Thoughts, Comments, and Inspiration from College Park Church members.
Mike and I had a surprise visit from our friend Jesus' Vargas yesterday and today. One of the blessings from coming every year is seeing the friends that you've made. There is no price to great that can replace that experience. Praise God for giving me the resources and time to make this a possibility. All that I have belongs to Him. I am only the steward.
Thanks to Mike Rickles and our translator Pablo for taking the time to make this possible!!! They made it possible for us to sing our Lift Jesus Higher song in Spanish. It was awesome for the Ecuadorians to join in with us and be able to sing our song.
Good Evening from Ecuador! This has been an awesome week. I left my family at home for week, I left the busiest time of the year with my job, I spent over $,2500, and flew 2,500 miles to catch up to the hand of God. There's just something about digging ditches, moving dirt, pouring concrete, laying block, and all the other things involved in building a church, that brings me closer to God. It's a solid week of focusing on HIM and spreading HIS word. The guys we work with are a great bunch to be around. There's never a dull moment and every guy we work with are the kind of guys you would want living next door to you.
The neighborhood is much better than the one last year. We actually have paved streets, two stores, and a bakery right next door. The construction leader brings us fresh baked bread every morning at 10am. We enjoy cutting up with the locals and learning there ways and language. While some of us are skilled at building and constructing, it never ceases to amaze me at how much we are able to get done in a week. It truly shows everyone that God is involved and helping us every step of the way. We wouldn't be able to do it without Him.
Praise be to the God that I serve and I thank Him for giving me the opportunity to serve Him. Some of us are eloquent with our words. Some of us are musical and can sing a wonderful song. Some of us are good in the trenches and like to help lay a foundation that will last. God is allowing us to help build a foundation for His church here in Ecuador. I'm excited to be a part of it. I wish you all could be here. You must experience it once. It will change you.
Have a blessed evening!
Three days from now we'll begin our 3rd adventure into the mission field. Praying that God will allow us to be a blessing to everyone we meet. I'm looking forward to a solid week of being able to focus on nothing but the mission that is before me.
Construction day two brought more of the same from day one. This year is extremely hard for some reason. The humidity seems to be higher but it's not hot. All of my clothes are completely soaked before 9AM in the morning. Every muscle of my body is now aching and every bone just plain hurts. I'm fully invested in the ministry of what we are trying to accomplish, and after getting to visit the church we built last year this past Sunday, it's worth every ounce of blood, sweat, tears, and pain that I must endure. This is a sacrifice. No amount of money that I could ever give to charity or some other cause, can match the level of God's blessing that I feel from doing the work myself. My heart is overwhelmed with joy even through the pain. If Jesus is all I want, then I have need of nothing. Keep us in your prayers. Pray that we'll have the strength to finish what God wants us to and that the people we meet, will see the love of God in us.
I've included some photos from Sunday, Monday and Today.
This is my second mission trip to Ecuador so the material preparation was the same but the spiritual preparation was very different. I didn't finish packing until 2AM the day of our departure which is not normal for a 10 day trip to another country. It's had a different feeling to it the entire year and I can't put my finger on the cause. Is it because I've been here before? Is it because I somewhat know what to expect? Or is it because until you fully give yourself away to "God's mission", you fail to see the Spirit working in your life.
I gave myself fully to the mission at hand and once again God has met me here. Day one of construction is now over and the assessment has begun. Once again God has put a control freak in a situation where he has no control. We have the resources, knowledge, and skills to build the church faster and better, but that is not His plan. His plan for us is to give ourselves fully to His plan. His plan is for us to be servants and do the Master's work whatever that may be. All the while, lifting Him up so that He, not I, may receive the glory for the work that has been done. Because I can guarantee that without Him, what we do while we are here, would Not get done without Him in our presence.
Thank you for your prayers! His blessings are flowing in our lives.
Only one day until we leave for Atlanta, then on to Miami and from there on to Ecuador. Thanks to all who are going. Your about to experience God and his blessing in a very different way. I commend you.
Only 100 more days or so until this year's Ecuador mission trip. I'm excited for the ones who have signed up but I wish there were 3 times as many going. I will try anything to get them to go and I have often used guilt as a successful motivator. :-) God will provide the funds if you provide the vessel
I apologize for not posting anything over the last two days, but I've been exhausted. I've grown spritually over the past two months, but Nothing compares to what I've experienced here in Ecuador. I believe that in order to serve God fully, there can be no "comfort zone" in your life. All I want to do is just stand in His presence and soak up as much of His spirit as possible. Serving God and fulfilling scripture by going into the world and spreading the word of God has opened up a whole avenue of worship for me.
