Raymond Bennett Photography | Ecuador June 2013

Ecuador June 2013

August 06, 2013  •  1 Comment

This was my week from June 8th until June 14th, more or less.

ATL - first leg

L-R:  Greg, Mark, Erica, Joshua, Jim, Cindy, Tom, Me, Chris

We were supposed to depart Atlanta at 1725 but experienced some "mechanical difficulty" prior to departure which resulted in unloading the entire plane and waiting nearly three hours for another one. 


They did get all our baggage moved from the original plane to the replacement, thankfully.



Cue the 0130 arrival time in Quito, without pictures because I was far too tired to find the camera and probably could not have operated it anyway.

Then there's the bus ride from the "new airport" in "Quito" (the airport is 2 yrs old but didn't have the first commercial passenger flight until February 2013 and it sits 45 minutes outside of anything that looks remotely like Quito.  Gonna price tickets to Latacunga next time, but I digress) to Ambato/Huachi Grande - on which most of us slept/dozed.  Ecuador is dark by about 1830hrs anyway so there's not a lot to see along the Pan-American Highway.

We arrived at our hotel somewhere around 0445 Saturday morning and straggled into our rooms.  Awoke for breakfast somewhere around 0900 (I think, my alertness was very hazy at that point).


Casa Grande Hotel


First treat of the trip:


EspumillaHernan handing out espumilla treats

Espumilla - meringue, in cones.

Then it was time for a quick trip out to the church site for a planning meeting and to see how far they had gotten prior to our arrival.


footers dug
The mixer in the next picture . . . disappeared after Saturday.

Sunday was worship and communion.


Followed by a fellowship lunch with the congregation.

There is always a need to acclimate to the the environment (Montalvo is right at 9500' above sea level), culture, as well as team-building with the folks from the church with whom we plan to work.  We usually head over to Banos (yes, that is the name of the town, not just how you ask for the bathroom!!!) for the afternoon and evening.




(note the little red dot in the lower left of the next picture - that's a cable car with about 10 people on it)

the long ride down


And then Monday rolled around.  We were ready to go!


Over the course of the week we laid 12-1400 block, formed and poured about 100' of footers and 28 columns, mixing every batch of mortar and concrete with shovels and adzes.  After, of course, we screened all the sand . .


Sifting sand for mortar
and unloaded all the block by hand


unloading block - the first truckload

First course - Ecuadorians have a unique, but wonderful method of laying block.  Level is relative and we figured they would just top the whole thing with mortar and stucco it when we're done anyway . . .

There are always little surprises throughout the trip - such as the random cows-traveling-down-the-road-in-the-back-of-a-much-too-small-truck shot - and everyone from 8 yr olds to 80 yr olds rode on the bumpers everywhere.

Did I mention we mixed it all by hand?

And this.  Uh-uh, this was not going to get the job done.

I knew we had a grinder when we were down here in April of 2012 . . .

That's more like it.

And then it was time for concrete mixing

This is how they mix concrete

By Thursday, the wall was starting to take shape, and the sun peeked out a wee bit here & there.

The cloud cover teased us into thinking we might see a volcano

Alas, not to be this trip.  Tungurahua, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo all stayed socked in this time.

Friday morning the welders arrived to install the decorative panels between the columns on the front and down part of the side wall.

And this was how they ran power.

This is how they hooked up the power supply for the welder the first day . . .

But nobody got killed in the process . . .

We got what was originally planned to be 2 weeks of work accomplished in a little more than five days thanks to the men with whom we worked side-by-side all week.  Much thanks to Cesar, Eddison, Luis Miguel, Javier, and Juillo - men of Iglesia Bautista de Montalvo with whom we laughed, fussed, learned, and enjoyed a great week of work.


Now, what I haven't shared in this process is that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there were a couple of hours each day when 90+ kids descended on the building for Bible school sessions.

The first day we "organized" a photo shoot of each kid as part of a lesson about how we are made in God's image - each child had their picture taken, printed, and given to them to include in their lesson.


These kids are adorable and just so much fun to be around.  The ministry to the kids in the area is an ongoing one in Montalvo and the surrounding communities of Quero and Cevallos.  I think this was the most kids the church has seen at one time.  These kids were drawn here and ministered to in many ways, most importantly in that they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed.  Pray that the congregation would continue to nurture these kids and reach out to their families.


The second and third days there was support from Primera Iglesia Bautista de Ambato to lead songs and help tell some Bible stories.


Friday morning our team took a trip over to Primera Iglesia Bautista de Ambato and the school they operate in the building there.  PIBA operates one of two Christian schools in a town of 350,000+ people.  One of the governmental initiatives over the last few years has been to offer better education and to do it for free.  This has drastically changed the way PIBA's school functions.  It has had an impact on both enrollment and teaching staff, since the government can pay teachers a higher salary.  

Cindy Troyer has been spending time with parents, teachers and some of the students with particular "disabilities" over the previous 7-8 years sharing resources related to traumatic brain injury, autism, developmental delays, and other needs for which there are precious few resources in Ambato.  She had the opportunity to do so on Tuesday to continue that ministry.  The school functions as a ministry of the church and many of the kids attend on scholarship due to financial need and the generosity of many people involved in the ministry in Ambato.  Our group had the pleasure of presenting the school with donations from several sources that helps support this ministry while they determine the best method to continue growing.

We had the chance to see some of the elementary & middle school classes perform projects on which they work throughout the year.  They study world cultures including dress, customs, music, dance, etc. 



We went back and finished the last long day's work and had a great time of fellowship with members of the congregation.




Saturday was our long last day of the trip and we wanted to spend it processing our experiences, relaxing and preparing for a red eye flight back to the States.  We had a couple of folks with illnesses who weren't up to doing a whole lot, but a few of us took a walk around a local park and taking in some shopping and scenery.




Tuston Familia

The Tuston Family


I look forward to the future and seeing what is in store for the congregations in both Ambato and Montalvo, know God is at work in His people in Ecuador.




Tom Francis(non-registered)
Great photos.great story. I feel certain you will be rewarded in more ways than you can count.
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