Quito Norte

Wednesday,July 8, 2015

It was a beautiful morning, so I went to the roof of our dormitory at 8:45am to take this picture of our view of Quito.

This view is just to the right of the one above. I think it is close to due West. I was intrigued by the forest of antennas on the mountaintop and the apartment buildings mid right which stair-step up the steep mountainside.

This continues the swing to the right. These views are to the west of the Alliance Academy, so are in the direction opposite to the Parque La Carolina, which was southeast of the Academy. The wide view below covers all three of these views.

With the end of the Pope's visit, the city streets were opened and we could now go to the churches. Our new daily schedule involved crew leaders' meeting at 7:30, breakfast at 8, worship at 8:45, crew meetings 10, lunch 11:45, and leaving for churches at 1.

After lunch at the Academy, we had another one of our memorable bus rides to Quito Norte church where we would be involved the last three days of the week. We were on a bigger bus, so the driver went to the wider streets which took us by the remarkable stairstep apartments that we had been viewing from our roof. They were a part of a district to our west called Inaquito Alto along the major route Avenida Antonio Jose de Sucre.

Continuing clockwise on the composite above is a typical street image. We were becoming familiar with the rectangular concrete houses with not an inch of yard or any other kind of space between them. Bottom right is close to the church where the dense housing fills the slopes. Frustrating for a photographer are the hundreds of wires overhead, signifying the absence of fiberoptics communication. The vendor on the street was now a familiar view. Long plastic tubes with fruit were sold on the street. It was most commonly the delicous small mandarin-type oranges, but this vendor seems to be selling cut fruit.

We reached the church where our crew was to be involved for the next three days, which all our leadership just called "Quito Norte". It was a thriving and loving church with an enthusiastic and articulate pastor, Alfredo Pérez. It was their week of vacation Bible school, for which they were very well-prepared and equipped. Our job was to assist and provide an outdoor sports segment for those attending.

We arrived at the church with our bags of basketballs and soccer balls and equipment for our sports ministry. As is practically necessary, the church is fenced and locked. Even if it were not for the danger of theft, it is necessary to hinder the apparent hordes of graffiti vandals.

Daniela was with us to let us into the church compound. She was a great ally, not only translating but also riding the bus to help give direction, helping us communicate with the church staff, and just plunging in to help when she was not occupied with translation.

Our crew has landed at Quito Norte! From rear, Curt, Grayson, Kal'el, Kaleigh, Jordan, Haley, Tim, Aeron, Leigh, Dustin - I don't see TJ at the moment. The church compound was very compact on the corner of the block on a steep hillside. At right are the offices and a small reception room. Straight ahead is educational space, with stairs leading to an upper part that I didn't get to explore.

The church's sanctuary, which they called 'el templo', was accessible by ramps and stairs to accommodate to the steep slope on which it was built. To the side, there was access from the street below between the church and the park where we were to do the sports activities. Continuing down the slope and up the next mountainside was the dense housing that we were becoming accustomed to.

The church location was well to the north of the Alliance Academy and La Carolina Park. That relation to the general layout gave us interesting views of the city as we traveled back and forth.

This is the view of the church from Parque Cumana where we did the sports. It is an excellent location to be visible to the large number of people who use the public parks - they being the only open public recreation spaces. The shrubs are varigated lantana, which I can't even get through the winter in Atlanta, but there they are perennial since there is no winter. The graffiti "chiste" on the wall means "joke" in Spanish, and many obviously consider it a joke since graffiti is epidemic in the city.

We went to the park and put up nets on the basketball goals. Aeron is up on the ladder with Haley and Dustin holding it. Mailyn and Daniela are there for translation. Leigh, TJ, Grayson and Jordan round out the group.

With this net up, Kal'el and Curt try it out. TJ, Leigh, and Tim talk with Markus and Sandra Hidalgo, both of whom helped us with translation. They have their young son, about 1, with them and he made a big hit with the crew.

Aeron, Kaleigh, Daniela and Mailyn put up the other net. Another view of the dense buildings that surround the church.

I found the buildings across the street from the park interesting. There is a shop on the first floor, living quarters on the second, and their clothesline on the roof. A few doors down there was another rooftop clothesline, shown below. On one of the days, Tim treated us all to ice cream from one of the shops. We were careful not to eat any open food from the street, but we did alright with sealed ice cream containers.

