Our Luke 10 journey in Ecuador...where do I start? What do I say? You see, I feel like I’m a five year old, standing in front of a wall sized puzzle, trying to chose one single piece to describe. It is like having the menus of Mac Donald’s, KFC, Burger King, Subway and Cinnabon in front of you and you have to decide on one favourite meal!
So, with that said, please understand that there is so much more to this testimony than I could ever try and blog about…because this is about God! I mean the Limitless, All-knowing, All-Present and All-Powerful GOD!
And I’m trying to explain Him with our 26 letter alphabet, on a computer, by using a puzzle or take-away menu… ah, but come and sit a little while with me and let us build this puzzle anyway!
Mira is a small town high up in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, with dusty cobblestone roads and a big, white catholic church. On nearly every street corner old men with worn out, faded top hats and grey coats stand and chatter with dirty, dusty hands after the day’s hard work in the potato fields beyond the basketball court, gas station and graveyard boundaries of the town. You can hear a bunch of children playing some nameless game in the central park, while old ladies rush past you in their thick ponchos to be on time for daily mass. This is Mira, a small town framed with the most beautiful view of valleys and mountain peaks that stretch as far as your eyes can see! Mira, the place that God so clearly said we should go to, opened the way for us to get there and provided everything for us to stay there!
This will be the cover of our puzzle box – just so that you can get better idea of the setting in which one of the most valuable seven day stories of my life played off.
So, here comes a few pieces of our Luke 10 puzzle:
Maria is an old lady that we met in the sun spot in front of her house, busy sorting maize to try and sell later in the market. She seemed quite rude at first, but slowly warmed up as this four foreigners (which looked like camels in Antarctica since Mira isn’t really a tourist attraction), sat down and helped her with her daily work. We worked in silence for a while, but eventually, after hours of sharing our testimony of God's faithfuness and love, greeted her watery eyes with hope that there is a great God that knows her, sees her and hears even the deepest cries of her heart! There, that day, I saw a little bit of what a life next to Jesus must have felt like ~ spending a day to talk to one woman, sorting maize till I felt like one, but having time to spend loving her, time to sit and share her life!
How do you bless people that blesses you with the little that they have, if you, yourself, have nothing to give? Well, you ask God to give you something to give, or that's what I did! Aaah wow, and did He answer!! We walked out of Mira giving roses and bags full of fruit as gifts to all the precious people we grew to love in this little town! And to think that we entered that town with nothing to give except love! Receiving gifts in order to give gifts...
Señor Moses and his wife walked up to us one morning in the central park, greeting us as if we met them before! He asked the usual question: what are we doing in Mira. And from there our conversation started... speaking Spanish as if I've done it my whole life, I explained how beautiful a relationship with God is in comparison to the burden of religion. God's heart is not that people should be separated into "I'm right and your wrong"s or "I'm christian and your catholic"s! When I shared about how God has been teaching me about church that is not in places any more, but in people, his eyes lit up! He told me that he knows that is true, because for the last year it has been difficult to come to town for church, since he lives far up in the mountains, but that he prayed and spoke to God there at his house and that God answered! The questions started rolling off his thirsty lips... Do we also believe in the saints like they do? And Mother Mary? And the pope in Rome? Ooooh wow, how amazing that I could be the one telling this old man the truth about Jesus Christ that is alive, and that, because He is alive, we don't need the saints or the pope! At last he asked: Is there anywhere in Ecuador a church that also believes what we believe...? Man, while writing this I can once again feel my heart break loose into a little girl's laughter! Even if that was all that our Luke 10 journey was about, just so that I could share this beautiful truth with an old, dusty uncle, it would've been more than enough!
Being far away from home has never been such a big thing for me this year, I mean, when God calls you to go, He never expects you to go alone ~ "I am with you till the end of the age" is His promise. But even though I have a promise like that to hold on, being an Afrikaans speaking girl in a foreign country, more than 10 000km away from home can "dullify" any colourful day. I had a day like that... Sitting in a church service with a heart that just wanted to cry because once again I won't understand most of the message, and once again I would have to revert to simply clapping my hands in worship, not being able to sing with. While I was busy with my own private little pitty party the next song started to play... a song that I last heard when I was a little girl, my daddy's favourite song! A song that is sung in Spanish, English and Afrikaans!!!
"O Heer, my God as ek in eerbied wonder
En al U werke elke dag aanskou...
O Heer U sorg, vir klein, vir groot, vir alles
En U sorg dag, na dag vir my U kind
Dan moet ek juig, my Redder en my God?
Hoe groot is U? Hoe groot is U!!!"
There we stood, four South Africans in Ecuador, worshipping our King at the top of our lungs in the language that we grew up in! Tears are dripping on my hands as I'm typing this...what a personal God we are serving, that will go out of His way to make me feel at home where ever I am!
Looking back on our Luke 10 journey I see that this is so much more than just 10 days in a far away country! Luke 10 is an everyday life! We are made in the image of God, of Love, so loving people is supposed to be something that is in my nature, normal! It is about waking up every morning, not having any idea of what the next moment might hold, but trusting the God that knows to guide your every step! It's about being dependent on God for absolutely everything and resting in the fact that He is faithful no matter what! Resting in fact that He will accomplish His will through me, not because I am so good, disciplined or faithful, but because He is faithful and it is His will!
It is simply walking with God...
Somewhere between many untold miracles and stories I realised that explaining this journey with a puzzle or take away menu is a pretty silly, impossible idea, even if it was just a few pieces!
What do I pray you will remember? Well, apart from the fact that if Jesus was not alive it wouldn't have been possible for four people to survive for 10 days without knowing anyone, no food, no place to stay, no money and not being able to speak the language! That Jesus is alive, and that there is a loving Father that wants to be known! That this Father has no favourites, so if He is willing to take a few young people from the other side of the world to a little place in the Andes mountains of Ecuador, just to be known by them, He will do the same for you!