If I were to go on a vacation to Florida, people would say, “Have fun.” If I were to tell them I was going on a mission trip to the Ecuadorian jungles they would say, “Oh, that’s such a great thing to do. We’re so proud.” Occasionally this is followed by a donation.
Yes – God is doing a great thing in Quito & Misahaulli through his Spirit and the thousands of other missionaries working here. But for me & other disciples of Christ, it’s not always this great sacrificial act. On every trip I’ve been on, each moment has been a gift from God, making me very well aware that this is the kind of work I want to do for the rest of my life.
This morning we visited with Jungle Kids for Christ at Antioch Academy. This ministry was started by Rob & Charmai, a young couple who has adopted 5 children (& had 3 biological children) because the jungle children were severely sexually abused. Today the children are confident, intelligent, beautiful, and ambitious English-speaking students seeking to educate and offer opportunity to the rest of the jungle kids. We taught classes, played with the students, and had a brainstorming session about their new yet-to-be-built school. They were passionate about having more books to be, more activities in which they could all be involved, and more ways that they could reach out to the community. All the children were truly an inspiration and proof that God is working in Misahaulli.
After lunch we travelled farther into the jungle to see some waterfalls. We were told it would be a “short hike to a nice view.” A short hike, they said. It will be fun, they said. That short hike was actually an hour & a half trek through ankle-deep mud on the side of a cliff. I only fell 5011 times, ruined everything I had with me, and truly grasped the meaning of the song “Sexy & I Know It.” With my less-than-rustic English teacher blazing the trail in front of me, we established that the city-dwelling New Englander Robert Frost had no idea what he was talking about when he wrote “The Road Less Travelled.” David’s valley of the shadow of death may have been more accurate. But the waterfall was incredible, the time with both friends & strangers was irreplaceable, and the whole hike was surreal (even though we got lost … in the jungle … at nightfall).
After standing on the bus ride home because we were to muddy to sit, we quickly showered and went into Tena for pizza with the interns. We ate with Spencer & Alysse, 2 of the 4 interns working with Jungle Kids for Christ & Kaleo Kids. Both teach in the jungle school, lead volunteer teams, & do various other activities. Like the kids in the jungle, the interns have overcome great personal & cultural obstacles to be in Misahaulli.
After a long day of laughing, bonding, and being abundantly blessed by the Lord, we fell asleep in the hostel with hot pink mosquito nets above our heads.