Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Carnival, Gozo. Más Gozo que Carnival.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Didn't sleep well last night either, thanks to coffee, chocolate, and sleeping till 1pm yesterday. Oh well, we've been moving so much today that it hasn't made much of a difference. Rafa and I headed to Murciélago around 10:30 to see who was left of the Carnival crowd. There turned out to be a ton, and it was good that we got there when we did, cuz it filled up, and they stopped allowing trucks into the area. We set up, and had the help of Clever, Máximo, and some other random folks I didn't know. We had 5 meetings in that place! And they were huge meetings, one in particular where we easily had 100. I only played a song or two, and a crowd was there, and I gave up the mic. (Side note, I've started playing Optimistic by Radiohead a lot as a crowd draw...Rafa told me today before one of the meetings, "Play 1 or 2 songs, and make sure they're really happy songs." I assume that was his way of saying "Don't play Radiohead.") One dude named Irving came up to me after one of the first meetings, and told me he heard me playing "Here I Am To Worship". He leads worship in a city close to here, and he had 2 girls named Allison and Kimberly who were believers from Guayaquil with him. He came back later in the day and he played and sang "I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever" in Spanish, and me in English. Super cool. I love all the random people I'm meeting at our campaigns. I got super burned today, because I applied 2 hours worth of sunscreen, not 6. Just face and arms got burned.

Tonight made me not want to leave Manta. Clever invited us over (it was more Vivi and Eliza than him, but he seems to be the spokesperson) and we ate a delicious meal of tuna, rice, grilled fish, plátanos, and mangoes. Shrek was on, and then Click followed it, so we just chilled, watched some of the movies, and chatted. I played with Samuel (Chinito) who is Clever's 5 year old son. Cutest kid. We were over there for a long time. I was a little tired at that point after 5 meetings and 4 basketball games and 3 hours of sleep, so my Spanish was in and out. Everyone was super emotional and focused on us leaving for Quito soon...poor Chinito has taken quite the liking to me, and as it was explained to him how soon we're leaving, he started crying! He gave me his harmonica and a jack as a 'recuerdo' to remember him was the sweetest thing, and I kind of don't think I get the depth of it, cuz they were probably things that meant a lot to him for all I know. As he started crying, Yvonne followed, and Vivi, and eventually Eliza and Vanessa as well. We all hugged and kissed and said bye. I don't know if I've ever been around a group of believers that was this affectionate and in such a short time of being with them. I want to come back already, and I haven't left yet...I get to see them again this weekend as we have a campaign in Cuba on Saturday night and then church on Sunday. Rafa and I left and were in a sort of shock at the sort of emotions that were shed. It is a beautiful thing to love and be loved within the body of Christ, where the bonds go so much deeper than the time you've known someone.

Monday, February 23, 2009

We didn't really sleep well last night, even though I slept until after 1pm. The party was still going at like 5am. And then the power went off at like 6, so I had no fan. Anyway.

Today was the alleged day of rest, but I stayed pretty busy. We went to Murciélago and tried to do some was nuts. We set up by one of the exits from the beach, and had 2 meetings, with moderate turnouts. We couldn't get the truck down there because of it being blocked off, so we didn't take amplification. Rafa was about tired of screaming over subs by the end of it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We just got home from a very long but fulfilling day. Went to Alfa y Omega this morning, had a great service, and the take away for me was, "What are you looking for?" Pastor Muentes spoke from Isaiah 55..."Seek the Lord while He may found." Am I seeking the Lord? If not, what? I think I'll find what I'm looking for, whatever it may be.

Eliza and Viviana invited us for lunch today, twas great. Rafa and I hung out there for a bit afterwards chatting with the girls and the family, and then we played some soccer out on the field. It was a smaller group this time...still a lot of fun...more so for me, cuz I actually had shoes that were worth a flip to play in this time, and I scored some goals too, didn't kick too much air this time. Good stuff.

We went back to change at the girls' place, and lo and behold, they had more food for us. I love this church. They have not stopped supporting us, feeding us, encouraging us, praying with and for us, and just loving us. I don't want to leave Manta because of them.

