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.
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?
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.
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!