The Gringos Have Landed | Downey First Christian Church

This past weekend I got to experience a mission team from the host’s perspective. A group of six adults arrived Thursday night from North Orange Christian Church; Larry and Heidi, their son Jeremy, Trevor, Jackie, and Cindy. Fortunately, Jeremy also speaks Spanish, so we got to trade off translating.DSCF6282.JPG
They jumped right in Friday morning. We went to the school and did a kid’s program. Funny how the word “program” makes it sound like it was planned and rehearsed. Instead think: thrown together, winging it, silliness. We gathered in an “empty” room at the school to find out what the game plan was.


All the grades got dismissed early from classes for a general assembly.


I got to translate and then lead a few rounds of “Simon Says”. Others got to do puppets.


Mr. Ronald’s 7th grade class enacted the creation story. Ronald played a rather dramatic God.


And then, we had a rousing praise song for which none of the visitors knew the actions. So, Cindy started a conga line.


Which grew…


And then just went nuts.


That afternoon, we split up in two groups (each with a translator) and visited the homes of a couple school children whose parents have shown interest in Jesus. It was really great to hear everyone in my group share our stories. As translator, I got to put myself in the place of each person, not to mention repeating everything that was said. That’s a LOT of talking!

Saturday after breakfast, we went through the neighborhood gathering children in front of Lupe and Jose’s house.


We did silly songs …


…and puppets.


Puppets take more strength and stamina than you’d think. You have to crouch behind a curtain and hold your arm up, moving it around for a 2-3 minute song. Larry is a fitness instructor. He said it wasn’t so bad.


By that time, the sun was getting pretty high in the sky and shade was scarce.


So we moved around the block to the synthetic soccer field and shaded bleachers. The concrete brick structure in the background is the unfinished top of Lupe and Jose’s house.


We played a game where all the kids, except the smallest, were little sheep and stood at one end of the field.


Jackie, Cindy and I were mama sheep and called to our babies to come to us across the field.


Trevor, Larry and Jeremy, along with some of the guys from church played the wolves who tried to catch the little sheep.


Jackie got pretty defensive of her babies.  The kids loved her for it.


After the kid’s activity, but before lunch, we went to paint the empty room where we gathered the day before. The long term plan is to split the room in two and have a library and office space. Right now it serves as storage space.

First, we had to scrape old paint off that has been damaged by water. I counted at least 5 layers of different colors coming off. Then, we painted a white base coat.


Jeremy sat and supervised…


…while his mom, Heidi, sat and painted.


Julio, Ronald (different Ronald), and Roddy from church came and helped.  I don’t think OSHA would have approved their board propped on a couple school desks as safe.


We went home to a shrimp gumbo-like lunch (delicious!) and then rested till late afternoon home visits. We split up guys/girls this time. The guys went to visit Maximo whose health has kept him from church recently. After we dropped the guys off, the girls went on to visit Clotilde, who wasn’t back from her dialysis in Guayaquil. We checked in on another neighbor who was also out and Pastor Jose called a third woman on his list, but she also was out visiting family. So, we went back to join the guys. Jeremy was happy to hand off the translating. Maximo kept saying he was a man of few words, but Jeremy and I think otherwise.

After dinner, I stayed with Samuel and Paola to practice for Sunday while the team met the youth group at church. We met up afterwards to stroll along the “malecón” (esplanade) by the river.

Sunday morning, we went to church. Can you pick out the gringos?


Paola and I sang.


Julio and Samuel played guitar.


Apparently, the songs we picked weren’t popular ones because no one really sang along until the last song – which was a last minute addition that we didn’t practice. Ah well.


Pastor Jose had the team come up for prayer with Paola and Samuel at the end of the service.


After church we went to the new coffee shop in town and got our caffeine on. When we were about ready to go, the waiter approached us and asked if he could take our picture. He indicated the girl at the register and said she’d like to post a picture of us on her Facebook. We insisted that she be in it, too.

We stepped outside and saw festivities set up for the May 24th holiday. They celebrate an important battle in their quest for independence. There were horses and their riders dressed up. A reporter approached us to get our photo next to the horses. He thought it was great that Americans would come to Samborondon to celebrate the local holiday.

After lunch we put a second coat on the white walls. This time peach colored, like Cindy’s shirt.


We were less people, so we pulled out the rollers.


The rollers use more paint, so we had to scrape together from every container we had to finish the last bit.


We washed off the paint and met up with the youth at the “malecon” sports complex. They played soccer and then basketball. Notice the change in pronoun from “we” to “they”. I was so tired from talking and doing. I just sat, laughed at everyone’s antics and took pictures.


Once the mosquitoes came out in force, we rode home in the back of a truck. We were so glad to get to bed early that night.


The team left for El Recreo the next morning. I saw them off. The house was eerily quiet when they left.

Odds and Ends

I got to try Ecuadorian tacos with the US team. The gringos frowned when they saw me add shredded carrots, mustard and mayonnaise. Nope, definitely not a Mexican or LA taco.


I got to try a dragon fruit. Here it’s called a pitahaya.


On Saturday, Ronald and Jose dressed like twins. I gave them a hard time about it.


Ronald Arreaga Arevalo (as opposed to Ronald Arreaga Muñoz, who lives with Jose and Lupe) showed me around the campus of Guayaquil University where he and other University Project scholarship students study. He is finishing up his degree in Economics.


As we went by the Architecture college, it was interesting to see them working on a bamboo/cane structure which is the old way of building in Ecuador.


Well, that’s it for tonight.  More pictures later.



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