Ecuador 2012 – Day 3

Construction is hard work in any language.

Day 3 of our mission trip was the first day of construction at the Jungle Kids campus and it was work for sure… but totally worth it indeed.

The day started early, with breakfast at 6:30 and a bus ride at 7:00 to head out to the property.  We started by looking over the work area and materials, examining the building plans and making some calculations, and quickly got to work.  Our construction foreman, Jeff Hunsucker, did a great job managing the project as well as getting in the thick of it and working hard himself.

By the end of the day at about 5:15pm, we had taken what was just a collection of concrete posts sticking up from the ground and transformed it into the shell of a building with more than half of the floor complete.   It was a massive job done quickly and well by our motivated volunteers.

Mid-day our hosts from the hostel drove out to the Jungle Kids campus and brought us something we weren’t expecting: PIZZA!  They arrived with a cooler filled with individual plastic containers filled with plenty of food for each person to eat and half of a peach for dessert.  We also got to drink some sort of juice that had oatmeal mixed in with it, a delicious and nutritious treat indeed!

One thing that made such progress possible was great foresight by our host, Roberto Davalos.  He and his team hung a large black tarp over the entire work site, providing us with an effective shield from both the sun and the rain.  Again and again, those of us who have construction experience remarked how wonderful it was to have a “roof” to work under.  Thanks Roberto!

From carrying wood from one place to another to cutting and fitting pieces together, from hammering nails to cleaning up the work site, the team was exceptional and it was a day of great productivity.

After finishing up the work day, we hopped aboard the bus to head back to Misahualli and get cleaned up for dinner.  The jury is still out as to who was MOST in need of cleaning up, but we had some pretty messy and smelly clothes to change out of. All of us were grateful for the showers at the hostel.

Finally, dinner was a delicious dish of well-seasoned fish of some kind, with rice, beans and a potato spinach soup on the side (surprisingly delicious!).  We ate and enjoyed, spent a little time walking around the town of Misahualli and watching the monkeys in the square (yes, live monkeys) and turned in for another early night at around 9:00pm.

This time the power stayed on all night and the air blew cool through open windows as we slept to the sound of an all-night rain.

Ecuador 2012 – Day 2

The serpentine road flowed like a river of asphalt through the crags of the Ecuadorian mountains.

For hours and hours we sat, the well-appointed bus cradling us in relative comfort as we wound our way down from Quito’s 9,350 feet above sea level to the 1,500ft elevation of Misahualli.

The morning had brought a huge breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, cereal, fresh-baked bread and more. Our gracious hostess and friends in Quito provided everything we needed and sent us on our way with plenty of provisions. The sandwiches, chips, soda and fruit they sent with us came in quite handy later on!

After breakfast we visited Montebello Academy, the school and ministry organization that started it all. Years ago Ron Stiff and his wife Sharon had a vision to make an impact on future generations, and God led them to Ecuador. They have had great success and are now branching out to release their child organization, Jungle Kids for Christ, to be their own self-sustaining ministry.

We saw the school, joined a Sunday morning worship service (all in Spanish, of course) and said goodbyes to the fore-runners of the people we took the bus to go see.

Now, back to the bus.

The roads were remarkably well-maintained, with painted lines, guard rails and few pot holes. We took our time along the mountain highway, only stopping briefly once for gas and once for a bathroom/refreshments break. We left just past noon and arrived shortly after 5:00, and had a wonderful time talking, joking, sightseeing and even sleeping on the bus.

Our arrival at the Jungle Kids for Christ property was a joyous one. Roberto and Charmai Davalos oversee the ministry and welcomed us warmly. We unloaded school supplies, monitors and tools for our work this week, took a brief tour around the facility and began planning for tomorrow’s work. The Davalos team had prepared the site quite well, and tomorrow should go smoothly.

From there we headed in to Misahualli and the place where we’ll be staying for the next week: Hostal Paisano. No air conditioning? No window screens? No problem! Our hosts Hernan & Eunice are gracious and GREAT cooks, and they have free wi-fi, too. (NOTE: The Spanish word “hostal” is spelled “hostel” in English, so expect some variations 🙂

Dinner was superb! The dish was called “chuleta y mote pillo”, and was a pork tenderloin with a salad of thin strips of lettuce, plus some sort of rolled corn side dish. Delicious!

Now as evening has transitioned to the humid jungle night, the team is winding down, bodies tired and bellies full, looking ahead to a brand new day.

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The Prayer of a Leader

If I am a leader, how should I pray?

“[Jesus] said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.'”
– Luke 22:25-27

The true leader’s prayer of thanks is not, “Thank You for these people to lead,” but rather, “Thank you for these people to serve.”

Indeed, the heart and essence of Christian leadership is Christ-like service, which places the good of the others above our own need for fulfillment and control.

–( selah )–

Have you discovered any special prayers that help you? Share them in the comments below!

Life Preservers

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

Why did I get stuck with the stupid-looking life preserver?

I’m out here in the sun, getting sweaty, giving up my time to invest in the lives of our youth from church, and they all get the cool zip-up life jackets while I get the one that looks like a throwaway prop from “Gilligan’s Island”.  Not cool!

Oh yeah, and it chafes, too.

It’s times like these that I have to stop for a moment and do some soul-searching.  I mean seriously, underneath all the fretting and justifications, what is really at the heart of my frustration?

Read moreLife Preservers