Second Day at Parque La Carolina

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The day started with Crew Leaders' meeting at 7:30 where we got brief reports from each crew. That was a really exciting time, to hear about all the things that had been done yesterday on our first day of ministry.

Breakfast at 8:30, ministry training at 9:30 and crew planning time at 10:15. We were served breakfast in the Alliance student dining room by their kitchen staff.

We had chosen to do our crew-planning session on the roof in view of the city. That included these remarkable stair-step apartment buildings, which climbed up the mountainside.

It was a great privilege to get to know and work with these folks during the week.

Our crew members are, back row L-R: Kal'el Wright-Jones (Broadview,Chicago), Kaleigh Baughn (Fairview, Apex, NC), TJ Crutchfield (Ebenezer, NC), Jordan Nave (Northshore, Slidell, LA), Aeron Ravelo (North Park, Forth Worth), Grayson Johnson (Fairview, Apex, NC), Haley Edwards (North Park, Forth Worth), Dustin Jackson (Northshore, Slidell, LA). Front row Curt Brady (Broadview,Chicago), Tim Crutchfield (Ebenezer, NC), Leigh Talley (Ebenezer, NC), Rod Nave (Northshore, Slidell, LA). Tim Crutchfield is our Crew Leader for Crew #5.

Once again we spilled out of the Alliance Academy compound and walked the closed streets to Parque La Carolina.

As we walked up the broad street we became aware of a police line ahead of us on a cross street that ran parallel to the long park. We knew the Pope was back in Quito after a visit to Guayaquil yesterday, so we presumed that his was his route.

Once we reached the park, Shawn directed us to our areas, and Crew #5 headed through the woods to the same place we had worked yesterday.

We reached our park area and sat down to eat our lunches. Then Daniela came to us with a surprise! The Pope's morning route would bring him down the street parallel to the park in about 15 minutes! It was just two blocks from where we were, so it was decided that the two crews on this side of the park could walk down to see him pass. We finished our lunches and headed down the street.

Reaching the street, we found a crowd gathered along it. Not the mass that we had been seeing on television, but a large gathering nontheless. Markus stands by the street, and TJ and Curt position their phones to record pictures.

We felt fortunate that we could all get right on the street. A couple of advance cars came through and then we saw the lead motorcycles with the riders dressed in white with white helmets.

A pair of the white-clad motorcyclists approach us, and you can see several ranks of motorcycles behind them. Lots of cameras clicking. Dustin,TJ,Curt and Kal'el can be seen in front of me.

Finally, we could see the Pope's special vehicle approaching. Hands were up all along the route. Some of those hands were people crying Papi! Papi!. But many of those upraised hands held telephones to take pictures.

Here I can prove that Dustin, Leigh,TJ, Curt and Kal'el saw the Pope.

After the Pope's passing, we walked back to the park and Tim gathered us to plan for the afternoon.

Haley quickly engaged a group of young children who were in the park with two ladies. She had the help of Daniela and Mailyn. She used the beads which were designed to tell the story of Jesus to young children.

Then it started raining again, and we had to go to the shelter. We were disappointed, but it turned out to be a good opportunity to interact. Haley, Jordan and Daniela used the beads to tell the story to a group of children, with their parents standing around smiling.

Another of our crews came to the shelter and engaged people in the middle of the shelter. I and others talked to the family sitting on the concrete bench. They were Christians and active locally. I had one of my longest conversations in Spanish with them. They were very appreciative that their two youngest were participating with Haley and Jordan.

We enjoyed an extended interaction with this lovely group of young adults and two children. The two on the right and one second from left on the back were from the other crew and carried on most of the dialog with them, with the help of Elizabeth who did a lovely job of translating. The two African-Americans from Chicago did an enthusiastic job of using the bandanna to tell the story of Creation to Christ, and they wanted to receive Christ. Elizabeth led them in prayer with them together repeating after her. I came back and had a fairly extended conversation with them later with my limited Spanish.