As Rafa and I tried to head home, they had the Ruta del Sol blocked off so that there could be 2 inbound lanes to Manta (for Carnival evidently), and none going out. Hence, we had no way to get home. It was asinine. We had to go all the way back to Rafa's place on the other side of the city to shower and get ready for the meetings tonight.

On the way to the park, we picked up a whole truckload of Alfa y Omega-ites to bring them to the park. It was awesome...they really made tonight happen by coming close to the sketchboard as Rafa was doing the numbers, because I didn't have my guitar since we couldn't get to the house. We ended up doing 3 meetings there, and they were all pretty well attended. One particular couple stuck around for 2 of the meetings and had a long talk with both Rafa and Vivi.

My new addiction: Jamileth. That restaurant is so good, and the batidos, my goodness, I could drink my weight in those things. And everything that comes off that grill goes very well in my stomach. We had Jamileth for the 2nd night in a row. And it's open after midnight. Perfect for those late night campaigns.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Back in Manta

The latest. Enjoy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Just got done watching Facing the Giants with Rafa. I'd never seen it, so I was thoroughly delighted when Mark Richt walks into the movie, and Rafa understood maybe a smidge more of my fanaticism over UGA football and the sport in general. Good times. The movie was ok, a bit over the top in the amount of preaching and the gratuitous predictability, but I admit, if nothing else, Christian films are getting maybe the slightest bit better. It was better than Left Behind (not saying much, I know). It was no Mirad, Cuanto Amor though. That is an everlasting classic...the movie that David used like 6 years ago in his campaigns where the acting was so bad, they had one character who died come back later in the movie in different clothes as an extra, and he just held his head down (in a scene with like only 5 other people in it) and hoped no one would notice who he really was. Gotcha, you resurrected extra. I saw you.

Today we had 3 meetings at Murciélago, where we set up at the cement area just a spit from the beach. We had ok groups each time, like 30 people max. But the cool part was that Doris, her daughter Abigail, and Elizabeth (all from Alfa y Omega) all came out to support us, and we got to eat together afterwards as Elizabeth treated us. I played mucho guitar in between, and my fingers were about to collapse. And it showed in my playing, that's for sure. Also, there was a girl there from Dominican Republic named Maribel who was a believer and was super stoked about the meeting and everything. She came up and sang with Rafa when he took the mic on 'Tu Nombre Levantaré'. I was thankful she did that.

We were supposed to have a meeting in Parque de la Madre, but the park was pretty dead tonight even with it being Carnival and all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I forgot one more highlight from yesterday. As we were helping Brenda move, we all forgot that we had mattresses tied on top of the truck, and at one point, a taxi driver comes flying up to us and lets us know that they have flown which point we turn around in a panic, and they had evidently fallen off a bit farther back than we thought. When we got to the spot, they were already being 'saved' for us...more correctly, claimed by someone else who already had one in his yard, and his son was carrying the other...30 seconds longer, and Brenda wouldn't have had a bed. It was pretty funny.

Today we went to Bahía with Ángel and Brenda so that they could look into doing a concert there, and so that we could potentially get in the water and do a meeting too. There turned out to be more water than beach, and it was really overcast and messy, but all the same, we got done what we went to do. We had a couple really good meals, and thoroughly enjoyed the city itself. I'd totally go back. (It's all about the Ruta del Sol.) Rafa hooked up with a Pastor there who helped us get permits to do a meeting there. We ended up doing the meeting in a skate park, and ended up with 150 people, which was apparently pretty unheard of on a Thursday night. Cool. I met a dude from Finland who heard me warming up to Pumpkins, and he told me they were his favorite band! Let me get this straight...a Finnish Pumpkins fan in Ecuador... We met a couple of random believers while we were there too, one in particular named Daniel who leads worship at his church.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Perhaps the highlight of the day was Rafa telling me about a girl he dated. Her Dad's name was Inocente, and he had 15 children.

