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Sunday, June 10, 2012

FINAL SERVICE IN QUISLAG


The Praise leaders Juana and Iles
We had our final service in Quislag Saturday. It's a two hour drive up to the village from Riobamba because the very rough mountain road. They had planned on having an ordination service so that Pastor Jose and Iles could be ordinated as the Pastor and Assistant pastor of the church.

This is where the glass will be installed
Pastor Jose does not live in the village and cannot always get up there because of bad weather situations. Pedro and Pastor Jose made progress on finding a 4 wheel drive truck to make it up to the village when the weather is bad.  Right now he uses a small 4 cylinder Toyota van that we have to get out a push up the steep parts.  Frankly, I have a lot more respect for Toyota just seeing that van make it up this rough road. They also made arrangements to finish the church flooring and install the glass in the windows.  It has taken server years and many donations but the church building is close to being completed.
The 4 cyclinder Toyota and Pastor Jose



Iles at the Hotel
One positive note of progress concerns Iles who lives in the village and has attended some Bible college.  She has agreed to be the assistant pastor. She speaks both Quechan and Spanish and her willingness to help is a real blessing.






Ground Wheat
Whenever we go to the village the kids run out and cover us with hugs. Before the service the elders ushered us into the side room of the church where they had set up a table for refreshments. They generously offered us fresh warm cow’s milk and ground up wheat. It was a bit like malt-O-meal but more fine. We added enough wheat to make it into a paste and I must admit it was very filling.




Buster singing
The service started with Juana leading some praise songs with help from Iles. They led the people in several songs while they were accompanied by a keyboard player and drummer. The ladies choir also sang a few songs and the men also led us in a song. Buster also sang a song that everyone enjoyed before Bro. Shockley preached a short sermon while Victoria translated.







The ladies choir

After the message all the elders were brought up along with Pastor Jose and Iles for the ordination service. Bro. Shockley laid hands on each of them and Pedro presented them with their certificates and then we took several photos with the elders before they invited all of us up and presented us with beautifully embroidered flags.

Our group with our beautiful embroidered gifts


Dr. Shockley continued to pray for several of the sick and then we were ushered back into the side room for lunch. It started with dried lamb’s blood that went into the chitin and potato soup. Then we had a main course of Corn on the cob, lima beans, baby potatoes and lamb. This was a very extravagant meal for them. After we ate they took the huge kettle of soup and added chicken and started feeding everyone. They had a limited number of bowls which they filled up and then once emptied they were handed back to be refilled and sent back for the other to eat.

Sonya and me
It was so humbling to see them do so much for us while they had so very little. The little girl Sonya who I have fallen in, love with was sitting on my lap during the service. I noticed that her shoes were on the wrong foot. As I was changing them I saw her big toe sticking out of one sock and her whole heel was torn out of the other. I had a few pair of socks left and the kids almost were fighting to get them.

I have to admit it makes you think about life and what you put importance on when you see people who have so little but are still so happy. I just want to help them more, give them more and most importantly help them know that Jesus loves them as much as everyone else. These people up in the mountains are isolated and still discriminated against.

Iles enjoying her ice cream
Iles who is one of the more educated girls in the village came with us after the service to Riobamba to get signed up for more classes there. We had pizza for dinner and then went to a restaurant for lunch today and got an ice cream cone afterward. She told Pedro that she had never had pizza before or ice cream or even been to a restaurant. It's amazing to think that a 21 year old lady had never experienced any of those things.



During our visits to Quislag we gave away candy, shoes, socks, soccer balls and other clothing items. It's amazing how thankful each of the villagers is for the gifts and the visits. Each time we leave they ask us to come back and again and not to forget them.  Pedro says they are so worried we won't come back because most people don't care about them.


Maria and Victoria at a river crossing
Maria who owns the Hotel Tren Dorado where we are staying has a medical background and has been working with the villagers to improve their lives. Pedro met her several years ago and helped lead her to the Lord and since then she has been a huge blessing to Highland Ministries.

It is so encouraging to see the church building being finished and the church leadership falling into place. Pedro and Highland Ministries efforts are making a big difference in the lives of the villagers and more importantly their eternal destiny. I have been so blessed to have been a part of this trip even thought I don’t think I did much. I tried to spend time with the children and encourage them to lead. It was amazing how kids who never get candy would share their candy with me and only take one peice.  I had 25 testaments to give out and the kids were almost fighting to get them. I wish I would have brought more.

