February 2023: An emotional two weeks
February 24, 2023
Greetings, again from toasty warm El Floron, Ecuador,
The last two weeks were emotionally assiduous in a variety of ways, and we decided to share what transpired after our first week. Each event or happening seemed to magnify Proverbs 3:5&6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. We find Him ever present, ever faithful, individual to individual. Our hope is that what is shared draws a sense of “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” to each of you. Your prayers and gifts over 25 years continuously kindles the flame of the Holy Spirit among His people.
Pastor Gabriel asked Elizabeth if she would speak to the congregation at the Thursday evening service and that Richard must come; Pastor Gabriel said he cried when he read Elizabeth’s book. I told him I am not a pastor, and my Spanish isn’t terrific. . . With a wry smile he said he was aware; he would have Jonathan Molina translate. So, I accepted the invitation (and prayed heartily the next couple of days!). The congregation always bring their Bibles, so I spoke on the ever presence of God in everyday life and had them look up Old and New Testament verses on the reliability of God. I shared examples of my insufficiency during these 25 years to ‘solve’ all medical situations; and that God supplied people – much more capable than myself – that resolved my dilemma, enriched my faith, and deepened my relationship with God.
As I went to sit down Pastor Gabriel asked Richard and I to come back and sit in the chairs they placed facing the congregation. (We both felt quite uncomfortable.) Then, “Amazing Grace” began to play as two of the youth slowly walked down the aisle displaying an American flag and an Ecuadorian flag. With Jonathan translating, Pastor Gabriel said they wanted to thank us for all we had done for the community. They presented a beautiful glass trophy with our names engraved.
Next was the humblest moments I have ever experienced. . . Two ladies came down the aisle carrying basins; they stooped, placed the basins at our feet and began washing our feet. This was followed by many others in the congregation following suit. . . Obviously, the love of these people goes beyond any words. . . and you have been the foundation of our 25 years that have brought glory to God.
We were able to have the staff dinner and Christmas party that includes games and a White Elephant gift exchange. (They never caught on that each of them was to bring a gift. So, we have always provided the White Elephants. . . some are ‘highly sought after’ and some are ‘oh well, better luck next year’.) The one game we always play is pictured below. The goal is to wiggle your face and try to get the cracker on your forehead into your month. (I think some practice ahead!)
Back row: Fabian (lab tech) and Fabricio (custodian, lawyer, and assistant clinic director)
Front row: Eliana (accountant), Dra. Silvia (Medical Director), Mayra (nurse’s aide), Pepe (water tech), Pastor Meza (day guard), Michael (water tech), Jorge (water tech), Dra. Karolina (Dentist), Moises (water tech) Loly (administrative assistant)
Our laughter soon turned to great sorrow. Jose Chaves was raised in an extremely impoverished home. . . a very large family and his mother was mute. The family attended church, and Jose was a janitor in this church’s medical clinic. You may remember Flori, our lawyer and director at that clinic, who noticed amazing aptitude in Jose and ultimately financed his time in law school. I attended his graduation and family party. About four years ago Jose came to the United States and spent two weeks with us. He was an unusual guest. He had no real awareness of visiting typical Colorado sites. His enjoyment was to take our vacationing daughter and family’s dog on a walk every morning and afternoon. Jose seemed content to be in our home and walk “Borgie” more than any Colorado sites we took him too. . .except the Castle Rock Outlets. He spent three hours in one store buying gifts for each of his family.
Jose is on our FBS (Fundación Buen Samaritano) Ecuadorian Board; we have stayed in close contact and called him on his birthday. A year or so ago Jose stopped to introduce us to his wife and asked us to come and visit. Pictured below is Jose, his wife, and their five-day old baby at Maria’s birthday party. Shockingly, we were notified the next morning that Maria had died from a lethal infarct or cardiac arrest. Her memorial service was in their church and his sisters are helping to care for little Sofia Esther. Ecuadorian law is such that Jose will have three months’ vacation from his government job. We are thankful Maria knew the Lord; however, we all grieve with Jose and pray for God’s mercy and comfort to this dear man and his new infant daughter.
Jose, Maria and baby Sofia Esther
Richard and Brian Garcia Youth group
Prior to this trip Brian Garcia contacted me via WhatsApp. If you have my book, Brian is the young boy to the far right in my first English class. . . He is now 25 and was asked to head the church’s youth group. He contacted me because he wanted to do a good job as youth leader and thought I might have ideas or possibly a youth pastor that could give him some fresh ideas. I connected him with Izzie Intriago whose father is from Ecuador and she herself is fluent in Spanish and very active in the youth group at her church. This trip Brian wanted to meet concerning the youth group. Richard joined us and the conversation led to the technical institute he is attending. Brian said years ago he made a mistake stopping his education in lieu of a job and an income. He currently sold all his video games so he could buy a laptop computer since he is back in school. However, his purchasers did not deposit the money in the bank as they said they had, and Brian was out $350!
Over the years people generously give Richard used laptops for Ecuador. He erases everything and gives them where the need is. Fortunately, Richard had a laptop and power adaptor that with a little ‘technical guru magic’ he could give to Brian. (Richard said the combination of the two weighed ‘a ton’ but Brian was thrilled and had no problem toting it back and forth to Ecuador’s free technical institute.)
Ultimately, Brian mustered up the courage and asked if Richard could speak to the Youth Group. . . Since February was the ‘season of love’ he hoped Richard could speak on that topic. Richard was enthusiastically received and given a mug since everyone knows he loves coffee.
The last few days in El Floron were hectic to say the least! Our abundantly producing mango tree had to be removed – roots threatened to invade the water production building; already the sidewalk was curdling. And once the hand digging began it was obvious the roots had already attacked the sewer line which required more digging and pipe replacement. . . Not to mention after heavy rain the city sewer system regurgitated. Enough said?!?
As of Monday, we are home but know a return trip is imminent. We leave these prayer requests:
*We lift Jose and little Sofia Esther to the Lord for comfort and healing.
*We pray for continued healing and strength for Carlos.
*We pray for Bryan and his complete leaning on the Lord as he leads the youth group.
*We give thanks for travel safety and our health.
*And as always, the Lord’s protection and guidance of the Buen Samaritano Clinic and Water staff.
*Thanksgiving for all the baby quilts which have been so abundant that we were able to donate to an orphanage besides new mothers coming to the clinic.
Our love and prayers,
Richard and Elizabeth <><