I will try to jot down as much as I can and share with you all my experiences preparing and navigating through my first Mission trip.

November 2023

Signing up to be part of the Ecuador team was pretty simple, I just filled out an online form and sent a few emails. Soon enough I was contacted by the team leader Tim and had a short conversation over the phone. I was told most of the activity and information was probably going to be given after the new year.

December 2023

I was asked to join some sort of online portal where I was going to be told about the details of the mission trip, meeting times, and forms to fill out. I was happy to see more information about where I was going as at this point not much about the trip was shared with me. I believe Tim told me that he expected a big group of around 25 people going to Ecuador.

January 2024

I finally got around to signing all the required forms, making copies of my passport, and sending it all over to the Ecuador team for review. So far, nothing out of the ordinary for me, and at this point it just seemed like all I was doing was completing some paperwork to head out on a trip. Now, where things started to get out of my comfort zone, was when I was asked to write the Support Letter.

As a missionary, it is customary at least in what I have heard and seen, that the missionary asks or raises the funding needed to cover all costs associated from going to a mission trip. You have to understand that this is very very foreign to me. I normally do not expect people to help me and normally I do not want any help of any kind. Yes, even if I need it. So asking for money, was actually not my original plan. I was planning to simply pull money out of my bank account and pay for the whole trip, at $2,500 this was going to be a significant expense. I also did not think I would get enough people to give me any money, so what was the point anyways. I was actually expecting some of my family and friends to get mad at me for even asking them for money.

Luckily, God gave me a wife, that encouraged me to create a support letter and ask friends and family to support me financially. So I sat down at my computer and started to type away the story of the events that lead me to even think about going on a mission trip. I then made a list of 42 contacts, some where emails and some where physical addresses. I was a bit nervous about sending out the letter, I really have no idea how people, specially my family members are going to react. My wife also told me to pray to Jesus and ask him to provide the money, pray to him everyday.

The sixth of January is when I first started to send the letters and send the emails. To my surprise, I actually got first contacted by my good friends from College and I got some great responses from them. I was very excited and was totally blown away from their kind words and generosity. I remember 5 persons quickly sent me support. This is how I knew that Jesus was the only one I could give credit to this result as I obviously have no idea what I am doing and I am doubting the process the entire time.

Now this part of the story is not known by a lot of you. I actually had a payment processing account with a company when I was trying to sell Microsoft Excel services. This same company is the company I used to collect my donations for Ecuador. Soon after I started receiving funds, the payment processing company froze my account, and told me since I was not a 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization I was not able to collect donations using their service. This was such a blow to me, I literally had to refund everyone, and send an apology email. I knew this did not look good at all, and my support went all the way back down to zero. Till this day, I am still told by people that they tried to give me money but the link I shared with them did not work. What a nightmare! Luckily the church has a way to collect the money legally and they will apply those funds to the missions cost that I am responsible for.

Another blessing in disguise was that there was some riots in Ecuador during this time and that caused plane tickets to Ecuador to go down in price. The local church we are partnered with said we will be safe and during my research it seemed like it was just local gangs/criminal organizations causing trouble among themselves and the police. This also means the amount I had to raise went from 1,800.

The team meetings are going well, the group is slowly getting to know each other and we are getting more information on the situation in Ecuador and what we will be doing there. It seems that we will be playing with kids, feeding them, and sharing Jesus to them. It has not been very clear what we will do for the rest of the time as it seems that will be directed by the local church leaders in Ecuador. I was also told that the village is about 2 hours away via bus and they speak some other language that is not Spanish. I thought I was going to be able to talk to these people in Spanish but the people in the mountains is an unreached group and they speak kitchwa.

February 2024

We were given a book to read titled “The Awe of God” by John Bevere and an evangelism cube. The cube can be opened, twisted, and moved around. It has a progression and talks about Sin (separation from God/man), Jesus (birth, death, and resurrection), how to go to heaven (confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he was raised from the dead). I have used it with my two girls and they really enjoy playing with the cube. We are told to practice using the cube as we will be using them in the missions trip.

We also finally have an official itinerary of our flights, it seems we will be using Atlanta to send us off to Ecuador. I also need it so I know when to be at the airport and when to ask my wife to pick me back up when I am back in the states.

