June 13, 2009

Team Experienced the River of Life in a Fresh Way


Recently, a 27-member team formed with MNVU students, NILI students and staff, and Seminary students came together to serve in Ecuador. Throughout the week, team leader Jen Staudt shares that “it was a week of ups and downs but filled with God’s blessings for both the people we ministered to and for the team members. God is good and His promises are always true!”

On the first day, the team held a kids club at the new church plant at the district center in Riobamba, Ecuador. 116 kids came the first day, and 90 returned on the second day. The team was also involved in outdoor evangelism as well as two cell groups in the homes of church members. Missionary Stan Hall preached on Sunday morning and translated for other programs. Besides ministry events, the team also did some electrical work, built a wall, and made about 40 benches for the children’s Sunday School classes which will provide seats for more than 80 kids.

When it was time for the group to leave, the children did a little program and gave each team member a scarf to remember them by. While the team was only at the district center church a short time, they connected with the children through smiles, hugs and soccer.

The team then traveled to Vaquerias, an indigenous village in the mountains. They continued to minister to children through songs, dramas and magic tricks. For lunch, the team was served cuy (guinea pig) which is a delicacy served by the indigenous. A great memory for the college students!

From there, the team traveled to Shell, Ecuador, for a couple of days of fun. This was also the day that missionary Stan Hall was traveling back to Quito with a sick team member and was involved in an accident. (Editor’s note: Scroll down to the next article to read the incredible story of God’s grace and protection if you haven’t already read it.) While driving back to Shell after a morning’s hike in the jungle, Jen received a call from Stan asking for their prayers. The team began praying in earnest during the drive. Before they even reached Shell, they got word that Stan was released from police custody with all of his paper work and was on his way back to Quito. What a time of rejoicing for the team. All they could do was praise God for watching out for His children!

Later the team went rafting on the Pastaza River even though it was foggy and drizzling rain at the time. Everyone was loaded up on 3 rafts, heading down the river, until one of the boats flipped completely over. The river was very rough but they finally got everyone into one of the boats. It was getting colder and darker with a lot of rocks in their way. Finally they saw the headlights of the van waiting for them. They were about 45 minutes late but everyone was safe.

As they reflected on their week, the team realized that the idea of “water” had been a recurring theme for them. The leaders were constantly encouraging the team to drink a lot of water both because of the altitude of the mountains and the humidity of the jungle. Then they had the personal experience of overcoming the obstacles of the river to get to safety. One college girl reflected, “You could never hike the mountains without clean drinking water. In the same way, you could never climb the mountains in our lives without the river of life—God and His Word.” The next morning, the team woke to a huge rainbow that seemed to cover the town of Shell. It was another tangible reminder of how God never forgets about His children. We praise God for an amazing week for everyone involved and for the lessons learned along the way. Many of the team members testified that this would be one week they’ll never forget!

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