This blog post was written by Denise Pineiros of Fundacion Contigo Ecuador. Denise and her husband Oswaldo have been valued Visiting Orphans partner missionaries in Ecuador for many years. They make arrangements for and are part of every team we send to Ecuador. We are honored to be able to come alongside the work they are doing to care for orphans in Ecuador. During our 127 Campaign, we are helping raise funds for a van for their ministry. To watch our week 5 video, go to 127campaign.org.
It’s the first rule of missions. It’s the first thing that I tell teams in training. I joke about how they should throw their watches away at the last trashcan that they encounter on their final flight out of the United States. Time in our country doesn’t function the way time functions where you live. Our pace is slow, and no one is concerned about arriving or starting on time. Things happen when they happen. That’s a difficult concept for an American who is used to the rushed pace of a hurried society. The values are different here. Time is money in the U.S. In contrast, time is valued for what it is in Ecuador. Time is time. No one is worried about the next place that they have to be, because without the confines of time, there is room in life for another cup of coffee, a shared meal with a long conversation, or a game of soccer. There’s a saying in Ecuador that “a friendship isn’t deep until you’ve shared enough meals to consume one pound of salt.”
Another reason why it’s NOT important culturally to be “on time”, is that the traffic here in Ecuador is completely unpredictable. There’s a joke among seasoned visitors to our country. When a newbie visitor asks how long it takes to get somewhere, most of the seasoned missionaries will all shout laughingly, “half-an-hour!” Whether the destination is a mile away or a hundred, that’s our answer. Everything is supposedly half-an-hour away. It could take us ten minutes or it could take us an hour. There’s no way to know. The traffic is dependent on the city. A protest, a broken down bus, cows in the road----there’s so many potential delays, that it’s nearly impossible to predict when you will arrive at your planned destination, or if you’ll arrive at all. It’s hard to explain to new team members, but they usually start to get it, after a day or two of traveling in our country.
|"Quechuawomanandchild" by quinet - Mother and Child. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Quechuawomanandchild.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Quechuawomanandchild.jpg|
Because of this unpredictability, the passage of time on the bus with team members is vitally important to your experience. It’s your chance to get to know each other and to learn about the culture. It’s the time you get to experience seeing a flayed hog hung from the rafters of a house you pass. You might see a flock of roaming free chickens along the side of the road, or glimpse a native woman in a typical bowler hat. It’s your opportunity to look out the window and get a glimpse of the people and to pray for their lives. As you see a child beggar at the stoplight, you can pray. With every face you look into, you will understand a little more of the plight of the impoverished and the desperate. And all of these precious moments of ministry and cultural understanding happen before you ever reach the orphanage, within the walls of the van.
Photo of former team riding in the bus, taking 30 orphans on a field trip.
In a given year, our ministry spends between $10,000 and $15,000 hiring drivers and renting vehicles to drive orphans, volunteers, adopting families, and short-term missionaries around the city. We do not own a van of our own, and to purchase a used vehicle to seat 8 to 10 people, we are looking at a cost of $20,000 to $30,000. Vehicles are expensive in Ecuador, mainly due to importation costs, since there is not an Ecuadorian car manufacturer. In less than two years, our ministry would make back the amount spent on buying a used vehicle, in costs saved from hiring drivers and vehicle services. This need is important to us, to teams, to the orphans we care for, and to the families who are in Ecuador adopting. As we grow, the acquisition of a vehicle is vital to the success of what we do. With every dollar given and with every prayer prayed, you can help. Please consider giving to this need, so that we can begin the process of purchasing a ministry vehicle.
As always, our gratefulness to you for the ways that you partner with us is immeasurable.
Contigo for the Kingdom,
Missionary and Co-founder of Fundacion Contigo Ecuador
Contigo is a legally recognized foundation in Ecuador whose focus is caring for orphans and vulnerable children with the purpose of improving their quality of life and bringing the tangible love of Jesus within arm’s reach. The word Contigo means “with you.” The message “ we are with you” is vital when speaking to the issue of loneliness and abandonment in children at risk.