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.

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