The whole experience to Ecuador has been so life enriching and I’m excited to tell you that this series is almost over.
After we left Isla Puná, we were able to connect to Wifi at a grocery store (Yay! WiFi!!). We updated our families and checked any emails or messages…etc. Honestly, it felt so great to reconnect again, but we were renewed, refreshed and detoxified thanks to the experience we just had.
We crowded around each other using the wifi at the grocery store, and then Tiff tells us something amazing! Do you remember the two fleshly sisters we met back in Cuenca, Mary and Guimi? Well, they made it to New York after all! They had texted Tiff during our week on the island asking her if they were going the right way towards Warwick. Sadly with no Wifi there was no way for us to get any messages and no way for Tiff to get back to her. Tiff then sees that Mary’s profile picture on WhatsApp had changed. The picture was of Mary, her sister Guimi and their brother standing at the lobby in Warwick! They made it to Warwick and the best news was that now Guimi was going to start studying the bible! We were so thrilled! What excellent news! And look! Another exclamation mark! Right here!
We were all excited with this news. Clearly, we were able to help plant a seed but in the end Jehovah had already made the choice that he wanted Mary and Guami to be by his side. That sort of thing is always a blessing and it just made that entire awkward Cuenca experience that much more worthwhile.
After Isla Puna, we went back to Ballenita only to pack up once more then jump onto a few other buses and go to another area called Valdivia. We were only going to be out there for two two days over one night.
Well, we arrived to the kingdom hall that morning and dropped off our backpacks so that we could go to service right away. We learned that there were only 5 baptized publishers in that congregation and only one of the baptized publishers was deaf. The rest were unbaptized or bible studies. I wondered how they are able to keep the congregation there with such a small number. I looked at the meeting assignment and the same 5 or 6 brothers and sisters or unbaptized publishers were in the meeting assignments at practically every single meeting! I had never seen anything like it before. So out we went to service.
I gotta say, the service views in this town were another kind of impressive.
We were helping the sign language congregation invite all the deaf to the meeting that would be held the next day. Most people we met were friendly and very laid back. Surfing in this area also seemed to be a popular sport so there were many people who were barefoot walking towards the nearby shore. That day out in the ministry, we probably met about 3 or 4 deaf. We invited them to the meeting and the sister I was with was able to share a few scriptures in Ecuadorian Sign Language.
After service we went to a BnB owned by a brother and sister. It was such a cute little room with its own entrance and it had four beds. We changed and put on swim shorts and a T-shirt to go to the beach in Ayangue. My goodness. This little beach was a tiny paradise! The water was the perfect temperature and had all sorts of restaurants and boats. You were free to swim anywhere and the waves were smaller here since the beach was surrounded by large rocks and cliffs that broke the large waves apart.
It was here where I was stung by something. I felt a sort of shock on my legs which freaked me out. There must’ve been some sort of jellyfish there. I decided to get out in case it was the poisonous or deadly jellyfish and contemplated the possible ending of my life despite the beach being full of other local swimmers who were probably used to the stings and were still alive and completely unbothered. I still don’t know for sure if I was actually stung by something or if I felt a slight cramp on my leg… but I’m also internally dramatic and decided that I had been in the water long enough. The five of us ladies and Ziv spent that evening lounging around that beach. After the sunset, we hung out and had something refreshing to sip on then ordered some dinner (more beans with plantains, avocado salad and rice). My memory of that evening was thoroughly enjoyable.
The next morning came and we were taking everything with us because after meeting, we would head to another surfer town more up north, before we headed back to Ballenita.
Well, we planned to get up, dress up, then have breakfast at one of the restaurants on the beach before we went to the meeting. I was craving one of their very fruity, raspberry smoothies and since I had my protein powder with me, I wanted to have a sort of a refreshing protein smoothie.
Tiff and Bree just so happened to bring it to me! I was so excited! I took off the lid, and began to mix in my protein powder. Suddenly, my hands decided to ignore the motor-skill instructions that my brain had carefully laid out for them so that I could enjoy the smoothie to the best degree possible… nope. I spilled the whole thing onto my skirt! And to make things more dramatic than what is necessary, I also spilled some on to BG’s skirt. I was so close! So close to that glorious fill of an organic, refreshing, morning smoothie, packed with vegan protein powder to give me that extra “umph” that one needs in life. All of my smoothie dreams for that morning were laying crushed all over the sand beneath my feet. I told myself not to cry, suck it up and get cleaned up because it was time to go to meeting. BG and I changed (sorry girl! I have no idea what happened there).
It was during meeting that I realized why that small congregation stuck around despite only having a few baptized publishers. Everyone that was invited to meeting, most of them went! So many deaf showed up and I remember feeling so warm and fuzzy inside! I remember thinking that if I ever had to support a congregation I would have to be that one. The need greaters living there had their work cut out for them, but it is definitely the best life ever and Jehovah was surely guiding them each step of the way.
After the meeting, we changed and took another bus about 20min north to a town called Montañita (little Mountain). We wanted to spend a few hours to explore but needed to look for a place to leave our backpacks. Fortunately, we found a very nice hostel that allowed us to leave our backpacks there safely. And get this, one of the workers there was deaf! They were very generous and after dropping off our backpacks, we went out to get something to eat. Now, this town is also known for parties and perhaps even clubs, and bars, but during the day it was a charming surfer town that had all sorts of food, and yes, we found SO MUCH vegan food too! I even found a Kombucha bar! Besides the food, there were people from all over the world too. I heard lot of English and other languages. It was our last opportunity to go souvenir shopping too since they had a huge art scene going as well as hand made jewelry and other artesanias (handcrafts). There was definitely a large variety of hippy/surfer-type of people.
After exploring this groovy town, it was time to take the bus back to Ballenita. It would be the last bus we would take together (as in BG, Bree, Tiff and myself). Soon after this, Tiff and Bree would fly home (Ecuador tear).