Wow, things are getting real here in Ecuador. Each day is a roller coaster of emotions. As a group we have really bonded and are enjoying every minute of our time together. We have so many different personalities but it is obvious that God placed each of us in this group for a reason.
Today we went to “The Dump.” It was a 40 minute drive from our accommodations. On the way there Pete told us the story of how they got involved with the men and women at the dump. The dump is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a dump here in Ecuador where people go and rummage through the garbage. This is the only income for these people. Many of them have been doing this for generations and it’s all they know. They’re not educated, and they have no way of making money other than sorting through garbage.
Some of them make crafts from items found in the garbage and sell them. We had an opportunity to purchase some of these today and it felt good to spend our money knowing that it would go directly to these hardworking people. Some of them eat food right out of the garbage. They have children and families and live off of approximately $200 per month.
Extreme Response has gone in and created ministries for the men and women. They are attempting to teach them life skills in order to get them out of this cycle of poverty, violence, and pain.
We first arrived at the center where they provide tutoring services to kids and life skills classes to the women. Today they were teaching the women to make a street food that they could sell to make money. It was a mixture of egg whites, sugar, and fruit. It’s served in an ice cream cone and it’s quite delicious!
After visiting the women’s center we went over to the workshop where our guide Pete works with the men from the dump to create furniture. We realized quickly that everyone at the dump knew and respected Pete. He taught us how to interact with the men and women there in a loving and safe way.
We were humbled by the smiles on the faces of these people in spite of their circumstances. There have been points on this trip where it seems that people think we’re something special just because we’re from the states. As we walked through the dump everyone wanted to shake our hands. We are starting to realize that us being here is a big deal to these people. It’s exciting for them which is exciting for us. It is such a blessing to be part of the team that gets to serve this community.
Tomorrow is our last day of serving before we make our way home on Saturday. Please continue to pray for us as many of us are feeling overwhelmed with emotions. So much happens each day. I am only able to share a fraction of our experiences with you because there simply isn’t time or space to share everything.
I also want to request prayer for our Extreme Response leader, Pete. He and his family gave up their life in the states to serve the people of Ecuador. His love for people and his desire to share God’s love with them is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We are so thankful for him and want to support him in prayer as he carries out God’s mission for his life.