Monday, 11 July 2016

The Children of Ecuador...

There was a reason why Jehovah wanted us to have children, they're little bundles of joy!
So let us tell you a little of what being a child in Ecuador is like, we are writing of course from our perspective and what we've seen - but I'm sure all need-greaters serving in developing countries can attest to something similar.

Over the time we've lived here, we've noticed that children have a very different upbringing than we (1st world countries) had. A lot of things contribute to this, culture is a big one, the financial situation of the family and their surroundings. The issues they face are (in our opinion) extreme, Witness children all over the world have to face tests of faith, here one of the biggest is drugs and immorality. Since we serve in a poor coastal area of Ecuador, (next to Columbia), children as young as 7 are offered drugs like cocaine at schools. (This doesn't happen all over Ecuador, so if you have have a young family who wants to serve in Ecuador it's totally safe, you just have to thoroughly research the areas and schools you want your kids going to). Witness kids, faithfully stand up for what is right and they have to learn to do this from a really young age, 

We came across this story and it may give you an idea of how children view life (especially within our current territory). A 7 yr old girl was asked how she pictured her new house in the new world? Her answer was "I want my new house to be made of cement..." This little girl and her large family live in a bamboo house, all she wants in the new world is for her house to be made of cement and not bamboo so the bugs don't get in.  Kids here view life very differently and at times it can be heartbreaking.... We believe that because of this young children completely understand the need for God's Kingdom and take on board what they need to do to be a part of it. 

Most kids come from divided homes, many of them live with their mums and the majority don't have fathers in the truth, a few of them are complete spiritual orphans. So they face tough situations we as adults may never encounter back home.  I'm not going to get into the negative things they're exposed to, but sometimes I ask myself how would I cope in that situation? The answer, hmm not very well... We've seen that children learn to rely on Jehovah from a very young age and make decisions that it could take us adults years to make. 

We are so happy to have the privilege to meeting and spending time with some of these kids.  As we see them grow, we too are proud of how they handle difficulties, how they face adversity and how they show how much they love Jehovah.  This is true of many young ones who serve Jehovah all over the world and I'm sure you agree they are also our modern day examples of faith.

So here's a few kids we've come to know and their stories.

Abi doing her thing out witnessing
Abigail (12)- everyone who knows us or has followed us knows about little Abi, I started studying with her soon after we moved to Ecuador. She had been asking for a study for a long time but everyone had thought she was too young to have her own study.  The first time I met her, I asked her what she thought of Jehovah and how she felt about him, her sweet adorable answers told me a lot about her love of Jehovah, the bible and even the organization.  We started the study immediately and she quickly began to progress, it was amazing to be there for her first talk, her first door out witnessing, and to be at her baptism.

Gorgeous Darling
Darling (7)-  She's the youngest of 4, growing up in a divided household.  She became an unbaptized publisher at the age of 6 and wanted to get baptized soon after, I was asked to help her with her knowledge of the truth so a study was started. I've never seen a student prepare so well for their lessons.  She even had notes with additional questions. Because of her circumstances, witnessing for her isn't easy but she diligently makes arrangements with the sisters in the congregation so they can pick her up, walk her to the group and take her out witnessing and of course bring her back home.  She's taught me a lot about joy, she's such a happy little girl, always smiling and giving everybody a big hug at the meetings, it was really nice to also be there for her first talk and we hope she continues her progress and reach many of her spiritual goals.

Jean Pierre showing us hospitality
Jean Pierre (5) - The first time we met him, he came up to me with a flower and handed it to me and said, "a flower for another flower"... Jeremy said he is such a sweet talker.... hehehe... he's the most adorable little kid, his goal when grown up, is to get baptized, look after his mum and become an Elder so he can look after the congregation as well... While out witnessing a sister mentioned she needed to go on a return visit and she was about to leave on her own, Jean Pierre looks at her and says who's going with you? to which she replied "no one, I'm going by myself...." He then gives her a concerned look and says, "no, don't go by yourself, you need to take another sister with you, because if something happens to you who's going to help you?, who's going to run out and get help?"... The sister moved by his concern assured him she would take someone with her... we still get little voice messages from Jean Pierre telling us how much he loves us and misses us and what he has been getting up to in his new Congregation.

Julie with her sister Bianca
Julie (12) - She's a quiet little girl who is so smart and understands the truth so well.  For a while I couldn't really tell how she felt about what she was learning, but as she started to progress I was able to see the strong desire she has to serve Jehovah.  In her immediate family she's the only one who is currently progressing and this has caused her a lot of issues with her non-believing dad.  He was worried that progressing in the truth would take her away from her studies (the only means for which he sees any hope of a better life for his children). However, she didn't allow her dad to stop her from doing what is right, she begged, cried and tried to reason with him that it wouldn't affect her homework and her studies and eventually her dad allowed her to join the ministry school.  After she was approved, she hugged me, cried and said "OK, I've won my first battle!", I had seen how much this had cost her, just to be allowed to enroll in the school and I though wow, I will never see the school the same way, its such a privilege for us to freely and joyfully participate,

Junior after his first bible reading

Darla when she became an unbaptized publisher 
Bianca - my witnessing partner

Examples like these are very common here and believe me I could continue writing for hours about children who are serving Jehovah all on their own. For many of us growing in a spiritual household meant we had all the support we needed from our parents, but these children are trying to serve Jehovah with little or no support from their families, they truly need our thoughts and prayers to be with them and while we are here we are trying to be as much use as we can to them.

We learn from these children so much and are so happy to be a part of their spiritual careers.