My name is Aaron Holden (Talus). This past March break I spent serving in Quito Ecuador as a short-term missionary. I was asked to share some of my experiences and adventures with you through this blog.
There are several things you should know before I launch into my stories. The city of Quito is home to two million people. It’s the capital city of Ecuador, and it is positioned in the mountains 10000 feet above sea level. The country of Ecuador is very poor. The unemployment rate is close to 66% of the population being without work. Families are usually torn apart through alcoholism and neglect. I want to tell you several stories about the community of Carmen Bajo, a small church in the city of Quito.
My first story is about a man who attends the church. His name is Hose Manuel. He has a wife and one son. He worked in construction until four years ago he fell from the top of a four story building and broke his back. He will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Based on the physical geography of Quito getting around in a wheelchair is very difficult, and he gets frustrated by the lack of mobility. He found God after his accident at a retreat and he started attending church on a more regular basis. Hose Manuel now works as a carpenter. He straps himself into his work table to create doors out of scrap wood he finds around the city. He’s a real dedicated man in my eyes.
As a team, we spent the week building his family a wheelchair ramp that allows him to get down to the street. It’s made out of: concrete, gravel, and a sand dirt mixture. It’s fairly crude in construction, but it should hold up to the stress of his wheelchair. The most absurd part came after we had finished construction. He wanted to bless us. That blew my mind. This man is living with a disability in a rough country and he wants to see us blessed. How strange is that? When I went to Quito, I came to bless the people through service and kindness and this man returned the favour tenfold. He is living proof of Gods love for us.
My second story came when we were working at the Compassion site. This place is a church run school for the kids in the community. The church provides these kids with a warm lunch every day. After lunch, the kids get a small break for about a half an hour to play in the courtyard. When we got in from construction and had our meal, we would join them. For the next half hour you were transformed into a human jungle gym. All the tiredness and strain from working is instantly forgotten when a five year old child is on your shoulders screaming at you to run faster to catch up to his buddies. I understand now that play is universal. You can be from opposite sides of the world but still understand one another in that language. There is nothing more rewarding than to pick up a child and make his/her day by spending a few minutes in simple games. This was the highlight of my week.
My third story is about a meal that we had In Quito. Apparently in South America it’s a delicacy, in Canada we call it a pet. In a retreat in the mountains, I ate cuy (pronounced qui). This is a common guinea pig. They raise them for food because they grow fast and have a considerable amount of meat on them. They are fairly greasy and taste almost like duck. However I can see that it’s not for everyone.