This was our one and only Sunday in Ecuador. We walked to the Nazarene Church in Shell to take part in the service and run their children’s program. I enjoyed the church services in Ecuador, not only for the lively music and warm welcome, but also because it helped me pick up more Spanish. Singing the Spanish version of worship songs you sing back home helped me to learn the language, especially with the words projected up on the wall. After singing and greeting each other with hugs, kisses on the cheek, and handshakes we took the children out to a little park and performed a Kidztown show for them. I sat in the audience beside a little boy who I nick named “Squeaks” as he let out little squeaks and whimpers throughout the show (he was very small, not more than 1, and probably missed his mother). I sat in front of three girls about age 10 who, part way through the show, started stroking my hair. It was adorable.
In the afternoon we went to the monkey farm. I confess, I was not too thrilled about this excursion. A visit to the monkey farm was a planned part of the trip since its inception and each time it came up I cringed a little. Within the first 5 minutes a monkey clambered onto my arm and my attitude towards the whole thing changed. It was a great experience seeing monkeys who have free range of the large forest surrounding the site, but who keep coming back because they know they’ll be cared for. There was much laughter as monkeys tried to get gum out of mouths, tousled hair, and jumped, unexpectedly, from high places and the ground onto us. The monkey farm was definitely a highlight of the trip for many of the team members.
After the monkey farm we stopped for a tour of a large swimming pool in Shell. The pool was built by a local pastor and his family with the hope that it will be used by the whole community. When we came to take a look there were a number of local children splashing around in the water.
In the evening, we went to another church service. It was unclear whether we would be performing a Kidztown show or not. Jefferson spoke and gave one of the most interactive messages I have ever seen (he used volunteers to tell the story). Although we didn’t end up doing a Kidztown show, we did get to spend some time with the kids afterwards. I met one young girl, Veronica, and her friends. She had a Disney Princess Bible and so we spent some time going through the names of the Disney Princesses in Spanish and English. Giggles erupted when I said I was married to Jonathan as Jonathan was also the name of a teenage boy standing nearby the group. The girls asked if we had any children (a common question), of course, I said no.
It was early to bed as we prepared to do 3 Kidztown shows in hot, humid weather the next day.