Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jan 28,29,30

Friday, January 30, 2009

Whew. Today we had another EuroFish meeting, and it was a bit smaller, but still plenty smelly even with less fishy smelling smocks in the room.

Tonight we were in Porvenir 2. The barrio is just a few minutes down the road from the Proanos house. It was certainly the biggest meeting we've had since I've been here. There were at the very least 300 people. And they were crazy! It was primarily kids, and they were quite fascinated with Mark and me. We spent our time telling them how to say 40 zillion different things in English, Mark let them play phone games, and they asked me things about gangs in the U.S., a subject I'm not quite well studied on being from Roswell, GA. One guy I talked with was an Ecuadorian non-practicing Messianic Jew. I'm not kidding. He was quite the philosopher too, and I got a little tired of listening after a bit. He must've sensed it, cuz he went back to his house and brought me a huge mango, which I felt I needed to eat in front of him...those things are unbelievably messy...I think I still need to floss was a very kind gesture. Another guy approached me during David's message, and had been drinking a little. And then he shot me a predicament I'd have a tough time tackling even in English...he and his partner of 9 years can't have children, and he's wondering why God won't answer him, or if He ever will. A couple folks from the local church were coming up every so often, and they both contributed their 2 cents, saying that if he repented and had faith, God was likely to grant his prayers. I tried to say in the most gentle way that I completely disagreed, that I sympathized as much as I could, and that I would pray for the situation. I don't know how much he will remember from our talk given his buzz, but he seemed mostly in his right mind. His name, aptly, is Christian.

The believers from the church were so kind. They all helped us set up and take down, fed us dinner before hand, and had us over to their house for dessert after the meeting. I love the way that the local believers, especially over the last 2 nights, have been so outwardly loving and generous, and interestingly enough, they've been 2 of the poorest areas we've been in.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

You always wait to get answers to's something completely different to get to be an answer to someone's prayer.

Which we were, tonight, in Pacoche. We had a campaign in the tiny little village just of the Ruta del Sol. The pastors there at the little Mennonite church had been praying for some time for there to be some breathe of life in the city, as they are beginning their 8th year there in Pacoche with very little growth or signs of life. And just when they were getting discouraged, David made contact with them to do a meeting.

The whole town came out, and that's not really saying a whole lot...probably 100, maybe less. All the same, very cool. What darkness too! The movie was as clear as could be. The response was good to the preaching. There were also many ginormous moths. One fixed itself on David's shirt for the majority of his message, and it was about the size of his hand. They all were pretty nuts for the black light. Before the meeting, the pastor and his wife fed David, Mark and I some delish chicken and rice. It was a really special time with them altogether, for the outright joy and encouragement they felt tonight, and how it seemed very similar to the friendship we had with the 'Hermanos' of Pesillo some 6 years ago when I was here, the ones that faithfully followed, assisted us in whatever ways possible, and rode bicycles for miles just to participate in God's work.

Earlier, we had another meeting in Eurofish. Another 120 people heard the message of the gospel, and the Lord seems to have granted us favor with the Manager of the plant...she's seemed pretty stoked about our stuff.

We woke up this morning without water. Apparently the tank went dry, which it does a good bit around here, especially when it doesn't rain, which it has been unusually dry...great for meetings, but not for showers, dishes, toilets, etc.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Not much to speak of today in terms of "ministry", as my stomach started feeling bad right before David left for the meeting at EuroFish, so I stayed back and chatted online for a bit. The meeting apparently went really well, and we have 4 more there. The busyness actually starts tomorrow with the multiple meeting days.

Had a nice time discussing the OAC brochure with Monica, trying to give ideas and such. As my stomach started feeling better, I went down and shot some hoops with Anita, and Mark came down too when he and David got back. We then headed to Pacoche to announce tomorrow night's campaign.

The evening was delightfully chill. The girls were in crummy moods, so they hit the sack early. That left Monica to keep working on the brochure till all hours of the morning, Mark to go and read and play guitar, and David and I sitting in the kitchen chatting after our hot dogs and fried potatoes.

