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Ecuador - Coming Together for Christ

posted Jun 1, 2015, 12:39 AM by Julie Lawson
What could seven strangers from different countries and backgrounds who met for the first time in line for customs in Ecuador possibly do for God in a week? The better question is, what can God do in a week? My pastor likes to say that God doesn't even need a week, he just needs a moment. I witnessed God's touch many moments on this trip. Because this is a ministry and not just an engineering trip, I want to highlight some God moments. 

This was the longest I had ever been away from my kids. And as the day to depart arrived I found myself in tears sending them off to school (I was missing their last day of school) and in a panic attack as I rushed to finish packing and make my flight. I'm usually not too emotional so this was a big deal for me. I traveled throughout the day and even over night as we were driven to our host's home. The next morning as I explored my new surroundings and met my companions for the week I had a complete calmness and peace wash over me. I was instantly comforted from an extreme feeling of worry and fear. That fast of a change and that enriched feeling as if I were with family, though we had just met, can only come from the Father that we all share as believers. Every one of us stepped outside of our comfort zone and took a risk, yet bonding didn't take a week. We were a team from the moment God touched us and blessed our work. 

Our eMi team literally getting closer during one of many trips in the van.

God taught me many lessons too. One recurring theme is His provision. Though I waited until the last minute to fund raise, I exceeded my goal in a very short time. I'm so thankful for those who were moved to support this trip! Also as Keith rushed me to the airport and I worried that our goodbye would be at the curb, I noticed my friend Becky standing at the curb by the luggage stand - waiting to walk by my side and help me on my way. She stayed with me as Keith parked so they could both send me off. God sends community (in both of these examples) to show us that we aren't alone and to provide for us. 

In Atlanta, after our team almost didn't make the connection, we were delayed once we were on our way to the runway. A storm moved in and we waited an hour and a half to take off. When we did take off, it was a rough ride until we elevated above the clouds. Then we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset on the flight. This taught me many things:

1. God's timing, not mine.

2. I'm not in control.

3. It may be an uncomfortable journey, but there is beauty too. And God will get me there safely
4. (Shared by another team member during devotions) When you're in the storm, your instinct is to go down and land on safe ground. But it's still storming on the ground. And that won't get you anywhere either. Instead, go UP toward God and you'll be above the storm and moving forward.

The storm during our 1.5 hour delay on the Atlanta tarmac.

Our hosts took such great care of us while we were there. We had a great place to stay, fantastic food, and enthusiastic hosts who always greeted us with a smile. We had WiFi and could make free calls to the United States, so I was able to keep in touch with my family. I felt guilty because I had it so good. I wasn't simply being provided for, I was being pampered! Bethany reminded me that you don't have to suffer to serve. You may not even have to sacrifice much. Serving is enough. Serving still provides a blessing to others whether or not you suffer or sacrifice. I am thankful that my service came so comfortably and I am thankful that the wise Bethany helped put it into perspective!

Another lesson was that sometimes you need to receive. It was difficult to be served meals by the community in Pijal. They pulled together financially to give us several meals, including expensive delicacies. They waited on us as we ate. Yet we were in Ecuador to serve them. I didn't want to accept anything from them - I didn't need anything, I just wanted to help them. But one thing that I do want for them is equality and dignity. If they are offered the opportunity only to receive and never to give, I am putting myself above them. I am taking something from them. We are all equal in God's creation. And sometimes it is our turn to receive and accept the blessings others offer us.

Team Devotions on Sunday, June 8.

I struggled for my sense of significance early on the trip. I helped with the survey and getting the base map created in CAD, but even then I relied on my friends back at work to help with those areas. I tested the water at the site, but with municipally provided water and sewer available at the street my task was easy. I didn't have a lot of engineering design work to do, so I felt like I wasn't contributing to the team. I didn't feel like I was doing as much as the others and felt unimportant. Wednesday I realized that I was there to serve God's purpose, not mine. I connected with the team, FEDICE, and the people of Pijal and I encouraged others. I provided a listening ear when needed. Maybe my role wasn't what I anticipated, but I was still to do my best to serve in the role that God intended for me. My devotion on Thursday morning drove home the fact that I should stop comparing myself to others, and that I should focus on what I can do instead of what I'm not doing:

"Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load." - Galatians 6:4-5

Performing some water quality tests. 

I saw God work in many other ways during the trip. These are just a few examples. I will keep trying to put less burden on my shoulders and allow God to provide instead of trying to do it all on my own. I will keep trying to be aware of His presence and His work around me. And I'm sure He will have even more lessons for me later.