THURSDAY/FRIDAY 5th/6th July
After 48 hours travelling, including a 13 hour layover in Mexico City (we even had time to explore) we arrived at Quito airport at 11pm local time, to be met by Katy our short term coordinator, and Sam who had come via Miami airport. We were running on minimal sleep but were warmly welcomed by a representative of the charity Propósito Global to stay at their base near Quito overnight. ?
The road from Quito to Santo Domingo is the windiest road that we have ever experienced, and the bus driver managed to complete the journey in 2 hours rather than 3 which was mildly concerning – but it was beautiful! We were met by Amada (the church secretary) and Christian her husband, and travelled to our host family’s house. We met Laura (the pastor’s sister), her daughter Jackie, Jackie’s husband Jorge, and their son Jordan. They had all moved out of the main part of their house so that we could stay there, which is very representative of the incredible hospitality we have been experiencing here – the kindness we have been shown has just blown us away. We have been so blessed with the accommodation – we have mattresses, beds and showers (even though they’re cold!). We are very thankful to have made it here safely. Santo Domingo is a relatively big city and the church is about 15 minutes away from Laura’s house. The church had prepared a very warm welcome for us that night, which included traditional Latin dancing and food, and introductions to all of the church members.
Church started at 9:30 and involved lots of singing and dancing. They had a translator, Erica, who translated the full sermon for us which was great. At the end, they got Mark up to share his testimony with no forewarning – but he managed brilliantly. After church we went on a minibus with some of the church to see how the traditional Tsachila people (an indigenous tribe) lived, in an open air ‘museum’.
We had a day off so naturally got up at 7am and prepared for the week ahead by fruit market shopping, assisted by Laura…! In the afternoon we went for a swim at an outdoor swimming pool which was a lot of fun. We had sweet bread with cheese for dinner with the family.
We went to the church to try to make a start on the building project but there wasn’t much to do as the maestro hadn’t managed to sort out the materials yet. The culture here is a lot more relaxed and people tend to focus more on building relationships and spending time with people than getting jobs done, which is a bit different from our culture, which just focuses on getting the job done. But it’s been a real blessing getting to spend time with people in the community and help out in different areas. In the afternoon, we went river swimming.
We met up with Sharon, who works with young disadvantaged people in the community, and took them out to San Pablo. We helped them to get involved with practical work – gardening, weeding, and potting plants. Chloe also got her tooth pulled out because it was causing her pain and it had a massive hole in it!
We made a good start on the building – started to take away parts of the wall to make room for the new structure. The eventual goal is to build an upstairs on the church for more Sunday School classrooms.
We took the ceiling off the office which is to be replaced by the new first floor, and then did some more moving and clearing to make room for the construction that’s going to take place next week. At night we went to Marcela’s house for dinner (“empanadas” – a bit like a Cornish pasty) along with some people from church. They taught us some Spanish dancing too! Every day we are so overwhelmed by the genuine kindness and hospitality that we’ve experienced.
Apparently a trip to ‘la costa’ (the coast) in Ecuador always involves getting up at 4am so that you can make the best of your day! We had a brilliant day off swimming in the pacific, and relaxing on sun loungers – worth the sunburn aftermath and lack of sleep.
We led the worship in church by singing two English songs, and then got to worship in Spanish with the rest of the church. We then led the Sunday School along with Erica as a translator, which included crafts, games, and a drama. Sam got a special mention in church because it was his 18th birthday on the Monday.