BYM MISSION BLOG

Amy Cogburn and Greg Larson: Sunday Night Devo

cogburn1Sunday started with Sunday school and church blended with the congregation at the camp.   Then we had a period of rest to get ready for the afternoon and the unknown. We helped with a youth gathering where there were about 100 kids that came from Tabacundo, Cayambe, the Hacienda and the church.  All of the youth were split into groups and went to stations.  There was a tattoo and photo booth, volleyball, limbo and a group started with ships and sailors and it turned into a game of basketball when the language barrier got in the way.

Then we combined all the groups into two teams and they ran an obstacle course.  The sponsors from Broadway manned the stations of the course.  They walked a beam and landed on a platform and had to cross the monkey bars, from there they had to walk to the meeting area where they were supposed to hop on one foot to the obstacle course.  They had to cross the ropes course and climb over the rope web. From there they went up the hill and each team formed a circle and had to pass a hula hoop around the circle while holding hands.  After that each member of the team had to attempt to do 5 cartwheels.  Oh and I forgot to mention one member of the team had to be blindfolded through the whole thing.  All of the kids and our youth worked well together to finish the course and seemed to have lots of fun.
 
We had hot dogs for dinner and fellowshipped with the kids some more.  Then it was off to the fire pit for s’mores.  I guess I never thought about people not knowing what s’mores are but most of the kids last night had no idea.  We teamed up with kids to help them roast their marshmallows and then they brought them to the sandwich station for 3-4 of us to assemble the s’mores for the kids.  They seemed to be a big hit.  I (Amy) had to laugh when Jhon (John) came up to me and said he needed a partner, Jhon is one of our interpreters and is a high school senior, I asked him why he needed a partner and he said he didn’t know how to not burn marshmallows so I grabbed a stick with a couple of marshmallows and showed him how to roast them to a nice golden brown.
 
The kids that had come up from Cayambe had to leave after the s’mores, so we regrouped with the ones that were left and started singing.  I don’t know that I have ever heard anything as beautiful as blending songs in English and in Spanish praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Greg sat at the top of the fire pit opposite from the group that was singing and videoed us singing.  We wanted to share the beauty of the experience with all of you, so make sure you take the time to watch the video.
 
After all the kids went home we had some time with just the Broadway group.  We were asked what our favorite moment from the week was and honestly it’s hard to pick just one. Amy’s favorite parts were sometimes fun and sometimes very heartbreaking.  My first favorite thing would have to be when we went to the senior citizen center in Tabacundo on Tuesday night.  I think Travis covered this in his post the other day so I won’t repeat it.  On Wednesday night it was a much more heartbreaking moment when we visited a woman fighting for her life in a battle with Leukemia. She and her 4 children lived with her mother in a very small house owned by her sister.  She and her mother are unable to work and her sister doesn’t want them living in her house any longer.  I have loved every minute of the VBS we’ve done. The kids light up when they see us walk into the school.  The hugs, high fives and fist bumps are the best. This has been such a fun trip and it’s hard to believe that it’s almost over.
 
Greg’s favorite parts were sitting across the pit from the whole group Sunday night videoing the singing and devotional and hearing the songs sung first in Spanish and then in English then blended.  When the songs were blended you could hear parts from both languages and it was very evident that we all worship and serve the same God.  
 
My week started out rough at the airline ticket counter in Lubbock.  When I was told I may not be going to Ecuador.  But with an extra night in Houston while the group continued to Ecuador I was able to clear my passport issues and fly to Ecuador 3.5 hours late, because of delayed flights.  We arrived at camp and 3am fell asleep for a couple of hours then got up and started our mission.  The week has been a blur filled with the sweetest smiling faces.  I too can’t believe that the trip is almost over and I’m already looking forward to my trip in 2 years.
 


Randy Robbins: Thank You Ecuador

It has been a couple of days since we landed back in Lubbock from our trip to Ecuador.  I have been trying to get back into the routine of work and life but have found it hard to do.  My thoughts continuously go back to the people of Ecuador that I now consider my friends.  There are a few of those people that I would like to say thank you to.

Reagan doing the limbo with Jhon and Catalina holding the bar.

Reagan doing the limbo with Jhon and Catalina holding the bar.

