Saturday, April 14, 2007

Campamento - de Adolescentes 2007

This week of camp was for the Jr. teens (13-16 ish). It was the 2nd and middle week of camp, and it was my personal favorite :D I really like this age... in Ecuador - I might not say the same for this age group in Canada... I can't remember, it's been a few years since I've worked with Jr. teens!

Daniel direct this week, and did a bang up job of it. Also, one of my bestest friends Kimmy came down and it was wonderful to spend time with her and introduce her to so many of the people that I've talked about ever since she's known me :)

Oh there is so much to say about this week, I don't even know where to begin! First off... it was lots of fun :) We had a speaker names Pablo who was just tiny and hilarious (and spoke like perfect english) and got along sooo well with the kids, they just loved him and he participated in all the activities with them... which I think gained him big points with the gang kids-he was totally approachable.

Every night actually, Pablo, David Edgecome (Alborada youth pastor), Daniel, Kim, and I would sit out on the cement circle (speptic tank?) by the futbol field, in between all the cabins, and talk and laugh and carry on while we waited for all the kids to go to sleep. We had some very good times and good laughs! Kim and I were sleeping out in the sand (futbol field) in a tent that week, cause there was no room anywhere else... that had a breeze ;)

The teams were divided up into 4 different "futbol" teams in Ecuador (Emelec, Barcelona, Liga, y National) , which added a bit more competition (if that is possible) into the mix for the week! The slip n' slide was more successful (soapy!) and the beach more treacherous! There were a few days that I seriously feared for our safety at points, and greatly hated the responsibility of being a lifeguard (having to be mean at times and possibly 'overly cautious' in order to avoid a re-play of our near drownings 5 years ago). But the Lord's faithfulness is continually proven and it was a very fun water week :)

This week of camp the kids were on dish duty after meals, and Thursday night, cabin 8 -mostly gang kids from Bastion- was on deck :) It was very cute to see them all working together in the kitchen, working hard, to be finished quickly. They made a camp record that night... the dishes that usually take a good 45 minutes to wash, rinse, dry, and put away, took a mere 20 minutes! A very triumphant group of shouting boys emerged from the kitchen saying "We Win! We did the dishes the fastest!"...leave it to Ecuadorians to make a competition out out dish duty!! We were all really happy they were so pleased with themselves and their work... although we weren't convinced how clean the dishes really were for the next meal ;)

During this week we had a few people celebrate their birthdays... including Maria Eugenia (a well loved counselor we've known for years) and My sister! David, Kimmy and I went into town (Playas) to buy a bunch of food for the big celebration we had that day. All the Staff (Bastion -bloques 6 & 10, Alborada, Saucies, Quito team, and Canadians) all gathered in the afternoon for big Fiesta... while Daniel "took one for the team" and was the only one playing a game with the campers :P It was a very memorable afternoon, as the times are rare that this whole group (Ecuadorians more specifically) can gather and fellowship without concern or notice of obvious social class and group dynamic differences. It was a blessed afternoon where I feel the Lord took much Glory :)

This day (March 16th) was, I have to say, the hardest day of the whole 'summer'...and if we only had the eyes to see it, we have found a very large spiritual battle going on all around us. This was a week that the Presence and Moving of the Lord felt palpable to me. There were some clear things going on that had His finger print and they were big :) It was amazing to watch. And this day, had started out so well, with a wonderful devotion in the morning -on Unity of Believers no less- with an afternoon party of just that (I'm not sure I can express how significant this afternoon was, as there has always been a wall/barrier between Bastion and Alborada... but for an hour that afternoon... we were all one... and the angles sang with us :) Little were we aware that the enemy was prowling around us... I am not going to include all the details here, and don't want to openly sir the pot of division that my own heart has struggled with since. But, that night we, collectively as a HIS Body, took quite a hit. The enemy succeeded in distracting us from what we were all there for-the campers, and clouded our Vision with a smoke screen of little eternal value, which kept us from being effective in our last 24 hours (often the most crucial) with these, greatly loved by God, campers. Oh I could fill a very long blog entry here :) But, let me say that though the enemy wins a few battles, we all know the outcome... and he WILL NOT win the war :) For He who is in us, is GREATER than he who is in the world... Please pray for a repair in unity and for the Lord's Glory to be sought after by all. Praise the Lord that He is not limited by human weakness!! :D

Overall it was a simply fabulous week of camp-going down in my memory as the best yet (in my 5 years, and 10 weeks of camp in Ecuador). The Lord worked in very large ways in many of the kids lives... every night after Pablo's talks kids raised their hands to receive Christ in their lives for the first time, or make new commitments of dedication. Jesus claimed the lives of 2 kids in particular who the Lord had placed on my heart since the beginning of the week. Two of the park boys (gang kids); "La Roca" ("the Rock")-Edison (far right), & Gabriel (far left)... oddly enough these were the two that intimidated me the most and seemed the most defiant the first day at camp. But the Lord is bigger than the walls these kids have build up around them... and He is very good at bringing them crashing down. These boys need much, much prayer following camp... the "odds" are not in their favor considering their environment, and as Big as our God is, He has never and will never force follower-ship.

