Ecuador: Update from Bethany

Bethany Lake is sharing about her five-week internship in Ecuador this summer.  She traveled to Ecuador twice as a middle schooler, participated in Learn & Serve with her youth group and just completed her freshman year of college. We look forward to hearing about her adventures this summer with our short-term teams! You read her first post here.

These past two weeks have been absolutely incredible! The Lord has been moving in Ecuador. The first week, I was picked up from the hotel by Dr. Roberto and Jose to go to the airport to receive the team from Texas A&M, as well as Tom (SIFAT’s executive director) and Peggy (SIFAT’s international team coordinator). The team had about 28 members with the majority coming from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Ragel College of Pharmacy and School of Public Health, but about 9 came from the Texas A&M Department of Construction Science. We had an incredible week with amazing results.

The Texas A&M team at the middle of the world! This was the first SIFAT team of the summer in Ecuador, and they brought both medical and construction components.

The construction team did incredibly hard work at Calderon — beginning the foundation of the addition to the after school center. The medical team consisted of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, a dentist, masters of public health and students of each profession. They set up a clinic in Guamani and saw close to 500 patients: men, women and children from the community. The team provided wellness checks, made referrals for more advanced health services, gave dental cleanings and extractions, as well as held a VBS for the children while their parents saw the doctors. Each patient received his or her needed medication and counsel from the pharmacy, along with multivitamins and a gift bag containing lotion, toothbrush/toothpaste, sunglasses, soap and various other hygiene items.

The construction team served in Calderon, which is north of Quito and where SIFAT graduate Pastor Raul and his wife Ruth live. The team began work on the foundation of the addition, which will house classrooms and a cafeteria for the after school program sponsored through a partnership between Compassion International and the church.

The medical team served in Guamani, a community south of the city where Pastor Raphael and his wife Anita, a SIFAT graduate, have an outreach of our previous Villaflora project. The team saw about 500 men, women and children for checkups, referrals and dental appointments.

This medical team had another component beyond simply the clinic.  The public health students did community mapping to understand the community’s own view of their health. Public health focuses on the things that affect the community as a whole and not just the individual. The public health team held open forums with some women of the community to see what they saw as both healthy and unhealthy things in their community, as well as resources available and those that could be established. The team then walked the community allowing the women to take pictures of those components and then did analysis with the women to see how it is all connected. This was an interesting way to see and understand the health of a community as viewed by those within rather than an outside source. They ended the week with their special dinner, a ride on the Chiva (traditional bus from the coast) and then zip lining in the cloud forest. When we returned back from zip lining, our next group from Gulf Shores UMC arrived.

The public health team met with neighborhood leaders to learn about Guamani. They also interviewed women for a firsthand knowledge of the community, to learn about available resources and to understand the overall perception of health in the community.

The group from Gulf Shores UMC was a smaller group. There were only 12, but just like the 12 disciples, The Lord was moving through them. This team served in Calderon doing construction and VBS. For a team of mostly girls, they were strong and willing. In construction, they were shoveling rock, as well as mixing and carrying concrete for the foundation. Not only did they help build a strong foundation for the building, they were building a strong foundation in the children that attended VBS. They had children of all ages, even up to teenagers. They taught about Noah’s Ark, Queen Esther, Jonah and the Whale, and emphasized the importance of choosing strong Godly relationships to the youth.

The Gulf Shores UMC team built on the effort of the Texas A&M team to begin pouring the floor of the addition!



Mixing concrete for the floor in front of the new addition. The existing church building is on the left (orange and white paint) and the new is on the right. That area used to be for the open-air kitchen and cafeteria, but will soon be two floors of classrooms and a new kitchen and cafeteria.

All the children were capturing the hearts of this team, but one family in particular changed this team. A young boy named Joel, 12 years old, picked up on any English that was spoken and even joined our bucket brigade carrying concrete. On Thursday, we were invited to go to Joel’s house to meet his family. He is one of six children, three including himself are sponsored by Compassion. However, seeing his family and home broke the hearts of the team, and they were determined to do something to help. The next day, they returned to Joel’s family with some food staples and small gifts. Their hearts were truly broken for the things that breaks the Lord’s heart, and although it’s hard to see a team so upset, it was inspiring to see the way that The Lord was changing their hearts and ultimately changing their lives. Unfortunately Thursday night, I got sick and missed their special dinner, delivery to Joel’s family and time in the cloud forest. But it was a blessing to get to know them and their hearts.

The only outdoor space is in the street! Teams spend many hours playing soccer, jumping rope and running around with the children. Don’t worry, it’s a cul-de-sac with little traffic!

As an intern, I’ve learned so much in such a short time period. The Lord has truly reminded me the importance of relying on Him in everything: in fear, in sickness,in joy,in confusion, in it all. Each day, I am reminded of my love for this country and its people. Ecuador is such a special place, and the Lord is not remaining silent. He hears his people and loves them. It is a blessing to not only be back, but to be home.