First I would like to thank the children that participated in our VBS.  We had a VBS program for the kids at the Camp Bellevue after school program, the San Juan Loma and San Jose Chico schools.  In total approximately 250 kids.  Our theme for this VBS was “Superheroes of the Bible”.  We had stories about; the Good Samaritan; David and Goliath; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; and Jonah.  These kids were fantastic.  Each day when we would walk in, either early or late, we could hear the kids cheer for us.  When we left after the VBS we received hugs from almost all of them.  There were times in between when we did not understand them and they did not understand us, but that did not dampen the time we spent together.  We had a theme song that was “Cristo Es Mi Super Heroe”.  It was great to hear the kids hum or sing this song as they were playing a game or doing their craft.  I know I find myself singing it several times a day. 

I would like to thank Rusty and Laura Campbell.  They were our host at Camp Bellevue.  This is where we stayed and ate many of our meals.  Rusty led our devotional one night at the fire pit with many of the children from the Hacienda of Hope and the community that was just amazing.  We sang songs in English and in Spanish, often at the same time.

I would like to thank the children and house parents of the Hacienda of Hope.  We were able to eat in each of the three casas during our stay.  In each casa the children had to introduce themselves in English, tell how old they were and what activities they were interested in.  The night we ate in the boy’s casa they told us how the boys had two cows.  The two older boys get up at 5:00 am to milk the cows.  Two of the other boys milk the cows in the afternoon.  The boys sell the milk to the other casas.  They have raised enough money to pay for the cows and all their expenses and even had enough extra to purchase a Wii game system for the casa.  In the girls casa after dinner they played a game I think was similar to hot potato.  The losers had to perform this dance with a broom (video is available).  The gringos always seemed to lose.  Unfortunately, I did not get to play this game the night I ate in the girl’s casa.  In the family casa there are several new children.  When I told them how old I was, they all had this large gasp.  One of the boys kept saying the names of the three of us eating over there that night, Travis, Brandt and Randy over and over and over.   

Jason Marin in his Abernathy Baseball hoodie given to him by John Horne.

Jason Marin in his Abernathy Baseball hoodie given to him by John Horne.

I would like to thank Jason and Kathy Marin.  Jason works for the Hacienda of Hope in the Casas and at the Academy.  Kathy is an English teacher at the Academy.  Jason went everywhere with us.  He was always full of joy.  He assisted us by translating and helping in any way needed.  In our skit of the Good Samaritan, Jason wanted to be the donkey.  He put some much needed humor into the skit.  Jason and Kathy both went with us to Otavalo to the market.  Kathy was our little group’s translator and negotiated several bargains for us.  We had a chance to have a long talk with Kathy and learn a great deal about her and Jason.  Their little girl, Raquel, always seemed to fall asleep in Amy Cogburn’s lap.  One of the days Jason showed up in an Abernathy Baseball hoodie.  This hoodie was given to him by John Horne two years ago.

I would like to thank Jhon and Catalina.  These two young people became very special to our group.  Both are 17 years old.  Jhon lives with Jason and Kathy.  Catalina lives in the family casa at the Hacienda of Hope.  Jhon and Catalina went with us each day and helped to translate for us.  They both played games with us when we had a little break.  If you have seen my black eye, that is courtesy of Jhon.  While we were playing soccer he accidently caught me in the bridge of my nose with his hand.  We came to love these two young people.  Our hope would be in the future that it might be possible for them to come over and go to school at LCU. 

I would like to especially thank Justin and Jauna Reeger.  They are doing tremendous work at the Hacienda of Hope.  They both jumped in and assisted us in our VBS as translators.  They were our tour guides when we went anywhere.  They planned and organized every aspect of our time in Ecuador.  Jauna led our singing with the children.  We learned some fantastic songs.  We will have to learn the “choocha, choocha” song in English.  Justin took us to the senior citizen’s center one night.  We learned a great deal about the elderly women in the room (the majority of them were named Maria).  These women all still worked in the fields during the day.  They wanted us to hear some of their music and see some of their dancing.  Before too long all of them had our whole group up and dancing. 

