As I walked up to hand him his tea, Gabriel didn’t look like his happy self. He’s usually in the café smiling and joking with his friends. But not tonight. Tonight he was torn up about something. As I asked him how he was, it looked as if he could burst into tears at any moment. He explained to me that he desperately wanted to walk with Christ, but that he kept messing up. One month he would be doing good and the next he’d be back drinking with his friends.
In my broken Spanish I tried to encourage him and point him to the Word. I’ve never been so frustrated at my lack of words. But then I remembered what I had read in the Word that morning: “If I speak in tongues of men and angels but have not loved I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” As I struggled to understand I realized that what this kid needed was to be heard. So I did the only thing I knew: I listened.
What’s New in the Coffee Shop
I’ve only been here three weeks but somehow it already feels like home. I’ve been trying to adjust to my new living situation, the Café, Spanish, the culture, the city, the people, and the other missionaries.
Here’s my life in a nutshell. I live with three girls: Kate, a creative knitter from England, Gabi, an energetic encouraging Austrian and Candace, a Texan who always keeps us on our toes with her stories and antics. Three different cultures living under the same roof keeps life interesting.
In a typical week, you’d find Candace, Gabi and I working at El Sendero Café four days a week while Kate teaches English at the University.
Then there’s English conversation class on Wednesday, Noche de Fe (Night of Faith) and English Night on Sundays and Bible Studies throughout the week. Maria and I meet for Spanish class 3 times a week. I’m also attempting to practice my Spanish and build friendships with whoever comes around!
Culture has also been quite an adjustment. The most recent cultural experience is called Carnival. This three day, country-wide water fight shuts down shops and brings out a massive amounts of food and fun. Even today a kid rang our bell hoping to catch an unsuspecting recipient of two water balloons. Even Gloria, one of the cooks at El Sendero got into the spirit of Carnaval. She was the one who started water fights in the Café kitchen, at a volunteers’ picnic and on our hike. If you left an event dry, you missed out on all the fun.
I’ve been most surprised by my love for the English classes! When I arrived, I came with the assumption that I would work solely at El Sendero, I love working at El Sendero, but the Lord has opened up opportunities to building relationships with SO many people through the English ministry.
Let me end this by telling you about one such conversation I had last Sunday with Luis. At Noche de Fe (which is a bilingual Bible Study to help those learning English) the word redemption was brought up. After the study Luis told me he knew the word redemption in Spanish but didn’t know what it meant. I was able to tell him not only the meaning of the word but how we have been redeemed by Jesus’ death on the cross. It is only by the grace of God that I have been able to have conversations like this in just one month. The Lord is so good!
Time to Pray…
* PRAY for the relationships that are being built, that the Lord would cultivate them into true friendships.
* PRAY that I would daily draw close to the heart of God and that He would teach me more and more every day.
* PRAY that as I adjust to the people and the culture that the Lord would keep me moldable in His hands.
* PRAY for El Sendero, that the Lord would bless its finances and ministry.
*The Church in Loja is only 30 years young. PRAY for the church that the Lord would continue to raise up Ecuadorian workers in His field.
* PRAY for the English classes and Bible studies that the people who attend would be ministered to.
*In my previous letter, I asked for prayer for two girls, Maria and Susi as they had just gotten baptized. I now know and love both Susi and Maria (who turns out to be my Spanish teacher!) and they are trying to go to England for missions work with SIM in April. PRAY that the Lord would provide for their finances, that their families would be supportive, and that they would GROW through this.
*PRAISE that I have not gotten sick. (keep praying!)
*PRAISE for the conversations that I have already been able to have.