an open archway, photo by Geoffrey A Stemp

Musings from Jenell

Here I Am

The small earthen sanctuary was filled with 12 large, wet Canadians, and about 20 small, wet Ecuadorians. Unlike the pale Canadians, the Ecuadorians’ cheeks were brown with bright ruddy splotches from the wind and sun and the brilliant colors of their wool shawls and pleated skirts stood out in contrast to the muddy interior of the tiny sanctuary. The young father who had acted as the “maestro” for the building project of a new sanctuary during our week in the Tres Lote Covenant Church, had tears in his eyes and a sob in his throat as he thanked us for coming to work and providing the materials for the foundation and columns of their new “templo”. We all felt teary and choked up as we received their heartfelt thanks. It’s so humbling to realize that our small part was so insignificant in the face of the everyday harsh living conditions of these gentle people.

For Andy and I, it was a moment of the realization once again of loss; the loss of being missionaries in Ecuador, the loss of our beloved Covenant Bible College, the loss of our good Ecuadorian friends. I know that God has called us to be home in Canada and ministering in a new way, but transition is hard. I’m still grieving for what has been lost.

We marveled at the diligence of a people who rise before dawn and work at 11,000 ft. altitude till dusk , rain or shine. And actually during the rainy season (Oct. – May) it’s usually wet and raining. We  Canadians certainly were awestruck by the beauty of the surrounding Andes mountains and the brilliant green of the hillside fields of onions, beans, wheat, and potatoes. However, we were rather slow at slogging up the steep inclines for the first few days.

Lord, these are our people and we’re only going to be able to be here for a week! It’s too short of a time. How can we impact their lives? How will you impact our lives??

We learned how to fill wheelbarrows with rock to form a bed for the cement foundation of the new church floor. We also learned how to form rebar columns with wire. Some of us even learned new phrases in Quechua, the language of the indigenous people. As we painted in the Cuatro Lote Covenant church only a kilometer from Tres Lote, the children joined us after school to play and laugh at our funny accents and teach us their language. We formed a bond that was uncanny in one short week and brought us to together on Sunday to worship in Spanish, English and Quechua. As we sang “How Great Thou Art” for the congregation in English and they sang it with us in Spanish, we were reminded that these are our brothers and sisters in Christ and we will be singing together in heaven one day.

It was so fun to present Bibles from the Gideons for each family and then to pack about 70 bags for the children’s program. Our team had gathered, balls, yoyos, coloring books, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, markers, calculators, etc. for each child and presented these after the fun of telling stories about Jesus, singing action songs, puppets, baskets of sandwiches, juice and fruit, and coloring. We were touched and delighted to see that the parents came to the program with their children and that they were as eager to color and do the action songs as were the children.

Jenell Narrating A Bible Story

Father, it’s been so good to give of ourselves and enter into the lives of people who love you. How will I be able to leave, and start loving the people in need all around me in Canada?  In my community, in my church?

When we returned to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, and toured around the oldest part of the city, we were in awe of the antiquity of the almost 600 year old cathedrals and buildings. A history of conquest and oppression by the Spanish conquistadores revealed to us the reality of a people forced into a medieval Christianity and who have never really come to know Christ and His resurrection.

Oh Jesus, there are still so many people here who don’t really know You, and they need You so much. They have so little hope.

The team appreciated the four days at the beach to enjoy the warmth, the ocean, and time to contemplate and process the experiences they had had during our work time. God spoke to our hearts and gave us a new tenderness for our world and His people in Ecuador.

Lord God, I know you want me to share my hope and faith in you with others. We’ve been through so many transitions. Could you use me somehow in Canada to encourage others along the way who are searching for help in the midst of change and want to be more of who you have made them to be? I am here Lord. Use me.

 

Andy and Jenell Pluim will be guiding another Canada Covenant wide service team to Ecuador next February 5-19, 2009. Contact the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada office for a brochure. Call Andy or Jenell at 780 352 2450 or email to: jenell.pluim@gmail.com.

Jenell is a former missionary with the Evangelical Covenant Church of America and Covenant Bible College in Ecuador. She is now working out of her home as a Christian Life Coach. “My mission is to coach women who are in a season of life in which they are seeking new direction, a fresh start, challenging opportunities, spiritual growth, a new vision for using their giftedness and passions and that by God’s power will help them become more of who they are meant to be, living life in all its fullness.”

 

Back to previous Musings list