He continues to develop. He seems to get older and younger simultaneously, every visit, every chat, every meeting. His heart intensifies, and his message gets simpler. His experience grows, but he talks a lot these days about how he knows so little about how to be a parent, or the right way to do ministry. In a lot of ways, his youth/maturity split reminds me a lot of Art VanderVeen as he seems to grow wiser and also more wide-eyed and humble as he moves on in his life.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Getting in some semblance of a groove

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tomorrow is when the fun begins, and the busiest week we've had yet really kicks into gear. We've got 2 meetings a day I think for the next 3-4 days, and no day's meetings are going to be at the same place. Should be fun. We at least get to sleep in a little tomorrow.

We woke up this morning, had a nice bfast of fruit salad and omelets. Pretty soon, the house was full of Monica's friends from the neighborhood, and they all brought their young uns over to hang out. The dudes' reactions were funny...we all fled. David hit the computer, Mark hung out with Micaela and Cynthia and then fell asleep, and I read and screwed around on Gband. I also got to help David translate his newsletter and research some flights for an OAC Conference coming up. This afternoon, all the ladies in the neighborhood got together here to cook viche, which is like fish stew basically. Really good, except for the bananas they put in it. Anita baked a cake, of which David, Monica, and I partook after I made some quality french pressed coffee. The french press has become quite the popular item in the house. We sat around all afternoon and discussed everything from travel to submission, all the while remembering how hard it is to understand the Spanish they speak here on the coast.

The meeting tonight was at the police station in Manta. We had 45 officers, to which David presented the video about AIDS and then the gospel after that. Thanks to the fact that there's a new police chief, we were able to do all this. It went super well, and many officers raised their hands signaling that they'd made a decision for Christ.

Mark and I just got done watching Matrix on my computer, and it's such a cool way to remember some images and examples of our own rebirth. If you haven't watched it in light of the gospel, do it...the ending especially is pure worship, at least for me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The stomach is finally catching up with me and Mark...should've maybe laid off the ceviche mixto today. And the hot sauce. But encebollada...stellar. Never had it before today, but definitely hooking that up next time.

This morning David spoke in a small church here in Manta where we're doing a campaign this Friday, Lord-willing. Good message. Sketchboard about the 4 lepers in 2 Kings that found the enemy's camp abandoned, and then told the starving city of Samaria about the food and drink. Great story, and comparison to our opportunity to share what has happened in our lives, what we've discovered, where many of us have found satisfaction, fulfillment, and enough food to satisfy our whole starving cities.

Mark and I tried to give David and Monica some chill time this afternoon, so we went with the girls to the pool, and then of course, they're ready to head back to the house after 30 minutes. Can't say we didn't try...

David and I drooled and reminisced about grits, bacon, eggs, etc. today. He may be Ecuatoriano but he knows what's up when it comes to breakfast. He gets to enjoy it really soon, too.

We had a night meeting in Parque de la Madre again tonight. Good turnout, not quite as big as last time, but the crowd that stayed was super attentive. Loving getting to play guitar as much as I am...I've played pretty much every day since I've been here, and Mark and I are getting to open up every meeting with like 5-6 songs. It's awesome. Mostly old school worship stuff, My Glorious, You Alone, Lord I Lift Your Name, etc. Please do me a favor also, nobody tell David and Monica that Cherub Rock is not a Christian song. It makes for a great opener.

