Wednesday began rainy, but by noon, the skies started to clear and we had a beautiful afternoon. After spending the morning in class, we embarked on our second trip into a Compassion project, this time in the region called Agato. The sponsoring Church is Iglesia Evangelical Alianza, “Jesus Reg de Reyes.” (Evangelical Alliance Church, “Jesus King of Kings.”)
The pastor of the Church welcomed us and introduced some of the Compassion volunteers and program director. We then broke up into our groups and went for a family visit. Today, my group met in the home of a father and mother with 6 children and a grandmother, all living together in a hut with two beds and no more than 12 feet square. The father was a welder but had injured his eyes and was unable to keep working. He is now trying to train to be a radio technician, so when I heard that, we had a fun conversation about radio and about HCJB, the shortwave Christian broadcaster that operates just outside of Quito. It was fun to see his face light up when he found out I was an amateur radio operator and had not long ago talked to someone from Ecuador! As for the mother, she worked as a weaver, making bracelets and belts to be sold at the market. It was moving when she brought out a bunch of bracelets and insisted we each take one as her gift to us, especially since we knew that each one she gave away represented a significant loss of income for her. (Below is a picture of the family, followed by a picture of their house. And no, we are not standing on a step behind them. Ecuadorians are quite a bit shorter on average than us. Imagine what they think when they see one of our team members who is about 6′ 7″ tall!)
This families’ son, Richard (standing in front to my direct right), had gotten a fairly serious injury to his leg and was the recipient of a Compassion medical fund that allowed him to have surgery on his leg. Though he still walks with a limp, he just finished using his crutches a week ago. We were told that had he not received this aid, he would have likely never walked again. When we asked him what his favourite activity was, he said listening to the Word of God being taught and that his favourite character in the Bible was John. (I’m assuming John the Baptist, but I wasn’t sure!)
After our home visit, a number of us then went into the dining area where we helped to serve the children (there are 290 in the program) their lunch—a bowl of soup and a plate of rice with a small piece of chicken. The kids giggled and smiled at us as we tried to pronounce our Spanish! Lots of them like to touch you or shake your hand or even run up to you for a hug.
Next on the agenda was an opportunity to learn how to make bread. We had a blast rolling out buns and croissant-like rolls. We were later served the freshly baked bread together with a milk drink with rice and raisins. It tasted a lot like rice-pudding and was yummy.
At the end of our time at the project, we learned about how Compassion seeks to track each child that is sponsored. Every child has a file that records regular reports about their home life, their schooling, their medical and physical well-being, their spiritual learning, and their financial situation. Someone sitting next to me remarked that there is more intentionality about how these kids grow up that our own children in Canada. Of course, the situation is completely different, but I did begin to wonder if a little more intentionality on our parts would be beneficial!
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the day for me was when we were handing out balloon animals to the children who had all lined up waiting patiently for their own. Regrettably, the time came when there were no more balloons left and about 30 kids stood in line waiting patiently for one. It was hard to fathom how cherished a little balloon would be for these kids, so it broke my heart when we ran out. Once again, it reminded me of just how much we have and how truly rich we are.
Stay tuned for more tomorrow!