Today was spent with the Brown family, which I really enjoyed. Rich and Elisa took us to an Alliance church in Quito in the early afternoon, where the pastor talked about Job and suffering, which is a message that I needed to hear even a week after what happened to Brunswick. Afterwards, we all went to their apartment to get changed and put on sunscreen, and we went straight to the soccer stadium to catch the Ecuador-Colombia fútbol game! I don’t think I’ve ever been to an actual soccer game before, let alone one outside the United States. Ecuador ended up winning 1-0 (a pretty lame score, in my opinion, but I’ll take what I can get), but it was still a pretty cool experience.
I like to refer to today as the calm before the storm. While Derek and Ana were with another short-term team from Atlanta (that we didn’t really work with much) working with Oswaldo and Denise at an orphanage in Quito, and Jen was in Quito hanging out with a couple kids that she sponsors from Compassion International, Aaron, Bethany, and I spent the day preparing to go back to Huaticocha. Today we basically just determined who was going to Huaticocha and for how long. I was to be there from June 12 to June 22, coming back with half of our first team to Ecuador. There were a lot of mixed emotions today, but I was glad to be able to actually start working with a team!
At six in the morning, Bethany, Derek, Ana, Aaron, Shelby the pseudo-intern, and I took a couple buses and eventually ended up safely in Huaticocha, Ecuador, after helping Mark and Cheryl Shafer that morning move a bunch of stuff from where they were staying in Quito onto a “moving truck” that would end up at the mission school we visited during training. It was a little stressful just making sure we were getting on the right buses, but we made it fine, and we got ourselves situated in the rooms on the school’s second floor, mosquito nets and all. (Yeah, we had to put those up. We were living dangerously in Huaticocha.)
Today was our first full day of work in Huaticocha, and what a blessing it turned out to be. Not only did Derek, Aaron, Ana, and I get to work together to clean out the shed we would be using, but I also got to help Shelby and Ulíses, a local worker who was a huge help to us all while we were in Huaticocha, saw wood to be used to make benches for our debriefing room as well as a shelf for kitchen supplies. I don’t ever remember using a manual saw for something like that before, but either way, I can say that I did it!
Another work day in Huaticocha got me closer to the local workers there. There were basically four guys that worked at the school, doing a lot of construction work there: Harenan, his father Pedro, Daniel, and Daniel’s brother-in-law Danilo. Also joining them was Daniel’s wife Delia, who was our cook for most of the days. Let me tell you, these guys rocked. They worked really hard, and they were extremely patient with all of us interns as our Spanish was pretty shaky most of the time. As far as work went today, the main thing was mixing cement to lay the foundation for a small house by the mission school where Mark and Cheryl would stay. I hadn’t mixed cement since I was in Trujillo—and here, we didn’t have an actual cement mixer; we literally had to do it manually by shovels. What an adventure this is turning out to be!
I didn’t mention that yesterday, Mark and Cheryl actually left to go back to Quito to greet the incoming team Saturday. So today was our first full day where it was just the English-speaking interns and the mostly-Spanish-speaking workers. But with the help of Ulíses and trying hard to remember Spanish well, we were able to manage. The majority of our day was spent creating steps down a hill that led from the school to the house, steps that we made using rocks, sand, and wooden pieces. I’m pretty proud of what we were able to make. In the morning, also, Shelby and Bethany took a bus back to Quito where they were to stay and help around CasaBlanca and stuff, along with Jen who was already there.
It’s going to be hard telling you about today. The morning was fine—my time was spent mostly with the local pastor Ivan trying to run a water line close by the school. That night, we had been asked to attend his church and lead a couple worship songs, which we were very excited about. That afternoon, we had planned to go to the river by the Nueva Esperanza (where that really tall bridge was that we jumped from during training), and before we left, Derek realized that his digital camera was missing from its case. A little worried, I checked my own suitcase. The Canon Vixia camcorder that I had bought and brought along to make a video in Huaticocha was missing, along with all its own accessories. (Praise the Lord, however, that the camera was all that was missing; my money, passport, clothes, and everything else were untouched.) So Derek and I talked to Ulíses about it, and he called the police. They came, and this is where the day really got hard. They called in all the workers, and we all went to the police station in Coca where they were to be questioned. Derek and I weren’t, but Harenan, Daniel, and Danilo were, and we could hear the police smacking them from outside the interrogation room. We felt horrible. But praise the Lord that He gave us the ability to tell the workers that we never blamed them for anything, and that we were still able to go to church and worship God. And I can tell you now that this situation was still able to be resolved, even though it wasn’t quite what I would have wanted. But more on that Wednesday!