12,000ft in the Andees no snow, no bugs, and perfect weather

Ecuador is a beautiful county with warm and friendly people. It is different than America but still a great place to live. The mountain villagers live a life of hard work and rough living conditions but they are happy and seem to have strong families. Letting them know that God loves them and he has sent other Christians to help them will help reach them for Christ.




              

Monday, June 4, 2012

Attempting Mt. Chimborazo

OK, today Pedro is going with Pastor Jose to try and find a truck.  Since I don't speak Spanish and I'm not a mechanic I am going to try and climb the tallest mountain in Ecuador.  It is 20,708ft tall and would be the highest I have ever climbed. 

It is the tallest mountain in the world if you measure from the center of the earth to the top because it is on the equator.  Mt. Everest is taller from sea level at 26,000+ but Chimborazo is taller from the center of the earth.  It is snow covered and icy but they say it's not a terribly technical climb.  The biggest danger that occasionally kills a climber is falling rocks and avalanches. 

A look at Chimborazo from our hotel rooftop.  
The photo above was taken from our hotel rooftop and is about 40 miles from the mountain.  It has alot of cloud cover, but you can just see the top peeking through above the clouds. 

I have climbed several 14k peaks in CO and I have been up in the Alps in Europe, and northern CA at Mountain warfare school but never this high.  I was always a good climber but I'm 44 now and not as young as when I would almost run up 11k peaks.

Today I go up to a village about 12,000ft and hike around, and spend the night to get used to the altitude.  Then in the am we hike up to about 15,000ft and wait till about 11:00pm to make the final ascent in the night.  There is a full moon which should help visibility and they say hiking at night reduces the chance for falling rocks and avalanches. 

I'm a bit concerned about my abilities but excited to have the chance to try.  Hopefully, I get some good photos of me at the top.

PASTOR JOSE HAS US TO DINNER

PASTOR JOSE SHARES HIS TESTIMONY


A photo before Dinner
Pastor Jose invited us all to his house for dinner last night.  They live in Riobamba down a dirt street off of the main road.  He has a much nicer home than the villagers in Quislag but it was still a simple place compared to our houses in America. 
It had a small bathroom, three bedrooms and a kitchen/dinning room.  There was no living room or den or TV.  The roof was tin and the walls in all the rooms didn't go to the top of the roof and the only door was on the bathroom.  It made for a very family friendly environment.  They have three boys and tow girls who shared a bed and the two younger boys did as well.  It reminded me of a small house we lived in when I was in the 5th grade.  We were poor and it was run down and the other kids on the bus called it the "pig house" because it  was across the county road from a pig farm that stank. 

His wife Juana made a wonderful meal of corn on the cob, big beans (like Lima beans) and some really good chicken soup.  We all ate as much as we wanted and enjoyed the meal.  I asked Pastor Jose to share his testimony on how he became a pastor and Victoria translated his story to all of us.

Mmmmmm Mmmmmmm
He lived in a small village and only spoke Kectuwa which is the language of the native people and their was a Bro. Fernandez who traveled around to all the villages and preached the gospel to the people.  Bro. Fernandez was a very well know and respected minister.  In 1977 when pastor Jose was 12 Bro. Fernandez put up a tent and held a big revival many people were saved including several of his family members were saved and on the fourth day of the revival he gave his heart to Jesus. 

After that he fell back into the world but he felt God asking him, "Until when Jose, until when," but he didn't know what to do.  He could not read or write and he didn't have many church leaders to go to for direction.  He went to Quito to work and he listened to a Christian radio station there and felt many times the Lord calling him to service.  His uncle told him he needed to get an education.  So he started his schooling while working and that's when he met his wife.  She was singing in a praise group and he followed her around until they were married in 1992. 

All these years he wanted to do more for the Lord but with no education, little money and no christian leaders to help him it was hard to find the way.  He took a job drilling wells for a Christian organization and one time he had to fly on a plane to get to the village they were drilling in.  While flying he felt God show him as he looked down at the earth and it gave him a perspective on creation.   

By this time he had his education and family and they were wanting him to move down from the village and into Riobamba so that they could get a better education.  He felt the Lord tell him to move so he came down and continued to learn more of God and the scriptures. 