Saw a guy at the meeting tonight in a black UGA long sleeve shirt. I about peed myself. Of course when I asked him about it, he had no idea about the team, or school, or anything. But he cordially shook my hand anyway, and unfortunately wandered away from the meeting with his wife and kid before I could grab his picture. I'm sure he would've loved to learn what to chant at a UGA game too.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What a stellar night. The meeting, for one thing, was awesome. We were in Cañitas, and what appeared to be a tiny town turned into a quite nice sized community. We had a good 200+ tonight - that's a conservative estimate. And since we ran out of Bible studies to give out, and since Rafa left for Quito today, we only did a quick presentation instead of the normal longer one. I told David that I really like doing the shorter meeting, since the longer ones feel like a bit of manipulation with people's time with interrupting the movie and everything. He was in agreement with me, and said he'd continue to think and pray about the format of the meetings. It reinforces that David is one of the most humble people I know, that he, with a doctorate, years and years of experience in ministry, will listen intently, respond, and act on the opinion of an opinionated 27 year old vagrant.

We also had a great talk on the way and on the way back about the fact that everything we do and everything we are is centered around Jesus, and obedience to Him. It's become so over-complicated for me to try and follow Him. He spoke so deeply to where I've been and how I've been feeling after all my screwups and all my related apathy for the things of God. Somehow I've come to think I need to muster up the solutions for all my issues and the righteousness and preparedness to be able to serve Him. David brought up the verse a couple different times from Isaiah: "Look to me, and be saved (healed?)" And also: "Come to me, all you weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." It's all Him, not stuff for Him, not formulas on how to know Him through quiet times or good works, just Him. And though I say it's all shot to hell, that I've totally failed, His view of me hasn't changed. My position is completeness and perfection in Jesus, in spite of myself.

I don't know where to go from there...I somehow have to translate all that talk into Christ and me in this moment, with whatever I'm doing or wherever I'm going. But for now, as David reminded me, I'm in Ecuador, and who knows about the road to Chile, Argentina, or anything like that...God has me here, and I'm not guaranteed anything past the moment, so I guess I'll live these moments up, knowing that God has me here, and I couldn't be doing anything better - not because of the actual things I'm doing, but because I'm simply obeying Him.

Blah blah...on the lighter side, I had my first craving for tuna tonight. I ate like 3 tuna sandwiches when I got back tonight (all on hot dog buns).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ah, Massive Attack. Just got 100th Window before I left, and it is amazing. So mellow, so smooth, and now the road from Portoviejo to Manta will have a soundtrack burned into my memory.

Tonight we tried to do a meeting in Cañitas, but the weather looked like it was going to be pretty bad when we got there. We spoke with the town community leader, who said she thought the best night would be tomorrow night for the meeting. So, we announced tomorrow's meeting, and them headed to San Jacinto, just on the other side of Charapotó from Cañitas.

The meeting went awesome. It was a great crowd, and right down from the beach. Beautiful sunset. Also met someone who goes to school at Rutgers but is in town with her family for a bit. Randomly we're buying cokes at a little store during the movie, and then Mark and I hear in English: "I'm from New Jersey." Ha!

We're all pretty zonked, and we get to drive back to Cañitas tomorrow, and we don't have Rafa to help with stuff cuz he's headed to Quito for a week. Poor David got up at 6 after sleeping 4 hours, and we got back after 1am.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ok, I think I'm more tired tonight (this morning?) than last night. It's 1:45 am and we just got back an hour ago, ate dinner, and took off all our wet clothes. Praise God we got a good meeting in just before the deluge began.

The meeting tonight was in a town an hour and change away from Manta called Charapotó. Huge turnout. We must've had 150-200 people come out to the central square tonight. We announced the meeting with the speakers on the truck around the town, set up, and Mark and I played a few songs to get things started. During our set, it began to rain, and they were the kind of drops that signal showers, not sprinkles. All the same, the rain held off. It sprinkled a bit more during the meeting, but the people stayed through the movie, the presentation, and the rain never got intense enough to scare anybody away. It wasn't until we tore down that the rain got bad.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm so tired, but what a great day, especially the afternoon. We had our early morning meeting 2 hours away at a little school in the middle of nowhere where the director of the school closely resembled the Dalai Lama. She was female too, which was weird. I looked for a sherpa or some llama alpaca looking thing, cuz I'm pretty sure that's what she rode in on, given that she's the Dalai Lama. (Mark and I did shake her hand, and we both felt a little wiser after it.) She was really not pleased with us being there, but Rafa had a guy who was with us talk to each of the teachers individually, and they allowed the kids to listen. We had to wait a bit for some of the kids to get done with their exams, and some of the original kids who came out waited over an hour for the meeting. It even started raining some, and the kids still stayed. We got served some rice and juice afterwards (not endorsed by the Dalai Lama, but surely not outside her knowledge...she's the Dalai Lama) which was much appreciated and needed.

