On Thursday August 1st we transferred from the branch to the house we would be staying at during the English District Convention. Once again the Brothers at the branch were outstanding in their support of us. One Brother in particular named Greg really helped us a lot. We can see why this Branch has such a great reputation.
Funny enough, the house we stayed in was located in a sub-division named “New York”. It was across from “London”, and just down the street from ” Los Angeles”. To get to our house, we drove past a small replica of the Statue of Liberty, and under the “Brooklyn Bridge”. The couple we stayed with were named Arturo Insuaste, and Katyuska Castrellon….. Yes they have different last names. Here in Ecuador it is common for a woman to keep her last name, and add the last name of her husband. Which makes it kinda hard because most people here already have 4 names . Glad I wasn’t born Catholic. This caused quite a bit of confusion when trying to get in touch with them, as I had got an email from Katyuska Castrellon signed “Katyuska and Arturo” naturally I assumed Arturo’s last name was Castrellon. Nope. I was wrong. It took a while to track him down. Thankfully the Bethel receptionist Bétsabe took it upon herself to be our personal assistant, and finally got his number. Anyway, enough rambling…
Katyuska spoke a little English, so we were able to get a long just fine. Even though they aren’t in a Sign Language Congregation, they both spoke with their hands. A LOT! We tryed to get them to join sign. It made it easy to understand Arturo, even though he spoke no English. They were more then hospitable. Just another example of the love shown here by the brothers and sisters.
Monday night August 5th I had a chance to go on a Bible study with Arturo. It was my first opportunity to go in service here. We drove 45 minutes outside of Guayaquil into the country. It felt very remote. We finally arrived at a “House” that most Americans would describe as a shack. They had lost electricity, therefore we had the study by candlelight, and mobile phone flashlight. It was with a two small Ecuadorians who looked of indian descent. They were very humble, and I understood much of they study as we discussed the ransom. I had not brought a Bible, and had planned on using my iPad, but was kind of embarrassed to pull it out in such humble conditions. It made me understand why much of the world thinks all Americans are rich. Here in Ecuador the sign for “American” is the same sign for “Rich”. Even though I didn’t understand much, I really enjoyed the study. It made me remember why we came here, many people here are like this couple, and eager to learn about Jehovah. I read a scripture in Spanish, and I guess I did an ok job because Arturo forced me to say the closing prayer. That was a mistake! Worst prayer ever! No Joke.
The word “Ecuador” makes you think of the word “equator”, and when I think equator, I think HOT! To our surprise, that has not really been the case while we have been here, even in Guayaquil. Even though Guayaquil is on the cost, and at sea level, it was never really too hot. I understand that right now is the cooler season, but that there is really not much of a difference. The Assembly Hall is an open air building, like most in this part of the world, so it was very comfortable all day, every day.
There were also Iguana’s in the Assembly Hall.
We arrived early on Friday morning, and our biggest surprise was that at this assembly they have a coffee station! It was awesome to get there every day and have a fresh cup of coffee, and then enjoy one again at mid-day. Needless to say this was a good place to run into people, and mingle.
A few years back, probably over 10 or more, The Branch Committee here in Ecuador asked the governing body for the permission to have an English District Convention. The reason being, that there are so many need-greaters in this country, they wanted to provide them with an assembly in their language. What a loving provision! Another example of the attitude of this branch. In addition the program itself was incredible! Everyday, the brothers giving talks were longtime need-greaters, longtime pioneers, Missionaries, Bethelites, CO’s, DO’s, and Branch Committee Members. The level of teaching was amazing. The Talks were really tailored to the need-greaters. For example, discussing frustrations with VISA’s, or the different culture. It really proved to be one of, if not the best Assembly we have ever been to.
The need-greaters here are not just from the U.S. We met people from all over the world. It really had the feel of a mini international assembly. We met a couple Kaliegh, and Mattais from Canada/France serving in a a Creole group near Quito, and ate lunch with them on Friday. We met another couple Kim and Maurice from Atlanta in English in Quito, thinking of joining the Creole group. We met a single brother named Josh from Australia scoping out the country. We met another couple named Jeremy and Katherine from Australia/Ecuador serving in Cuenca. Even though Katherine was from here, she spoke English with an Australian accent! We met another couple from Poland/England serving in the remote mountains in northern Peru. We met a couple from Florida that are now serving in Cuenca sign Language. They had been in ASL in Ocala for a long time, and moved to Cuenca this past year. We met many people from all over the U.S. including Florida, Texas, Washington State, Oregon, Chicago, and even ran into a few friends from Virginia!. All of these friends were in various stages of service here, some had just come to check it out, some had been here a few months, some a year, some many years. It was a great opportunity for us to bounce ideas off them that will help us live and serve here. Over all it’s a great reminder that we are definitely not alone in this organization. It is world wide, and full of people just like you and me. In addition we were reminded that the “fields are ripe for harvesting” and there are lots of places to harvest.
Over all our week in Guayaquil was life-changing. Everyone at the branch was more then welcoming. We met almost every brother now serving on the Branch Committee here. It really impressed us how humble, and approachable they all were. That same attitude was apparent in each and every one of the Bethelites we met. In addition Every one of the Brothers and Sisters we met at the convention that were serving here, wanted to serve here, or had been here in the past, demonstrated a similar attitude. We look forward to getting to know many of them better in the future as we serve here. Now matter where we serve, how important it is to demonstrate the self-sacrafing spirt many of these brothers have shown. We were thankful to have spent that week around such great people, and we learned a lot! Thank You Jehovah!
Next up…. Our Trip to our new home Loja!