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!!