From the mountains to the oceans….

24DEC

Good morning!  We left Quito on Friday evening and took an overnight bus to Guayaquil (the largest city in Ecuador that is along the coast of the Pacific).  We arrived in Guayaquil at 4:20 am and got a bus to the surfing/hippy/beach town of Montanita, where we will be staying for 2 weeks to do language school.

We are settled into language school and enjoying the beach and warm weather.  There are mostly college students here for break doing language school.  We have enjoyed getting to know many of them from Germany, Sweden, London, and 2 girls from Michigan and Texas. Lille and Eva are a hit amongst the college girls and enjoy listening to all their accents.

Isaiah is taking surfing lessons with a guy from New Zealand, Michael.  Michael is the surfing intern at the school and  has taken a liking to Isaiah’s zest for life and fearlessness in the water.  Michael has offered to take Isaiah out to “the big waves” and show him some tricks.  Isaiah is thrilled and loving every minute of his surfing experience….me not so much.

Don is enjoying his time talking with the locals and getting us all settled in to a new routine for 2 weeks, as well as planning our next legs of the trip.

I am reminded of how much I value cleanliness.  The cabanas we are staying at are convenient to the school, affordable for 2 weeks, and have a great community feel.  But they are definately not the Marriott.  I like clean…a lot. BUT I am getting over it a little and borrowed the cleaning ladies bucket yesterday to work on a few details on my own.  It is better today.  :). And my Spanish is getting so much better!  It has only been a day of class so far, but I am remembering more than I thought I would.  The teacher did laugh at me yeatsterday when she was looking for examples of words that start with every letter.  I gave a food word on every single letter.  I have my priorities:  food and clean.

We are all a little homesick as Christmas approaches.  The news of lots of snow at home actually made us all want to be there…snuggled in by the fire, eating Christmas cookies, watching the Packers, visiting with family.  We each expressed our homesickness and now are looking for ways to make a new memory for this Christmas. Please pray with us that we would be able to shine the light of Jesus and the hope He brings.  We plan to invite a few of the students out for pizza tonight and read the Christmas story with them.  A new tradition of sharing Jesus with strangers on the beach with pizza isn’t so bad.  :)

Catching up…

21DEC

Since we have been fighting flus, fevers and runny noses, I need to catch you up on our other activities this week!

On Tuesday, we had the chance to see another way God is at work here in Quito: La Roca Skate Ministry.  We met with Brock, the guy who leads this ministry here in the heart of the city.  La Roca Skate Ministry reaches out to street kids (mostly boys) that are interested in learning how to skateboard or who are already involved in skating.  The skateboard community in the city is known for drug and alcohol abuse, so La Roca seeks to be an alternative to the norm.  La Roca has partnered with a church and built a skate board park on the church’s property.  La Roca has numerous Bible studies throughout the week, small group mentoring, a skate church and a heart to spread the gospel in the city.  It was fun to meet with Brock and to see his heart for reaching youth in Quito.

On Wednesday, we met again with Adalia House (I spelled it wrong last time, sorry!).  Adalia House rescues girls out of sex trafficking and provides for their emotional, spiritual, physical, and future needs.  We had a great time picking out jewelry and talking about how The Yada Project can further support their ministry.

Tonight we just returned from a 2 day trip off the mountain into the jungle. We will share that adventure with you tomorrow…

Into the jungle….

