Each day of our recent mission trip, when walking over the cracked, moonscape-like-ground of La Union, one could hear the taps and cracks of hammers from the three sites where our teams, alongside residents, were working in the baking sun to build new cane homes for families in need. Passing the school, children waved over the wall shouting, “Hola!”or “Good Morning!’ to those walking by. Some of the children were dressed in the new uniform jackets that the “Sewing Stine Sisters” taught the women of La Union to make in the sewing class that they set up in the Community Center. Approaching the Heath Clinic, fresh paint could be seen as a team member finished repainting the inside wall. La Union was humming with work.
If you were not a part of the boots on the ground mission team, know that you definitely were there through the BRPC mission giving, individual donations and prayers of support. Without you, the following could never have been accomplished. Muchas gracias!
17 people went on the mission work trip to La Union, Ecuador this year. The group was a bit smaller than in the past, but through hard work and loving dedication their accomplishments were extraordinary!
- 15 houses were built by the team! A 16th was paid for but did not arrive in time to be built by the team. It was built after we left. This year teams added small porches and stairs to give easy access to the families. The families were all pre-selected by the social worker at Hogar de Cristo. Family members assisted the team, as they were able, and they paid for the transportation of the housing materials. The people of La Union are learning life lessons and becoming involved in their future.
- Enough fabric, zippers, thread and cuff material were bought by the team to sew seventy school uniform jackets. Three team members taught the women of La Union how to make patterns, cut, attach zippers and then sew the uniforms. Two more donated sewing machines were brought down by team members to join the one donated on the last trip. We purchased a new sewing machine and a lockable storage cabinet for use by the women. The women now have four sewing machines to work with!
- While there, Elsa Rendon, the wife of the owner of the nearby shrimp farm, Produmar, came to visit. When she saw how beautifully the women were able to sew the school uniform jackets, she told the women that Produmar would use them to sew the uniforms for their workers. The women now have a sewing business!
- We bought paint and tools to repaint the Health Center (which we donated 6 years ago) and the Community Center (which we donated 4 years ago). Some of the men of the community helped to paint the centers along with a team member.
- We helped in the initial organization and gave support to the newly planned preschool, which will be held in the community center. We bought 6 colorful plastic tables and 24 matching chairs as well as a TV and DVD player to play educational DVDs for the children. We brought down art supplies, games and balls, which we left with the teachers, Isabel and Maria. They are the La Union nurses who we have been sponsoring for the past 6 years. Isabel recently took a course in pediatrics and will run the preschool two days a week, to start.
- We supplied 70 pounds of medical and dental supplies to the Health Center. A local donor gathered medical supplies and is sending 3 more shipments to La Union. La Union now has a monthly medical clinic at the Health Center with volunteer doctors from Guayaquil.
- One of our church members sewed 8 dresses, which we gave out to children in need. They wore them proudly!
- We received 50 pounds of art supplies from Oratory Prep, which we gave to the elementary school. The children and teachers were, Muy feliz!
- We fulfilled a desperate need of the principal, Freima, by having 4 large white boards delivered and installed in the school classrooms. They replaced the old cracked and overused white boards, which were unreadable.
- Team members bought some much-needed sports equipment for the school.
- We worked with Isabel and Maria to set up a community survey to find out how many homes need new water filters because the old ones were no longer working properly. We will supply needed filters after the study.
- The 20 ecological toilets that we provided on the last visit are working well and being maintained. 10 more toilets have been added by the community. The enhanced sanitation and clean water means greatly improved health for the residents.
The most heartening aspect of the trip was to see the continuing progress as this once forgotten community moves forward, becoming more self-sufficient. They are determined to become self governing and independent. Health and self-esteem are greatly improved. Education is now to the 8th grade in La Union and several children are able to afford to go to Guayaquil for high school (it costs $4-5/day) and six young people have entered the university. This was unimaginable when we first worked in La Union in 2011.
While in La Union, we met with Loretta Moreira, a professor at ESPOL University in Guayquil. ESPOL U. has seen the great need of many communities throughout Ecuador who are faced with extreme poverty. They decided to set up a major program to address these social and economic problems. In doing this, the decision was made to find a “model community” in which to develop and conduct 10 major projects over 5 years in order to reach sustainable advancement and goals. They studied several towns and after extensive surveying and conducting of interviews, they chose La Union as the model town. Loretta told us that the reason they chose La Union was because of the progress that had been made in the town through our church’s work in La Union and the change that made in the attitude of the people. They are no longer a forgotten community. On Friday, Kimberly and Judy attended a presentation at ESPOL University about the 10 major projects. It was amazing and will mean a world of difference to the people of La Union and beyond. We also discussed ways our church’s mission can be involved in aspects of this program.
As Josh said, this ongoing mission to La Union, supported by our church, donors, and hard working team members over the years, cast its bread upon the waters that in the future will reach many communities throughout Ecuador. We believe God led us to La Union in 2011 perhaps with this exact goal in mind.
The 2018 team included 3 sisters, grandfather/grandson, couples, singles, friends, 3 teens, people from California and North Carolina, brother/sister, families, people from all walks of life and experiences bonded by a common desire to help others.
Thanks to our Ecuadorian team, including Patricia, Hogar de Cristo Coordinator; Carla, Hogar de Cristo social worker; Daniel, our bus driver who built houses with us each day. Friend volunteers included: Gladys, Miguel, Abraham, David, and Wilson.
Thanks to the BRPC staff!
Thanks to the BRPC/Community team: YOU!
Our plan is to return to La Union one more time in 2020. We already have our reservations made at Schoenstatt Convent for June 20 – 27th! If you have a desire to be a part of this trip, please mark it on your calendar. We will announce the signup for the trip in August 2019.