I was told there will be internet in the hotel we are staying at, but I do not plan to bring a laptop. I will be writing everything down in a notebook and I will have to then type it on the computer when I get back. I will try to take some pictures as well. We head out March 18th, so there is less than a month to go. I have been sick a lot of this month (very out of the norm for me), so I am hoping my health is at its best when March comes around.

I was also asked to have my trip funded by March 11th, I still need around $400, please pray I get the last bit in before then.

March 2024

I just checked and I was able to raise enough funding for my trip. I actually went $60 over, praise Jesus and thank you for everyone who supported me up to this point.

Highlights from the Trip

If you want to just see pictures, please take a look at the facebook group.


03/18/2024 - Monday

  • Darla, Chad, and Chris (our church Pastors) showed up to the airport to support us and sent us off
  • Larissa left her passport at home accidently and her husband Jason missed our first flight to Atlanta
  • The waiter for TGI Fridays screamed when we said table for 16, lol!
  • I went to bed at 1:30 AM EST and took a very very cold shower in Cotacachi

03/19/2024 - Tuesday

  • Lead my first devotion after breakfast
  • Served in my first VBS (Vacation Bible School) outreach
  • Was intrigued by an older gentleman dressed in very traditional black attire. His facial features where very unique

03/20/2024 - Wednesday

  • El Cercado kids recognized us walking the streets of Cotacachi and seemed to be looking forward to see us later that day
  • Pastor Ashley taught us about spiritual warfare
  • My first prayer walk
  • I met a little girl named “sonrisa”

03/21/2024 - Thursday

  • Prayed for a demon possessed man named Brian
  • I felt a demonic presence
  • Learned about Inti Raymi (I think this happens once a year)

03/22/2024 - Friday

  • God gave me a word for Juan Carlos
  • Very powerful evening of prayer
  • I snapped off the entire shower head including the plumbing

03/23/2024 - Saturday

  • The last VBS in El Cercado
  • I talked in Kitchwa
  • First home cooked meal in Ecuador
  • Aiden’s birthday surprise

03/24/2024 - Sunday

  • The first Ecuadorian Palm Sunday

03/25/2024 - Monday

  • Chat with Gloria, our server
  • Negotiating with the locals
  • Center of the earth attraction

03/18/2024 - Monday

The day started like any other day, 5:30 AM, alarm wakes me up. I get ready, the family is still sound asleep. I remember I forgot to to pack some sandals (arrrg). I head downstairs and get some breakfast. I eat a little more than usual as I have no idea if I’m going to get much food at the airport. I was actually the first one to get to the airport. Soon after, the rest of the team started to show up. Excited and a bit nervous is actually how I felt that morning. To my surprise, the pastors (Darla, Chris, and Chad) showed up to support us and send us off. They were very friendly, supportive, and truly felt very happy to be there. The pastor Chad prayed for us he said he hopes this trip changes us individually. He said we would leave as one person and come back as another. I’ve had some thoughts on taking my entire family on a mission strip, hopefully this trip will answer that question by the time I get back to Raleigh. My wife Mikaela brought some home baked muffins for the group and I got to say goodbyes to my wife and two girls, Kamilah and Isabelah.

We headed to the Delta ticket counter. It took me three tries, but I finally got my luggage tags and my boarding passes. We are a large group of 18, so this took a while. The automated ticket counter machines were slow and not really working well. We did have a small situation. One of the persons in the group forgot their passport. Since we are heading to another country you can imagine the issue. She had to call someone to bring her passport to the airport. This meant she will have to meet us at Atlanta and use a different flight. Let’s hope her and her husband reunite with the team before we get on our flight to Quito.

The flight from RDU to Atlanta was pretty smooth. It was only about 1.5 hours. I got sandwiched between two guys who slept the whole time. A little water, some sun chips and in no time we were in Atlanta. We have a four hour layover, so the next stop was getting some food. I suggested we eat at TGI Friday’s. When we were told the waiter “a table for 16”, he screamed! Lol! I think he was super happy to get the extra tips. Remember that most of the people on this trip don’t know each other, so it was good to sit down and chat a bit. We have teachers, retirees, students, an electrician, a basketball coach, and of course a Techie. We actually have another church (Rise church) joining us and it was the pastor’s wife of that church that forgot her passport. Jason and Larissa reunited with us while we were waiting for our Quito flight. They made it with plenty of time to spare, especially since her flight got delayed about 30 minutes. Upon boarding, I got extremely lucky and got myself a window seat with no neighbors, yay! The flight came with a blanket, a pillow, and some headphones. So far, so good. The flight is 4 hours and 45 minutes long. I think I may just watch a movie.

