Sunday, April 30, 2006

Names in Ecuador, Abba/Daddy, and surrender

Just wanted to let you all know about names here in Ecuador...most of them are 'normal' like Juan, Angel, Miguel or Diego. However, every once in a while you will come across these weird names like Stalin, Lenin, Darwin and today I met a 'Hitler.' You gotta wonder what dad and mom were thinking when they named their son Hitler. Can you just imagine, 'come here, little Hitler.' I don't know what it is but some of the people here have a penchant for naming their children after evil dictators and mad scientists. Anyways, just a funny thought to share.
Now for some lyrics from a favorite song and some thoughts from it...
'Hold Me Jesus'-by Rich Mullins
Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all, When the mountains look so big and my faith just seems so small
CHORUS: So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf, You have been King of my glory, Won't You be my Prince of Peace
And I wake up in the night and feel the dark it's so hot inside my soul, I swear there must be blisters on my heart
Surrender don't come natural to me, I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want than to take what You give that I need,
And I've beat my head against so many walls, now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn, And Your grace rings out so deep it makes my resistance seem so thin
You have been King of my glory, Won't You be my Prince of Peace

I just really love this song and the picture it gives. The message in this song has helped me in critical points in my life.
It says, God, you have been my King of glory-you are all powerful, you are King and Judge, you are sovereign. Not only that, the story doesn't end are a Father that holds his little ones with love, compassion and concern (hence, the visual I put here of the baby in this update). That is why one of His names is 'Abba' or 'Daddy' in Hebrew. Here is a verse from the Bible that has this name and this idea- (Romans 8:15)-'For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, "Abba, Father." Isn't this beautiful? We don't have to live our lives in fear, at least if we have believed on the one that has died and risen to make all things new. Those that have believed and now follow Him are his sons and He is our daddy, our Abba. I also wanted to write a bit about the lyrics from the song that I italicized..this part just talks about the difficulty of surrender and letting go. How beautiful and how freeing it is once we finally let go! We finally say, I'm tired, I give up...Boss, you're in control. You're the potter, I'm the clay, do with me what you will. Fill my life with your purpose. The struggle, weariness, and doubt is gone from a life lived on one's own and is replaced with peace and meaning from a life given back to the One who made it and Who gave it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Our first Liga soccer game

These three pictures are from our first soccer game to attend here in Ecuador. We went with an Ecuadorian pastor and his family. The game was between Liga Deportiva Universitaria (translated University Sporting League and also our favorite team) of Quito and Atletico Nacional de Medellin of Colombia. The game is a part of the Copa Libertadores or a South American tournament to determine the best South American club team. Anyways, we had great fun and it was a great game. Liga won 4-0, which is a pretty big win. This first picture is when the teams came out and were introduced.
This next one was taken after Liga's first goal. You should have seen the celebration. People were singing and jumping up and down and running around some. I really liked the singing or chanting. They had certain songs they would do, especially after a goal was scored. Celebrating these goals and cheering got me thinking about praising and getting excited about our God. While cheering during a game (something temporal) is not bad, how much greater it is to praise our God (who is eternal). This one is kind of hard for me, as big of sports fan as I am, but something to think about.

This last picture is a closeup of the game. See the ball flying through there. Sorry I didn't think to get a picture of us or the friends we went with at the game. I know I will be going back.

Christine's Comments: I survived my first South American soccer game! We were not mauled and smothered or involved in riots. The most exciting parts were being frisked at the gate, hand-held fireworks being launched nearby, a very visible military presence, lots of cigarrette smoke, constant chanting of a go-fight-win song, and an overcrowded parking lot. It was great! I think I am a real Liga fan now, even though I didn't spend any money to buy Liga hats, gloves, scarves or jackets outside the stadium. Maybe next time.

Good Friday Procession and Teleferico

The first two pictures are from a Good Friday procession that we went to in Old Town Quito. It was really interesting and quite beautiful. It was also really crowded. We only saw the part where they have these type of floats, with a band and incense carriers. We missed the part where people carry crosses and beat themselves, maybe we'll see that next year.
Hopefully, this picture will give a little perspective of how many people were at the procession. If you look on down the road, you can see the end of the parade. The one Gothic tower in back is part of the Basilica or the National Cathedral. By the way, what sweet nothings is this girl with the black headband whispering into her friend's ear? I hope he could have heard her because it looks like he had earphones is his ear..anyways.

