As I write this post, I’m on a plane headed for the United States. We’ve said our goodbyes in Ambato, packed up the house and put our things in storage, awaiting our return and search for a home in Quito.
Eleven days ago, we had our final Sunday at La Puerta Abierta Church of the Nazarene in Ambato and it was truly a beautiful sight, a beautiful beginning. It wasn’t the extra songs sung in gratitude to the 40/40 team for all their hard work. It wasn’t the slideshow that accompanied Diana’s song, showing her favorite moments with the missionaries. It wasn’t the lovely words of appreciation from Pastor Lenilde. It wasn’t the gratitude of the District Superintendent for Extreme to be willing to plant a church where it had been tried and failed time and time before. It wasn’t the t-shirts blazoned with wonderful inside-joke-nicknames for each of the 40/40s. It wasn’t the handmade cards and words of love from the children. It wasn’t the countless requests for photos with the missionaries before we left.
It was all of it and it was more. So much more.
I was brought to tears as I watched our 40/40s worship, love on the church people and participate in a church service that was clearly led by local leaders. The entire goodbye service was a beautiful expression of the Ambato church’s love and personality. Our missionaries had opportunity to share songs and preach, but every other aspect of the service, from greeting to media to worship (including the entire worship team) was led by local church leaders.
I was struck by a wave of emotion that consisted of pride for the work of the 40/40s and their obedience to God to serve in Ambato, joy that out of nothing, God has created a thriving, passionate, in-love-with-Jesus church family in two short years and gratitude that God let me play some small part in the process.
If you have prayed for us, encouraged us, supported us in whatever way or came to Ambato on a Short Term Project, you should be grateful, too. Because you, body of Christ, have participated in the birth of a community that is offering Christ to their friends and family and city. So, I say, “Thank you.” Thank you for filling God’s role for you that allows us to fill our role on the frontline of a movement of Christ in Ambato, Ecuador and throughout South America.
Thank you, Church, for obeying the Great Commission and reaching out to the lost. Keep it up! This is just the beginning…