Jauna took us to visit a single mother of four children that had leukemia.  We took some supplies to her and sang a few songs to her.  I hope we brightened her day.  The Reegers had us in their home for devo on two nights.  These devos included our group and the children in all the casas, casa parents and other workers at the home.  These devos were simply amazing.  I was amazed at how they would start singing a song in Spanish, and although I did not understand the words I knew the song.  After the Spanish version we would sing it in English.  I do not remember one song that was not known by both groups.  These devos were very powerful for me.  The last one was on Monday night.  This was the night we would say good bye to the children.  I will admit, I was one of the older men with extremely watery eyes.  Jauna had several of the kids give out bags of goodies to everyone in our group.   My eyes watered even more when Catalina brought me a bag.

I would like to thank our team.  Amy Cogburn, Tucker Cogburn, Travis Mack, Natalie Lawson, Greg Lawson, Bart Schilling, Brandt Schilling, Luke Horne, Heath Gossett, Lauren Rogers, Kyle Rogers, Madison Sanders,  Gloria Gonzales, Mark Gonzales, Brittany Meuse and Jason Rogers.  This team did a fantastic job with the VBS.  I learned so much about every one of them and I forever remember the time we spent together in Ecuador. 

I would especially like to thank my wife Holly and my son Reagan.  Going on this journey with the two of them was so special.  To see them dancing, singing and hugging on the children was something that was priceless.  Reagan performing on stage as Goliath was excellent.  He was fearless in getting up there and going through his lines in Spanish.  Holly was so creative in coming up with the Goliath game that the children played (once again, there is video available).  Thank you both for such a special trip.

I do not know what our impact on the children and people of Ecuador was, but I do know the impact that they had on my life. I can only hope that we blessed them a fraction of the amount that they blessed us.   It is something that I will thank of every day.  I will be counting the days until I can return.  At this point it is approximately 720 days and counting!!



Greg Lawson: Goliath

I’m just a simple giant that likes to intimidate and kill the little David and David-etts of Ecuador.

The day started quite simply by putting on my felt armor and grabbing my shield and sword to go and taunt the little people, but the people running the VBS just wanted to kill Goliath. The children armed with stones made of ping pong balls with velcro were more than happy to oblige.

They divided the children into teams according to the color of their stones. Each child was given 2 stones to throw and Goliath. The winning team was the team that managed to stick the most stones to Goliath’s armor and shield. But when the game was over the real fun began. With 184 colored stones and one bonus stone the children were allowed to attack without mercy. The laughter and squeals of delight could be heard above and below the equator and that was just from me. After Goliath was covered in velcro stones the VBS crew called off the Davids and the children were allowed to remove the stones from Goliath’s armor and repeat the process again.  

Just before the time for station change, the children were asked if Goliath needed a hug, and they responded with a resounding “Si!!” Goliath barely had time to brace himself before the human wave hit him. 20-25 David’s took him to the ground for a giant Goliath dog pile. I will take great joy from this group hug for the rest of my life.  

PS…. I have requested we get a felt suit of armor made for Sunshine school along with 100 ping pong ball stones and although I’m not a doctor I will give you this prescription for stress relief. Take your lunch hour, go to Sunshine school, put the felt armor on and allow 20-25 pre-schoolers to chase you around the playground pelting you with velcro stones until you have laughed and smiled so much that your face hurts and you’ve forgotten what you were stressed about in the first place. I can guarantee that it won’t take long before you will want to make a monthly appointment for stress relief.