The next four pictures are from last Saturday when we went to the Teleferico. This is a cable car system that takes people up a mountain overlooking Quito. This picture show the cables and some cable cars (very small) going up the mountain. From this perspective, it doesn't look like much, but it is. There are some points that the cable car is very high above the ground. It was fun, but I (Ben) was a little nervous.
This is one from an amusement park ride that they had near the Teleferico. This one was pretty fun and scary. It gave me a good view of Quito, upside down. This picture is actually sideways.
Here's a picture of us at the top with a great view of Quito and the surrounding area.

This is where the air is thin, ears get stopped-up, and an area of wonderful beauty. This one is looking on up to the peak of Ruccu Pichincha. Climbing that will be another day and another adventure. This is part of the volcano Pichincha, which is not active now but spit up a ton of ash and smoke back in '99. At certain times of the year this one has snow on it. We were at 4100 meters or about 13,450 feet.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

recent pictures

This sign says, "Drive with your head." I only wish more people would do that. We were driving behind someone last night on the way home and he really had a problem deciding what lane he wanted to drive in.- A major case of his half of the road being where he took it. He was playing eenie-meanie-miny-mo (spelling?) in deciding what lane he wanted to drive in. We were trying to pass him and as he was doing this, he would go in one lane and then switch and then drive right in the middle of both lanes. Oh well, we made it home all right. By the way, can someone please wash our windshield?
Here is a picture of Cotopaxi (on the right and w/ more snow) and Sincholagua (on the left). We were able to see these snow-capped mountains, along with some others on the way to Quito on Easter Sunday. It was a really clear and beautiful day and it was special to be able to see all the
mountains around.

Here is a close-up picture of some Easter lillies that Christine took.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Well, it's late Saturday night and I guess I feel like rambling. I know I don't feel like doing homework, so I guess I'm procrastinating. I have to prepare this speech or talk based on a Ecuadorian short story that I had to read. It really isn't all that big of a deal, I guess I just don't feel like doing it.
Anyways, I do feel like sharing an answered prayer request. I know it's been a while since we shared the prayer request but God answered it in an amazing way. A while back we shared about Ramiro who has cancer and his wife Eleanor. Well, Ramiro's stomach was disconnected from his intestines. The doctors were planning on doing surgery but they had some indications that the stomach may have connected to the intestines on their own (with a little help, of course). Sure enough, that is what they found out. So it looks like our God is still in the business of miracles and that things are looking up for them. Please continue to pray for them as Ramiro recovers.
Another quick prayer request...We are going to be watching the 'Jesus film' tomorrow night with a family that we've been having Bible study with.
Well, the other day I shared a prophesy about the suffering and death of Christ. Now for Easter, I would like to share a scripture about the Resurrection of Jesus. I really recommend reading all of 1 Cor. 15. By the way, the 'I's' in the passage represent the fact that this was originally written by the Apostle Paul, not me.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4- Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
Now I (Ben) just want to remind you all of the greatest thing that ever Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins. He didn't stay dead as everyone else will, even all the other religious leaders. He rose from the dead, in the flesh. This is what sets Jesus apart from all other religious leaders and what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. His resurrection gives us hope for a resurrection as well. This death and resurrection is what makes Jesus more than a great teacher or a moral leader, it is what makes him Lord. Now, to share a bit what C.S. Lewis had to say on this same topic from his great work, 'Mere Christianity'-
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon and you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Horse ride

Here are some pictures from a 4 hour horse ride that we took while in Banos. The ride was really nice and we had a great time, but new meaning was brought to the word 'rawhide.' This picture was taken at the beginning of the trail as we were getting ready.
Here is a waterfall that we stopped to see along the way. We have seen so many waterfalls here in Ecuador, I don't know if I have ever seen so many in all my life.
Here is another series of waterfalls that we saw coming down the mountains.
Here is a picture of Christine, our guide-Patricia, and a birds-eye view of the town of Banos.
Here is us at the end of the ride with our horses-my horse's name was 'Ruso' and Christine's horse's name was 'Lucero.' Check out my horse, he is doing an impression of Mr. Ed. Also, you can see the stirrups were a bit short for me, but they worked out fine. Lastly, check out the cool Brooklyn Dodgers hat that I found here. I will never stop being surprised by what you can see or find here. I had wanted to buy a hat like this in the States but it was too much, but then I found the same one here and it was pretty cheap. Just in time for baseball season, now I miss going to the games (opening day was pretty painful). However, I have gameday audio and can listen to some games via internet radio...Go Rangers, Astros, and Cubs!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Volcano Tungurahua

