Countryside was privileged to send a team of eleven to Ecuador in July to assist our ministry partners Cesar and Nancy Cortez. Cesar and Nancy have a vibrant and fruitful ministry that meets both spiritual and physical needs of mostly rural Ecuadorians.
Our aim was to encourage and work alongside them for a week by serving a remote Quechua Indian community high in the Andes Mountains in Chimborazo Province in Southern Ecuador. Cesar is an engineer and theologian. He designs gravity feed water systems that utilize springs – often high mountain springs – and pipes water to communities that don’t have clean water. In the months that he works in those communities he shares the Gospel and plants churches.
Many of the 2.5 million Quechua’s who live in Ecuador’s Andes Mountains have been evangelized and have healthy churches. The remote community five hours south of Quito that we traveled to does not have a church.
The people welcomed us with open arms. We worked alongside them to hand dig the four-foot deep trench the water line runs in from the spring high up in the mountains, to their community. Yes, you read that right. We dug the trench by HAND! Manning a shovel and pick for hours on end at 11,000 in elevation had a way of leaving us breathless. The beautiful scenery itself was enough to leave us breathless! We paced ourselves and were able to complete several hundred yards of the three-mile project. And yes, it really is 3 miles!
But our greatest joy was spending hours with the children (and many adults who listened in) to do a Vacation Bible School. We taught them simple Biblical truths and played for hours. According to Cesar, most people in the community are animist. They have almost no knowledge of the God of the Bible and Savior who loves and died for them. Cesar spent hours one afternoon answering their questions, introducing them to the Creator and explaining who Jesus is. As he returns to the community in the weeks ahead to see how they’re progressing on the project he will answer more questions and eventually plant a church there.
It was a fantastic week! Some highlights were: sharing a meal cooked over an open fire with the community, loving on the children, seeing the sights, marveling at how the Quechua’s farm the steep mountain slopes, shedding tears when we left on Saturday morning and spending time with others on the team. We lived in cramped quarters, used outdoor plumbing and went days without a shower… every guys dream! Before we returned home we took a tram in Quito to 13,000 feet and some of the guys hiked to an elevation of 15,000.
God blessed us with a great team. Thanks Tyler and Stephanie Miller, Mike Armstrong, Colin Yoder, Mitch Yoder, Mercedes Whitman, Jaden Steel, Ryan and Isabelle Tetreault and Sharon Beachy for working hard, loving deeply and doing it all joyfully! A big thank you to Nancy and Cesar for hosting us, and to Ximana and Edison, two Ecuadorian young people who joined us in the work and were a huge blessing and a lot of fun. We are already praying about another trip in a year or two. Might God want you to be a part? It’s not to soon to get your passport!