The last couple weeks have been so blessed and busy here in Ecuador for our community. So many good things have happened so many blessed encounters have come our way. It all started with the return of our mission partner Jason Healy who had gone to the US for a few weeks to attend the wedding of another FMC missionary. His return coincided with the reception of a new vehicle for our family.
In Chonta Punta the Lord has blessed us with a house that actually has another house on the same property that, until a couple weeks ago, lacked electricity and water as well as doors and toilets. Once Jason arrived, we went to work fixing up the back house. We were able to get electricity inside and began working on the water. Within a few days God sent us a gift. A sweet couple in our town Rosindo and Livia, who sell homemade ice cream, needed a place to live. Rosindo had worked with us during the last month fixing up the house and putting in a cement floor near the outside sink. We invited Rosindo and Livia to live in the bottom floor of the back house. Although it has no doors, it is a lot of space compared to the room they currently rent. They were so excited. We hope they will be a great addition to our team if we get groups coming down to visit. Livia is a great cook and Rosindo is a jack of many trades.
LLast week, Jason and Jonathan went up to visit one of the farthest communities from us in Chonta Punta: Mango Playa, which means Mango Beach. They went up early in the morning with Fr. Freddy and two seminarians. It was a 15 min drive from Chonta Punta, then a 10 minute ride in a motor canoe. After that a 6 kilometer march through the jungle, up mountain sides and in the mud. They arrived bringing catechesis and songs to the community before Mass, while Father Fredy confessed people. After Mass the community blessed the five of them with – a monkey and blood stew! The people were so welcoming and desirous to learn the faith. When they returned that afternoon they were tired and joyful that God had given them the chance to serve in this way.
Last Sunday morning the whole family visited the community called Los Rios (The Rivers). Father asked us to go early to encourage the people with songs and give a teaching. It was really well attended. The people loved to sing and we were able to hand out a number of Bibles thanks to generous benefactors. We decided to go back again this last Sunday to celebrate a communion service. We mentioned the idea to the people and they were excited to have us back. Nevertheless, when we arrived around 8:30 AM, there was only one man there! We felt let down a little but decided to go out and invite people from the community. After inviting people for about half an hour we returned to the church and found people gathering inside. Before long people filled the little church. We presented a talk on God’s love, sin and the need for a Savior. At the end of the reflection before communion Jonathan asked people to publicly acknowledge Jesus and ask Him into their lives by raising their hands. Hands shot up all over the room! It was so encouraging. We have been struggling for months here seeming to make no headway. We have had many prayer services and youth group meetings with no people whatsoever. What is most odd is that we didn’t feel discouraged. Usually we would be sorely tempted to discouragement but God kept speaking to us to trust Him and keep on serving. Now we are finally seeing some fruits and it is so awesome.
Other highlights of this last week include visiting a new community, Selva Amazonica, with Fr. Freddy and a Seminarian on Monday for Mass, catechesis and songs. Wednesday our kids ministry cleaned up our local park after prayer.
Perhaps the best part of the week was going back to Mango Playa the second time. Jason, Teresa and Jonathan went, leaving the seven children with a babysitter. It was an incredible journey. The whole community was so receptive and thankful for having a visit by missionaries once again. God willing, we will make this a weekly visit! On our next trip, we will be bringing all of the children with us! It should be an awesome, though long, adventurous hike for everyone that ends with a memorable visit. Please pray for our visits to Mango Playa and the surrounding communities. May God’s will be done and may hearts be opened and set on fire!
One last note: We have an idea, and we need your help! Many of the outlying communities not only have no chapel, but they also have no sort of music to go along with their services when we are not present. Our idea is to purchase ukuleles that we will bring with us to the far communities. They are easy to play, often the chords are only one finger on one string. Jon will teach a volunteer to play the ukuleles, one song per visit, so that when Father comes to say Mass they will be able to have music in their services. If you are interested in helping with this project, please consider donating online at our mission page and write “ukuleles” into the message field.
Thank you all for your continuing prayer and financial support. We couldn’t do what we do without you!
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