Ecuador – Looking Back

Art by one of the CASA GABRIEL young men.

Todd: “You can’t enter another culture, even for a brief moment, without being changed in someway. Sometimes the change happens as your heart is softened by the smile of a little child wearing tattered shoes. Sometimes the change happens as your eyes are opened to the desperate needs of people outside of your life’s borders. Sometimes the change happens as you realize that God was already working in that foreign place and you simply joined Him in His efforts. Through our experience in Ecuador this past week, our family was changed in these ways and more.”

Kellie: ” I have the personality of a planner.  These past few months, I’ve planned out the trip to Ecuador, coordinated chapels at LSA, taken care of all the shoes collected and prayed that the Lord would use us to serve as He saw fit.   Now, as we return to Minnesota, I find myself sad that this part of our journey has ended.  This means I truly have to face the reality that Makenzie is gone from this Earth.  A torrent of “whys?” come to mind after being in Houston but then I am reminded that the Lord has Makenzie in His embrace and presence.  As a Mom, I have prayed that that is where my children would be; in fellowship with the Lord, knowing Him as their Savior.

Finishing the project that Makenzie began was a tremendous joy; heightened by the fact that we did it as a family.  I can’t help but hear her laughter in my mind at the things we did.  Including finishing out the trip in Houston as we went to church and at lunch with all her friends.  A “you did what?” crossed my mind but then I know that those friends and our family have a special bond.  We probably always will.  Because of Makenzie.  Because of Christ.

I realize that by planning and being with her friends, I was keeping a bit of Makenzie alive so to speak.  Now that we finished, I feel sad, because I don’t want to go to the next thing in life without her.  Again, I am nudged by the Lord.  He says, He will be my strength and my guide.  And as I am confronted with the fact the I face more days without her, I am comforted as well by our Lord’s love and grace.  The same love and grace I was able to show to the people of Ecuador.”

Nathan:  “I was fascinated by the fact that we Americans have the thought that “I’m going to serve you because that’s what good people do.” God doesn’t want us to just serve and serve and serve to be sympathetic and think that we get brownie points for it. Give, give, give. No, we are to give AND receive. Be blessed. I was surprised to arrive in Quito, and experience a taste of what we came to dish out. The people there, were not only there to be served by us, but also to return the serving. Absolutely fascinating. I think that we Americans have the mindset of “I’m here for you,” or “No, no, I insist you take this.” And sometimes that is a good thing. But we as humans need to receive, as well as give.”

Maddie: “Today is the last day in Quito and boy has it been a wonderful week. I have experienced a lot of emotional things this past week. I am very thankful that I have a home and food and shelter and people that care for me like my mom and dad. Every single day, we did something new that just warmed my heart and it made me say every time “Wow, I wish Kenzie was here!!” Most people I saw on the streets were mostly little kids trying to earn money for their familia. In America, only parents have to work. Ecuador was a very good trip and it’s an awesome privilege for me to have a family.”

(Todd’s last thought):  After returning from a mission trip that Makenzie and I took together, she told me, “After working with those people; after helping them and building them their house, I think they blessed me more that I blessed them.”

If you’re hesitant to step outside your borders and crossover to a distant land, remember that God is already there. You will be joining Him in His work of finding and saving people who are lost and you’ll never be the same again.


todd, Kellie, Nathan and Maddie

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2 thoughts on “Ecuador – Looking Back

  1. Sandi & Brad Miller says:

    Thank you, each one of you, for sharing about your time here in Ecuador. It put a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye…yes, there was some pooling going on…as I read of the deep insight and revelation God was giving the collective you (ustedes) as you were “finishing what Makenzie started”…each of you is precious to Him…and to us. It was such a joy and privilege to walk with you during this part of your journey…and I know you will be bearing eternal fruit from having experienced God at work in you and through you…Jer. 29:11 is one of my life verses…He is the real deal and His healing will continue until we are made perfect in His presence as Makenzie already is!! Con amor, Sandi

  2. Katie Davis says:

    Love this. By the way. The roses yall gave me.. they haven’t even wilted the slightest bit yet. Really odd. Anyway, can’t wait till yall come back!

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