Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Into the Swing of Things

By now all of us have gotten into the swing of things. For example, school, dinner, bus schedules, and many others. It was a big transition for us kids going to a new school, even though it is an international private school! We have made many new friends and like the school. The bus is well... a different thing... Every day after school we take a old, VERY full bus full of Ecuadorians that have their babies or big bags from market or are sleeping (unless they are standing up). Then we take a comfortable bus home from Quito to Conocoto. We also try to make more friends as we live here. Many people have been nice to us and respectful knowing that we are Americans. We hope to stay in touch with everybody and we are praying for everyone back in Birmingham! Love Ya'll!
Posted by Bobby - 7th grade

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Faces: Two Jesus'

They say time flies, but days here are spent on a bus!  Ann, kids and the Nichols spend at least 2-3 hours a day riding on at least three buses.  They all are different.  Just like the people.  The first: private, quiet, comfortable, sitting down with time to put on makeup, makeup homework or just plain makeup stories (usually the boys).  The second, piggyback bus holding at least 150 business, university and city folk usually has barely enough room to stand.  The third, local bus carries both drunks and hardworking country/suburbanite ecuadorians on their way home to family or friends.  Their faces are just as diverse: african blacks from the coast, kichwa indians in traditional clothing from the mountains and oriental( a region) areas and lighter latino's of spanish decent.

My friend, ministry partner and spiritual amigo Chris Nichols preached this weekend at the Alliance Academy staff retreat on Hebrews 12-13 in Quito.  We all joked that it was nice to have a 'real shower' and challenged the group comfortably living within a 10 block radius of the school to do 'out of the box hygiene' and join us out in the country (Conocoto).  My girls, Ann and Maggie still looked like a million bucks!  What do they do that....a couple minutes behind closed doors.....Hebrews 13:6 says " We can say with confidence 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me'"  The first Jesus we say we all know about.  He hung and maintains the heavens but we still insist on a weather report....what's ahead, what can I expect.  We look in the mirror for answers but His face reflects the faith, hope and love found in his name alone.  Its hard to get out of in front of the mirror either asking questions or looking for answers.  I admit I'm guilty of the latter, just ask my family.

The second Jesus (Hey-zus) is one you probably don't know.   The Lord in his wisdom, chooses to work through His people in our lives.  We look for miracles, signs and positive things and He gives us Himself in the flesh.  Jesus (above on a rock) is a believer who works at the foundation.  He has been with them a little over a year.  He is a 38 year old hard worker, on his second family (believing wife and 4 year old daughter) and is a man of action.  He speaks no english and speaks little of his kids 'on the coast' who he misses terribly.  He drives too fast (his job-driver), brushes/flosses too little (has two gold teeth) but is just right in the indispensible friend/accountability partner department.   His family lives in Yurac, a small peasant, agricultural Kichwa (indian) community across the valley about 45 minutes away.  Pastor Miguel, (foundation director) birthed one of four churches there through Jesus and his family.  People living there are only one generation away from being enslaved by wealthy spainards or their very own people!  Evangelical Christianity found its way there about the same time.  It is the closest community to Anti Sana, an active volcano about 5-6 miles away.  I came to be used to change and transform hearts/lives but the Lord is changing mine.


Thank you Lord for my Family who came willingly and is learning to love our new home.  Thank you Lord for my friend who started our ministry and found this place on the web: Vickie Nichols.  Thank you Lord for my dark-faced, Kichwan friend who bears your name and countenance.  Thank you Lord for my friend who preached the freedom of the Word to former slaves in their language: Ronnie Brock (above).  Thank you Lord for holding us captive to Your Grace!   

Monday, September 5, 2011

Contextual Learning...

Don't you love different perspectives!  Ann's last blog inspired me to share my thoughts from another angle...

Everything is temporal...

water - It's been intermittently on and off for two weeks due to a water main issue which affects everything from showers, cleaning dishes, going number two (digging a ditch in the woods suffices-we now keep a 5 gallon bucket of water for the bowl in case of emergencies) and doing the wash.  That covers the majority of domestic tasks. 
security - It's possible to make a ladder in a cinder block wall.  Running interference with drunks while waiting or riding buses is a learned or acquired skill.  Squatter's laws build walls, not people. 
internet -  Works when it feels like it.  We really do over rely on it!  Should be renamed, "When helping Hurts..."
ownership - Our sole party use agreement of the 25 acres doesn't cover others able to use the soccer field, woods and road as a bathroom, cemetery or parts of our houses as seed/crop storage.  Pets - JJ (our dog) was taken by the kids of the family who gave him to us, $20 changes things.  Unsecured items - Vickie's cell phone stolen on the bus (passed on the $15 negotiated return fee by pick pocket), $300 worth of tools and materials stolen from a shed attached to the house (the thief arrived/left in a taxi).  Believe it or not, he was initially looking for paint to paint graves in the cemetery, some local custom which we were neither aware of nor home.
Time -  You can't do once-a-month shopping with no car - the best you can do is twice a week with a bus, taxi and your own two feet.  Motorcycles only hold a few bags with a bungie cord.  In the words of a friend, pick one big thing to do per day and you may have time for another little one.   Money - $5 ATM fees add up.  Everything is negotiable....

You can believe Genesis 11, People are all the same

People need the Lord!  Being saved is just the beginning, not the end.  Sanctification is directly proportional to our reliance on Him.  Both humble generosity and extreme depravity abounds here, found both on the Foundation and on the buses!  God's grace can be seen in the eyes of child and through the simple actions of a few adults!  Study peoples habits, it gives you clues.

You can miss God aiming at Him (Blind Guide) if He's not the goal!

Matthew 23: 17-19 says: "Which is more important - the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred?" or "For which is more important - the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred?" I can spend so much time making His work the goal and not Him that people miss Him, with eternal consequences.  In the words of another friend, showing the Hand of God is less important than revealing the Heart of God.  I recently ran it in the ditch on this one.  This week my head was full of starting, prioritizing and finishing tasks.  Fresh from the sting of our taxi robber experience, I came home after a day of moving donated furniture from Quito to Conocoto for the foundation. As we pulled up, both the outer and animal gates were wide open  (an invitation for more temporal living).  After asking and getting no response from the orphans guarding it, I witnessed hoards of people and cars walking/parking on the property.  Jumping to conclusions and incensed that no one informed me of yet another 'cemetery-painting' day, I proceeded to walk up the hill.  I noticed that my wheel-barrow, pick, shovel and other tools left earlier on the side of the road were missing along with my dog again.  I fumed as I passed yet another orphan sitting on our porch and others milling outside the cemetery on the road.    As I crested the gate to the cemetery it dawned on me.  At all times, two graves had to be dug for occasions such as these.  Ecuadorian 'Christiano's generally have but a day to bury their loved ones who pass since many cannot afford the privilege of embalming.  As I glimpsed at the wheel barrow in the back of the tractor, I realized my faulty viewpoint.  A young, 7 year old little girl was hit by a car and killed the day prior.  The throng of hundreds of family, friends and fellow believers had been waiting for hours in the sun for our 'three amingos' (older boys from the orphanage who do most of the physical work here) to finish covering the grave with dirt using some of my tools.  I found myself immediately and completely humbled by my misconceptions, misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of the people I came to serve.   I quickly grabbed a shovel to help finish the task so these people could pray over their loved one and attempt to move on with their lives without her.  I'm only thankful that I didn't impart my ignorance on any other during the event. 

He must see us contextualized to our world. Fumbling around, always seeing everything through the narrow prisms of our small orbits.   God grant me the courage, desire and ability to see others from your perspective.....