I rode the city bus with Trish, a missionary from Canada, and Matt, an intern for Inca Link (the ministry who owns the house we are staying in.) The bus only costs 25 cents one way. Interestingly, the bus would stop anywhere along the road when someone flagged it down.
When we arrived at the prison, there was a long line. A mission group from NY was there to lead the service and had lots of people. The chances of us getting in looked slim. Matt, the intern, went ahead and went in since men are processed separately from women. About 5 minutes later, Matt comes walking out. He had gotten in and was in the worship room when the prison director came up to him and made him leave for reasons unknown.
Finally, Trish and I were allowed in, processed, and able to go to the service! THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS! God answered them. The room was packed and it was hard to tell inmates from non-inmates because everyone wore regular clothes - no uniforms. They only difference was I had two large stamps on my arm.
The service soon started and was amazing! The presence of the Holy Spirit was strong. There was singing, 2 personal testimonies, a dramatization - that had everyone in tears - and teaching on the Samaritan woman at the well. An invitation was given and several ladies accepted Jesus as their Savior! Then, we had a time of prayer. I prayed with some ladies, even though they spoke Spanish and I spoke English. The Holy Spirit allowed us to sense a connection.
I tried to find some of the women inmates who had children living at the place we are going to be visiting, but was not able to. There was an inmate who sat near me who was pregnant and had a toddler with her in the service. Ecuador has recently changed the laws about children going to prison with their parents. The children can stay with their mother until the age of 2, then they have to go some place else.
However, an inmate over heard me trying to find the women with children at Jesus divino Preso. This prompted her to tell me about her 15 year old daughter living at home alone with no income, no food, and no way to buy the things she needs. Through tears she told me that at first her daughter was getting governement assistant for food, but when the officials came to her house they said it was too nice for her to need help. This mom has 7 more months. She said her daughter wanted to stay at their house because it is only 7 blocks from the prison and she wants to be close to her mom. She gave me her daughter's information and I am passing it along to the folks at Inca Link ministry to see if they can help.
I met back up with the team for lunch. We went to Jesus Divino Preso - the home for children whose parents are in prison. It is a Catholic ministry located up in the rural Highlands on the side of a mountain. It is a beautiful facility with lots of green grass, cows, chickens, pigs, and a garden. There are several cottages each with 6 to 8 children living in them. They are very cozy homes for the children.
The first thing we did when we arrived at Jesus Divino Preso was eat CUY - that would be guinea pig in English!!! It was roasted and tasted a lot like pork only with a wild game flavor. Some people (Sean) ate a lot of it. Others of us not so much! A few of us were still hungry after lunch and we snuck into the kitchen for more bread. The facility makes its own bread - really good bread - to help feed the children.
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
Our devotion said "Those words (1 Corinthians 10:31) apply to your mission trip: when you take a bite of that mystery meat your foreign guests are serving you, EAT IT FOR GOD'S GLORY!" And we did!
The kids at Jesus Divino Preso were incredible. Their ages range from 5 to 17 years old. We played with them outside most of the time, even in the rain. We had so much fun. We also made salvation bracelets and shared the Gospel with them through the colors. We did several other crafts too that the children enjoyed. It was a very different experience compared to the government run orphanage.
What a privilege it is to share God's love with these children and caretakers. What a humbling experience it is to have these children and caretakers minister to us. Our lives will never be the same. Our hearts have been transformed. All for the glory of God.
Loving HIM with all my heart,