In 2007 God brought he and  Pedro together and he was able to start ministering to the village of Quislag and helping them understand the gospel.  He mentioned he didn't know what the future held but he knew God would continue to bless his ministry.   

Pedro added that many of the mountain villages still have many illiterate people and it's hard for Christians to find leaders who can help them learn what Gods word commands.  Pedro wants the Highlands ministry to not only save souls but to also build up a group of leaders that will continue to encourage and educate new Christians in the word.     

Bro. Jose's wife works washing dishes at night for $50 a week.  He survives with a family of 7 on $500 a month but it is a struggle.  The expense of a van and gas to drive up to the village is hard on him.  We are still looking for a good 4 wheel drive vehicle for him to use and we hope to help him financially so that he can spend more time in the ministry.   His electric bill is only $5 a month but cars costs allot and I have no idea how they get by on $500 a month. 

It would be a real blessing is Bro. Jose could be like Bro. Fernandez and go through out the villages preaching the gospel and holding revivals.  Many people would hear how Christ loves them and be saved.    

Sunday, June 3, 2012

FIRST TRIP TO QUISLAG

Buster and me in my new wool jacket with Sonja and the kids
Wow, visiting Quislag was like going back in time.  These folks live a life at 11,000ft that is very different from anything we would understand.  It was like going back to stories I have read about farm life from the 1930's. 

Here are some of the photos on facebook that show these friendly people.  I didn't take as many photos of their homes as I would like but it was very humbling.  One thing we noticed was they loved to have their photos taken.  We all took hundreds of photos and plan on getting prints so we can leave them with the villagers.  I don't think they have any mirrors to see themselves and they loved seeing the image in the camera. 
The inside of a home with guinea pigs running around
These folks are totally agricultural based.  They raise sheep, goats, pigs, and guinea pigs as well as several crops.  They eat the guinea pigs like we eat rabbit.  They have no running water inside their homes but they do have electricity.   They had very little furniture, basicly only a bed that 4 or 5 people slept in.  What is neat about the Andes in Ecuador is that the climate is so warm.  It's like being in Colorado high up in the mountains but it's summer all the time.  I loved the weather, it was cool, but not cold. 



Herding sheep
Each morning the children take the sheep out to the fields to graze and they have dogs that go and watch over them as well, then in the evening they bring them back to the pen.  These pens are right next to the houses and I will try and get more photos of some of the homes and pens on the next visit. 





I met three children that I really fell in love with.  Sonja, Christian, and Celia.  They and several other children took me on a tour of the village and they walked me down to the creek and back up to town.  We passed several flocks of sheep coming back into the village and the kids kept telling me what the words were for different things and asking me the English word.  One thing they kept doing was pointing to their knees and saying things I did not understand. 

They kept trying to get me to go down a path to some houses below and I didn't want to go down that path but they kept pulling me down there.  Finally, we went down that way and they led me to this one house.  I went in and they showed me a lady laying on a bed with her knee wrapped in a homemade bandage.  I now understood why they had been pointing at their knee and pulling me to her house. 
Typical Home in Quislag-they don't have heat or air conditioning


On the last visit Bro. Shockley has prayed for, and the Lord had healed, 2 deaf and mute boys and one club footed boy.  The villagers had seen this first hand and they wanted me to pray for her knee as well.  I was the only one there and could not understand what they were saying, but the boys acted out how she hurt her knee.  Evidently she fell down and injured it. 

I wanted to get Bro. Shockley to come down and pray for her but it was a long way to this part of the village down a very steep hill.  He couldn't come down and I offered to carry her up to him so he could pray for her but they indicated that she didn't want to do that because her knee was hurting. I have lots of faith in Bro. Shockley's prayers but was not so sure of myself.  Since there were no other options I decided to trust God and ask for his help.  

So I put my hand on her knee and prayed to the Lord to do a creative miracle and heal her injury. I prayed for my faith as much as hers.  She could not understand a word I was saying, but clearly they thought I could help.  I asked God to heal her leg so that her and the other villagers would know that God is real and that he loved them.  I prayed just what I had heard Bro. Shockley pray.  Mostly to use Jesus's name and ask for his help.

She did not get up and walk immediately, but I am praying and trusting God that when we return we will find her leg healed and another powerful testimony to show them God is real and that he loves them. 