I found it interesting to see that my home town Buga (~1.5 hr flight from Cali) was only a 1 hour plane ride away from Quito.

Many hours later, we finally arrived in Quito. In both flights, the pilots landed so smoothly, this was not the norm, I was very impressed. We went through customs and off to pick up our bags. The team leader Tim was told he needed to renew his passport, but he told me he might not. We had a long 2 hour bus ride to Cotacachi, it was very bumpy, and I needed to use the restroom badly. On a positive note, the bus was huge, very nice, and very comfortable. Right before we got in the bus we met the local church leaders, the Penleys’. I took a very cold shower and a very quick one that night. I think we went to bed around 1:30 in the morning East Coast time. I ended up in a room with two other guys.

03/19/2024 - Tuesday

We were up by 6:30 in the morning local time (this is 7:30 AM Eastern Time) and headed down to the courtyard. Tim took us to a few bakeries for coffee and pastries. Both work fantastic and super duper cheap. I saw lots of children in formal uniforms walking to school. I saw children from five years of age all the way to teenagers. I did not see a lot of motorcycles like in Colombia, but plenty of stray dogs. I’ll be leading a small devotional this morning. I think this is my first one so we will see how that goes. So far everyone speaks Spanish, it has been pretty easy to communicate with the locals.

We were served the breakfast which included coffee (milk and sugar), bread, fruit, juice, and eggs. People in my group kept trying to order eggs Sunnyside up but soon realized this wasn’t an IHOP. After a few announcements by Tim, it was my turn for the devotion I talked about the book of John and Genesis.

  • I walked through John 1 and tied some of the references back to the first chapter of Genesis
    • Jesus and God are one
    • Everything was made by Jesus and for Jesus
    • The trinity (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit)
      • Genesis talks about the spirit, God, and lets make man in the image of us

Soon after the bus picked us up and took us to the main church. It’s called Iglesia El Camino “siguiendo sus pasos”. It’s not that big but it is really nice. It even had a little bit of grass with some soccer balls. The pastor gave us a really good picture of the town, the places they minister to, and what to expect. He mentioned the power hierarchy (witches over the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church over the people). He actually shared so much information that I forgot most of it. We then practiced dancing the kids songs, practiced the craft activity, and divide up the jobs. We were getting ready to do VBS for an unknown number (0 to 150) of children. Afterwards, we headed to lunch. We were told lunch is the largest meal of the day.

The ride to the village was around 30 to 45 minutes and it was not paved at all. It’s very clear that this community is very poor. The houses were very minimally made and the construction was pieced together. They seemed to literally live off the land. I also saw some sort of fire/oven that was used to make bricks. I saw lots of cows and they were all tied to a rope. The mountains in the background were very beautiful.

When we finally got there, it was time to clean a bit and set up the chairs. It was some sort of community building the people in the village use. The kids chairs were all squished to one side of the room, the floor was dirty, there was a stage and a projector. I saw kids playing outside and headed that way.

Next to the building was a pretty big paved court, swings, monkey bars, and a slide. As you can imagine I mostly played soccer with the kids. It was a lot of fun and I’m happy my knee didn’t fail me. It was feeling a little unstable. There was also a basketball hoop and three girls face painting. Now keep in mind that this was all a bit rundown, nothing like a park in the States. After a bit we headed inside for VBS. We had the kids sit down, told them they had to be respectful to God and his Word, to volunteers, and to each other. We then did 2 dances with them, we had one of the ladies (Michelle) teach them the creation story (which was translated to Spanish), more dancing, and then we did a craft with the kids. I had a group of four girls and one boy. The craft was a little challenging, but I got through it. The kids love the activity. Some of the kids understood the village dialect and Spanish. There were a lot of small kids and they reminded me of my 2 girls, they were very cute. Some had runny noses, many were very dirty, and some had strong orders. Expected, but the kids overall were well behaved and seem to respond really well to the message. At the end there was a slight alter call, but there were many kids that are just too young to really get what being saved means. We then led them out the door little by little and gave them a treat on the way out. We actually ran out of food to give and I had to buy some more from the store next door. We had 133 kids that day.