Another pretty relaxed day. This morning we went to help Brenda move into a new house smack dab in the middle of Manta, right next to the catholic church. Ángel, Kevin, and Wacho all came along with Rafa and me to help. We had to make 3 trips, but we were done by like 12:30. Rafa and I had lunch after that. When we got home, I was a little tired, so I laid down to rest a bit. I slept till almost 5! It was so good...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today was laid back. Rafa played for me a tape of a preacher who said that certain types of music are wrong. Needless to say, I disagreed. Ángel came over for a while, and he was on my side even though he is not a rock fan. I got very irritated at Rafa's belligerence and seemingly blind acceptance of some vague Scriptures that this guy tried to use to prove his point that certain rhythms are 'displeasing to God'. Ridiculous.

Thankfully, that discussion finally ended. We went to the mall to use the internet and eat, and there was some fashion show going on, and I had no connection, so I had to use the cafe they have there. Thankfully, I caught the fam, and we were able to talk for an hour.

Monday, February 16, 2009

So much to say for such an uneventful day...

I'm still feeling whatever it is living in my stomach. It hasn't been right since last Thursday, and I had no energy today (I also didn't have coffee this morning, could be one reason). I slept till almost noon, and fell asleep on the couch this afternoon for a bit, and didn't feel like doing much of anything. I did start some meds today. The pharmacy didn't have Cipro but they gave me something similar, and we'll see if that kills the critter. I'm about ready to be done with him. On a lighter note, Rafa and I had some great lunch good that I had 2 of them (the only soup they had was cheese soup, so I helped my self to 2 of the main dishes). And for 3 lunches, we paid $4.20 total. I love this place.

- "What will your order be sir?"
- "I'll have 2 pieces of burnt toast and a rotten egg."
- "Burnt toast and a rotten egg? What do you want that for?"
- "I've got a tapeworm, and that's good enough for him." (3 Stooges)

Rafa and I just did tuna for dinner and I had some of his world famous powdered hot chocolate to go along with it. As the meal went along, he gave me his full testimony about where he'd been since he'd come to know Christ and shared some of his scars. It was so good, and to hear someone as outwardly strong to show the openness and humility he has, it's quite 'impresionante' (there's not a better word in english to use). He spoke to a lot of the stuff that I've dealt with and that I need to hear.

"And as long as we live, every scar is a bridge to someone's broken heart...and there's no greater love, than that one shed his blood for his friends."
Thrice - "For Miles"

After dinner, he went upstairs and watched some sports show, and I wandered onto the terrace. It has been amazing weather today, and tonight has been maybe the nicest night since I've been here. And what a rarity...I could actually see stars tonight! It's pretty amazing to look up, here in the Southern Hemisphere, and really not recognize much of anything, save for Venus and Orion. Other than that, pretty much a brand new sky. I tried to actually sleep up there on the hammock, but the mosquitoes here apparently didn't read the Off contract where you treat people with said repellent as non-existent. Gringo meat is apparently worth contract violation to them. When I came inside, to my delight, Rafa was watching Grey's Anatomy with overdubs. He seemed quite amused.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Woot. What an amazing day! Went to Alfa y Omega this morning, had a good message there about the good works we do and the recompense that follows, and then was planning on playing soccer this afternoon with the same peeps from last week, but when Rafa showed up to pick me up, he told me and Ángel that there was a big game being played today in Portoviejo between Liga and Nacional. So we had some lunch, and the 3 of us and Brenda went to the game. It was awesome! It was as close to a game of American Football in terms of intensity I've seen in another sport. Several fights broke out in the crowd, obviously increasing the overall entertainment level. Nacional (Rafa's team) won 1-0 by a goal they scored in the 2nd minute of the game. It was quite appropriate that they won...their color is red. No coincidence there.

After that we headed back to Manta, grabbed a bite of encebollada for dinner, some coffee, and then to the mall so I could wish David a happy birthday and Skype with the fam for a minute. Good times, although their microphone wasn't working, so I got to blab on to them and watch them make funny faces at me. We headed to the Parque after that to do a meeting, and Ángel and Brenda still came along. We did some music beforehand, and on a fairly non-crowded night at the park, had a huge crowd. Some other folks from Rafa's church came, and after he did the message, there were still people hanging around, so we did another song, and he actually did a Q&A session, and it went really well, I certainly had not seen something like it before, not in an evangelistic campaign at least. Went great. When we left, on Ángel's request, we went and had these taco things at some random stand, and they were awesome, beans, meat, sausage, onions, guac, all sorts of goodness all wrapped in a flour tortilla. If they sold these in the States, they'd put Taco Bell out of business.

