Day 1: Jesus Paid It All

“O praise the one who paid my debt & raised this life up from the dead!”

VBS in the River Village

VBS in the River Village

That is what I sang tonight, at midnight, with disciples from all across America, in a hostel, in the middle of Ecuador’s jungle. I was once dead  in my sin, but each passing moment fulfills Christ’s promise that he would give me life in abundance. Because Christ paid my debt and gave me reason to proclaim his name in the farthest reaches of Earth, today I saw volcanoes, waterfalls, & mountains; ate too much delicious food (authentic ceviche is in my belly right this moment); and played with some of the most precious children in the world while holding a VBS. Because Christ gave me his all & I owe him the same in return, I held babies ridden with disease, I played games with impoverished children who are victims of sexual abuse, and I made crafts with children who were exploited in order to make money for parents who did not care about them. And I hear them laugh – not a one is not overflowing with joy. Then as missionaries from America cried out in the night, “O, how he loves us so!” they sang not only for themselves, but for every man, woman, & child on Earth, whether they be born in the United States, Somalia, Afghanistan, or Ecuador. How overwhelming is God’s love for us! His love has no international borders, no militant roadblocks, no Amazon Rivers preventing it from crossing. It is extended to all freely so that all may live freely.

The Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon, which we used to reach the villages

The Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon, which we used to reach the villages

Yesterday I was flying through the clouds and today I was driving through them. It took us about 4 hours to get from Quito to Misahaulli (the jungle). We spent the time preparing ourselves for Ecuadorian culture, discussing Ecuadorian history & geography, and laughing about our lack of sleep, snacks, & toilet paper. We ate the traditional Ecuadorian dish, arroz con pollo (rice & chicken), in the city of Tena, then headed to Hostel Paisano. After settling in we walked around the town & played with the monkeys, then joined with another group of college students doing a VBS in the jungle. We then returned to the hostel via motorized canoe and ate some authentic ceviche. Afterward Phillip Gonzales and his Florida team led us in a late night worship service and then we went off to bed on our lime green fleece blankets under hot pink mosquito nets.

Monkeys everywhere!

Monkeys everywhere!

“Jesus paid it all.

All to him I owe.

Sin had left a crimson stain – he washed it white as snow.

Antisana, one of Ecuador's largest active volcanoes

Antisana, one of Ecuador’s largest active volcanoes

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