We had dinner at the same place we had lunch, La Marqueza Restaurant. Rice, chicken and avocado. The locals put tons of mayonnaise on the rice. I forgot to mention, we had service that night at the Cotacachi church. I also had some interesting talks with one of the missionaries and pastor Ashley, but the highlight was VBS. There were little girls, probably 4 years old, holding babies. I shook this old man’s hand that came at the end of VBS. He was dressed very traditional. I asked the local team who he was and they said that might have been the old village chief. I got a warm shower today at the hotel, yay! Off to sleep.

03/20/2024 - Wednesday

I was up, ready early the next morning. We had a smaller morning walk group. It was around 6:30 AM when we left as we had to be at breakfast at 7:00 AM. These walks are kind of like our early breakfast. We walk to the same bakery that is probably three blocks away. The ladies name is Salva and she gives us free coffee if we buy a pastry. The coffee is not really that great, but they have these cheese filled croissants that are pretty tasty. On the way there this group of three young kids recognized us and asked if we were going to be at El Cercado today. I said “yes” we will. I did not recognize the kids, but I was happy they enjoyed themselves the day before. We did our morning devotion (Selah) on James 1: 2-4. On the bus we went and straight to church. We start with worship (YouTube) and then we hear from the pastor and learn what we’re going to do that day. I finally realized why our leader Tim did not know ahead of time what we were going to do in Ecuador. The local pastor Ashley actually has ideas on what he wants to do, but he decides on the day, at least that’s what it seems like. He reminded us that we Facebook are a spiritual team and he taught us the following.

The main topic was on spiritual battle. The verses he started with were were from Deuteronomy Chapter 11 verse 22 through 24. The key verse for me was verse 24. Physical actions combined with prayer to impact spiritual realms and claim territories for God’s glory. He mentioned a lot of practical advice on how to actually prayer walk. He also mentioned something I found very interesting. He said he is playing the long game. He said we need to first prayer walk an area. Then we can talk about street evangelism. Prayer walking is the boring stuff no one wants to do, but is so important.


  • Deuteronomy 11:22-24
    • Spiritual battle
    • v24, this is why we prayer walk
      • If we do not put our feet there, we will not take the territory
    • Ask the Lord to forgive the sins of the people
    • If the Holy Spirit prompts you to talk to someone, do it
  • Pastor says handing out tracks is not a good way to minister
  • Ask the Lord to reveal something to you
  • Pray for solutions
    • Thank Jesus for something he is going to do in this city
  • Be spiritually perceptive
  • Be persistent, you may need to re-walk areas

After the teaching, we practice more kids songs and went over the activity we were going to do for the day. We then got into groups of three to four persons, headed to the City via bus, and started praying. We initially just walked and prayed. We then started walking into shops, introducing ourselves as part of the local church, handing them a business card, and asking them if they wanted prayer. If they said yes, I would ask for their name and if they had something specific they wanted prayer for. As you can expect some said no, many said yes, most did not have specific requests. There was one man named Javier, he seemed to be in his 30s and he actually did not look like a local. When I asked him if he wanted prayer. He said, he didn’t even know what that means. Hilarious to lay hands on him and pray. This was a new experience for me and I did most of the praying and most of the translating. We ended by standing on a street corner and praying for the city, the businesses, and the teenagers (hard to reach). The prayer walk lasted about an hour and we headed to lunch.

Afterwards, it was the bus ride to El Cercado. We had the same format as yesterday. There was a little girl that asked me “What is the meaning of your name?” she told me her name meant “sonrisa”, which means smile. We had an activity with play-doh. She told me she has never had something like this. I had a look of confusion and unbelief. Did this girl just tell me, she never even played with some play-doh? The way she said it… she was so happy with that small tub of play-doh. She even gave me a hug. I may have teared up for a bit. 132 kids showed up. The previous “village leader” was there again. He actually stole a broom from us. And he came back! He tried to talk to me in Kitchwa, but I had no clue what he said. I think he understood me when I told him my Manana. We will do it again tomorrow. The day ended with dinner. Time to get some shut eye.

03/21/2024 - Thursday

We started off with our morning walk, we have been eating so much I decided to skip coffee and a pastry. I guess miracles are real. Tim remembered another bakery close by and we headed that way. He was looking for some chocolate pastries of some sort. He found them and decided to buy all eighteen of us one. They were sort of a very large cake pop. Breakfast and then our devotional. We have one person each day share something from the Bible to the group. This morning it was Brooke’s turn and we went over Isaiah chapter 54:2-5, 15 through 17. The verse that stood out was verse 16. It reminds us that God created everything, even weapons that are used to harm us. The verse specifically says God “created the destroyer to wreck havoc”. It then follows this up with, “no weapon forged against you will prevail”. Shortly after we were on the bus and heading to the Iglesia El Camino. After worship, the pastor actually went over the God test. It’s a series of questions to start a conversation with people and to see where they are spiritually. The format seems a little unnatural to me, but this is what we were going to do this morning.


