Miss Teen Ecuador, the little yellow bus, y los Californians no hablan Espanol!
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This morning we walked the streets of Loja and visited different souvenir shops. While we were exploring the different shops, Miss Teen Ecuador walked down the street and all of us decided that Erik and Justin should be the ones to take a picture with her.

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Our next adventure was getting ready for the missionary conference. We needed to load all of luggage plus ourselves onto a small bus to travel to this conference, located in Vilcabamba (about an hour away from Loja). The bus had 25 seats, but some of the seats were used for our suitcases, so at first it didn’t look like all 20 of us were going to fit on this small bus. By the sovereignty of God and some strategic suitcase packing, every person had a seat (and there were no extras)! The adventure continued as we drove to the conference because all of the suitcases were stacked in the back and we were driving on bumpy mountain roads. Leo, Chloe, and Gracie had to hold the suitcases the entire drive so they wouldn’t come crashing down on the curves. It was quite crammed and our arms were sore after, but all of these things are what make a good story, right?

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When we arrived at the conference, called SLIC (which stands for Spiritual Life Conference), we met the missionary kids and enjoyed a snack of grapes, strawberries, and kiwis. Next, we had a time of games with the missionary kids. We played prison ball and sharks and minnows, which were both very competitive (of course). The kids seemed to really enjoy the games and were warming up to us very quickly. Some of the boys thought they could talk in code by speaking in Spanish because "los Californians no hablan Espanol!" But little did they know that most of us understood exactly what they said. During free time, Stan and Erik played soccer with some of the missionaries.

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When we ate dinner, some of us decided to join the missionary kids at their different tables to start getting to know them. Karli started talking with 2 sweet little girls and later found out that they did dance! It’s amazing to see how God arranged for her to meet these girls who shared her passion. We learned that these kids loved hearing about our lives in America and really wanted to talk. A lot. They talked all over each other because they were so excited to speak to someone from the U.S. and they enjoyed being asked questions about their lives.

The week at this conference has just begun, but all of us are already anticipating the sadness we will feel when it is over. We already love the kids and feel a genuine connection with them. We can’t wait to share stories of what God will do with this week as we minister to these kids who have such unique lives!

 

Chole Dingwall
Church Sunday and New Experiences!
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After our 7:30 breakfast we gathered together to dive into our daily devotions led by Erik. Church started at 10:00 which gave us extra time to walk around the market and buy some Ecuadorian bracelets and journals.

Before the main church service started, Karli and Erik shared their testimonies with the high school kids and Justin and Lili had the opportunity to do the same thing with the university students. 

Even though there was an obvious language barrier between our group and the native speakers at the church, we were still able to worship with the same enthusiasm and love. Even with limited resources they made the best of what they had and enjoyed worshiping their Lord and Savior to the fullest.

After taking a few taxies to lunch at Mama Lolas, we waited anxiously for our food to come out and most importantly, the guinea pig! Relatively everyone tried the guinea pig with mixed reactions. Nadia believed it was similar to corned beef, while other s thought it tasted gamey and a bit salty. 

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A few pictures of the happy group after lunch.

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There was a few hours of downtime after lunch, which people used to catch up on a couple hours of needed rest, before the college group (Alpha y Omega) met for fellowship, testimonies, food and games. 

Erik Padilla
Dragon Fruit, Pigs, and Chicken Feet!

The CMV group with the Greenwoods in front of the San Sebastian Church Loja sign.

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We started our morning at 7:00 am with this cheerful breakfast making/clean up crew! (Yes, Patty, I also have a picture of Erik washing dishes!)

Our first food adventure was this fruit for breakfast. Murray told us what it was called in Spanish, because he didn’t know what it was in English. We likened it to a pale dragon fruit. And we all enjoyed it! Little did we know that we would have an even greater food adventure by the end of the night!

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After breakfast, we enjoyed a devotion by Zoe, and a challenge by Murray to consider what we can do for Christ, this week and in the future.

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After our morning get together, we ended up getting in 3 separate taxis. Sheryl gave them the address and off went each taxi. That was an adventure all by itself!  

