On June 23, seven members of John Wesley UMC traveled to Pastocalle, Ecuador for the 2019 Adult Mission Trip. They were supported by donations of clothing, luggage and prayers from the John Wesley UMC family in their journey to make repairs to the Iglesia el Sembrador Church School and teach Vacation Bible School.
Following is an account by Ed Carson, Mission Chair and leader of the group.
We arrived late on Sunday and made the 90-minute ride directly to our hostel in Lasso, which is across the highway from Pastocalle. We expected to deliver Vacation Bible School (VBS) the next morning, but were relieved to learn that the small town was celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of their perroquia (their region of small towns). That meant we could ease into our new environment as we attended a parade featuring the schools in the area towns.
It was especially nice to see the students from the Iglesia el Sembrador Church School during the parade as we knew we would be working with them in the coming days. In the afternoon, we assessed our work for the week. Some of our group began painting the steel railings around windows while others got supplies and made preparations for other work projects.
Iglesia el Sembrador has two school buildings: an existing lower school on the church property in Pastocalle and a new upper school in town which is currently under construction and will be staffed by the government of Ecuador. The new upper school is a high priority for Pastor Victor, the pastor of the Methodist church in Pastocalle.
Our work in His name was small in comparison to the faith and community we witnessed among the Christians in Pastocalle and Romerillos.
Due to the current stage of construction for the upper school, our work was focused on the lower school. We made improvements to the cafeteria – specifically to the tables and benches which have been in disrepair. We purchased lumber, stain and other supplies and made great improvements during week. In between periods of work, the group delivered VBS lessons focused on the creation story to children from both Pastocalle and another nearby community called Romarillos.
In Romarillos, we met Pastora Blanca, the pastor and community leader. Our group was able to enjoy a meaningful and moving home visit with a home-bound elderly couple who were members of the church in Romerillos. We brought groceries, visited and prayed together. We also enjoyed time with Blanca in the sanctuary of the church. We learned of the challenges that are facing the small community of Romerillos and listened to some beautiful, moving music performed by Blanca.
We certainly felt God’s presence in this day of work, play, humble thanksgiving and music.
During the rest of the week, we continued to build community among our Ecuadorian friends as we completed our projects in Pastocalle. The tables were made beautiful and the rails painted and protected from the elements. In a touching worship service at La Iglesia el Buen Pastor in Pastocalle, we were bid a meaningful farewell.
We shared music in Spanish and in English and Vic Boudolf sang a beautiful solo. Ed Carson delivered a message from Matthew 7:24-27 about the wise and foolish builders. The faith that we witnessed in Pastocalle was sure evidence of a house built on a rock. We were simultaneously strengthened and humbled in fellowship with Pastor Victor, his family and church family.
On our last day in Ecuador, we enjoyed some rest and fellowship during a trip to Quilotoa lagoon, an ancient volcano that has collapsed in to a giant lake. Pastor Victor, Lehia and Regina drove us through the mountains where we were thrilled and refreshed to witness the beautiful countryside in Ecuador.
Saturday arrived quickly and It was time to come home. The group toured the Mitad del Mundo park at the equatorial line as well as churches in the historic district of Quito before taking a late night flight back to Charleston.
We had a successful trip. Our work in His name was small in comparison to the faith and community we witnessed among the Christians in Pastocalle and Romerillos. The care we showed one another during the week was a powerful blessing.