What is the Gospel? The gospel is the good news that God became man in Jesus Christ.

He lived the live that we should have lived and died the death we should have died in out place.

Three days later he rose from the dead, proving that he is the son of God and offering the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins to anyone who repents and believes in him

We got back on the bus and headed straight to the mission. We got back into the same prayer walk group and headed towards the square in front of the basilica. There wasn’t much of a game plan, we started at the corner and began to pray. An indigenous man started up a conversation with us. He mentioned he was Catholic and attended a small group that consisted of about 150 indigenous members. He mentioned evangelical churches appear to feel superior, without sin, puts other denominations down, and he did not like that. He actually knew a few English words, he told me his family visits him and they spoke English. It seems he had picked up some vocabulary over time. I asked him if the tribes get along. He said yes, they get together to talk about issues in the community and to push the government for things they need. He says the government treats them like they are not worth much.

We then got approached by a young man selling us little bags of “biscochos”. He started going through the sales script. He was on drugs, in a bad place, but now I he is in a rehab center trying to do better in life. He then said if we will buy from him, he sells to support himself. We told him no and started asking him questions. He shared that he used to be a preacher in a nearby town. He then proceeded to preach to us and he sounded spot on. Carson another member of our team sensed something and told me to ask him if you need a prayer and what specifically can we pray for. Brian shared that he hears voices in his head that tell him to hurt others. He then showed us his back which was full of lacerations and large stab wounds. We all laid hands on him and started to pray powerfully in Spanish, English and in our holy language. Within seconds, Brian started to cry and his body was almost convulsing uncontrollably. We were praying that the demon that was torturing him leaves him in the name of Jesus and praying he forgives all those who have hurt him physically and emotionally. I don’t know if God answered our prayers, we hugged him goodbye headed towards the Catholic Church.

On the steps was a life-size Jesus standing with a crown of thorns, with blood are dripping on his face. He had a purple robe on that reached his feet. The robe had a satanic looking symbol on it. I wanted to pray in the area where this Jesus figure was, but people picked it up and placed it in the back of a car and drove away. Around this time I felt a heavy feeling on my back and some on my head, it was a strange feeling that I can only describe like a demonic presence. In this square/plaza we were at, the Indian tribes dance/pray/fight against each other to win the square.

  • Here is a video of Inti Raymi, it would have been interesting to see it in person.

I believe this was also the night we drove to another church building that the pastor Ashley and his team has rented out. It’s actually a abandoned or failed restaurant that is going to be converted into a church, currently doesn’t have a pastor so this is the very very beginning of the church plant. He told us is is very strategically placed. We were told that the people that live in this town are called savages so they warned us that we have no idea if they’re gonna be nice to us. The name of the city is called Imandag and it was kind of late and the streets were pretty tight for that big bus. We literally showed up, turned the lights on, stood up the video, and sound system. We had to figure out where the the main water system shut off was located (it was located outside), so we could turn the water on and use the bathroom. We just blasted a worship music for about an hour and it was fantastic.

03/22/2024 - Friday

Friday morning breakfast, we actually realized that we were able to order omelets, it was actually better than the scrambled eggs we’ve been getting. Victoria shared psalms 24 verse seven through 10 and numbers chapter 23 verse 19 through 24, she emphasized the battle is the Lord’s and the power of worship. We then walked to the church (about a 5 minute walk), and worshipped. Pastor Ashley shared John 10:10 and Mark chapter 16.


  • John 10:10
    • Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy
    • 4 pastoral failures, Urcuqui
    • Pray for miracles and restoration
  • Mark 16
    • Demons, new languages, snakes, lay hands on sick, deadly things will not harm you

Josiah’s devotion notes:

  • Philippians 3:12-15
    • Press on even after we get back home

We’re going to Urcuqui, a town that has had four of our pastors fail morally. We were told this was a dark town, with the spirit of conflict. We were handed Flyers and pens. People in these towns really like pens. So we got in our teams and started to walk the streets. The first stop was a market. The shop owners did not really seem open to hearing us. I had one lady totally ignore me. A few flyers were handed out, but that was about it. I wanted to head to the Plaza, so the group headed towards that direction. I’m not the best with directions, I was really happy Carson was with us. We started stopping by the businesses along the way. The people were a little more friendly and we were able to hand out a good number of Flyers.

