Weekends are fast becoming my favorite time here! Saturdays we have been visiting (with Cristian and Lissette) various families in the neighborhood. Just popping in to say hi, reminding them of the children’s church the next morning and handing out cereal bars to the kids. We visit a variety of neighborhoods, many of them quite poor. Most families are very gracious and pull up plastic chairs for us to sit on to visit. Others are more leery of this church thing but seem thankful for the invite for their children.
One thing that is obvious is that Cristian and Lissette truly care about the neighborhood children. They are so dedicated each week by opening up their home (their garage area) for this little children’s church. We are also hoping that more parents will start to come. Currently we have about 6-8 regular moms. Still working on the guys….but in time. 🙂
Once a month we have a Birthday Sunday for all children’s whose birthdays fall in that month. They are honored in front of the rest and have an opportunity to earn “money” by answering questions related to the lessons that month. Then they can spend it at the “store” for trinkets, toys, crayons, markets etc later on. “Money” is also earned other Sundays as well so everyone has a chance to earn dollars. We sang a Spanish style Feliz Cumplianos and we also enjoyed birthday cake! This is nice especially for those whose birthdays may not be celebrated as much at home or perhaps the families don’t have the money for a present or party.
Lately we (as a team) have been meeting after the kids and parents leave and have our own small meeting and prayer time. Even though the language is still a slight barrier, the friendships are becoming strong with these precious people.
This past Sunday was extra special as we had a chance to partake in the Lord’s supper together (reflecting upon the Lord’s death) but we also decided that we would enjoy a real meal together afterwards. A new friend, Michael, is from Peru and he volunteered to make a Peruvian meal for us! Peruvian food is much spicier than Ecuadorian food. He made a salad with boiled potatoes on top and then a delicious sauce drizzled over which consisted of cheese, chilis and milk. We also had sliced tomatoes with a lime dressing as well as pan fried chicken with a curry type coating.
Just fantastic! I brought dessert and decided to bring chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies. This was a first for most of them and it was a hit! Cookies aren’t big here in Ecuador, so having cookies other than the standard ones in the store (shortbread and wafer type cookies) was very intriguing to them. I told them next time we would have peanut butter. Peanut butter in cookies??? They couldn’t hardly believe that. Here….peanut butter is mainly for cooking. For example, viche is a popular soup dish with a peanut butter type dumpling.
After the meal Dave volunteered to clean up all the dishes (they were paper plates). Cristian looked a bit confused and said “but they’re paper”. I grinned and then Cristian and the rest burst into laughter. They are getting used to Dave’s humor more and more.
Soon after that Cristian’s Venezuelan friends showed up to play futbol that afternoon. So we had people from 4 countries (Venezuela, US, Ecuador and Peru) all in one place. Of course we had to take a photo!
We also took a walk in the neighborhood where our friend Javiar said casually, “Hey Dave, I like that shirt you are wearing.” Dave said, “Do you want it?” “Sure” said Javiar. So…Dave walked back through Los Aranales shirtless getting a few stares. I joked with Javiar that the folks in the neighborhood was going to think that Javiar was a real bully walking back down the road with Dave’s shirt on and Dave with no shirt on.