Once we got back, I helped David and Monica download some photos for a brochure they have to make, and they had a Skype conference with FBC back in Roswell. Kinda funny to be talking to Roswell like that from Ecuador. In the afternoon, David, Rafa and I went to Pacoche to visit and see when we could do a village meeting there. Man, it was so cool and refreshing. The pastor and his wife met with us, and they were beyond appreciative. They said they'd been praying for something to happen to their little town spiritually (it's 30 minutes south of Manta, but very isolated and off the beaten path) as they had started to get a bit discouraged, and then we showed up. I've never seen people get so excited before a meeting's even taken place. The meeting is next Thursday the 29th. Really need prayer for no rain. Everyone stays indoors if it rains there because the meeting will be outside at the school soccer field, and the road into the town becomes a ginormous mud pit. But what a cool opportunity, and a pretty blatant answer to someone else's prayers.

We took a couple back to Manta with us who didn't have a ride. They repayed the 3 of us with sirhuelas...some sort of miniature apple thing, almost like a crabapple. The non-ripe ones were super tart, but good, and the ripe ones were right on. Great stuff.

And gosh, Monica has been too good to me...she bought me an artichoke at the grocery store and cooked it for me without even telling me. She remembered after 4 years how much I love those things. (They're huge here, and cost her 25 cents for one twice the size of anything I've seen in the States.) And then she made jugo de tomate de arbol (tree-tomato juice) which may be my absolute favorite juice of all time. The only place I've ever heard of these nifty little hybrid fruits is here in Ecuador.

Mark and I wrapped up the evening with some hot tea, putting the finishing touches on the song, and watching Animaniacs DVDs. ("He's a chicken I tell you, a giant chicken!")

It's late. Off to la bed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm officially addicted. I've been working on the song again for the last, oh, 3 hours, and I think it's nearing completion. This is so cool. Oh yeah, and I have to be up in 5 hours. Minor detail.

Today was a lesson in patience with boredom. Mark and I rode around with David and Rafa researching possibilities for meetings in factories and schools. We also stopped by the mall and dealt with incredibly slow connections there. For the most part, we did nothing but ride around. I guess we felt a little useless and pointless, but the great part is, I still think of us being exactly where God wanted us. I get so pointlessly busy in the States doing jack-crap that any time I have left over feels like a waste. In reality, I'm getting the impression I need more of that 'pointless' time, even if I'm doing nothing but riding around in a car. Lord-willing, tomorrow will cure the feelings of boredom, as we are doing a meeting in a school about 3 hours from here. It'll just be me and Mark and Rafa cuz David has a conference call with FBC.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The first week!

Ok, got a connection for a's what's up...

Jan 14

I'm in Ecuador now, by the grace of God, even if my luggage is not. Freaking Delta. Oh well. We're staying in Guayaquil at this missions house one more night, and then David and Mark are heading back to Manta, and Rafael and I are staying here to hopefully grab my bags and hit the bus back home. Should be interesting considering the size of my bags. Ah, public transportation.

I'm digging Guayaquil so far, all except for the torrential downpours. We had lunch at Burger King, and then came back to the room for a great nap this afternoon that hopefully put my sleep back on schedule. (JFK is not real sleep conducive.) Tonight we've been watching David and Rafael work on a new sketchboard message for married couples, and I've been revisiting my old Spanish books and working on imperfect subjunctive...emphasis there on 'imperfect'. Had some killer chinese food for dinner, and the sopa pad pou rocked my world.