We put up so many boundaries and confine God so that He can only move in those specific areas of our lives. Being able to stay in "control" of those areas creates a "comfort zone" and keep us from experiencing the fullness of God and the Holy Spirit. Case in point, it's 11:41pm and most of the guys are gathered together in Lance, Mike S., and Allens room talking about our experiences. The first miracle is that there are 6 guys in a room talking about their experiences for the day. The second miracle is that we aren't talking about football, hunting, fishing, or sports. We're talking about how much God has done in our lives during this trip; How it has affected us and what we can do to keep the fire burning inside; Being able to openly discuss God and our feelings with other Godly men is an awesome experience. It brings much joy to my heart and allows us to destroy any "comfort zones" that we may have.
Praise God for what He has done within our group. I appreciate your prayers for our group. We have heard from many that you have been praying for us and we can feel your prayers. God is changing our hearts, our focus, our desires, and our spirits. We have seen God work in a mighty way this week.
We love you all and look forward to being able to share our experience.
I've created a new photo slide show showing you the church building process.
***NOTE**** Please share the Facebook and Church blog link with everyone you know. We must be able to share our experiences with as many as possible.
I apologize up front for not being able to depict to you all of the thoughts that are going through my mind because of everything that we've have seen. Some of this is difficult to put into words. Most of this must be EXPERIENCED to be able to understand and I'm sorry you're not able to be here. I will try to do my best.
After reading Mike and Lance's post from earlier today, it is apparent to me that God is at work within our group. At 9 am the construction team departed for the new church site where we attended church service with the congregation. Until today, I can probably say that my perspective has probably been skewed. People who live in America and have never been on a mission trip cannot fully understand true poverty. As we stood there and worshipped with the (Ecuadorian "Mike Rickles") leading the worship, I began to cry. This seems to be the overwhelming theme for the day anyway so why not. There were approximately 120 or more of us counting there congregation and the folks that just walked up. We had church in the street. What struck me the most was that the people's condition, status in life, or circumstances did not keep them from worshipping God and having church. Even though I didn't understand but about two words of the songs we sang, it didn't matter. I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit in that place.
Our prayers are coming true. Isn't that a novel idea. What started as an idea for doing missions work, then expanded into an action, executed with prayer and determination, is now coming to fruition by the grace of God. WOW!!!! My God is good.
This was the only "off" for the construction team so we did little site seeing here close to the hotel. Of course a little site seeing means more bus rides and a lot of walking. There were deals on every corner. My roommate bought a Seiko watch for 6$ and by the way, gas is 1.49$ a gallon down here. There is still no place like home.
The evening was capped off by a praise and worship service on the roof of the hotel. It was supposed to start at 9 but was about 15 minutes late. I said that to say that I almost missed it. I'm extremely tired and I wanted to go to be early because we have to be up by 6 and on the bus by 730. Something made me change my mind and I encouraged a few other tired folks to go with me to check it out. Can I say that God does not disappoint? WOW!!! Once again I felt the Holy Spirit moving again. I can say that I started and finished the day crying and I'm still crying as I'm writing this post. I wish I could share what I'm feeling with you right now.
We finished the praise service with prayer and I finished the night by saying this:
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!
Today my heart was filled up and there is more to come. I wish you could all be here.
This has the feel of Christmas. I can't wait to see what is in store for us in Ecuador! Only two more days.
At this time 3 days from now, we'll be in the Miami airport enduring our 7-1/2 hour layover and preparing for a new adventure. Many would say that the greatest moment in a Christian's life is the moment they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I would contend that there may be several moments in a Christian's life that are equally as great. The moment you decide that's it's really not all about you and the purpose for which you walk this earth has not been fulfilled. The moment you begin to fully understand that to have the heart of Jesus and the mind of Jesus, means you have to completely die to yourself. And because of this you begin to realize that you don't do enough for others.
Like many in our Ecuador mission group, I have never been outside of the USA except for the occasional cruise. While I was packing last night, Regina asked me if I was scared of afraid. Yes, I said. I'm afraid I will forget and leave something behind that I need, but not about the trip. When we began planning and searching for an area that we could focus on as a group, I knew in my heart that I would do it at all costs. It did not matter what, I was immediately going to say yes. Not to be selfish, but my prayer is that God will change me through my service. That He will allow me to experience the fullness of His Joy through watching others be blessed.
To the other 13 members of the mission group: I APPLAUD your courage and your willingness to do God's work. I'm praying that this experience will be like none other in your lives and that you will bring the momentum of God's spirit back with you.
May he pour out His spirit upon the Ecuador Mission group.
We leave Friday week, which is only 10 days away from today. Looking forward to the chance of growing closer to God through mission work.
Start planning. It's almost time to start packing.