And to close, a bit from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis:

"The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water."

"Burn the fleet!
We can never go home
It's on to victory or underground
Burn the fleet!
We'll be heroes or ghosts
But we won't be turned around"
Thrice - "Burn the Fleet"

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Departure of Marquitos, Guayaquil, and stomach bug

Hey kiddos. This is all you get for a blog this week. I´m a little claustrophobic right now due to homeboy next to me pressing his butt against my shoulder as he sets up someone´s email addy, who is yelling into their cellphone. He was preceded by 2 love birds celebrating the day by sitting in eachother´s lap and smooching. Lack of space is bad enough without PDA.

The week has been laid back, just chilling with Mark as David and Monica have been in Quito. Mark and I have hit the beach a couple times, recorded a bit of a new song, and listened to music up on the roof at night. Quite fun.

Just dropped Mark off at the airport in Guayaquil this morning, and I´m at Malecón right now, about to grab a bite and then find me a bus back to Manta. Poor Rafa was expecting me to be there at 4, but it´ll be more like 6 now.

David and Monica head for the States tomorrow, and Rafa and I will be here doing meetings in their absence. Then, we´ll join up with them in a couple weeks up in Quito where we´ll be scouting out spots for meetings for when the team from FBC comes in April. Then, after a week or so there, Lordwilling and the creeks don´t rise, I´ll be heading south, solo, and with the hope of making it to Santiago by March 26 to see Radiohead!!! (If anyone wants to meet up beforehand and go, just holler...or we can grab WaHo afterwards...)

My love for the human race is quickly diminshing as homeboy continues to yell in his cellphone.

Oh yeah, and my stomach is pretty bad right now...going to try and find me some Cipro (sp?).

Take care folks, let me know what´s up!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The internet mice of Manta aren't running quite so fast today

Here's the latest and greatest kiddos. Mark and I are here solo with the Proaños in Quito at the moment, and without internet at the house, so I apologize in advance for the lack of communication for the next 3 weeks, as it will be dodgy. Mark leaves Saturday, and I'll be heading to Guayaquil with him to see him off. I'll try to send updates as I can. Blessings!

Monday, February 9, 2009

This morning D&M and the girls left for Quito, which left Mark and me to fend for ourselves. They left us the truck, and we were able to hit Murciélago for lunch and beach. The blister that I rubbed on my right foot yesterday playing soccer did not really allow me to enjoy the beach experience hurt to walk, especially in salt water. So we didn't stay real long, which was fortunate for Rafa, who was waiting back at the house when we got there. We ran errands with him, dropped him off at his place, and then had dinner, and came home and listened to music up on the terrace. A nice, almost free day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I am so tired yet again! We had church at Aurora to start with where Mark and I played 2 songs in their service, and we got to talk to the gringo pastor for a bit before we left for Alfa y Omega. Oh my gosh...what a beautiful time! They have outdone themselves in generosity. We got there to the church, and they had us come on stage and they gave all of us gifts for our service during the VBS. These people do not have money, and yet they gave us all individual gifts. Then I got to speak in front of them for a bit as they asked for a 'speech'. It went surprisingly well, I think I was able to express my heart on the fly in Spanish. Hope more ops like that come about. It was cool. Afterwards it turned into a mad rush to get a picture with the gringoes. I hope I can end up getting some copies.