It's been great to be back here, and so good to be around David again. It's like we've never stopped hanging out. The time with Mark has been great too. He and I have talked much music and have been very comfy just coexisting so far.

Man it's muggy here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ok, that's better. Now we're in Manta. Pretty cool. Not quite the luxury beach town I'd pictured, but still nice, and the Proanos house is very nice, nice community, and a 15 minute walk from the beach.

Yesterday, after saying bye to David and Mark, Rafa and I stayed in Guayaquil to wait on my bags. We walked el Malecon and thoroughly enjoyed our time there in spite of the rain at first and then the oppressive sun and heat that followed. In the mall there I treated him to his first frappuccino at a cafe. It was a religious experience for him. After that we climbed the Cerro de Santa Ana where we saw a terrific view of all Guayaquil. Tremendous city...hope to get back there at some point. Of course, I forgot my camera.

After ceviche mixto and seco de chivo for lunch, we rocked a taxi to the airport, where thankfully my bags came in. The bus ride from Guayaquil to Manta was a breeze. I never knew seats on buses could lean back that far! Slept the first half, listened to metal the second half. And Rafa is the man. Loved spending time with him. He has such a tremendous heart for God, great love for people, and a shared humour over some of David's quirks...such as his lack of speed on the road...

When we got back, it was meeting time. They had a planned presentation to do at Micaela's's a Christian school where only 5 percent of the people are actually Christians. David created a new sketchboard message called 'El Hogar' (the home) for couples which he presented. It was a strong message, and was received well. He was very forceful, which he explained that he needed to be later because of the weak family structures that the community here along the coast has.

Today was a laid back day where we just followed them around as they paid electric bills, scouted new places to do meetings along the Ruta del Sol (Route of the Sun - an amazing drive along the coast of Ecuador that makes you want a motorcycle almost as much as Motorcycle Diaries does), ate lunch at the mall, discussed what function prophecy in today's church has, among other things. The family went out to visit some friends tonight, so Mark and I chilled at the house and had a nice college style dinner of cereal and mac and cheese. (Mac and soy sauce for me.) We also watched Motorcycle Diaries which only seemed appropriate given where we are.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Geez I slept late today! It was certainly a lazy Saturday to start. I'm starting to get my days back...they all got screwed up with the overnight layover. We had an afternoon meeting here in the neighborhood with the young uns. About 15 came, and David preached Cielo, and Mark and I made stabs at playing guitar to 'Dios es tan fuerte' and other favorites. It was our first time...hopefully it gets a lot better from here. The kids were very attentive and responsive. We played soccer for a bit afterwards, and no shock, I looked horrendous. As if I wasn't bad enough at sports in general, I come to a continent where all that's played is soccer. God's little chuckle at competitive me.

Tonight was a lot of fun. We had a lax dinner and Rafa hung out over here afterwards, and we fought with Micaela, who finally had the evening to herself since Cynthia went to bed early. She was a riot...she was fighting me and Mark and Rafa with straws for swords and pillows for shields. We also played Pictionary, which revealed both her artistic and competitive side bigtime...

Now, Mark and I are trying to sleep over Ecuadorian Idol going on outside our window...the most horrendous singing of karaoke in the history of mankind. And it's so stinking loud.

This still feels like I'm detoxing from the States. It feels like I've still got so much more to learn and experience, but it's gonna be a few before that happens. Maybe. Who ever planned trips like these out anyway...

I got the first shreds of Marissa down on GarageBand today. Rafa didn't seem overly taken with it after hearing the distorted guitar. Hehe. Guess I won't be sharing my iPod with him.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This morning started not at David's church, but one that he was guest teaching at. The church was really great, had a lot of quality stuff during the service like a choir that sang old hymns, a great baptism and testimony, and the dude who was leading the music (named Angel) was super talented...he did all the arranging and he even programmed the music in his Korg keyboard. We exchanged e-mails and hopefully can hang out one day this week and play. He's much more into classical stuff than rock or pop, but still misses playing in his band that just dis-banded.