21DEC

We have met some amazing people on our trip so far!  Many are living here in Quito, some volunteer during their vacation time, and some are just here to serve however they can be used.  Dr. Bob volunteers here during his vacation time in the States.  We met Dr. Bob in the kitchen of the guest house we are staying at.  We struck up a conversation with him and heard how we comes to Ecuador a few times a year to lead medical students throughout the country in serving.  He heard our mission of The Yada Project and his eyes lit up.  He told us about an orphanage in the jungle that is amazing and needs their story shared.  We all thanked God for allowing us to meet in passing and went along our merry way.  A week later, after sickness, other meetings with missionaries, we realized we had an extra day open.  Hmmm…what to do with that day?  Sightsee?  Rest?  Nah, let’s go to the jungle!
Early on Thursday morning, we set out for the jungle town of Shell (about a 5 hour bus ride from Quito).  We were on a mission to find an orphanage that is growing by leaps and bounds.  Each missionary (starting with Dr. Bob) that heard we were looking for a way to show how God was at work in Ecuador mentioned La Casa de Fe.  We decided we should check it out…are we glad we did!  La Casa de Fe (The House of Faith) is located in the small town of Shell.  It is an orphanage for children that are orphaned, abandoned, abused, and those with special needs.
La Casa de Fe started from one single woman, Patty Sue, moving to Quito to repair wheelchairs.  Within her first few weeks of being here, someone dropped off a little girl with severe special needs.  Patty Sue took her in and in the next few weeks continued to find children dropped at her doorstep.  She decided that maybe God had placed her here in Quito to care for unwanted children instead of repairing wheelchairs.  She became a registered foster care parent in Ecuador and decided she could care for more children if she moved out of the city of Quito.  She moved to Shell about 10 years ago.  Up until 2 years ago, she lived in a 4 bedroom house and housed 48 children. Yes, you read that correctly…48 children in a less than 2000 square foot house.  Allow that to sink in.
La Casa de Fe has gotten some help from doctors, nurses, dentists, construction workers and many others!  They have purchased a property and completed building a 9000 sq ft building that houses now 82 children.  All of these children are between the ages of 9 months-13 years. They now have 6 bedrooms lined with bunk beds, a large kitchen, a homework room, a physical therapy room, and a few bathrooms.  (The kitchen serves 3 meals a day and 2 snacks EVERY SINGLE DAY to 100 people.)
This is the best environment these children have ever known.  Many still have parents living but for a variety of reasons, are not wanted or are unable to be cared for by their parents.  We loved watching the kids play and were reminded of the simple trusting nature that each child has.  They are being cared for, given an education, taught about Jesus and are being loved.
The property they have purchased currently has the house, a school, and a workshop on it.  Starting at 4K, the kids start going to the school on the property and will continue there through high school.  They hope to build another building so they have more space for more children.
We toured the property, heard the story of the beginnings of Casa de Fe, and met a bunch of the children.  What a joy to see how clearly God is at work in the small jungle town of Shell.  As we reflect on the Bible’s command to care for orphans and to “love the least of these”, La Casa de Fe is an excellent example.  We plan to feature more of the story of their orphanage on The Yada Project website and provide ways to partner with them in the future.

We are all working together…

18DEC

 

It has been a rough few days here in Quito for us.  We have been fighting a nasty fever/flu bug that Don, Isaiah and I all have had.  It has been terrible.  Isaiah has had it the worst and is just starting to show signs of improvement this evening.

One of our goals for The Yada Project is to bridge the gap from local churches to what God is doing around the world.  We will strive to make that happen by sharing stories and pictures.  Today we are feeling it within our family.  We have seen the Body of Christ (here in Ecuador and in the US)  work together to uplift us in prayer,  send notes of encouragement, bring movies for the girls to watch, and show genuine concern for our health and safety.  Our trip is truly a group effort.  We are thankful to be feeling better and trust that another good nights rest will continue to heal all of our bodies.

Market day

18DEC

This past weekend we ventured over to Otavalo, a town about 2 hours from Quito. They are known for their large markets on Saturdays. We enjoyed the view of the mountains and countryside on our bus ride over. (Everyone except Lille enjoyed the bus ride. Lille apparently gets a little bus sick.) On Friday night, we had dinner at a little café and started chatting with the owner. He was a very enthusiastic man with a huge smile. As we talked, he shared how God had changed his life. He had been an alcoholic, unfaithful to his wife, estranged from his children and truly in the depths of despair. As a last resort, he stumbled into a church and was changed by Jesus Christ.

He has reconciled with his wife and is about to celebrate both of his children getting married this spring. His passion for life and for Jesus is undeniable. He said repeatedly, “Jesus saved me from myself and terrible decisions.” I wish you could have seen his Bible. It was tattered, torn and clearly well used. Saturday was market day. The entire town turns into a huge market. On one end of town there is a fruit and vegetable market; the other end of town has animals (goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, etc); the rest of the town has blankets, sweaters, jewelry, paintings and many other goods. It was a fun experience! The most memorable for us was to see an older man walking his goats up the street. As we were admiring his goats and the unusualness of seeing goats in the city, someone stopped and gave him 25 cents and he milked the goat and gave the woman a fresh cup of goats milk. A true dairy bar! A great weekend of exploring, chatting with a bunch of locals, and hearing how God continues to change lives.

