A Quick July

The month of July went quickly for us. First, everything needed to be ready for our next group from the States. Then we enjoyed the work and visit from the group from Oregon.

The month of July went quickly for us. First, everything needed to be ready for our next group from the States. Then we enjoyed the work and visit from the group from Oregon.

It probably does not sound like much to get ready for a group to come and volunteer to prepare a community to help itself here in Ecuador. But it requires more work than you might think.

A suitable project needs to be matched to the US group and the community must be readied. The community may need an advance of money in order to have the building ready to paint or lay tile or install windows or mix concrete. Is there a clean bathroom that the US group can use nearby? Will the community provide tea and crackers during a rest break in the morning? Will workers from the community be able to participate with the project during the week the group is working?

Then, there is the planning for the group from the US. Reservations need to be made at a nearby, inexpensive hotel. Healthy meals need to be planned with the dining room. Will there be a space where evening meetings can take place? If the group will be here over one or two weekends, what touristic activities would they like to take part in? What restaurants will they eat at? A bus and driver needs to be hired. Bottled water needs to be purchased. And the afternoon before arrival, the rooms must be checked for towels and cleanliness; the 6 liter bottles of water and glasses from which to drink must be placed in each room; and finally, roses that are grown nearby must be purchased and placed in the rooms. (The roses are only a small extravagance: cost for 2 dozen is around $2 to $3 dollars in el mercado).

And we must not forget about the activities the volunteers might bring. Will they provide a VBS for the children and youth of the community? Are there doctors or medical personnel that plan to bring a medical mission? Might someone give a workshop on self-esteem or healthy cooking? We must check with the community as to where these might be held. Who will be the community contact with the keys? Can the community provide publicity so people are prepared to come? How many of the US group speak Spanish? How many community participants might the US group expect to take part in various activities?

Sounds like that is about it, right? Not quite. FEDICE staff must be readied as well. Who will translate at which meeting? Who is in charge of helping with the construction project? Who will help with the VBS? Who will stay and work with the medical mission? Do we have enough translators or must we hire more? Which staff will stay in the hotel and which will stay in the homes of nearby FEDICE staff or volunteers?

We were ready to greet the Oregon group when they arrived at the airport around midnight. This is the normal arrival time for most groups. Then there is the 1 to 2 hour drive to the Hotel and the week of actual mission begins!

All the work is well worth it. See FEDICE’s blog, or Kelsey Hertel's Travel Blog for pictures of grateful community workers, happy children, US volunteers who have made meaningful connections to people from this South American country of Ecuador. Expect a change and broader world view from both groups.

The Oregon volunteers got to visit other projects they had provided for in the past. They got to see some beautiful scenery. But most importantly, they connected with people they only knew briefly, and shared the love of God with them. We are all one in the Spirit of God. That love transcends language, social status, faith practices, politics, and race. Thanks be to God.

Abrazos,

Glenn Hebert and Marilyn Cooper work as volunteer missionaries with FEDICE (Ecumenical Foundation for Holistic Development, Training, and Education), which is based in Quito, Ecuador. We are also under the auspices of Global Ministries, the missionary arm of both the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denominations. Global Ministries lends support to grassroots organizations such as FEDICE worldwide.