We got served lunch there and ended up hanging out a bit as David and Monica socialized. We're doing a VBS at that church in February, so we'll get to see those folks again. This afternoon we just napped, chilled with the girls and had a big water-balloon war out back (about flooded their bathroom in the process). Lots of fun. Tonight, just to see what would happen, we went to Parque de las Mamas to see if there would be a bunch of folks there since it's vacations for the kids now til April. Man were there ever!! It was quite a crowd. Mark and I brought our guitars, thinking we might do a kids meeting. Turns out, as David and Rafa finished setting up, he and I started screwing around, and ended up drawing a nice crowd with our unrehearsed, out of tune worship songs...was way more effective than what I would've thought. By the time David was ready to start, there were around 70 people of all ages ready to hear the message. Most stuck around too, and a good number even stayed through the Bible study that Rafa gave after David presented the gospel. It's awesome how when the hearts are ready, it doesn't matter how long the meeting is, where the location is, or how bad the gringoes are at playing guitar. (Sorry sounded way better than me...)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Today we went to the beach. It's was allegedly their day of rest, and they ended up talking about Christ to 2 people, one of whom prayed to receive Him! "If one of you has a donkey that falls in a pit on the Sabbath..."

Anyhoo...beach was cool. Good waves, and nobody else was there...I mean nobody at all. We went to a beach down from Manta where it's more secluded, and it was good. I still shouldn't put sunscreen on by myself though. I have some very creative and artistic patterns consisting mainly of red and white on my back and arms.

We got back and were all pretty zonked. All except for the girls, who were in the neighborhood pool as soon as we got back in the driveway. I made huge headway with GarageBand and wasted a solid 5 hours this afternoon and tonight on the song I wrote in Guat...mucho fun. I see many more hours being spent with it. The 2nd person that they witnessed to who accepted Christ was Anita, a girl who lives down the street and always comes to hang out with Monica and the girls. We had a devotional in the living room, played music, read from John 14, and talked at length about salvation. It is just amazing to me how ripe and ready people are to respond to the gospel here, as well as David and Monica's uncanny ability to communicate what needs to be communicated at whatever time and it whatever way it needs to be heard.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I´m here!

Hey folks, one quick note just to say I made it safe and sound to Guayaquil, but my bags so far have not. Toss up a prayer if you think about it that my bags will make it this afternoon. David and Mark headed back to Manta today, and Rafael and I are waiting here for the bags to show so we can take the bus back. (No door delivery for bags here.) But all is well, all is rainy, and God is still faithful as always.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Up til now

This really seems kinda self indulgent, but in Guatemala I found myself saying the same things to a lot of people over e-mail, and it got unnecessary and time consuming and it hindered better conversations that could've been happening. So forgive me if you find this blog way too dramatic or self-important. Sometimes that's just how I roll...

So...I was in Guat for 2 months studying Spanish, partially as a refresher, and mostly to get another bump in my knowledge of the language. The time was extremely profitable and I learned a bunch, and gained a lot more confidence even though my usage of the language still lags a bit. In terms of people, it was so good. The network of people through the school ( - highly recommend it) was amazing and I dearly hope to reconnect with many of the people I met there. A couple suggestions as well...if you ever go to Guat, check out If you look on my facebook, you will see it is quite possibly the most beautiful place on earth. True statement. And cheap. Well worth the effort to get there.

Now I'm in the States for 3 weeks (and it's already half over...geez...) and enjoying the heck out of being here and visiting with everyone. Thanks for all the calls and attention and such, it's certainly made me feel loved. It's been great being home but hard to process too since it's for such a short time. I know that if I was staying here, going back to work, and getting back in the routine, my heart would be screaming to leave. I know this is how my brain functions, so it doesn't surprise me that I'm a little bummed to be here for such a blink.

I also know that once the wheels touch down in Guayaquil on January 14, there won't be a question in my mind that I'm in the right place.