Join with us in prayer as we battle with the heavenly realms for the lives and hearts of these kids... there is no greater calling then that of following after Christ and joining Him in His work.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Campamento el Faro de Esperanza

I had heard so much about this camp for the past year while people have been going down to build it and feel SO blessed that I was able to witness and be a part of it's first year running on the new property! I walked on it last year when I was in Ecuador for Christmas, but it was only land at that point... and now... look! :D (that big white sign says "welcome to the Lighthouse Camp"-once translated... and it was painted by one of the 'park boys' who I'll talk about later)

The first week of camp was the kids camp (ages 8-12 ish). It was so nice to be back at camp, even if it took some getting used to at the new site... as beautiful as it is, it felt weird to not have all the girls sleeping in the same room, and to not worry about running out of water everyday after beach time! :) For those who know me, you know that I'm not a super big "kid person" so, the highlight of the kids camp for me was watching the volunteers in action serving the Lord at this camp. Some of them I've known since my first time in Ecuador 7 years ago... now they are counseling or working in the kitchen or on maintenance... it just blesses my heart to watch them getting and taking opportunities to "work out" their relationship with the Lord in service to these kids that were so much like them just a few short years ago :) Wow...

(good luck... hope you can pick out a few familiar faces even through the face paint and masks... this was a play that the staff put on for the kids, Noah and the Ark-Noah is down front, the only non-animal!)

This week of camp was directed by Janna (my sister) and Gabby (from the Alborada church, in Ecuador). They did a great job and added some new dimensions to camp in a "think outside the box" way that Janna has always been good at :) Examples? cabin devotions after lunch and a 1/2 hour rest time... both new ideas for camp in Ecuador -to name a few. The week was also full of lots of the same traditional things, like the teams, and competitions, and games, and beach time, and camp fires, and competitions, and chapel, and really yummy food, and crafts, and have I mentioned competitions? :) That is a joke, because Ecuadorians are THE MOST competitive people in the world... I am convinced... even at the little kids camp :) I think our Canadian kids at camp could learn a lot from the enthusiasm and passion that these kids, and staff especially, bring to camp! Even the game "which ever team collects the biggest pile of garbage wins 100 points" gets just as much shouting, cheering, jumping, and flag waving as futbol :D ...even at the Sr. Teens camp and that is amazing (in Canada they'd all stand around looking at each other with a "are you kidding me, I can see right through that little game" expression on their faces :) am I right!?)

And my favorite time of every day...? Beach time :) Perhaps it's because it's the first time all day where I don't feel hot and sticky, or perhaps its because little wet brown children make me smile inside and out, or perhaps it's because the Ocean says so much to me about who God is and makes His love palpable somehow, and more than likely its all the above plus a few more reasons I can't quite put words too. Just look at these faces though, wouldn't this be your favorite time of day too? Watching these children play as if they don't have another care in the world... when I only wish with all my heart that was the case. Most of these children have experienced more heart ache in their little lives then I have experienced in my 24 years.

But, what I DO know is that these children all left camp knowing that they were loved by Jesus, no matter what their home life is like and no matter what was to come in the next days following camp. What an amazing thing it is that Jesus calls us to be His hands and feet as we walk along side people on this earth...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Kory Para Cristo

On March 3rd I finally arrived in Ecuador, 24 hours later than originally planned after a gong-show trip down... Just for the record, I will NEVER travel though or to or from the Calgary airport again... it will be avoided at all cost since 4 of my 5 times have lead to journey detours, delays, o mas denero ($$). I digress... :D

The day I arrived, Janna and I hid out in her house talking and catching up all afternoon, only answering the door once to find a beautiful family of 4 men who had come to welcome me home to Ecuador (Pedro, Luigi, Coco, and Lucho-their Dad). That night was a concert in Bloc 6, of a few bands with guys from the church (Ivan, Carlos, Raul, Daniel, with Alex MCing).

One of the other 'bands' (Kory Para Cristo) was Armando and his sister, Caterine, and cousin, Ibis. They were my favorite of the night-I have to say, as this was my first time hearing and seeing Armando rap :) He really is good, I was so proud of him. And more than that...he LOVES it... he loves singing/ regaton-ing and the words are just beautiful. There was even a guy there who is apparently a famous Christan Regaton dude in Ecuador who performed with Armando and, since the concert, has spent time with him and is going to help Armando get more contacts in the music industry/ business/ ministry. I'm so excited for him... dreams can come true... even in Bastion :) Look at that boy's face... he was one happy fella' that night :D

Ecuador I'm home and I'm happy!!