Literally ran through the airport in Miami to make the connection - we only had 20 minutes between flights!! God provided directions AND our luggage made it all the way through to Quito! Two miracles.
As we walked off the jetway, we all caught a glimpse of Ben and Mari Tuten's grinning faces - so exciting to see familiar faces. For those of us who already knew them, just seeing them brought tears.
Immigration and customs - no problemas! (another miracle)
Fourteen women and forty-two suitcases - was a very interesting fit into two vans.
Wasn't early to bed, but it sure was early to rise for everyone. Was that a rooster Angie heard?? For breakfast we had strawberry rice krispies ... quite a cultural experience!
After breakfast, we were off to the school's retreat center. On the way, we asked to stop at a tienda for our morning Diet Coke. Some (who will remain nameless) were so excited to find one after two stops.
About 5 minutes before we were due to arrive at the retreat center, the school van's radiator water evaporated and the van quit. Right in the middle of the town's plaza, which also featured a marker for the equator. Here in Ecuador (the spanish word for equator), they call the equator La Mitad del Mundo - the Center of the Earth. It was a brisk morning, and the unforseen stop was a welcome walk. The locals living near the plaza helped bring extra water for the radiator and we were soon on our way.
The turnoff to the retreat center was lined with cornfields, surrounded by mountains, dotted with cows.
Soon after arrival, we gathered at the main lodge for a time of worship and prayer, led by a family that works alongside the Tutens. What a beautiful time together with brothers and sisters and our Holy Father.
After our time of worship, we all donned scrubs to serve the Lord with our paintbrushes in hand. We got very close to finishing an entire cabin and a half's worth of painting walls and cabinets - the rest we will finish on Monday. We may go back out there later in the week.
To break for lunch, we headed to La Mitad del Mundo (the equator). Some of us got some great shopping done, while others went to see the sights.
Back at the retreat, we continued as far as our little dirty, paint stained hands would let us. As the clouds migrated up like a fog into the mountains where we were working, and the sun went to hide behind the mountain, we rinsed our brushes and climbed into our faithful van to head back to our dorms for a much needed dinner.
Dinner was a genuine Ecuadorian soup - locro de papa - and it was delicious. It was a creamy potato soup topped with an avocado marinated in a vinagrette sauce, served with grilled ham and cheese - which is a popular "easy dish" throughout South America.
Then it was quickly to put on our VBS hats for the next day's planning ...
We all coralled and planned as best we could tomorrow's first day of VBS for the kids at Quito's city dump.
After we planned out our VBS we had a great time sharing about our highlights of the day over M&M's and licorice. :) We ended the evening with a time of devotion and prayer. What an AMAZING first day! Tune in tomorrow for our VBS highlights as God is sure to show off!
With love and excitement, Mikel, Angie, Sherri, Gretchen, and Karen