N. Ireland to Ecuador
Editor’s note: Thanks to OMS UK for the reprint of the article from Nicola Brown, from Portadown, N. Ireland. Nicola is in her final year at Edinburgh University. She spent the month of July in Ecuador, helping out with various projects, including English camp, youth work and generally helping out wherever needed. She writes…
My first few days were spent trying to recover from jet lag, getting to know the Pazmino family who were hosting me for most of the trip, learning Spanish and exploring the wonderful city of Guayaquil. There was another girl called Whitney, from California, who was in Ecuador for two months with OMS, and it was a joy to have someone of my age to travel around with, and also someone who spoke Spanish as well! The city of Guayaquil itself is pretty crazy. It has 3 million people packed in (I live in Northern Ireland which only has 2 million in the whole country so it seems like quite a lot of people in comparison.) It’s very beautiful, the incredible architecture in the city centre, colorful favelas on the hillside, and the massive iguanas roaming freely in a public square all added to the experience!
I finished my first week in a city high up in the Andes mountains, Cuenca, where I was lucky to meet most of the OMS missionaries serving in Ecuador, and see a bit more of just how diverse socially and aesthetically Ecuador is as a country! You don’t have to travel too far to go from coastline, to mountain terrain, to Amazon jungle, which is incredible. Cuenca is very modern and so beautiful, about 12,000 feet up in the Andes and is also reported to be the second most popular city to retire to in the world. The Stiles family that hosted Whitney and I were a joy to spend time with, as they taught us a lot about the Saraguro tribe that were the main workforce for the markets selling fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as traditional jewelry. It was such a blessing to be able to see how some of the missionaries minister to this people group in particular, building up good rapports with the Saraguro people, by spending time with their children ourselves, and hearing stories of how God is doing much work in the woman’s prison there.
After one week in Ecuador, I moved to Pallatanga with Whitney, and we stayed with the Orellana family, who live there full time and run camps all throughout the year! Campamento Evangelico Pallatanga is OMS’ camp in Ecuador, and is used for a variety of different events such as pastor training camps, mother and daughter camps, marriage counseling and English speaking camps. There was another family and single woman there from the USA, and we were straight into preparing materials to begin teaching the following day. I was a bit nervous at first as I’ve never taught a language before, but those nerves didn’t last long as I was allocated my first class. Despite a few funny moments with Ecuadorians finding it hard to understand my Northern Irish accent, the classes went incredibly well. The idea was that they would have full immersion English-speaking to get the most out of the weekend course. There were two weekend English camps in a row, and the days in between were mostly spent reading, getting to know the families there, going on walks to find waterfalls, and painting the new building at camp!
In my final week in Ecuador, I was reunited with the Pazmino family and we moved to the coastal town of Anconcito, where we were helping a fairly newly formed church there by doing practical work to their new building, putting up a large bamboo fence around the perimeters, and running holiday bible clubs in the afternoons for around 70-80 children from the local primary school. Again, it was incredible to see more of the country itself, and I especially loved going to their beach baptism on Sunday, and hearing the testimonies of those who had recently come to faith because God spoke to them so clearly, and how His people in that church were being so wise and faithful in serving the people living in their town.
It’s difficult to describe just how incredible my time in Ecuador was. I loved understanding more of the internationality of God, experiencing such a warming culture, trying new food, seeing a small amount of the incredible work all the missionaries are doing out there, broadening my understanding of what it is to be a missionary, and most of all what it is to be in Christ and to love one another. It was refreshing that the less that I culturally and socially had in common with people, the less that seemed as important a factor as it sometimes feels at home. It was so much greater to enjoy worshiping God together with people in the same body of Christ, in the knowledge that wanting to serve and love others is founded in and sustained by our love for God foremost.
If you are interested in participating in a short-term mission trip, please contact Paul Cox today at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 317.888.3333, ext. 317. You can also visit our website at www.onemissionsociety.org to learn more about One Mission Society.