Ecuador is a country on the west coast of South America, just south of Colombia, and north of Peru. Its name actually means equator as it straddles the equator. Just about 12 miles north of the capitol city of Quito is a monument with a line drawn on the sidewalk. On the stone paved walkway, you can actually straddle the Equator with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere.
Another interesting note, our magnetic compass is confused there as well, not knowing which way to point. As a pilot flying there in the jungle to various Indian villages, I always flew degree headings rather than try to fly North or South. It saved me a lot of confusion. Once you get into the southern hemisphere there is another little strange anomaly. When you flush the toilet, the water actually goes down spinning to the left instead of to the right as it does here in the northern hemisphere.
My family and I lived in Ecuador as missionaries, with my oldest daughter Stephanne graduating from high school there and my youngest Courtnee being born there. To say we all have many great memories about Ecuador would be an understatement.
At the end of June, I and my wife Kay along with my middle daughter Keely Elliott and several of our older grandchildren are going to Ecuador on a Medical Missions Trip. This is an annual trip put together and planned by my eldest daughter Stephanne Marsh. Stephanne has planned mission’s trips to Ecuador for many years now. She has 6 doctors, several nurses, 2 pharmacists and a total of 54 people going on this year’s trip. Several of these doctors go with her year after year. Everyone pays their own expenses as well as helping to raise funds for purchasing medicines, and other medical supplies like bandages etc, eye glasses and little gifts for the children that come out to the medical clinics.
Around 30 years ago, I started a church in the heart of old colonial Quito in a Triple X rated movie theater that I was able to purchase. It seated around 1200 people. We were able to start a medical center and a dental clinic and pharmacy and school in the ensuing years for the poor who lived there.
In the years following the initiation of the Evangelistic Center, 49 churches have been started by church. My daughter Stephanne feels called to go down each year and help the newest of these churches with what was our original plan: To help build them a house of worship, help with the witnessing to the local community with children’s ministries and feeding programs, as well as to provide medical assistance for the people who have very little or no access at all to medical services.
Sometimes she will lead two different teams down at the same time for these ministries to be carried out concurrently. This time it is going to be just a medical missions trip. She asked if Keely and I would go on this trip because the medical team is so large that she will need extra help with translating for the doctors and others working with the patients. If the past medical trips are an indicator, we are expecting to see over 3000 patients in 5 days.
This year she has people from five states going on this trip, from South Carolina, North Carolina, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida. But people from all over are helping by donating or buying medical equipment and supplies, reading glasses of all strengths, and items for the children. Speaking of eye glasses, if you have old reading glasses lying around and they no longer serve you, she is collecting them too.
This year she has people all over the country who have volunteered and are making dolls out of knitting yarn. They seem easy to make, being only about 6 or 7 inches long, but who am I to say? These will be given to every child that comes to the medical clinic. You can check this out as well as everything else I have mentioned on my daughter’s Website: www.HeartforEcuador.com.
Just so you know there are three young ladies from Georgetown who are going on this trip: Haven Floyd, Kayci Sheridan and Brooke Goude. They are known by many of you out there. If you see them, ask them about it, I know they would love to tell you their stories.
Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
I have many Ecuadorian friends that I am looking forward to seeing. Several of them have come to visit me here in the States over the years. A couple are very special, Jaime and Maria Cabrera. They have been my friends for more than 30 years. Just about 3 years back I took my wife Kay to Ecuador on a mission’s trip and to see where I had spent so many years of my life ministering. On that trip Jaime and Maria met Kay for the first time. Kay and Maria became instant friends.
Making friends is easy, maintaining them is more difficult. These two ladies contact each other every morning and do a devotion together by the internet. Neither speaks the other’s language, but that does not stop them. Many friends pass through the years; true friends maintain their friendship even if years pass without their seeing one another. Make friends and keep them up through the years, you and they both will be glad you did.
Ecuador holds many memories for me and every time I return I know that I will be making many more memories to enjoy through my remaining years. You who read my column already have heard many stories about my time in Ecuador. Rest assured you will hear many more. I have had Ecuadorian friends tell me that Ecuador is my home. I don’t doubt that at all. I know my daughter Stephanne and her family claim it as their home. Ecuador is really special to our whole family. We are who we are because of the impact it has had on our lives.
Stay tuned for more tidbits and stories about Ecuador in my future columns!
Brad Morris, a retired minister, originally from Georgetown, served as a pastor and then as a missionary in Costa Rica and Ecuador, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has been in ministry for 50 years and a columnist for 17 years, 13 of which have been for the Times.