Cotacachi, Ibarra, Portoviejo, Puerto López, Salinas
Travel and ministry brightened up our first week 2013. The Northern Andes area displays several volcanoes and varied culture. Framed between “Father Imbabura” and “Mother Cotacachi,” the Miller’s beautiful new neighborhood was our home in Cotacachi. The “volcans” hid their peaks in the clouds during our stay, but the peaceful valley and “leather capital” were enjoyable.
We caught a bus to Ibarra to tour the bird sanctuary above the city. Yes, we admired the bald eagles, but they were dwarfed by the Condors native to Ecuador. They are understandably the centerpiece of the national emblem and flag. Our timing was perfect for the 4pm showing with their handlers. Many of us enjoyed holding the owls on our leather-protected arms.
Plagued by sinus infections, we flew to Manta to visit our friends, Steve and Jackie in Portoviejo. Ecuador’s hottest city is experiencing rapid growth and boasts a new SuperMaxi and booming development. Everywhere we have travelled in Ecuador the roads, housing and infrastructure are under improvement. President Correa is a sure thing in the February election.
We were invited to speak to the Steve and Jackie’s church youth group on Saturday night. Little did we expect such openness and enthusiasm from the fifty youth (ages 14-24). Sue was voice-challenged by her sinus and throat, so we missed her songs. After sharing “Christ is Our Life”, we offered a time for individual prayer.” Every one of the youth came forward! Fortunately our host provided interpreters.
During a late dinner we were asked to bring the Sunday message. We elaborated on the youth message. Life in Christ is not about self-improvement, but self-replacement. We do not live for the Lord, but from His indwelling Spirit!
This time we stressed that only those who felt a prompting from God should come forward for personal prayer. Half the congregation came forward, some waiting nearly an hour for God’s touch. We were truly impressed with the people’s openness and sensitivity to the Spirit!
During our Ecuadoran lunch, I asked Juan, the Senior Pastor, how he had developed the congregation during the last 20 years. He took no credit, simply stating they had experienced a series of brokenness and renewals. “When we are weak, then we (“He”) is strong!”
Still struggling with illness, we limited our remaining tour to a day in Puerto Lopez and an evening in Salinas. The many small beaches along the way tempted us with their quiet rhythms and placid shores observed from the comfortable buses. Yet, it’s good to be home in charming Cuenca!