April 2018

You've given us hope!


"Can you help us with our churches?" That's the question we always begin with, because the indigenous, rural churches are decreasing in number. The members are migrating to the cities looking for jobs. We met in Gabriel's home in Ambato, on our way to Quito. Gabriel is the brother of a student I taught in a seminary course four years ago in Guayaquil. He and his father, the pastor, are looking for help. We discussed typical church problems: lack of attendance, people are eager to begin something but soon lose interest, youth are looking for something else. But when we began to share our vision of helping the church prosper, not only spiritually, but also economically, the conversation changed tone. Once Gabriel grasped the vision of working together in a church-sponsored economic project, his reaction sums it all up in two statements: 1) "You've given us hope!" and 2) "We've always wanted a complete gospel that include both the spiritual and the physical."
We trust in God to complete the process that has just begun. First we need to "socialize" the idea by meeting with everyone interested to talk about their needs and our proposal. Afterwards we begin the process of planning and training. This is new for us too, but we are trusting God to lead us every step of the way. Proverbs 3:5-6.


Flet begins again in Capulispungo!


We graduated 12 students last October in Level 1 of the FLET bible program. It's taken a while, but waiting for God's timing, the church began Sunday another round of level 1 with 15 new students! They are eager to begin. So we handed out the books, and during this first session, explained how the course works and let them do lesson 1A in class. Actually, the younger students have the advantage because they are in high school, while the older folks didn't even finish high school, and what they did study was years ago. But old and young here are side by side, and we pray God's blessing on them for the next two years as they study the life of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew.


Their first "retreat."


Danilo is the youth leader in this community called "Shobol Llinllin." He and a few others had attended a youth retreat we led in Cachisagua back in October. They wanted us to lead a similar youth retreat in their church. (Just Sunday.) They had never done a youth retreat in their church. Over the years I've learned not to try to do everything oneself. So we met with the youth leaders three times before the retreat to plan, and we were impressed! Danilo has a great team. They promoted the retreat, took care of the food, started and ended the meetings. We led the games, some music, and the workshops. The theme was "The three most important decisions in your life." Sixty-two youth attended. Half from other communities. We hope to do more with Danilo and his team. Lord willing.


Hanging Out

This weekend we visited Capulispungo on Saturday and Cachisagua on Sunday. I'm learning that often you get more accomplished during the informal times than during the formal meetings.

While Faby is working with the church deacons at Capulispungo, I had a great talk with the pastor. He was outside peeling potatoes for lunch. We discussed a bunch of issues, and made some future plans together.


Then Sunday we attended a wedding in Cachisagua. They wanted me to play the Wedding March, but I played it more often waiting for the couple to show up than for the actual wedding. Santiago spent some time sitting on the back of the car playing my accordion too.


Other than playing the accordion and leading a few songs, we just hung out with the rest during the wedding.


Two different groups


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When I first arrived, only two men showed up. They were a bit reserved about the group: "This group is dwindling in number. Is there another group we can join?" In Capulispungo, the FLET group went through the same process: many sign up and begin, the group dwindles in number, but the few remain faithful. In time, others see that the group perseveres and continues, and then they want to become part of it." So we continued and had a great discussion. In two more sessions, they will finish the first book.



This group is the opposite of Sablog: twelve students faithfully meeting, but not so faithfully completing the lessons. They were supposed to have completed up to lesson 8, but they were only on lesson 5. Yet the same principle applies: continue to be faithful. We enjoy the group, because they work well together, and hold a group spirit. Eph 4:2-3