So the rain was not a bad thing. We reflected later that our two crews had interacted with almost all of the twenty or so Ecuadorans in the shelter.

The rain slacked, so our two crews together started a basketball game with some Ecuadorans on the court nearest the shelter.

It was a lively game, particularly with Noah from the other crew participating. He was the only one who could do a full dunk, even though Aeron on our crew was a very skillful basketball player and made some impressive shots.

On the other court, a mixed group of us and the Ecuadorans chose up sides for a soccer game, with Markus translating.

Tim dribbles the ball down, but if he makes it all the way, he will be up against his son, TJ, in goal.

The soccer drew a lot of participation and was a good fun time.

This matchup has Tim, Kal'el and Jordan from our crew as well as two of our translators, Markus and Mailyn, mixed with a bunch of Ecuadorans.

Meanwhile members of our companion crew had an extensive time of sharing with this young couple, with Elizabeth translating.

And on the other court, Curt and Kaleigh shared with a lady who had her young daughter with her, and had prayer with her.

After sharing the gospel, our folks continued for a long time in a friendly conversation to learn about each other. This was a remarkable city park, Parque La Carolina, which provided a recreational area where there would have been none. The buildings throughout the city are built to share common walls, and there is almost no space open in the building areas. The modern city buildings seen here are business as well as residential, with almost no open space.

The active international soccer game continued, and Markus gets clear for a clean goal shot.

Haley and Aeron spend some time with two young Ecuadoran girls,letting them shoot the basketball.

One of the favorite features of the park is this full-size airplane which has been decoratively painted. It serves for children's activities inside it. It is called "Avion de Carolina". I walked the 100 yards or so from our area down to the airplane because Ashleigh's crew was engaging the folks there in soccer and activities for the children.

That crew, like ours, engaged in an active soccer game with the locals. I tried to follow the action, but you might pick up on the disproportionate number of images of my granddaughter Ashleigh.

One of the things I learned in walking south to Ashleigh's area was that there were modern buildings to the west of the park as well. The park is a remarkable center for recreation and relaxation.

Daniella gets a little break from translating and helps a young boy with some basketball. Behind her, Kaleigh and Dustin talk with an Ecuadoran - Kaleigh's Spanish was good enough to carry on a conversation. Then I noticed the large collection of children that had gathered behind them with members of our crew.

This was the most beautiful thing I saw all afternoon. Haley, Leigh and Kaleigh started playing with the children in the grassy area behind the basketball courts, with their parents standing behind, smiling.

Not only were the children beautiful, the whole setting was. It gave the team an opportunity for gospel conversations with the parents, and the mother of one of the children prayed to receive Christ in this setting.

We didn't see a lot of birds in the city, but there were these attractive doves in La Carolina Park. We saw some interesting patterned birds that looked like sparrows at Quito Norte church, but they were too fast for me to get a picture.

There were almost no insects, raising the question in my mind about how things got pollinated.

Jordan spent some time playing basketball and just hanging out with these four youth who came through the park. I understood that they were students at the Alliance Academy where we were staying. The caucasian girl had been there only two months, with parents on the embassy staff. The guy in the orange shirt spoke Spanish and was helping her learn, but she was homesick for the friends she had left behind. Tim was sensitive to that, so we had prayer with them, with her particularly in mind, and she seemed very appreciative. We were glad we could have the time of interaction with them.

We had spent two days in this remarkable park, bounded on the east by the buildings shown above and on the west by the building shown at left. The people we encountered were remarkably open to meaningful conversations about faith and worldview.

The real airplane was certainly a unique aspect of the park.

We had time for one more game of basketball with Dustin, TJ and Tim from our crew plus translators Daniela and Mailyn mixed in with local Ecuadoran youth.

They had great fun and played well together without necessarily understanding each other's language.

We all gathered at Ch Farina Pizza which was in walking distance of Parque La Carolina. It had been a remarkably blessed two days in the park.

to Wednesday, July 8

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