Friday, February 17

Ecuador Encounters

Greetings Friends and Family:


Two important days and events have passed since I last pulled out my keyboard to tap you a few lines.


First there was the visit to Nabon. What is it like to visit a town for the fist time in seventeen or so years? A town that you lived in when you were about four years-old? I suppose if I were the sentimental/emotional type this letter would have ended right about here due to a malfunctioning keyboard from all the tears just recounting the events. Thankfully for you I'm not.


Because of my age in leaving the town, I drove in hardly really knowing a soul. I had a list of names however and with this as my guide I started out, traveling from house to house, asking directions to the next person on the list from the people I had already found. Most of the same neighbors live in the exact same place. The neighbor girls and boys that I climbed trees with and swished for tadpoles in the streams are now grown up and starting families of there own. Especially touching however was one of the girls who was a bit older. She had gotten married while my parents were living in this town of Nabon and my parents had given her a Bible when she had gotten married that she had read along with her husband faithfully for years and years. In her words, they had also tried to "live by what it said" including faithfully attending an evangelical church in the town in which she lives.


As for the town of Nabon, they continue to suffer from the lack of a consistent evangelical church. They have, from best I could ascertain, a Seven-day Adventist connected pastor that comes down and provides a service, but only infrequently. There is a small group of people in the town that express a faith and desire to live according to God's word but in many ways are starving for lack of instruction and nurturing. There is also a potent resistance to any efforts to evangelize this area. For example, this last year when a church here from Cuenca visited Nabon in an effort to hand out clothes and share Christ, one of the pastors was physically hit on the cheek. (Promptly following the biblical command he offered the other one as well but his attacker was no where to be found.)


Please be in prayer about the town of Nabon. I have many sincere pleas for me to visit again, and plan on doing so even as I desire that God use this language limping vessel to serve Him in this town that I count as one of my homes.


Second thing since the last tap job: Valentines Day. What an opportunity to share the ultimate love with the kids I come in contact with every day at the school I am helping out with! Unfortunately I thought of it just a tad late (5 o'clock the night before), but banking on my well developed college study habits, I persevered until an hour which I will not disclose and finished over two hundred Valentine cards for the kids at the school. Finishing off a few more over the next two days, I handed out about three hundred cards with the verse from 1 John 4:10 about the ultimate example of love that we have in God sending his Son for us. It was heartening to see the children respond to this simple gesture of Christ's love for them. For many of them, parental love is sometimes distant. A full third of the children that attend the school have parents that have left home to work in other countries. Their need for a love that is greater than what there parents can give (or can't give) is truly great. It is my prayer that God's simple message of love will outlast the candy stuck to the back of the card and have an impact on their lives.


Many times I wonder if the biggest impact I have however, is a little comic relief. The other day I confused the words for "skirt" and "dress" which sound at least somewhat a like. Graciously I was not talking about a skirt/bag some lady was wearing, or complimenting a lady directly about it however, some people continue to tease me about all the pretty "bags" ladies are wearing. Yes, learning a new language is humorous and keeps a person humble, but at least me mistakes haven't been as bad as the story where the missionary who was trying to buy some flour mistakenly asked for "urine" instead. Now that was a bad day. J


Hope you all have been having better days than that. If you have questions like others have had, or are just so kind as to fill me in on your life, please, drop me a note.


A few pictures attached as well.


'Till next time,


Lucas Pillman


Special Notes:


Ruth, yes, all those cards were handwritten. Aren't you proud of my extra personal touch? Chendo!


Sarah, attached you will find a picture of the llama I did a stare down with and won: he couldn't get up the nerve to spit.   However, I was somewhat unsure of my abilities in the art so only practiced it to around the three foot mark.


Neiderhausers, thanks for what you did to help find a Spanish book. I appreciate the effort.  

Wednesday, February 8

Ecuador Encounters: 5

Greetings Friends and Family:


A little bit more of the background down here of the work and church.


The church that I am attending down here has about 52 members and probably twice that number who attend on a given Sunday. Explosive would not be the way that I would describe from what I can tell the growth of the church but steady and consistent would more describe it. What is even more encouraging is the strength of the leaders of the church. The three pastors who attend the church have had a tremendous ministry to many people who are not even apart of the church. What is so encouraging to me is to see the depths and the independence of the church here. It is those people who are from Ecuador, people who know the language and the culture who are able and are faithfully carrying on the work. 


I was checking on figures today and up to 95% of the people here in Ecuador would call themselves Catholic. However the situation is much more complicated than a single label like Catholic. First of all there is a substantial amount of Paganism mixed in with the Catholicism. Second, what I have been observing in the younger generation, with whom I have been having more contact with, is a heavy dose of modern secularism as well.  

Most of the people may call themselves Catholics but that is just because their parents were and it is as natural to go to Mass as it is to buy their bread. It forms the basis of their traditions and beliefs but most are not what we would consider strong practicing Catholics. Many of the people I have contact with at this point are also more in the University setting. Hence, for them the issues are a mixture of Catholicism and the postmodern culture that we find in our own nation. The type of ministry here would compare much closer to any American outreach than your quaint story of living with the Indian tribes in the jungles. It is young people wondering what their lives are about. Young people reaching out to attempt to become doctors and businessmen as their ultimate standard of success, when they need Christ to satisfy the hole they find in their lives.


How is that done? Sometimes it is simple ways. It seems to be a popular question here if I have a girlfriend or not. When I've been asked that by the high school students it has given me a chance to share that, no, I don't have a recreational girlfriend at this point in my life because I'm not at the point in my life to pursue marriage. I may have (and do have) many friends who are both guys and gals, but my best friend is Jesus Christ. In teaching at the school it has also been enjoyable to be able to use hymns and bible verses as the tools to teach the kids/youth English.


In closing, a few praises. First my US passport has arrived at my house. Now only to get it down to Ecuador. Second, I checked out with the military here in Ecuador today and… Well let's just say for the sake of a great story I would have loved to have said that upon them finding out my age, I was given a three-thousand dollar fine, and immediately shipped out to endure boot camp in the sweltering heat of the jungle. All this followed by a one years service in the army parachuting out of airplanes probably under enemy fire in a war the cause of which continued to baffle me because my whole military experience was conducted in a language I hardly knew. Good thing there is more to life than good stories, right? In reality they told me I would have to pay a small fine and they would issue me a paper that would simply get let me out of the country.   


God's Blessings to you as you serve Him as well with all your heart soul and mind.


-Lucas Pillman