~ Greg “Goliath” Larson



Holly Robbins: Calgon Take Me Away

holly1For those of you who are less than 40 years old, let me explain what that title means. In the 70’s, there was a bubble bath commercial with that phrase. It featured a busy mother facing all the stresses of life, from screaming children to a husband impatiently waiting for dinner and everything else in between. In short, the commercial was implying that the woman DESERVED an escape from the stresses of everyday life to a perfect and quiet place of pampering and relaxation.
As our trip has ended, I’m reflecting on all that we have seen and done. We, as Americans mothers, have such a difficult and stressful life compared to the people of Ecuador. We have to make sure that we have the perfect house, with the beautiful wood floors and or plush carpet. Beds also need to be made and we have to pick up the 42 decorative pillows off the floor so that the bed looks just like the picture in the magazine. Our families must be clothed with “THE RIGHT CLOTHES” and that there are an adequate amount of accessories to complete each outfit. Then if we decide that our washing machine/dryer are not to our standards, we have the daunting task of deciding if the front load or the top load machine is the better of the two.
Then we must drive to the nearest Market Street for a basket load of food that will probably be thrown in the garbage because it will either spoil before we can eat it or it is just not what the family wanted. Next we must make each person in the family an individual meal in order to satisfy all the nutritional needs of the family due to the fact that there is often not a meal that all will eat. After that, it is a mad dash to get everyone to all of the activities that each is involved in, often leaving no time for good quality time together and falling into bed exhausted to start the day over again the next morning.
The mothers of Ecuador have an easier life because there is not the demands that we Americans have. First of all, there is often no floor at all (sometimes not even true walls). Most of what we have seen are either dirt floors or for those who are fortunate, a concrete floor. So therefore, no need to vacuum or dry mop. The kitchens we have seen have either been outside over an open fire or for the more fortunate ones, a stove and refrigerator but no need to do the dishes because the sinks are outside due to the fact that there is no running water to the house. But this is ONLY if there is actually food in the house to cook because more often than not, they have nothing to eat. These women are even so lucky as to not have to clean the bathrooms due to the fact that there aren’t any in the house. I could go on and on about the conditions but I think that you are getting my drift.
With all of the “REAL” struggles that the people of Ecuador have, one would think that they would be a bitter and angry people and would be angry at a God who would abandon them. But this is opposite to the facts. We have seen more joy and love from a people who have no material possessions. It has made us all look at our lives and appreciate how much we have been blessed by God but in the same way, how guilty we feel by being so blessed by God and how unappreciative we can be.
I feel that all on this trip have been blessed more than we have blessed the children and people of Ecuador. It has been a reality check on how much we have truly been blessed by God and how unappreciative we are, especially with our worldly possessions. To see how truly happy the people are in Ecuador with almost nothing is completely humbling. As we acclimate back to the land of plenty, I truly hope and pray that God has changed us and has softened our hearts to the fact that we can “survive” with less and transform us to a people much like the people of Ecuador. I am counting down the days until I can go back again. My new motto will be “Calgon, take me away, to an escape from stresses of everyday life to a perfect and quiet place of pampering and relaxation. Take me back to Ecuador!!!”


Jason Rogers: Almost an End

Our Ecuadorian friendsLast night, (Monday) we were able to have one final meal with the kids in the Casas at Hacienda of Hope. This is something we have been doing all week, and each of us had the opportunity to dine with all three Casas during our time here.  We were blessed to share food and conversation with the kids who have been blessed by the Hacienda of Hope and we have been truly blessed by the kids, house parents and staff.  After dinner we we able to gather together for a devotional with the kids one last time.  We sang together in both spanish and english, we prayed together, we talked about God and we said our tearful goodbyes (mostly just the older men of our group).

Today, we traveled one last time into Tabacundo to do VBS at the two public schools.  When we arrived the kids were excited as always, but they seemed even more excited than normal.  Some of them even cheered as we walked into the courtyard.  We soon discovered that they had prepared a presentation for us!  After we did VBS the kids, teachers and even some parents gathered in the courtyard as one group of girls performed a traditional Ecuadorian dance, one group of older kids played instruments and sang for us and a group of younger kids performed a fun dance as our teens joined them for the big finale!

Our time here in Ecuador is almost at an end.  I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to serve God here in Ecuador.  I feel so blessed to have had the chance to serve with this AMAZING mission team.  And I feel blessed to have had the love and support of all the Broadway family who have helped to make this mission trip possible.

It never ceases to amaze me how when I go to do God’s work and try to bless people in Jesus’ name, I always end up feeling like the one who has been blessed!


Jason Rogers: La Iglesia En Tabacundo

Tabacundo ChurchSunday morning – As I sat today in worship with the Iglesia En Tabacundo, I was again reminded how wonderful it is to be a part of the body of Christ. Here we are thousands of miles from home, yet right at home with this beautiful part of the body of Christ.   

Being so far from home, we have found it sometimes hard to communicate, sometimes hard to understand what is going on. However, it is easy to see that we are loved by the people who were here in church with us today.  And it is easy to see Jesus working here in Tabacundo.  We have been embraced by the people here.  

I may not have understood the message brought to the church today but I did understand the smiles, and hugs that I received from the church kids today. I may not have understood all the words in the songs sung today, but I did understand the voices of the people around me that were lifted in praise and worship to our God, and I came to understand today during church- God doesn’t need me to understand it all.  Even without full understanding, I am invited into His presence to worship and be blessed!  God truly blessed us today as we worshiped together.



