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calendar   Tuesday - July 25, 2006

Welcome to the Jungle

Mission: Ecuador

I, along with 43 other adults and High-School youth (including my daughter) landed in Quito, Ecuador at 11:00 at night.  We had started our day at 5:00 that morning by packing the vans and truck to get all of our gear from our little berg to Ronald Regan (PBUH) International airport.

We would be staying the night at the Alliance Academy, a missionary boarding school started in 1929.  We are working with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, so they are coordinating all of our logistics.  Believe me, getting 44 people and their gear around in a third-world nation is a logistics challenge.

After a night’s fitful rest (sleeping at high-altitude is another interesting challenge), we got up and boarded our bus for a six-hour trip to the Amazon Jungle.  Because of the size of our group, we will split into four groups of 10-12 and will be working in four different villages:  Santa Rosa, Dos Rios, Archidona and Pano.  My group will be in Pano.  Our job is twofold:
1. Help build a new home for a retired pastor
2. Work with the local children and youth in a number of ways:
a. Playing
b. Teaching English
c. Evangelism
d. General personal care (washing hair, clipping nails, etc)

We are one of a number of groups coming to Ecuador this summer, but we are the only ones willing to go to the jungle region.  This presents a great opportunity for us to build relationships with the people in the villages we will serve in.

The pastor’s old house is where we stay; girls on the second floor, guys in the attic. 
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No screens. One light bulb per floor.  Did I mention we were in the Amazon Jungle and there were no screens?  In truth, there were very few bugs.  We sprayed with Deet pretty frequently, and only got bitten by “chiggers” on our legs as we walked through the high grass to the lavatories.

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We were a team of three adults (myself, a nurse and a mom) and 9 high-school youth (2 guys, 7 girls), all pretty young.  No one really expected much from our team since they were so young, but the kids didn’t hear that part of the story.

When we arrived, the house had a poured floor, front and rear wall and a roof.

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Those kids sifted sand, mixed mortar, moved block, carted rocks and generally did anything the masons on site needed so they didn’t have to stop.  After 10 days, we were painting the inside and outside, and I would guess the old guy moved in within a week or two.

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It may not look like much to our standards, but it was 1,000 times better than where he is living now.



Every afternoon, the kids from the village would come by, knowing there were “gringos” here, especially the girls, who would just love to play with them, teach them American games and songs, and generally have a good time with them.

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We also go to eat a sample of the local fare:
Fried Bananna Chips
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Fish (from the river next door)
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And who could resist fried grubs?
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We ended our stay back in the capitol city of Quito for about 5 days, visiting a couple of orphanages, handing out fruit to people who pick through the garbage at the dump and doing a bit of sightseeing.

I loved Ecuador, especially the jungle.  The people of Pano were open with their generosity and more than willing to put up with this gringo’s poor attempt at their language.  My daughter found her life’s calling in working with children in a mission context.  Our family would like to return to this little slice of paradise soon, maybe next year if it can be worked out.  Thanks for indulging me this brief side road from the political and social news of the day.  Carry on.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/25/2006 at 03:08 PM   
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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