I trust you all had a wonder-filled Christmas and a fabulous new year! I’m finally back in Ecuador after a visit to Chile over the holidays. You may have seen some of the pictures on Facebook. It was a great time to visit friends who were like family when I was growing up there as a missionary kid. I got to see and hear how God continues to work in their lives. Though some have stepped away from church, many are serving in new places where God has planted them. I got to visit 6 different churches and several asked me to step up to the microphone and share about God’s work in Ecuador. It’s always so encouraging to hear about how God is expanding his kingdom all over the world.
One of the many special moments I had was with Tom and Marilyn Chamberlin, former missionaries to Chile. They arrived in Santiago with a small mission group in tow from Michigan to do VBS and construction work at a church near downtown. When you grow up on the mission field away from blood relatives, God provides special people to fill in those gaps. Uncle Tom and Aunt Marilyn and their family are so dear to me and my family. I was overjoyed to get to sit between them in a Spanish church service once more. After a couple songs, one of the team went forward to share her testimony. Tom turned to me, “I’m preaching. How about you translate?” “Sure!” I ran up on stage and filled in. Even though it’s been a couple of decades since we worked together, it was neat to be able to fall right back into it.
Another special moment was at a church in southern Chile. When I was in college I did a couple summer internships at the school associated with the church Arbol de Vida (Tree of Life). I got to surprise them with a visit the Sunday morning after Christmas. I got there early and as I sat in the front waiting for the worship “coro” to set up, I heard, “Erin!” from behind me. I turned to find Maria Teresa, one of my former students rushing at me with a hug. Growing up her family wasn’t part of the church, but she came to know Jesus through the school. She told me she still remembers my friend Kelly and me teaching her class to “count the cost” of following Jesus.
Both she and her brother, Mario, are active in the church, working with the youth group, among other things. And Mario is a teacher at the school. It was heart-warming to catch up with them a bit.
And now, I’m back into my old routine, though with a longer commute as I’m house/dog-sitting for Samuel and Paola while they are on furlough in Chile. That means I get to hang out with Marley the English bulldog and air-conditioning in the hot evenings. Most mornings have been rainy and cool-ish. Then the sun comes out about noon and the temps start rising.
We are two weeks away from the end of the school year. Next week, we’ve got unit tests and the week after that the poor students have semester exams. And then, the school year is over and grades must be turned in. The 7th graders will graduate to “colegio” (high school) and everyone else will move up a grade. No one under President Correa’s board of education is allowed to be left behind.
The upper grades have had some fun class projects. The 7th graders studied culture and music typical of the different regions in Ecuador and then performed songs in costume for the rest of the kids.
The 6th graders did a study on “amorfinos”, which are sing-songy couplets traditionally used in courting. They reminded me of limericks. The men’s lines tend to be romantic and tortured while the women’s lines are usually sassy. I have to hand it to these kids. They memorized and delivered as couples and in costume these cultural pick-up lines. It was a hoot! The young man on bended knee is Jose and Lupe’s son Adrian.
This week we start a new class at the church for those who want to get baptized! Lupe and I are leading the class and I’m so excited because many of the youth kids are interested. Please keep them in prayer as they decide to surrender their lives fully to Christ.
I have another, less dire, prayer request. Please pray that the annual plague of crickets would quickly run its course and go away. Our Tuesday night prayer meeting is held in the school “yard” and the crickets joined us. Lupe says they are obviously agents of the devil because they won’t let us pray in peace. I’m afraid I was quite distracting with my yelps every time one of those creatures landed on me. They seemed to prefer my neck for some reason. Vampires. They fly, bite, chirp and have a predilection for eating clothes, like moths, but worse. To keep my clothing safe, I’ve put it all in plastic bags. This is what my closet looks like now.
And I am so thankful for my bug hut. 🙂 I take comfort in that famous Bible verse, “And it came to pass…” I know this too shall pass.
Well, that’s all for now. Peace.
P.S. I return to the States in February! But I won’t be there long because I’ve decided to come back to Ecuador. I’ll tell you more about that next time. hehehe…