This is the view back across the park from the street on the other side. This is the row of houses that join the church property that occupies on the corner to the right.

Finally it was time for the procession to start the Bible school, and the young children marched in first. Our crew watches from the back of the church. Tim, Curt and Kal'el are in view.

Finally the youth enter with Pastor Alfredo. Note that Vacation Bible School translates to Escuela Biblica Vacacional.

Pastor Alfredo led the opening and related well to all age groups. I was amazed at his engagement and adaptability. He taught the formal adult Bible study on Sunday, and then taught youth, children, and young children with beautifully adjusted approaches. He even led the song "Oo-ooh, Oo-ooh, Vamos en el tren" for the young children with sound effects and motions.

Pavel led the music on Sunday, and was also there to lead for the Bible school. We had been surprised to see him in La Carolina Park on Monday when we were there.

Pavel led the praise songs with the help of two older youth plus an amazing lady named Carlota Ortega. She was so friendly and involved in everything, and even played basketball with the youth when they played later with our crew. The display translates roughly to "We pray, and God will guide us to arrive well at the goal. And now we praise!"

I visited the children's class where Kaleigh, Haley and Jordan were helping and Daniela was there not just to translate, but to help with the children. It was amusing that one child promptly put his head down and went to sleep!

And that kid is still asleep!

The two young adults from the church who were leading the session were very well prepared and had good materials. From the figure of a person, they taught about sins by taking away body parts, and then discussed forgiveness and steps to restore the whole person. Our young folks were there for fellowship and support.

The other members of our crew did basketball drills rotating through the age groups, and had sessions with the bandanna to tell the story of Creation to Christ as a part of that. Curt is presenting the bandanna with Markos translating.

Dustin and Aeron present the gospel with the bandanna with the other group. Sandra translates.

Leigh, TJ, Kal'el and Curt do a basketball drill with one of the groups. It was evidently enjoyed by the kids and the adults standing around.

Tim, Aeron and Dustin lead a drill for the other group.

Kaleigh, Jordan and Haley with the leaders of the children's group at snacktime. Nice snacks were prepared by the ladies of the church.

With the youth, our crew went more to a game format. Tim, Leigh, Kal'el and TJ on the court with the church youth.

Another active game is going on at the other end, with Grayson, Dustin, Aeron and Curt from our crew. Note that Carlota from the church has joined in along with the church youth.

With the two games, there was a lot of basketball activity in the park, and they all seemed to enjoy it.

There had been discussion with the leadership about me leading a Bible study for adults, and with discussion with Pastor Alfredo, we were trying to carry out the dictum "be flexible!". The older youth and young adults still wanted a little more time to play basketball with our crew, so it was finally decided to have another short basketball game and the Bible study at 7pm.

TJ, Kal'el, and Leigh from our crew are on the court along with Pavel, the music leader, and the youth.

During the afternoon, the Bible study had changed from being one that would be for the senior adults of the church to one that would be for youth and young adults, so while they were playing basketball, I was praying about what kind of approach to take with this group. I wanted to start with the general theme of how the Bible guides our worldview. The thing that came to me was an idea I had used with young adults before, depicting the greatest commandment from Jesus as a bright binary star that outshone all others as a guide for our worldview. I was kind of inspired to this course by the very bright star that was sitting right above Quito when we got to the city about midnight on Saturday night.

Matthew 22:36-40(NIV)

36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

We moved the short movable pews of the sanctuary into a big "U" so the group members could see each other, and then Daniela and I sat at the middle of the U. They seemed to respond well to the binary star beginning, so I proceeded with a series of scriptures that guide our life - ones that can be used to establish and nourish a Christian worldview. As she had done on Sunday, Daniela locked right in with me and we established a rythmn so we could communicate with both English and Spanish speakers. The group had just had fun playing together, and seemed to be able to relax together and think about the Biblical content.

I thought it was so significant that the two groups of youth consider the Bible together - so I was praising God for the opportunity to try to facilitate that. We ended our evening at Quito Norte and caught the bus back to the Alliance Academy, and I was already praying about what we could do the next two nights to provide a genuine experience of Bible study for these two youth groups, one that would get them to interact with each other not only on the basketball court, but also in a Bible study.

Thursday, July 9

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