 
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To explain what we did next, let me give you a little Ecuadorian lesson that we have learned in the last 24 hours. The people here are very genuine, respectful and welcoming. What the Greenwood’s church has found is that people won’t necessarily walk into an evangelical church setting, but they will attend “cell groups”, which is our equivalent to a home fellowship. We went to one particular home that hosts a very evangelical home group and met the wonderful hostess. Our job was to canvas the neighborhood, with invitations to an all day event next Saturday, where we will be co-hosts. The neighborhood, with the low hanging clouds clinging to the mountains, was very picturesque. We went in groups of four, with a member of our hostess’s family, who knew the neighborhood.  Many of us compared this neighborhood to neighborhoods we have visited in Mexico, complete with roaming dogs and chickens. However, many of us have not seen Josh hanging with this pig before!

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I, personally, have asked many people to pray for my Spanish to come flooding back, especially the subjunctive.  Well, I have been able to communicate with several people, including sharing my personal testimony with our neighborhood tour guide, who was the brother of the hostess. But, because we were walking through the neighborhood, it wasn’t my Spanish that was lacking, it was my lung capacity as I was walking up the hills at 7000 feet elevation, with a bunch of 20 somethings! (Who needs an aerobic workout? Just move to Loja!)

Our day was just beginning. We had lunch at a local restaurant, where many tried tripe for the first time. Although, it wasn’t my first time, I decided to see if Ecuadorian tripe was different than Mexican tripe. Can’t say for sure, but I’m still not a fan!

On our way back to our “home”, we walked through the street market and enjoyed the sights:

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After we returned to our compound, we prepared for the youth ministry at 4:00. It was determined that Chloe, Jacob and Leandro were going to give testimonies at the appropriate time. We left the compound at 3:30, as the church is about a 20 minute walk, full of city sounds, sights, and smells. (Including crazy taxi drivers!) We arrived early and set up, and we about doubled the youth group. It was a lot of fun! In our debriefing tonight, it was agreed that youth are youth no matter what culture, and playing games breaks the barriers!  We played a bunch of games in Spanish and it was fun to see everyone mix together! We finished our fellowship with pan con queso and some fruit juice.

There are so many more adventures that happened this day, and I can’t write them all. Let’s just say each hour was an adventure! And upon our return, you can ask band members how we may or may not have distracted their worship band from practicing! And about Donald’s Pan, and all of the sights along the way!  

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But, I’ll post one last picture tonight. It involves a bigger food adventure than the dragon fruit this morning.  And yes, I believe those are chicken feet in the soup! Yum! Dinner!

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 That’s all for this lengthy blog post. Time for me to rest and prepare for more hill climbing tomorrow!

If you would like to see what we are doing follow, watch our stories on Facebook or Instagram. 

Marie Stout
Hola from Loja!

After a full day of traveling, we finally made it to Loja and are getting settled in. 

On Thursday evening, the 14 of us said "goodbye" to our friends and family and hit the road to LAX. We were blessed to make it quickly through check-in and security at LAX and found ourselves exploring the international terminal. 

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Once we were on our late night flight to Panama we were in for a rare treat. We got a brief light show as we got to watch a thunderstorm below the clouds light up the night sky. 

 

In the early morning, we woke up in a different country and realized that we needed to move quickly to make our next flight. On the flight to Ecuador we quickly learned why we were praying for calm winds. We experienced some turbulence but it was only a preview of what was to come. 

 

After landing in Quito, and spending some time exploring, we soon found ourselves boarding our final flight. Boy, were we in for a surprise! 

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We spent the flight bouncing up and down and we were pushed around by the wind as the plane cut through the clouds. Despite being a quick flight, we were very happy to back on the ground. 

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At the airport we were warmly greeted by Sheryl and Murray and made our way to our taxis for another adventure. The taxi ride into the city was beautiful driving up the winding mountain, and seeing the lush landscape was a treat dispite the light rain. 

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Once at the missions center, we all settled in with a home-cooked meal and some fellowship time. 

Desiree Hernandez