More than a tour
While on the fellowship and learning tour to find out about the Ecuador Partnership, I learned it should not be treated much like a “tour” at all. Entering a new world requires openness and adaptability. It doesn’t mean straddling the world you came from and the world you entered, but, rather, immersing yourself fully into this new world to get the most out of it.
It means ascending a steep mountain every morning with your host mom in an unfamiliar altitude just to make it to and from home each day.
It means that if your group’s van breaks down while roller-coastering one of Ecuador’s many mountainous areas, you trust in the driver and the ability of the van’s brakes to coast down to the next house so you can then hop on a bus back to town. Also, if you are offered the local delicacy of guinea pig (cuy), you eat it.
I sought the Lord, but I didn’t meet him on the mountaintop as Elijah did in 1 Kings 19, or in the two Ecuadorian Mennonite church buildings, but, rather, in the builders of these churches. It was the people themselves who helped me to see the Lord’s work.
When you open your heart and mind, you make room for God and his love to dwell in your midst.
On the “tour,” I learned that many things can transcend language barriers: smiles and laughter exchanged between the children of your host family and yourself; music; the hugs and kisses we were greeted with each day by every church person we encountered; and, finally, tears.
We wept for our Colombian co-workers, displaced from Colombia for the safety of their families. The Colombian Refugee Project, a project of the Quito Mennonite Church, serves many individuals who are forcibly removed from their homes, mostly due to threats against their lives and the lives of their family members.
It was in the love for the Lord that I could sense in the young refugee families that I found God the most. Despite an uncertain future, they serve the Lord and lean on him to get through. They put their hardships into his hands and remain unquestionably faithful. Witnessing their faith was an honor.
This is an excerpt from a longer reflection on Alyssa’s travels to Ecuador with six other people from the Central Plains Mennonite Conference, which is part of the Ecuador Partnership. She attends First Mennonite Church in Iowa City, Iowa.