Over the next few weeks, we will feature one of Amanda Pennel’s posts that she sent to supporters while she was on our 2015 mission trip to Ecuador. This is the third installment in this series. You can read the first two entries here: Day 1 and Day 2. if you want more information about our November 4 – 11, 2016 or July 28 – August 4, 2017 trip.
Sunday: Day 3 in Ecuador
Peace. According to the world, it means freedom from disturbance; peace and tranquility.
Peace according to God: It goes beyond what we can explain or understand, but promises to guard our hearts and minds in Christ. It’s the only thing I can think of that describes what must surround these women who serve so faithfully and the women who pursue knowing God while living in the worst circumstances.
Today we learned about the Child Survival Program (CSP). Compassion provides this program within a project, and it aims to teach mothers the basics of caring for their children so that they might survive. They receive medical help, and they are also taught about Jesus and how to share Jesus with their children. They are also given the opportunity to learn new skills like sewing, so that they might then use those skills to benefit them and possibly earn an income. The CSP provides care and assistance for pregnant women and children up to 3 years of age. We heard stories from two of the mothers and the positive impacts that the program has had in their lives. It’s amazing how God can transform people and situations.
For me, the most eye opening part of the morning was interacting with Erica and Carmen. These two women manage the CSP at EC517; they’re called, promoters. The light of Christ within each of them is so bright, that you would be blind to miss it. They oversee about 18-20 children each, along with the mothers. And when I say oversee, it’s so much more than that. They serve with a Christ-like love, forming tightly braided bonds with every single mother. The trust that is formed allows them to provide help and prayer and opportunities to bring God into every picture. Erica and Carmen travel to every single home several times a week for home visits. They carry backpacks full of binders and curriculum as they walk from house to house. The walk that they endure is not like a leisurely stroll in one of our neighborhoods. No. They walk for miles, in sometimes unstable conditions, as they move from home to home, situated in pockets of the mountainous region.
December is when the wet season begins here. We were told that El Niño that is supposed to happen this year is expected to be one of the worst ever. And yet, these women will do all that they can to make their journeys, stay connected, despite the conditions. When we ask Carmen what she enjoys most, she picks up her bible and with tears says, sharing God’s word, because she is so in love with Jesus. I think that God will have much to reward these women with, not only for their faithfulness in serving others but for the pure love we witnessed. In all my seeing and listening yesterday, there was one thing absent: discouragement. Not one bit of complaining or worry or even tears of sadness. I woke up this morning a freaking wreck and a half, ugly crying on our balcony, as I kept thinking: how can we leave? How can we leave knowing that the rain and water will destroy the homes we are visiting, wipe them out of the very little that they have? How can we leave knowing that the rain and rising waters will prevent Erica and Carmen from getting to these women and these children? What can we do? What can we provide that will help? Ugh. Panic and worry, it’s so useless.
Peace. Not the absence of disturbance as the world describes, but the presence of God guarding our hearts and minds. This is what I see. The peace of God is here. It is guarding the hearts and minds of these women so that they are not fixed on worry but fixed on eternity. They will continue on because God is here.
And the Lord, in his grace, lovingly reminded me this morning:
“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.” (Psalm 29:3, NIV).
God is in control of everything, including El Niño.
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33, NIV)
God is the one who provides, knowing exactly what is needed and when it is needed. There is nothing that I can provide in my own power that will fix or even help in anything. Trust is needed and God more than deserves our trust.
Where in your life do you need to experience God’s peace rather than worldly peace?
Pray that the roof over EC517 will be established well and uphold during the wet season to withstand El Niño. They begin construction today.
Pray for God’s mercy for this season. A river runs right behind the project and is expected to double. Pray for the safety of the building/ project.
Pray for Carmen and Erica as they carry out God’s love and work. Pray for their protection and for God’s word to spread rapidly where they go and be honored by the women they serve.
Pray for God’s mercy and protection over these homes. They are built in simplicity, with some bamboo and wood.