We had lunch at the Pastor's house, which was some yummy viche along with tuna salad. Afterwards, we watched the presentation of the play that Ángel directed the music for. Then, fútbol for 3 hours! It was a blast, although I didn't have shoes other than my church shoes, and my feet are blistered and sore now. I was pretty crappy I think, though they were really encouraging and kind. Afterwards one of the hermanos bought 2 3-liters of cola and we devoured them in a matter of minutes. It was so great. The generosity is a great lesson and example for me. Tonight, we came back and we went out for dinner at the first restaurant David and Mónica ever ate at in Manta. So good! So much food...and some unbelievable milkshakes, huge, for $.90!!! Oh my! I'll be back for shizzle.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What a joy, that conquers exhaustion beyond exhaustion!

We got up this morning at 5 something. The outing was as both of us had feared: our presence was pointless (at least by all human calculation). I'm not sure what I misunderstood along the way. I could swear Mónica told me we'd be back by like 8am. Not quite. I don't think we even made it to Santa Ana by 8. Not to mention, we picked up 4 other people on the way, which meant there were 7 of us crammed into the truck. Not cool. So Mark and I sat around while they tried to sell clothes at this open market. Even Rafa told me he didn't really feel useful. But he at least was able to drive everyone there and enable the day to happen. Mark and I just made people crammed in. Whatever. I was trying to have a good attitude and try and see our purpose, but I was not stoked about losing our free time to go to Murciélago.

When we actually did get back at like 1:50, we had a mere 40 minutes before we had to put all the equipment back in the truck and head to practice at Alfa y Omega. I checked e-mail real fast, and then went to take a quick, 2 song snooze. I ended up sleeping about 30 minutes, and I'm not sure if that helped things or not.

Practice went well, we got a good bit of the questionable stuff nailed down. Mark and I were sort of shells of people. My voice was a little tired, but poor Mark's fingers were on fire - he's losing his callouses from playing so much. His hands were cramping too. We made like 5 different trips in the truck from the church to the field where the meeting was, taking drums, chairs, equipment, everything from practice. When we were setting up, we had a small crowd compared to before. But as we finally started playing, after tons of technical problems, it finally filled up some. We had about 90 by Rafa's count.

It was a long, tiring day, one that made me run away from people for a bit during the movie, cuz I hadn't been unwound or quiet for the entirety of the day. But the end of the day with the creyentes at Alfa y Omega, tearing down equipment, taking pictures with the kids, praying with eachother, eating hamburgers after the meeting, laughing at bad spanish, bad english, and every possible idiomatic fallacy inbetween, I was so happy, joyful, and even at 11:30pm after the day we had, I was bummed when Rafa said we needed to leave. The pastor and his family are amazing, and they have been amazingly hospitable. The others have been great...they were genuinely disappointed when Mark and I said we couldn't go to Alfa y Omega tomorrow (we promised to play in D&M's church). I think I'd like to go to that church regularly while I'm here. And they've apparently got some gift or something for us. It's too much! I love these people. I'm stoked about getting together with Ángel and doing some music stuff maybe. It works out well with his University being just down the road from D&M's. Anyhoo. Splendid night.

Friday, February 6, 2009

In the wake of the talk Mark and I had, today has been filled with joy and freedom, both around him and otherwise. The VBS, in spite of the car not starting for D&M and Rafa having to go back and getting them, ended well, albeit with a bit of frustration on my part as we could scarcely get anything done in terms of practice for our little gig tomorrow night. We had a nice lunch at an hermana's house down the road from the church, and then packed in the truck as we took like 10 people back including Ángel and Brenda to their classes. They ended up coming over for a bit after class to go over music, and it went quite well, we made progress even though none of us really had our instruments, nor did we have a full band. Then Mark and I went down to the pool to hang out with Mónica, and the place was packed. She told us that she'd just had an 'encounter' with a lady in the neighborhood who did not pay for the pool, but was bound and determined to let her kids use it. M explained that it was for those who paid for it ($7 per month - and she was ready to fight Mónica over it), that the fees they paid for the neighborhood didn't cover it. The lady, who didn't get the keys from Mónica, proceeded to lift her children over the fence, and they tumbled down the steep grass hill on the other side onto the tile by the pool. She stood at the top of the hill for a bit, watching her kids even now as the pool had come to be quite full of people (who do pay). We all had a good laugh looking at her watching from afar, probably scared of Mónica coming and opening a can on her. All my money would've been on Mónica for sure.

