a God send!

I am not the best writer, but hopefully through all these words, you see God’s provision for our team. It was amazing how we found this family, how they helped us post all our blog entries, and how their son is a vital part to this weekend!

The health fare in Parke de la Madre

A team of nurses from Indiana Wesleyan University came to Cuenca to do a free health fare for over a thousand people. There were many tents set up as different stations, some taking blood pressure, some checking your vital signs, checking your eyes, getting free glasses, and so on. There was also a tent set up for the ninos, the children. This is the tent I spent two afternnoons inJ . We had all kinds of coloring papers, crayons, bouncy balls, beaded necklaces, comic book Bibles, hair ties, pencils , and candy for them. I passed out some of the stuff, but the majority of the time, I did face painting. It was so cute to paint their little faces and then see them light up when they looked in the mirror. As you know, I do not speak much Spanish at all. But, I was able to ask them their name and what they wanted painted(in Spanish)…the simple things, but they were so appreciative for any effort that was made. It is amazing the affect that it has on children and adults alike, when you call them by their name. It was a really great spending time with the kids!

Team issues

On this trip, there are four of us. Lukus and I, a girl we kind of know, and a girl we did not really know at all. And just like any other relationship, it takes time to know each other. With this fact, the first week together was a bit rocky. Feelings were hurt, miscommunication happened, and frustrations dictated how we interacted with each other. Thankfully, these last two weeks have been much better than the first week. But, we still think very differently than each other, and still do not know each other that well. Throughout this year, the four of us will serve as a team. If we are not a team or do not learn how to be a team, we will most likely be ineffective, and maybe even useless. As I said before, the last two weeks have been much better, and enjoyable, but it is an every day process and decision. We want and need to see each other as God sees each of us. Please pray for our team!!!

We are praying, but we also need your prayers!

Thank you.

Love, love