Jason Rogers: Laguna de Cotacachi

Jason1This week has been incredible!  We have had almost every moment filled with ministering to the people around us.  Every morning we are traveling to Tabacundo to do VBS in two public schools, where we have met and had the chance to get to know many wonderful kids.  We share lunch with Kids from the Christian Academy near camp. In the afternoons we have VBS here at Camp Bellevue for the kids who participate in the after school program.  Then we have been going into town, taking supplies to families in need, sharing Jesus, singing, and prayer with these families.  I have seen God at work here in Ecuador this week.  He is touching the hearts of our team as they work to be the hands and feet of Jesus!

With all that activity this week, we needed a rest, so on Saturday we took some time off to be tourists and go to several “touristy” locations.  First, we went to Otavalo to the artisan market where we had a chance to shop and experience Ecuadorian culture.  We were able to purchase souvenirs and share some great times that are sure to be cherished memories.  Then we traveled to Laguna de Cotacachi, an active crater lake at around 10,000 feet altitude.  It is an incredibly deep, clear, cold lake that resides at the top of a volcano.  We traveled there, had lunch at a restaurant on the side of the lake and then got in a boat and went out on the water.

Jason2It will be impossible to describe how beautiful, and awe inspiring it was to see God’s creation and to experience the joy of that awe with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  But I find it interesting that after a whole week of experiencing God through working with kids and doing service, we were also able to profoundly experience God through His awesome creation.  God is Good!  

On the way home there was a feeling of true joy and camaraderie as Greg and Kyle led us in fun songs, as we all laughed and enjoyed the end of our day of rest together.

I am looking forward to today (Sunday) as we are preparing to go to church, as we are about to experience God in another incredible way! I am looking forward to the rest of our time here as we complete our VBS with the kids Monday and Tuesday, and I look forward to seeing the impact God is having on the lives of our Ecuador Mission Team.



Lauren Rogers: One Brick at a Time

Lauren2When we first arrived in Ecuador, nobody knew what to expect. For me personally, I was worried about the language, and the food ( I am one picky eater). When they told us that we were going to visit a family that had been through a tough time, everybody stopped their worrying.

Once we arrived, there were pigs, chickens and dogs everywhere. There was a little shack, a stove and a refrigerator in the middle of what is now their yard. This family had gone through something none of us want to go through. They lost their home, and two of their kids in a flood. There is a ginormous hole where everything just vanished.

Once Janna started translating for us, it was really hard to grasp what they had gone through. As we sang for them, their faces just lit up. Natalie Lawson and i painted the little girls finger nails, while Holly Robbins helped them with the bubbles. After we prayed for them, he kept saying God is good, God is good. He showed us what he did for a living which was making bricks. He sells them at 20 cents a brick, but can only sell them every three months. Always remember, that even though you don’t have the things that make you popular, you can always remember that God is good.


Kyle Rogers: Turning Tables

kylepicWOW!   We think we have it bad at home when the TV quits, or the car breaks down, or our favorite shirt is still in the dirty clothes waiting to be washed.  In reality we have no problems at all.  

On Wednesday night a group of us went to visit a family.  Not just any family, but an amazing one!  We stood and prayed, sang, and visited where their house once stood.  It had been washed away when a flood came through from a reservoir up the mountain.  It washed their house and most all of their possessions away.  We watched as the kids played, the chickens wandered around us and the pigs enjoyed their quarters with a roof over their heads.  

The same thing happened to this same family several years back when they lived across the road only that time they lost a 4 and a 6 year old child in the flood.  Through all of this the gentleman in the picture stood there and told us that God was good and that he and his family would be ok and would recover from this as well. That my friends is faith! A faith I can only hope to have.
I set out this evening to hopefully bless a family with the supplies we took them and the songs and the prayers ,  but the tables were turned and I was the one who was truly blessed.  Thank you God!


Tucker Cogburn: No Language Barriers

Even though we don’t speak the same language as the kids, sports and activities have no language barriers. Whenever the kids come to the game during VBS, their faces just light up with excitement. If we were playing soccer or gaga ball the kids enjoyed it a lot.

Yesterday when us teens were playing gaga ball, the after school children arrived at the camp and flooded the pit. It went from 5 players to 35! Even though we had some difficulty explaining the game, once we started the kids were all in to it. These kids are something really special, and I think we can all learn a few things from them.