Mónica went shopping with one of her friends, and we stayed and looked after Micaela. Anita came and sat with Mark and me for a bit as we talked music, snobby people, and humility. Against her will, she's begun speaking more English and has actually proven to be quite good at it...which has pleased Mark since he can now participate in the conversations, but which also has me and Mark a little worried about the English comments we unwarily made around her before we realized how good her English actually is. Eventually Anita left, and Mark went back inside, and I stayed by the pool to watch Mica with my iPod and lots of mosquitoes to keep me company. As I sat listening to the new Anberlin record, just sitting by the pool not really doing any great spiritual feats, simply watching my friends' daughter swim in the pool with her friends, it occurred to me how joyful I felt. It was a quiet, beautiful, transcendent moment of clarity. I'm still frustrated when my plans get interrupted, which seems to be a frequent occurrence here, but I feel more and more detached from firm and solid plans for my time, and more and more willing to jump when told to jump. Even as I type, I fear making firm conclusions about changes in character as I write from the perspective of the very cage of flesh I reference. Nevertheless, here I am, and this is where God has me, with some of my favorite people on earth, making dents in the Spanish language, and peering wide-eyed into the days ahead that may hold any number of destinations and people I do not yet know.

One such departure from plans is in a mere 4 hours, when I get to wake up on a Saturday morning at 5:15 to go and help a guy at their church have a garage sale so he can get back off the ground and raise money to start his own fish business. Yeah, I'd rather be asleep. But I also feel like I wouldn't want to miss it for the world, and I couldn't turn it down when Mónica told me about it. And then, hopefully, Murciélago! And then, practice, and the 'gig' in Cuba tomorrow night with Ángel and everyone.

I should've been asleep hours ago. But me Mark and Rafa watched Walk to Remember (of all movies - I still really like it, especially all the Switchfoot songs and late 90s rock stuff...) and drank coffee as we did, and then I got to a part in Return of the King when I couldn't put the book down. Éowyn is so awesome.

And to think, just months ago, I was seriously considering sticking with my job for its consistency, occasional bright spots, travel (to exotic destinations such as Alabama), and weekly paycheck. Praise God that He finally shined the flashlight on the next step.

"She woke in the morning, she knew that her life had passed her by. She called out a warning: 'Warning! Don't ever let life pass you by!" Incubus - "Warning"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"We are all lost in the sound of separation...oh Lord, have mercy, have mercy on us all." - Underoath "We Are The Involuntary"

First day of VBS today at Alfa y Omega. Great turnout! The kids did very well, well-behaved and all. We played music to start with, David did the ¡Señor Sálvanos! message and it went well. The games portion went well, they played that sitting version of soccer and flung their shoes around after that.

We tore down, had lunch at the house, and I found Mom on Skype...finally...that was great. The camera works at the house which is pretty awesome. Hope the internet keeps working when the Proaños head for the States.

After that was our 5th and final EuroFish meeting. Good experiences there (except for them fumigating right before our meeting today - my eyes were burning). It is cool how open they've been to us being there. I told David today afterwards that I think the openness of the culture here to the gospel is one of the main reasons I'm here right now. While I realize that it is the Spirit that draws people, it's also feels pretty foolish to not take advantage of the openness of the people and culture, since there is so much receptivity. All the same, I want to try someplace like Little 5 when I get home, just to see what the reaction would be. I always wuss out when I get home, so we'll see if this trip is any different for me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Had our 2nd to last EuroFish meeting this afternoon, and had a warmup to VBS tonight in Cuba. Tons of kids came out, maybe 150-200 people in all. Angel the worship leader was there, and it sounds like we're going to have a full band to play this Saturday on the same futbol court. I'm stoked!

VBS in the morning...and EuroFish...alarm is set for 7am...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tonight we had a campaign in El Palmar. It was aight...we had about 40 people, and from the looks of everything, they were all believers. No harm there for sure, but it was funny how last night in Porvenir 2 we had 300+ in a church of maybe 20. I felt really judgmental tonight of the church in Palmar, and I probably shouldn't have.