Here are some pictures from our trip to Banos. The ones I will share here have to do with our sighting of a volcano eruption. First, I need to start the story by saying that we tried to see the volcano both nights that we were in Banos but without success, thanks to foggy and cloudy conditions. They say it is possible to see the lava at night but as I said, we were unable to do so. When we were leaving town we went to some mountains across from the volcano where they said it would be possible to see the volcano. Well, we got there and it was fairly clear but clouds were covering the volocano. We were getting ready to leave and finally we saw a clearing at the clouds near the peak of the volcano. We were kind of wondering if what we were seeing was smoke or clouds...then all of a sudden, we heard rumbling and then saw smoke and ash coming up-as you can see in the following pictures. Hint-the darker mushroom clouds are from the volcano.

Now, when I say volcano, don't picture Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius/getting buried in lava. Although this one is active, it isn't real dangerous. It just throws off some smoke, ash, and a little lava on the top every once in a while. The following are pictures of us with the volcano.

Good Friday

Someone tell me that this prophecy written hundreds of years before Jesus was not fulfilled in the suffering and death of Jesus 2ooo years ago! Isn't this amazing?
Isaiah 52:13-53:12-See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness—so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Hope you all have a great Easter season! Hope you can remember, celebrate and believe on the One that suffered, died, and rose to give us hope. This is all I have for now. I do hope to put some pictures of our trip to Banos on soon. By the way, here is a picture of a carving of Jesus that we bought in Quito a while back.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Random thoughts and pictures...

Quick, someone call the fashion police! We have a major violation! Don't worry, I didn't buy these and I don't own them. I was just posing with them. Somebody, tell me these type of shades aren't popular in the States (whoever does so can let me know via the comment box). I sure don't remember these being popular in the U.S. They really aren't too popular here in Ecuador, generally speaking...but at the university we are attending, everybody and their dog has them. People will still wear them on a cloudy day or inside as well. If you can believe it, these are small compared to some others at the University...ok, maybe I'm stretching it there.
Here is a picture of our soccer team, at least 4 of us. We had our last game earlier this week. Unfortunately, only part of our team and part of the other team showed up, so our game wasn't official. Also, that would have been our best chance for winning. I wish we would have been able to play them earlier in the tournament. It was a great opportunity, anyways.
Here is another picture from Ilalo that I forgot to put on the other day. It shows the side of the mountain (no, we didn't go up or down that side). It also shows a cornfield with some scarecrows.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ilalo #3

Psalm 76:4-You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game.

Here is a view of the surrounding valley and mountains.

Isaiah 40:8-
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Here is a picture of a guy that we saw plowing. We were able to try our hand at plowing as well. I didn't have so much luck, as the plow came out of the ground and the cows ran a bit. At least it worked for a little ways. We were able to talk to the guy and that was pretty nice. I think he lives up there part of the time and works.

Here is a picture of some kids climbing the cross that I guess is about 90-100 feet tall. We climbed up a part of it, not even halfway and was able to take a picture of this interesting graffiti. It says, "Diego, my love, I love you, don't leave me!" The design of the U in the triangle is the symbol for Liga Deportiva Universitaria, which happens to be my favorite Ecuadorian soccer team. To cap off the perfect day, I was able to ride this horse a couple of times. This was back in Las Palmeras, which is where Francisco lives.

Andes Mountain High, Ecuador-Ilalo #2

If you didn't notice, the title of this blog is a spin on the song 'Rocky Mountain High, Colorado.' Anyways, here are some more pictures from my trip on Saturday to Ilalo.
Here is a picture of the top of the mountain. We walked along to that ridge by the forest on up to the top and a little beyond.
Here is a picture of the side of another ridge of Ilalo. I don't know if you can tell but there are corn fields all over the side of the mountain.