In one of those stores, we met Juan Carlos. He was a young man that was open to chat a bit with us. He mentioned he had previously visited the church and he did not connect with it. He told me he was in a spiritual journey of sorts. He had a stash of books behind him he pointed towards, showing me all the books he was reading on spiritual stuff. After listening to him, I felt Juan Carlos was depressed. I then took a chance and told him I am not sure if what I’m about to say is true, God is telling me you’re suffering from depression. He initially said no, but then he said things happen in life. I asked if we can pray for him and he said yes. We prayed for him and told him he is welcome back to the church. I left not knowing if my “feeling” was a word from God. I ended up talking to two other people from the Ecuador team that same they that knew Juan Carlos personally. They said he ended a relationship with a girl 3 months ago, was into to satanic things, and was definitely depressed. After the prayer walk, we rush back for 7:00 PM service at Cotacachi. We had people we invited a few days ago show up. We had plenty of people go up for prayer. It was very powerful evening of prayer. We had a super late dinner. This was also the night I accidentally snapped off our entire shower head and plumbing. So water now shoots out of the wall, I guess it could be worse.

03/23/2024 - Saturday

Noah’s devotion notes:

  • John 17:23
  • 1 Peter 3:13-17
  • Luke 6:38

Today we’re going to do 2 VBS sessions. One at 10:00 AM in El Cercado and one at 3:00 PM in El Tablon. This was our last one in Cercado so it was a bit sad. I talked to the indigenous man in his native language kitchwa, bought some bracelets for my girls, and was asked by a mom to pray for her son. His name is henry and his mom said pray for his ears. I got a big hug from her and I prayed to Jesus to heal his ears. Praise the Lord for Henry’s healing his ears. At the end of VBS, we gave away two bikes (a boy and a girl). We were worried that kids that won would get hurt or robbed by the other kids. This is something we were trying to see if it motivates the children. We had around 189 kids today.

We went back to Cotacachi for lunch and straight to El Tablon we had a quick bathroom break in Urcuqui, picked up some locals, and headed out. We’re expecting around 20 children. The location was much smaller, but the playing playground area was actually a very good size. We had a similar setup (face paint, soccer ball, basketball, hula hoops, Chalk, and of course music). I finally realized the locals that we picked up were actually church members from the Urcuqui church location. They are relatives of Henry. It was very cool to see them want to serve. We loaded everything back into the bus. The kids in El Tablon were very well behaved (we has 39 kids). We headed back to Cotacachi.

We all thought we were going to the restaurant we have been eating lunch and dinner, but we were told that there was a change of plans. The bus dropped us off at the church and all of us hungry people were a bit confused. We were told food was going to be sent to the church. One of the local church members actually cooked for us all. We ate rice, beef stew, cheese filled plantains patties, the food tasted are really good. Out of nowhere a cake full of lit candles appeared and we started singing happy birthday. It was Aiden’s 19th birthday (actually its the 28th). They also smashed his face into the cake, the tradition here in Ecuador. We were able to walk back to the hotel and get a semi free night to ourselves. I chatted with my wife for a bit and tried to decompress from the week. Even though VBS is really only around 3 hours long, it drains you. Breakfast was pushed forward one hour to 8:00 AM Quito time and people were very happy they did not need to get up early.

03/24/2024 - Sunday

I actually did not have this day in my journal, so here is the summary of what was able to remember for this day.

We actually had a free Sunday morning, we got up semi early and I believe I skipped are morning walk since I was really behind in my journaling. We ate breakfast around 8:00 in the morning and this morning I had some stomach issues. I think the food from the night before, the home cooked meal, probably messed my stomach up a bit. I eat a little bit of bread and just had water. I gave away my food including the eggs.

