20 01 2012

I really don’t know why God gives certain people unique connections to very specific places but I am so married in soul and spirit to Ecuador in just such a manner.  Maybe it is because one of the first stories that I ever heard as new believer in Jesus back in 1975 was the heroic tale of how Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, who had such a passionate heart to reach the Waoroni Indians during their Operation Auca in late 1955 and early 1956, literally gave it all up to gain eternity not only for themselves- but a whole tribe of souls also.  “He is no fool that gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  That powerful quote came from the journals of Jim Elliot himself and I have hung on those words ever since.  All I know is that Ecuador for me is very holy ground and when I go there, it is like being on no other footing that I have ever set my giant size 14 shoes upon!  I become wholly emotionally joined to the people and the lands and the settings and I know that the reasons must be attributed to something very supernatural!  God has put this love in my heart for “El Mitad del Mundo,” and who am I to fight it?  I must go with the flow!

This was my fourth trip to Ecuador and it very well might be the best Missions Trip that I have ever experienced!  I was totally and fully immersed in the moments that God was allowing me to live and breathe and have my being amidst!  I don’t know if I can align my thoughts in any formal linear or complete organized manner so you might just have to hang on as I ramble a bit about the things that I tasted and touched and sensed and inhabited.

What I loved most about this adventure:  IT WAS ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS…  Don’t get me wrong.  I respect the Mission Trips that have as its goal to go and provide by building or constructing a church or a school or homes or other essential items that will assist our brothers and sisters who dwell in harsh conditions in other lands.  I have been on my fair share of them personally.  But let’s face facts, a tool man I will never be!  I am a shepherd by nature. I exist to come alongside of others and walk with them. I have especially loved the times that I can go overseas and just be with people.  Hang out with them.  Live with them.  Eat what they eat.  Go where they go.  Do what they do.  Learn their hearts and sense their daily routines.  This was just one of those encounters.  I got to stay and sleep and eat right in the homes of the Ecuadorian People. I humbly accepted their over the top gracious hospitality.  Those who had little sacrificed out of the best of what they had to we total strangers.  It broke my heart and yet glued my soul to them for all eternity. 

We Americans are spoiled individuals who complain too much and whine too often and don’t share freely- nearly as many times as God gives us the opportunity to do so.  I don’t know how to wake us up out of our apathy and shake us up out of our animosity other than to challenge all of us to allow ourselves to be booted by God out of our comfort zones and be placed in circumstances where we are totally dependent upon only His blessings- as the Lord defines them- and as Jesus chooses to dispense them. 

I will cherish my few days- getting to be with God’s children in Quito, El Carmen, Bramadora and Huaticocha for as long as I live and I pray that for as long as I live, I will practically live the reality of what God instilled into me in these remote places of South America- to bring to my daily practices here in Cape May County.  If there is no lasting fruit that remains from this January excursion- then all I did was a work for God and didn’t allow it to become a work of God!  Works for God are nice but they are temporary.  Works of God define who we are from this day forward and they result in eternal doings that change the landscape for many! 

“Oh God, please don’t let this tenderness that I am feeling as I write these words at this moment to die.  Please water them and allow the root to go deep and please enable to grow to fruition and completion for your honor and glory…  Thank you Lord for making a dream of mine come true and allowing me to go back to Ecuador.  I pray that this is not the last time.  I sense there are other things that I still have to do from that country.  Maybe it is to serve from the Voice of the Andes Radio Ministry- HCJB!  Maybe it is to get to see my Compassion Child Samuel in person and spend time with him.  Maybe it is to set my feet at Shell Mera- where those 5 Missionaries set up base for Operation Auca.  Maybe it is just to be with my old friends Rich and Lisa Brown again or go deeper with my new friends Casey and Annie and Gustavo and Elmer and Carmine and Ivan and Nancy!  All I know Lord is that I am open to the next step, the next chapter, the next thrilling episode!  Thanks for allowing me the privilege to preach to your people there.  I want to learn how to speak Spanish so that I don’t need a translator anymore.  Thanks for letting me ride on the roof of a chiva!  Thanks for the worshipful time of singing in the van all the way back from El Carmen.  Thanks for giving me the privilege to swim in an Amazon River and bathe in a majestic waterfall.  Thanks for allowing me to do this all with my beautiful daughter Leah and my adopted girls Debby, Emily and Hannah!  Today I am numb still.  Not sure if I want to go back to the old routines.  I want to live to see and live to be more like Jesus because You are changing me and I like what I see but I know that You have more to do!  So please take my heart and my soul and my entire being and make it Your platform and Your stage for without You Lord, I don’t have a thing!  In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…  Amen!”                           




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