Tarzan Inspires Me | Downey First Christian Church

I recently watched the Legend of Tarzan and had my breath taken away. I could try to describe the sweeping landscapes, the themes of man vs. nature and man vs. man, or the action and acting. However, that wasn’t what got to me. It goes like this:

There’s a bad guy.  He wants to hurt Tarzan, but Tarzan is too strong for him. So, he hurts Jane instead. He holds Jane captive and taunts her that Tarzan won’t be able to save her. Jane never wavers in her faith that Tarzan will save her. Of course, in the end Tarzan swoops in, saves Jane, and kills the bad man.

It’s an age old story. Some people may roll their eyes at me, but I’m admittedly a romantic and love that story. Do you know why?

You see there’s a bad guy. He wants to hurt Jesus, but Jesus is too strong for him. So, he hurts me instead. He tries to hold me captive and he taunts me with my past. He says I might as well give up hope because I’m too insignificant / too far gone for Jesus to concern himself with me. Unlike Jane who never wavered, I let myself be fooled by the bad guy too often. I forget that my Jesus already rescued me and it’s my choice whether I continue living in captivity or his freedom.

In the movie, Jane and Tarzan have these close moments of intimacy. Of course, these moments are to show how in love they are, but in a relationship, these moments are necessary to develop trust. Jesus wants those moments with us where everything else melts away and it’s just him and me sharing feelings, thoughts, and just being together. Those moments of sharing are essential to grow close to Jesus and develop that trust that will withstand any situation.

John 15: 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Ministry

Anniversary celebration at Spondylus church. Samuel, Paola, Erin, Antonia, Walter

Many want to know…(ok, it’s mainly my mom that asks this, but I’m sure others wonder and are just too polite to ask)… “Now that you’re no longer at the school every day what do you do?” 

Well, I still work at the school on Wednesdays to go over vocab words and pronunciation with each class.  Sometimes a teacher in a more advanced grade will ask me to spend a little more time to explain a grammar concept that the book doesn’t explain clearly.  Then, I go for a few hours on Friday to do that.

My “official” work station

We now have a proper mission office and no longer work out of Samuel and Paola’s spare room!  So, Tuesdays and Thursdays I’m at the office all day working on attendance and offering reporting, training people to use technology to do the reporting, translating letters and manuals, and other special projects, like packaging Christmas bread to give out at our churches’ Christmas activities.

ICI Ecuador office

On Wednesdays, besides the school, I participate in the Samborondon church leadership team meeting. It has been such a blessing to come together to encourage, plan, discuss and pray together. God is doing amazing things in our lives and with the church. Sometimes our circumstances are tough and we need someone to lean on. Besides, Sunday isn’t enough to grow closer together as a body. So, Wednesday mornings have become a highlight of my week. And now, Jose and Lupe no longer feel like they carry the church alone. Win-win-win…

Wednesday morning leadership team meeting. (clockwise, starting top left) Jose, Stalin, Israel, Karen, Lupe

In ICI Ecuador, we’ve been blessed with a couple of brethren from Chile who have been able to stay for a few weeks and do a couple basic music classes. Gustavo taught drum basics and Abraham taught the base. The church in Samborondon has been blessed by churches which have gifted instruments. However, the church is closed when there aren’t meetings, so the youth didn’t have a way to practice.

(from the left) Dagney, Hector, Cindy, Natali, Jean

So, I spoke to the pastor about it and proposed opening the church a couple times a week to have informal practices. It’s pretty much the same 5-7 teens who come on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons. We share a devotional time, work our way through learning new chords, play a couple songs and enjoy air conditioning for a couple of hours.  I love how this time is bringing us closer together and the music has become secondary.

(clockwise, starting top left) Dagney, Hector, Bryan, Jean, Yuli, Cindy, Jose, Natali

Friday afternoons Natali and I get together. She is a college freshman I’ve been discipling. We meet on a weekly basis and discuss God, life, faith, etc.  A couple of months ago, she told me she wanted to be a missionary and asked me what she should study in order to do that.  We talked about how God uses people from all different walks of life on the mission field, but a good place to start is with the ICI Bible Institute we have every couple of months.  She signed up and already has completed her first class on the Life of Christ.  Her first assignment was to read a book and write a critical analysis. Most people write three pages.  She turned in 25 pages!  She is so excited to learn and discover new things in the Bible for herself.

ICI Bible Institute class.
(front row, left to right) Julio, Edward, Jose
(back row) Fabricio, Sixto, Walter, Fanny, Natali

Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings I have worship team duties. Our worship team at Samborondon church continues to grow. Israel and I share the leadership responsibilities. Karito has joined us as another piano player, so she and I rotate. Israel usually plays lead guitar, but is switching more and more with Jean. We have two drummers, Hector and Adrian (Pastor Jose and Lupe’s son), that switch between the drum set and the “cajon”. And, Julio is still on bass guitar. For the first time ever they prepared Christmas songs which are more traditional and complicated than what we usually play.  I say “they” because I got to spend Christmas with my family in Missouri. I missed participating in the program, but I heard very good things all around. I’m so proud of them because they keep wanting to learn more and not just stay as they are.

 

Worship practice. Hector, Adrian, Julio, Israel, Jean, Karito

 

Saturday evenings is youth meeting! For a long time Stalin and I have co-led the youth meetings the past couple of years, but the new year has brought on more people to help out. We are a team of 5 now and we’ve begun to meet monthly to plan and encourage and pray.  May God continue to raise up the youth to be his salt and light in our community of darkness.

Youth leadership: Jose, Stalin, Erin, Edward, Lupe

Traditionally, Christmas is considered a “catholic” holiday and as such many protestant / evangelical churches in Ecuador consider it pagan and want no part. As a mission we decided to reclaim Christmas and planned a sermon series “Everyone Is Welcome to the Birth of Christ”. Each of our 6 churches handed out invitations to their communities to come celebrate the birth of Jesus.  We even planned to serve a traditional snack, “pan de navidad” (Christmas bread – similar to fruitcake, but better) and “chocolate caliente” (hot chocolate).  

In preparation for the events, we cut and packaged 1,350 slices of the bread. I got help from several of the youth from Samborondon and El Recreo to help. The church in San Vicente had their Christmas party a week early, so I got to go before traveling to the States.  

Christmas bread packaging
Jose Miguel, Daniel, Gabriel, Kerly, Manuel, Erin

Natali traveled the 5+ hours with me on the bus. We were kind of like Santa loaded with several huge bags of toys and a box of Christmas bread. It was a great trip! We  up Saturday and back Sunday! I told Natali, “This is a taste of the missionary life.”

A bit bleary-eyed after two days of bus travel.

Life

I have my own place!  The opportunity opened for me to rent a place and it was time to spread my wings and fly from Jose and Lupe’s cozy nest. I’m now about an hour from either Samborondon or El Recreo and 30 minutes from the office.

My house is the white dot in the middle. As you can see, Samborondon is to the northeast and El Recreo to the southeast. The office is the yellow dot half-way to El Recreo.

This has helped me have necessary downtime and a well-defined schedule. It’s a seven-minute walk from my front door to the main road.  My walk takes me by a soccer field, a gym, a kiddie amusement park, a pond, a pharmacy and across a bridge. It’s a beautiful walk and many times I come across an iguana, a small herd of goats, or a family of horses. The house is in a gated community which provides security for when I’m on trips with work teams and safety when I’m there, too. Little by little I’m furnishing it. A couple of the teams that came last summer helped me furnish my kitchen. THANK YOU!!!

Horses hanging out the pond on the way to the bus stop.

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