There were a number of different experiences we've had where cameras weren't allowed. Our first week here, we were able to help throw a dinner party for over 90 sex workers in Quito. We rented out one of the fanciest restaurants downtown and completely decorated the building, filling it with fresh flowers and photo backdrops. We invited the ladies to come have a sit down dinner while we served them and taught them to make flower crowns and told them how valuable they are to the Lord. How beautiful He thinks they are and how they were created for a purpose. The night ended with a dance party and every lady present went home with $30 so they didn't miss any earnings from taking the night off. Although we weren't allowed to take photos, the night will remain in our memory forever.
Every week we visit a juvenile prison and spend an hour with 20 of the boys in the long term offender group. These fellas have completely stolen our hearts! We play games, talk to them about life and try to remind them that they're not forgotten and have a grand plan for their life, even though they've experienced hardships. Many of these boys are in prison because they were stealing to try and take care of their families. Some have committed darker crimes but we don't talk about their past, instead pray over them and try to fill their hearts with joy and positive messages. Some of these young men come from extremely hard circumstances and may (hopefully not) end up back on the streets doing illegal activity once they're free from the juvenile prison. Our heart is that they see how they can become men of integrity and earn honest wages for themselves and their families. Again, photos are never allowed but just imagine the craziest South American dance party with 20 young men and a crew of Americans. Yes, we dance a lot.
We also partnered with a ministry called Dunamis, a day program for young girls rescued from sex and labor trafficking. We got to spend a few days working with the girls and helped them learn english, make tagua jewelry and even took some of the girls to the zoo. A lot of them had never been to a zoo before so it was precious to see them running around trying to complete the zoo animal scavenger hunt. These beautiful ladies are all under seventeen and some even have children born into rough situations. The organization is currently raising money to build a safe house (it'll be the ONLY one in Ecuador) where the girls can spend the night and be hidden away from people trying to hurt them. Please consider checking out the website and donating towards the cause. These are the most beautiful, affectionate, sweet girls and they've experienced more horror in their little lives than most of us have even seen in movies. I don't want to share their stories here but know they're rescued from complete darkness and being brought into the light of Christ. I love, love, love this organization.
We knew in our hearts we had to come here and thanks to SO many friends, family members and even strangers we were able to raise $9,000 in six weeks. It was unbelievable and we THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. We hugged orphans and fed the hungry and shared the hope of Jesus with ladies in prostitution because of your generous hearts.
For me, I needed to find the heart of Christ again. Moving here helped me reconnect with the heart of God, the heart for the poor and forgotten. My spirit has been awakened and I feel an even greater burden for the voiceless and those in the cycle of poverty. We aren't sure what our next steps are but we do know that our lives will forever be centered on bringing love, light and hope to those who have lost it. We love you forever, Ecuador. Thank you for loving us so well and for allowing us the great privilege to love your people. Nothing but tears of joy and fond memories for every single soul we've encountered.
Again, there are so many stories I left off for sake of time but if you'd like to reconnect with us once we're back in the states let us know. We could talk for hours about the goodness of God and the beautiful people here. Plus, I have a lot of fall drinks to catch up on. Lastly, love people where you're at. You don't have to move to a different country to serve the poor. Let's live our lives to bring honor to those who have lost their hope. I can't think of anything worth pouring our time and money into than sharing the Gospel with people. And in a way where they become family to us. Nobody wants to be a project. Everybody wants love.