By Samantha Norman
Jared Bethel of Clark County recently left our small corner of the world to seize the opportunity of a lifetime. He had the chance to go to the Spanish-speaking country of Ecuador with a group of ten members from his church, the New Testament Christian Church of Keokuk, IA. Jared was able to spend seven days in the country’s capital, Quito, helping those in need.
“I was approached at church one Sunday asking if I wanted to go and it took me about two and a half weeks to decide that I needed to go. But, I felt like it was the right thing and what God was calling me to do,” he said.
The trip to Ecuador was through the Pan de Vida organization, a non-profit out of Quito that helps the less fortunate there.
Jared said that their group did three main things to help others while in Quito. The first was helping a man start to rebuild his house after it burnt down. This was through Pan de Vida’s “Hit Squads” program. The Hit Squads program is explained on the Pan de Vida website, www.pandevida.org.ec, as a “program that targets families that are in desperate need of Home Improvement due to their dire living conditions.”
Jared described, “Three or four of the days [in Quito] we went out and helped [a man named] Nester and his family…we helped start a foundation for a new house to be built on his property…”
The group also held Vacation Bible School for kids during five of the days they were there.
“We had a worship time, we had another person doing a sermon or lesson, and then we had activities, and an arts and craft,” Jared explained.
Kids were able to sign up for the Vacation Bible School through the Pan de Vida organization, and almost thirty were in attendance. Jared said that although the kids speak Spanish and his group spoke English, they were still able to help them and communicate with them.
“Even though there’s a language barrier there, just loving on them [the kids] and hugging them and trying to communicate with them through activities…just getting to know them for who they are.”
The third thing Jared’s group did was help serve meals to those in need on two of the days they were there. Pan de Vida holds these meals in Quito every Wednesday and Sunday, and Jared explained that when his group was helping they served 120 and 150 people respectively.
“You go there to bless the other people but you find out you become blessed by blessing others.”
“We helped their [Pan de Vida’s] on-cook chef serve the food and make the food. So everyone had their own specific job of of either setting up tables for people to sit down and eat, or welcoming them there, giving them stuff to wash their hands, and then just going around and meeting and greeting people and just loving the kids who were there,” he said.
Jared explained how he felt blessed by the people he met in Quito, “You go there to bless the other people but you find out you become blessed by blessing others.”
He also thinks that everyone should take an opportunity to go on a mission trip and help others, no matter where it is.
“Mission trips are amazing and a great opportunity to go serve people. If you haven’t done one, I’d suggest that you do. Go find a place to serve at, it doesn’t have to be out of the country, find some place to serve in town if that’s what you want to do. Just go serve, go find people that need help.”