Ecuador. What a beautiful, raw, and wild mission post this is! A good two hours from the nearest city, you find yourself in a community of around 100 people and with the Kiehl family who are one of FMC’s longest serving families. They showed us the ropes and when COVID-19 started, we ended up living with them at their house.
The mission here focuses on the native jungle communities. Hikes could last as long as two hours in the jungle heat, but when you arrive the Quechua people are so welcoming! We are treated to Chicha; this is one of the first things that is put under your nose. To me it smelt like wine that’s going off, borderline vinegar. It’s a drink made from the Yucca plant which is boiled and mashed and then fermented to make a drink. The traditional way of making this is for the ladies in the community to chew on it and spit it out and it’s then fermented in their spit! Yuk! But we smiled and drank it, despite whatever else may have been swimming around in it.
We would bring the Eucharist to them, hold a Communion Service, give some basic fun teaching, sing songs, dance, and play sports with the kids. Everyone was very welcoming and would ask for our next return. Jonathan and Teresa Kiehl would speak to the elders and see if there was anyone in the community in need.
But all of this finished when lockdown restrictions arrived.
One day Teresa and I were speaking and, unable to flex our “missionary muscle,” we were feeling a little low. She asked me if I had any ideas for the lead up to Easter. Of course the guy who used to work in a family restaurant (me), thought that we could use the car to drop off a food package to those most in need in our community. And so it was! We bought in bulk, divided it all up, and then drove out on Good Friday to deliver over 100 food parcels!
The word got around that we were doing this and since then even the people from these far off communities visited us for a food parcel.
I had been personally touched by a family in our neighborhood who has many young children and because they don’t even have a corner of land to grow food on, they have nothing. The children’s clothes are dirty, shoes are broken, they are hungry, and come to just stand outside the house. I would give them some of the bread we had, but it was obvious it was not enough. So I took it upon myself to help with some food shopping. When I told the boy this, his eyes lit up! I could not turn my back on their need, it also gave me great joy to provide some help.
How the Lord uses your past knowledge and skills for his work in the now! Since giving up the family business in 2018, the Lord has constantly put food ministry before me, feeding the poor. I wonder if this will be a common continuing theme for me going forward?
Please pray for me, as I have had to leave the mission field for a while due to ill health. I fully intend to get back to this beautiful work, as soon as I am well enough. For now, my situation dictates I stay home, awaiting possible surgery. I hope you and your loved ones have kept safe from the virus. We have been praying in particular for the USA, the UK, Italy, and Ecuador. I ask that you pray for Ecuador to get over the coronavirus soon so our team can get back ministering full time.
Luigi Di PaoloMission Page: luigidipaolo.familymissionscompany.com
More from SERVE Summer 2020
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