All this healing talk may seem odd to my readers as it was to me until I walked into a Wednesday night service in Branson where Bro. Shockley was preaching and after the service he had a lady come up and he prayed for healing of her back.  After watching her hobble up to the front and then seeing her stand up straight and touch her toes my interest was peaked.  He then asked if anyone else had any back issues and I had been dealing with a bad SI nerve issue that my chiropractor and physical therapist had been working on.  It was still bothering me and I thought what can this hurt.  So I asked God to strengthen my faith as I walked to the front.  Seven of us walked forward and when he got to me he lined my legs up and said one was longer than the other and that we are going to ask God for a creative miracle to heal my back.  My chiropractor had told me the SI nerve caused my hip to rotate where one leg was shorter than the other.   

As he prayed he didn't even lay his hand on my head or yell or anything as you see on TV.  But I can tell you I felt something like an electrical shock shoot up my right leg, and Bro. Shockley said my legs were getting even.  I stood up and felt better but told him I wanted to go for a long run and test it before I said I was healed.  He then told me to come and watch as he prayed for the next lady.  She had one leg about and inch shorter than the other and I watched as he prayed for her and her legs also evened out.  I made it a point to see if he was pulling on her legs and he wasn't. 

As you can imagine all this totally changed my thinking on healing and increased my faith.  It also made me appreciate Gods love for me.  I wondered why God would use a miracle on someone who had strayed so far from the right path and had been so bad.  Clearly. God is a forgiving God who loves sinners. 

While I don't want to bore you with my story it helps explain how I ended up in Ecuador praying for a lady who couldn't understand me.  It may sound odd and a few years ago I would have called me crazy, but I have seen Gods love for me and even experienced healing in my back and like doubting Thomas, if it had not happened to me I don't know if I would believe it either.

Six year old Sonja and me in the new church


Hopefully, I will be able to report another miracle to you once we get back up there and get to see that lady again.            

                     

Saturday, June 2, 2012

ENGLISHMAN SAVED IN ECUADOR


The Lord has blessed the trip so far. My plane took off late and we arrived in Quito about 10:00pm. Ecuador is in the same time zone as Missouri. Unfortunately my checked bag did not arrive and over 40 of us waited in a long line at baggage claim. After finally getting my claim ticket I learned that my bag would not come in until 10:00pm the next day.  We stayed at a hotel right next to the airport that was $17 a night per a person and it was not nearly as nice at the one in Reobamba. 

Hotel in Quito
I packed all my personal gear in my backpack except for a jacket and my hiking boots, so I was ok, but the shoes, socks and bibles I brought to give away were all in the checked bag. Hopefully it will catch up with me in Riobamba today.

Yesterday we looked at all the car dealerships for a good 4 wheel drive for Bro. Hose to drive so he can reach the village’s way up in the mountains where the roads are very rough and not paved. We made the beautiful 4 hour drive south to Riobamba and hit 10,800 ft at one point. Quito was at 9,000 ft and Riobamba is at 8,500.

Maria owns the Hotel here and Pedro who started this ministry witnessed to her a few years ago and now that she is saved she helps with everything.  She is also a trained nurse so she goes up into the mountains and helps with the peoples health care needs.  He hotel is so nice.  It has a courtyard and 34 rooms that are all different.  it is hard to explain because it is nothing like an American hotel.  It is clean with nice TV's and a great breakfast of fruits and other local naturally produced foods.  She said most of her guest are from other countries and her son runs a tour guide service. 


We had some great news this morning. We met a man staying in our hotel from Manchester England. His name is Phil Prescott and Bro. Shockley witnessed to him and he invited Christ into his heart. I had brought only 1 English testament with me to read for myself so I gave him that testament and he signed his name and we went over the scriptures with him. I had brought 25 Spanish Bibles but I never thought I would need an English Bible.

Phil is on a yearlong tour of South America and he is a hiker so we may try and hike the big tall mountain Chimborazo. It is over 20,000 ft tall and would be the tallest I have ever climbed. Phil already climbed a tall one up north so he may be to worn out to do the taller one here.

Today we head to the car market were everyone brings their cars to sell and then up to Quislag. That is where the church is that so many have donated funds to build. That is about 13,000 ft. I bet I wish my jacket was here.

So far it has been a wonderful trip and this country is beautiful and the people are very friendly! Plus God blessed us and Phil with a chance encounter that will change his life forever.

Take care and God Bless!

Rod