Baa Baa Black Sheep Have You Any Wool?

Week of March 21st
Ok, so it wasn't black but it did have over three bags full! On Tuesday we walked down the valley to Chilcapamba to Juana's house. We had earlier helped her wash her sheep, and now it was a perfect day to take some shears to it. We met Juana at her parents place and were fed a hot breakfast of salty oatmeal mixed with potatoes, barley flour, and a piece of beef. We ate as we sat in the building that functions as a cooking area, 'kitchen' would not be the word to describe the cement block building with open windows, no doors, and a fire on the floor. Juana's dad hurried us to finish our meal. We stepped back outside onto their cement patio where he had tied the sheep. We pushed it onto it's side and tied it's feet together. Then came the process of slowly but surely cutting the wool off of the sheep, making sure we kept it all in one large piece. We used kitchen scissors, and with two and sometimes three of us working on it we got the whole sheep sheared in two hours. Larry got there half way through the shearing. On the way back up the hill we got to talk more with Juana and learn some more culture. For example, a person only greets another person if that person is already married. Otherwise it can be taken as an insult that they should be married. This came up as I, meaning to be friendly greeted a young woman we passed along the road. She only gave me a strange, blank stare. Juana laughed and told us this custom of theirs. "How do you know if they're married?" I inquired, since in the rest of the country it is considered more rude to -not- greet someone. "Sometimes you just don't," she said. I asked, "So then you don't greet people you don't know yet?"
"That's right." It seems like it's not easy to get to know new people then, if you can't greet those you don't know. But lucky for us, the church members know are not so strict with this cultural rule and so we can easily get to know them better.

Who would have thought?!
All in day in Salasaca.

washing the sheep

Shearing the sheep

A LOT of wool!

still alive and kicking!

Week of March 28th
More youth came than expected to Jonathan's Sunday school class. We knew that more youth were showing up each time, so we printed more material than we thought we needed. We needed much more, for there were 22 students. Jonathan taught about the components of the Gospel mentioned in 1 Corinthians: Christ died on the cross, was burried, ascended into heaven, and then returned with over 500 witnesses. The spanish words for Evangelical and Gospel are very similar, so the youth previously were confusing the terms and not grasping the Gospel. I think Jonathan's message really helped-- we at least pray that it has.

After church, we left for Shell. Shell is farther south from Salasaca, and it is just right outside of the jungle. This is where Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, and the other 3 martrys lived. There are tons of missionary families living in shell with most of them working with Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) of the hospital system. Kris and Shedd, the other translator family we are working with, live in Shell because of the lower elevation for their son.

On Monday, Jonathan and I woke up to a thunderstorm with rain pelting the tin roof. This is one of our favorite sounds, so we were both in heaven. We went in the morning to the Nate Saint school for missionary kids. This is a K-5 school where most of the missionary kids attend. They did a neat little Easter program. Afterwards, we met several Moody graduates who are now serving in Ecuador. They were excited to meet Jonathan and I to exchange Moody experiences. Afterwards, Kris taught Jonathan and I a lot about the different projects she is working on for Salasaca. One of the things she does it take old Arch books (well over 100 different books that tell different Bible stories for kids) and translates them into Quicha. Other than what the translation team has done in Salasacan Quicha, there is little to no reading material available in their langauge. These books give a little easier of a read in preparation for reading the Bible.

We were also able to get a tour of the MAF hanger. This was the highlight of our time in Shell. MAF transports missionaries into the Jungle to do ministry and humanitarian project. They also fly the extremely sick and injured villagers out of the jungle to receive medical attention. While we were there, we heard something that really tugged on our heart strings: pretty soon there will be no missionary families that are living full time in the Jungle's interior. The one family who is there now, will be returning to the states soon—she has cancer. Jonathan and I both felt the impulse to jump on a plane and go to the interior and stay there. We both have the desire to serve in the jungle, but we are trying to discern wheither it is God's desire or our own. Maybe it is both! We still have a lot of praying to do about the whole subject. Plus, we are thrilled and excited about our time in Ohio with Jonathan's grandmother. So we think God is being intentionally vague right now.

We had a tour of the hospital on Tuesday morning. While there are medical missionaries serving in the hospital, they are slowly trying to transition it over to the Ecuadorians. Thankfully, the hospital wasn't full, but the clinic was very busy. After our tour, we helped out with the Arch books. We cut the labels that will go over the English text. We then caught a bus to take the Waskosky's son's tutor to Quito. Sadly, she would be flying out the next afternoon. It was almost a 6 hour bus ride. Thankfully, this bus ride didn't end with us being green, but we did have a fun little experience. Oftentimes, someone will get on the bus and act like the person who collects the fairs. Once he's gotten your money, he exits the bus. Generally, the conned passenger doesn't realize it until he or she is later asked for his or her fare. This happened to two people on our bus. When they were asked to pay, they got extremely mad, because they had already “paid.” We ended up having to pull over and have a cop get involved. Suprisingly, the cop sided with the bus. He said something along othe lines of “Don't you ever travel? You should know better!” Thank you Jonathan for translating the yelling.

Larry had arranged for us to meet with Rick Ashman. He is very knoweledgable of the different dialect of Quichua. He has studdied them all and is currently working on identifying their grammar system. He has also created a Quichua spell checker that will be extremely helpful for the Salasacan Bible. Rick has taken the time to identify all the different possible suffixes and combinations in Quichua. There are 19 different suffix slots that can be added to a Quicha root word. Quichua is an extremely derivational langugae, so just adding a suffix can completely change the meaning of the word. As a result of these 19 different suffix slots, there are well over a TRILLION possible Quichua words. Rick once added 14 different suffixes to one word and used it in a sentence. The Quichua man he was talking to said that the word fit well. No wonder Jonathan and I are only touching the surface of Quichua.

In Ecuador they take off a lot of time for Easter. They generally have Thursday through Sunday off. As a result, Jonathan and I caught a bus to Latacunga to spend some time with his family. It took us about the same amount of time to get to the bus station as it did to take the bus from Quito to Latacunga. They moved the station further south, so it also cost more to travel through Quito than it did to travel 6 hours—crazy!

Jonathan and I have learned a ton this past week, and we also have a lot to pray about. We have been discussing and praying whether we should go somewhere where there is an already established missionary family and help with their work or go where missionaries are not. The first option would allow us to be more “effective” early on because the missionaries experience would save us a term's worth of cultural learning. All of this in hopes that the people will be reached, and that there will no longer be a need for missionaries in that community. The second option: starting a new field somewhere where the people haven't really been reached and where no missionaries are currently working, is also necessary. The jungle situation both caught our attention. We know that this type of experience would present much bigger challenges in language and culture learning. It wouldn't allow us to be as “effective” early on. We also would be alone. Paul wanted to go where the gospel hadn't been preached, and we are more than willing to go wherever God leads. The problem with all of this is that God doesn't call us based of “effectiveness.” In fact, we can't be effective in missions! It is all God's doing in the first place. Jonathan and I just toying with these two options and asking God's eventual guidance and direction on the subject. We don't know how far away we are from the mission field, but we want to be prayerful about it now. Please pray with us as we seek the Lord's guidance. Thanks:)


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