Wednesday: Departure Day!
For those of you who don't have kids or haven't traveled with kids in a LONG TIME traveling isn't easy!! We were blessed with being able to take the flight from Macas (the nearest big city by us) to Quito.
We left Sucua at 2:30pm and headed to Macas (arrived about 3pm)
We left Macas about 5:00pm and arrived into the Quito airport around 7pm
We were greeted by some of the Extreme Response team members and met the directors from ER Canada and one of the other ER partners (a family of 4) who work on the coast of Ecuador. Thankfully we were able to eat some dinner at the airport because we were all starving!!
We then took about an hour bus ride to the ER offices, where they have 2 floors of apartments, around 10pm! We got Jeremy settled down and all went to bed!
PRAISE: We were able to FLY from Macas to Quito and not have to take an 8+hour bus ride!
ER had bought plenty of breakfast foods to cook and eat at the apartment, what a blessing!
9:00am we headed down to meet and greet the rest of the ER team members and the other partners!
First, we headed to visit ER's first project (keep reading to see how ER got started) and partner! We went to visit a GARBAGE DUMP and the different ministries that ER has there! They have build a daycare center for the children whose parents work in the dump during the day, on sight there is also a medical station that they are working to have open full-time (currently open 1 day a week), and a women's group that works with women on teaching them hand crafts, cooking, and sewing and most importantly THE LOVE OF JESUS! ER helps the women sell their handmade items and gives them the money they've earned! We were also able to hear from the couple that focuses on the dump ministry, the areas that they focus on, how they have grown, and the lives that have been changed!
Then we headed back to the bus and drove to a mall where we all got to eat lunch!
What did we pick: MCDONALDS!!!! It has been months since we have eaten McDonalds and MAN did it taste GOOD!!!
During lunch we were privileged to talk with Jerry and Dawn Carnill who are the founders of Extreme Response. They were so humble and took the time to get to know us!
Interesting fact: they are both from Michigan! This instantly touched my (Jill) heart and made me feel like I was eating with family...it was as though God knew I needed a little piece of family!
PRAISE: Getting to sit and talk with Jerry and Dawn Carnill during lunch and have a little piece of family/home
Check out this VIDEO on how Extreme Response got started!
After lunch, we headed to THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD: THE EQUATOR
Thankfully it wasn't rainy and we enjoyed the opportunity to walk around, take a few pictures, and engage in conversation with some other ER team members and other partners! We enjoyed our conversation with Russ Cline, who works specifically with ER partners! He too was SO down to earth! He listened to our vision and dreams, and encouraged us as we shared our struggles! He also works with youth leaders and we were able to talk to him about the youth that we work with! Again, we felt God's presence as we talked and listened to each other and shared ideas!
PRAISE: Connecting with another ER leader who was willing to share his experiences and connect us with other contacts
We headed back to the ER building and were able to get Jeremy down for a nap and rest a little before dinner!
For dinner we headed to a great Chinese Restaurant! It was DELICIOUS! We seriously ate better and more than we have in months! We ate everything from egg rolls, shrimp fried rice, to sweet and sour chicken!
At dinner we enjoyed getting to know one of ERs partners who live in Macas (a town about 30 minutes from us). They are an intercultural couple who has 3 kids. They opened, and are the directors of a Christian school in Macas. We had met them before the trip, but we enjoyed the opportunity of getting to know them as a couple more. We hope to stay in contact and get together to pray for each other once we return back from our trip to the States.
PRAISE: Meeting another young couple that is in a similar situation to us
After dinner, Roberto took Jeremy back to the ER apartments to put him to bed and I went back out with some of the others from the ER team and their partners. We went back to the dump where they do a feeding program about once a month (or as often as possible). People work day and night in the dump and at night IT GETS COLD! So they do a feeding program! We were able to share a short message with the works, and served them hot soup! Each were also able to take an additional bowl of soup for later! It was humbling to be able to talk with some of them that evening!
The conference part was held at a nearby church. ER did a great job with having childcare provided so that we could get the most out of the conference.
