THE CAMP IN CUENCA
I cannot believe that it is JUNE!!!!! I cannot believe I am in the United States!! So much has been happening that it has been difficult to find the time to sit down and fill you all in. I am sorry if you have all been waiting on me…I know it has been months. So, let me catch you up!
We successfully planned, fundraised, and held our own camp in Cuenca. It was a lot of work for Noele and me, being that we were the shoulders upon which fell the majority of the responsibility. We held the camp at Mensejeros de La Paz, which is Flor’s new place. We were originally trying to limit the camp to about 15 campers, which grew to 29 when we decided to hold it there, because there are three houses and we had to include all of the residents. We ended up having about 55 volunteers at the camp, not including the 8 or so who worked there during the weekend. We all slept on the floor on mattresses, and had to snuggle up to each other to keep warm, but it was a memorable experience, which lit a fire in many of our volunteers to keep going with Cristo Vive. We had so many first-time counselors, which is such a blessing, because they want to continue with camps, fundraising and telling their friends about the ministry. Although there was quite a bit of stress involved to make sure everything ran smoothly, there were several moments during which I was able to sit back and hear testimonies of counselors and campers, see the smiles on their faces, and know that we are accomplishing something beautiful for the Kingdom. One young man, who is about 20, has had a very difficult life, and the people in his life who were supposed to love and care for him, abused and abandoned him. He told his counselor of the horrors he experiences in his own home…things I don’t even care to repeat. We had been warned several times to take extra precautions with him, because if he has a history of seizures when he gets over-excited, and they only recently were able to regulate his medication and schedule to keep him stable, physically and emotionally. On the first day of camp, he shared with his counselor, that, when our bus arrived and he saw all of us, he was afraid and wanted to run, because he saw hordes of what he called “souls”. One of them took him by the hand, telling him not to be afraid, that these “souls” were not going to lead them to Hell. His counselor told him not to be afraid because what he saw were angels, and they were there to protect all of us. It makes me want to cry every time, because I could see the peace, comfort and joy he received during the camp, and especially with the friendship he was able to build with his counselor. He fully enjoyed camp and never once had an incident with his health. What an opportunity to share the love of Christ.
I should mention that we had some visitors with us from stateside (Gene, Jordana, Osito, Gene’s Dad Harold (lovingly referred to as Grandpa by all), Ramon, and Phil). What a joy to have them with us. We all traveled from Cuenca to Quito to hold another camp, and then from there, directly to the coast, to build a wheelchair ramp at the camp we use in Playas. It was so very gratifying, and such a wonderful time of fellowship, but we were exhausted and ready to return to Cuenca.
Noele and I, along with another girl, took a mini-vacation to Baños, a town nestled at the base of a volcano, which attracts a lot of tourism. We bungee-jumped, rode mountain bikes to the various waterfalls, relaxed in volcanic thermal baths, white-water rafted, and even went to the jungle to see some monkeys. It was such a pleasant break and an enjoyable trip for the two of us.
Upon returning to our “home” in Cuenca, we scurried to gather everyone for a party to thank them for the help at camp, and I got a special surprise…an engagement ring!!
For those of you who are just finding out, I apologize, but allow me to fill you in. I met Dario in the spring of last year, soon before returning to the states for the summer. When I came back in September, we quickly became good friends and began sharing our stories. I have, for some reason, always said that I wouldn’t get involved with an Ecuadorian, but, the Lord had other plans. In January, we began officially dating, and, here it is only 5 months later and we are engaged. It’s crazy, even to me, but I am resting in the Lord, and the peace He has given me throughout every step of the journey. There is no date set as of right now, and I appreciate your prayers as we have begun to wade through the processes of paperwork, visas, and the future. I seem to have a knack for the unconventional, so why should this be any different!!
As for me, I am home in Wisconsin for a few months, with mixed emotions. It feels strange leaving "home" to go "home"...I am excited and sad at the same time, kind of like how I felt when I left for Ecuador...oh, dear!! Well, I can be pleased with the results we have seen in Ecuador the last year, and look forward to continued growth. Gene and Jordana have asked me to consider staying in Ecuador for another 2 years to ensure the stabilization of the ministry here, which I have agreed to consider.
When I return to Ecuador the end of August or September, we will hopefully be ready to plan another camp for November. Noele and I finished our year with a camp in Playas and we brought 9 people from Cuenca with us!! What a blessing and a confirmation that our Cuencan friends are finally catching the Cristo Vive bug and are excited to continue. It was an especially special camp for me and many of the campers as it was camp focused on baptizing our campers who have accepted the Lord and been discipled to some degree through our camps, their families, or a church. We have been talking about doing that for some time now, and it was such a precious time for everyone involved. Many family members showed up for the day, participating in our festivities, and receiving the gospel.
I appreciate your prayers as I will be traveling a lot during this time, giving reports and raising more funds in order to continue along the path the Lord has set out for me. I have also been struggling with my health quite a bit over the last few months, and would like to pray for healing, especially for my sinuses, which seem to be a root cause of illness with me. Also, please pray for Noele as she is trying to decide if she should go back with me, or stay here to study and for Dario as he is trying hard to have steady work in order to save some money.