Sam’s devotion notes:

  • Ephesians 6:10
    • prepare for mission trip
    • be fearless

Tim’s devotion notes:

  • 1 Thesolothians 5:17
  • Matthew 6:5-6
  • Luke 5:16
  • Luke 6:12
  • Mark 1:35
  • Luke 18:1-8
  • John 17:13-21
  • 1 John 2:1
  • Hebrews 4:14-16
  • Doubts turn into disbelief, pray and read the word to combat thid

We then headed as a group to a nearby Plaza near the hotel were we were going to have Palm Sunday. It was a local coffee shop where we sat in a circle outside the shop and started worshipping and singing songs (Jason & Issac played the guitar). We had a debrief with the team to see how everything went, anything they learned, and any experiences that stood out. A few of us shared some items with the team. We broke bread (from breakfast) and we had some grape juice. This was the first Ecuadorian Palm Sunday I believe for everybody in the team. We then we’re told we were able to just walk around town and shop, so that’s what we all did. We walked around and started exploring and shopping. Most of the items that I saw were leather bags, leather jackets, leather purses, lots of leather everywhere. We then headed back to the hotel where we changed into nicer looking clothes and I actually thought oh, I feel much much better dressed up than dressed with my jeans and a T-shirt. We had a a fantastic evening of worship and prayer.

03/25/2024 - Monday

I finally made it to the last day it’s going to be a long one. I still woke up at the same time to the church bells ringing less than a block away. This was our last morning walk and we actually had our largest group. I don’t remember how many of us went but it was at least ten. Gloria our server told me a relative goes to the El Camino church and she has no time to go to church as she is working all the time. She also mentioned she had a pizza shop across the street. She said she should have told us. I agree as we ended up going to a different one earlier that week. Another interesting comment she made was about the Hotel Del Sol restaurant. She said it was abandoned and she has only been working there for three months. She said COVID put most restaurants, including hers out of business. She had to convert the pizza menu geared for tourists to food locals would eat. She also said at one point the hotel restaurant was a very popular place to eat and required reservations. She even said many chefs started here, learned how to cook, and then went on to open their own restaurants. She said this is exactly what happened to the business owner of the restaurant we ate most of our lunches and dinners in. We had a we had bill share his devotion this morning.

Bill’s devotion notes:

  • 1 John, ch. 1, 2, 3, 5
    • God is light, love, and life
  • Ephesians 5:18
    • Be concerned of how much the Holy Spirit has of us

At 9:00-ish we grabbed our bags, loaded them to the bus and off to tourist day. I was honestly not looking forward to this day. I’m not a shopper at all. The first stop was under 30 minutes away, it looked a bit like an outdoor flea market that was around a square block in size. I saw wooden musical instruments, blankets, sweaters, jewelry, panchos, etc. They reminded us, do not buy dream catchers or gems. I helped Jason get a fair deal on 4 sweaters, I kind of like the haggling process. For the most part, most of the vendors were not asking for really high prices. I ended up buying a couple of aprons for my 2 little girls, I figured they might enjoy wearing them when they help mommy cook. They were a few people that bought a good amount of items and were a bit worried about fitting it all in their backs. We also has an American named Ronaldo talk to us about his life in Ecuador, he said he wanted to Try Colombia next. I also chatted with a few missionaries, all dressed in white, I forgot what denomination they were from, they were young and in good spirits.

We then headed to another location, I thought it was more shopping but it was an attraction that claimed to be located at the center of the world. We then went to a Colombian restaurant that had a menu I was not used to. But the hot chocolate was fantastic. We did a few of the attractions, the cacao museum gave us some tasty chocolate samples, and we took a group picture. The weather in this area was all over the place. As we arrived, it was misty, then the sun came out and it was really nice, then it started to get windy and rainy. I was pretty wet and cold by the time we got back to the bus, We then headed to the airport around 4:00 PM Ecuador time. We ate again at the airport, most of us were not really hungry. I just got some BBQ wings and some fries. We said our goodbyes to the local team and off to our red eye flight. Some of us got some sleep, some of us did not. I was squished between two people and maybe got an hour of sleep. In Atlanta, most of us got a little bite to eat, Dunkin was my choice, and off to Raleigh. One of our team members Lou was going to another state for work so we said our goodbyes in Atlanta. Our flight to Raleigh was pretty short and sweet. Once we got there, I said my goodbyes to the team and headed out of the airport. My family soon arrived and I was back home.

Special Thanks

This was an experience that I don’t think I will forget. I met great people, grew in my faith, and allowed Jesus to work through me. Because of your support, this was all possible. The villages in Ecuador (Cotacachi, Urcuqui, Tablon, Imandag) and I thank you very much.