We learned about the vision of ER and how it got started. ER is a humanitarian organization that partners with different organizations across the world that working to help others while showing the love of Jesus Christ! Their group is comprised of male and female Christian leaders who have a desire to BE the hands and feet of Christ to those in extreme situations.
We learned about the new partnership that we have with ER. Last year we were just affiliates of ER...this past JUNE we became official partners with ER. Being partners with ER is a HUGE blessing to us, especially since we are just getting started! They offer a wealth of knowledge and experience that we don't have, they can help organize and facilitate short-term teams and interns to come down and serve with us, they give us credibility as a legal and functioning foundation to those who support us in the U.S., and they hold us accountable financially and as a foundation that we are doing what we say we are doing. We also are connected in with their other partners around the world, some of which are working in similar ways to us. This allows us to share our experiences, and learn from others!
PRAISE: That we are official partners with ER and that we get to be part of something bigger!
Friday afternoon we had the privilege of hearing from the other foundations/organizations that partner with ER. It was SO cool to hear each person's journey and it was mind-blowing to hear about how God is working ALL OVER THE WORLD! We were overwhelmed with the feeling of BEING CHOSEN BY GOD to do HIS WORK!
Friday night we got to go out just the two of us and the rest of the group...it was an adult ONLY night! We went to Old Town Quito which has a ton of character. We were treated to a fabulous dinner (appetizer, main dish, and dessert)...seriously was one of the best meals we've had in a LONG time!
After dinner we went on a CHIVA! A chiva is like a trolley. We got to ride around Old Town Quito with music, singing, dancing, and LOTS of LAUGHTER!
PRAISE: That Mika (Roberto's sister) was able to stay with Jeremy for the night so we could both go out and ENJOY each other's company and enjoy time with the rest of the group.
We met at the church again and got to hear about how ER is involved across the globe! ER is involved in 3 continents (The America's- N. America, S. America, C. America, Africa, and Asia). Throughout those 3 continents, they have partners in 11 different countries!
We discussed more about healthy partnerships...the aspect of PARTNERSHIPS really hit us! Not just our partnership with ER, but the partnership that is our marriage, the partnership we have with supporters, the partnership we have with teams that have come down, the partnership we have with the different youth! We are going to be personally working more on developing not only our partnership with ER, but with our supporters!
PRAISE: We had some AH-HA moments and took away new learnings!!
Saturday afternoon we had the opportunity to present the vision that God has given us and the projects that we are involved in here in Sucua! It was a great opportunity to share in a safe environment and practice presenting in front of a group. We also were able to listen to the rest of the partners present their visions and projects!
Again, it was SO cool to feel and know that we are part of something bigger! It was encouraging to hear that other missionaries have had struggles and how God has provided.
PRAISE: For the honor and privilege to be part of God's work! That he would CHOOSE us to be HIS hands and feet!
Saturday evening we ate a delicious, home-made dinner at the ER apartments! The rest of the groups were enjoying conversations, and we started to make our rounds to say GOOD BYE-SEE YA SOON! We decided not to stay for the last day of the conference as Sunday was Jeremy's 1st birthday!
Saturday night we left around 9pm to head to the bus station. We hopped on the bus around 10pm and went all night. It wasn't easy, as we were all tired and sleeping on the bus isn't easy...but we had so much to be thankful for we couldn't even complain. We got to Sucua around 5:30am and rested for a bit and then while Jeremy took a nap we started getting ready for Jeremy's birthday celebration
PRAISE: That we were able to connect with people before we left, exchanged emails, and that our GOOD-BYEs were really just SEE YA SOON :) That we arrived safely to Sucua!!
Believe it or not, we could go on and on about our trip to Quito and what a blessing it was to go...however, telling you IN PERSON will be much more fun!
We travel to the U.S. in 2 weeks (October 29). Please pray for our travels, and the preparations that need to be done before we leave! We can't wait to share stories with you and hear how you all are doing!
Roberto and Jill