Here is a picture taken as we were going to the top of Ilalo, looking back on the ridge that had the cross on it. You can also see more corn fields as well. There were bluebonnets and corn fields all over the mountain.
Psalm 95:4-6-In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

Map of Ecuador & Pray

Here is a map of Ecuador and South America to give you all an idea of where in the world we are located. We are just outside of Quito, Ecuador, the capitol city. Guess this is all I have for now...stay tuned for more pictures from Ilalo. Please pray for Ecuador and that people will know the peace and joy that God wants everyone to have. 1 Thessalonians 3:1a-Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored..."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ilalo #1

Before going to sleep, I will put some pictures from a trip I took yesterday. With that, I want to let you all know that with the help of my supervisor (Phil Calvert), I figured out why I couldn't post pictures on the blog. We resolved the problem and will now be able to post pictures.

Here is a picture of a corn field along with Mt. Cotopaxi in the background. As I begin writing about this journey, I want to let you know that this was one of the best days I've had in Ecuador yet. There is just something special about being able to experiencing new things that makes life a little more special. In that, just getting away and seeing God's creation and power in nature really helps. On the trip, I went with a good friend, Francisco, who I had met in one of the churches in another town. He is a really cool guy and we had a lot of fun and we had an opportunity to know one other a little more.

Here is a picture of Francisco and me at the top of Mt. Ilalo. I think there are some pictures of part of Ilalo on other posts on the blog. We found out the part that is near our house is only the tip of the iceberg...there is another part of the mountain behind that which is much higher. It was amazing to be able to see everything from there.
I don't have to worry about missing springtime back in Texas too much as we have bluebonnets here. There were quite a few all over the mountain.

To get a little perspective of what we climbed, this is another side of the mountain. I did some research on the internet and found the mountain is an inactive volcano. I also found out that it is about 10,000 feet in elevation. There are also some kind of ruins of an ancient civilization on one side of it (we didn't see that yesterday, that will be another trip and another post!)

Here is a picture of a huge metal cross that was on part of the mountain. Later on, we saw these people climbing it. I would venture to say the cross is at least 90-100 feet tall.
I guess this is all for now. I have so many nice pictures from yesterday. I will have to post more later.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Trip to Oriente

The following are pictures from a trip that we took a couple of weeks ago. We went to the Oriente, which is the Eastern part of Ecuador. We went with some friends of ours to their pig farm. As you can see, Shrek has made it big here. For whatever reason, they painted him on the side of this workshop.

Here are some waterfalls that we saw on the way.

Here is a guy that we saw on the way that was wearing a Texas Rangers baseball hat. Go Rangers!!! I know tomorrow is Opening Day...wish I could be at the Ballpark, but that is the way things go. I do like baseball, but I like soccer better overall, and we have plenty of that here.

Here is a picture of a beautiful village girl that I met down by the river. Isn't she lovely?

This sight brought to mind a Garth Brooks song...a bit of an inspirational song that I will share some lyrics from...You know a dream is like a river, Ever changin' as it flows, And a dreamer's just a vessel, That must follow where it goes, Trying to learn from what's behind you, And never knowing what's in store Makes each day a constant battle, Just to stay between the shores.. and I will sail my vessel 'Til the river runs dry, Like a bird upon the wind, These waters are my sky I'll never reach my destination If I never try So I will sail my vessel 'Til the river runs dry And there's bound to be rough waters And I know I'll take some falls But with the good Lord as my captain I can make it through them all..

On the way back home, we saw this truck. The yellow writing on the back says, "If you like dust, follow me." Under that, on the bumper is painted, "Virgin (Mary) of Holy Water."

Random pictures #2

Here is another picture from the time we were out in Las Palmeras...This is a Quichua women with a baby on her back (that is how many of the babies are carried.)

Here is a nice '48 Ford (someone correct me if I'm wrong). It is pretty amazing to be able to see fixed-up classic cars. This is one of the nicer ones we've seen. I've seen a few 60's era Mustangs and various models of older pickups. I have even seen a few '69 Chevys like the one my family used to have.