A match made in Heaven…

13DEC

We had the chance to meet with some great people last night!  Youth World, a ministry here in Quito, runs a variety of ministries to youth here in Quito.  One of their ministries is the Delhia House.  The Delhia House searches for girls that are at risk.  Many of the girls have been rescued from sex trafficking, most are young teenage moms.  The Delhia House gives them a home, counseling, an opportunity to go to school and a chance to learn a trade. The stories of girls being rehabilitated is amazing. And while the stories are amazing, the stories of what led these girls into being abandoned by their families and ending up on the street is sad. Youth World is working at ways to support youth and families to prevent the sad results of children living on the street.

Esperanzart is a ministry that has come from The Delhia House. Esperanzart consists of the girls from the Delhia House learning a trade, how to make jewelry. (Esperanza is Spanish for hope, they added art at the end so it Loosely translates to:  Hope Art.). The jewelry is amazing. It is handcrafted by the girls and being sold to provide a future and a hope for these girls and their little ones.

We just bought everything they have right now and put in an order for more to be arriving when we return in April.  This is truly what The Yada Project is seeking out. A way that we can come alongside a ministry to share their story, raise awareness and to find tangible ways to support them.

We are excited to be partnering with them!  Watch for lots more stories in the next few weeks (and maybe a few pictures of the jewelry!).

We made it!

10DEC

We arrived late last night into Quito, Ecuador. It was a good day of traveling:  a prayer filled send off with friends and family, easy connections through airports and surviving customs.  We all slept really well last night!

Quito is at an elevation of 9500 feet.  It has been recommend that we take a day or two to acclimate and adjust to the elevation.  So far none of us have had any symptoms, but we may feel it over the next few days until we adjust.

We enjoyed breakfast this morning with a family from the Netherlands that are serving here in Ecuador doing community development. After breakfast we braved public transportation to get to a grocery store, find a cell phone, and explore more of the city. I don’t know if you have ever been on public transportation in a Latin American country before, so let me describe it for you. Imagine a bus that has seats for 30 and you figure about 20 more can stand and hold on. That would be a full bus, right?. The bus we got on today had about 3,000 people on it. Ok, slight exaggeration, but it had to be close!  Seriously.  Even a sardine would find it too close for comfort. It was a great  learning experience and since it didn’t kill us, we took it back to our guest house.

We are enjoying the evening playing games, talking with the family from the Netherlands, and eating fresh mangoes.

Adios!

09DEC

Yesterday there was beautiful snow falling throughout the day. Today we left out house at 15 degrees. It is now 82 degrees outside as we have a short layover in Miami. Next stop is Quito, Ecuador. What the difference a day and a few hundred miles makes!

We are humbled by the well wishes and farewells we have had the past few days. We each feel loved and look forward to sharing our journey with you…

South America 2013

The Williams Family is heading to South America from December 9-April 9.  Why?  Read on…

After our trip to Central America last year, we came home with a different view of poverty.  Poverty is rarely a choice someone makes.  We met some amazing people that live in extreme poverty.  These families had hearts of gold and a willingness to work hard.  All they needed was an opportunity to change their circumstances.

We came home committed to figuring out a way to help.  We looked at clean water projects, education plans, etc.  But really what helps someone get out of poverty?  Income.  These people needed a consistent way to make money.

After lots of research and communication with those that work in extreme poverty throughout the world, we launched a non-profit called The Yada Project.  The Yada Project is a fair-trade store that partners with artisans throughout the world to help them get their products to a larger market.  Many fair-trade stores will only partner with artisans that can fulfill large orders.  We are working with “the little guys”, women or families, that need a consistent market, but can only fulfill smaller orders.

Our goal in South America will be to build relationships with these artisans, bring back a lot of great products and to share the stories of people throughout the world.  We will also be volunteering throughout Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Chile in various orphanages and children’s homes.

Departure: 15 days and counting

I am sitting watching the Badger football game and just checked the temperature outside…16 degrees.  Burrrrrr!  I also have the weather app on my phone that helps us know how to pack:  Ecuador 63; Peru 70; Brazil 68; Chile 70.  That is much more my style.

Apart from the weather, we are excited about many other aspects of our upcoming trip.  We have had great communication with missionaries and ministries that we will be meeting up with and volunteering at throughout our journey.  Their information and hospitality has already been a blessing.  There will be plenty of opportunity for us to get to know a bunch of kids in various children’s homes and to do some soccer camps.  Don has already been in high demand for his handyman skills, and the girls are gearing up for painting nails.

We are in the midst of our final planning, packing, and farewells.  We appreciate your prayers and we tackle all these things.  None are easy, but will be worth it as embark on this adventure.

Thanks for checking in at The Yada Project and joining us in our journey!  We appreciate the encouragement, support, prayers and friendship.