Saturday, March 21, 2015

Beginning a Volunteer Adventure

Yesterday, Friday, we had a wonderful visit at Fundacion Hogar in the El Centro of Cuenca with our new friend Chio, who is the Director of the medical clinic there.  It was our first visit to El Centro in the non tourist dominated area north of Gran Columbia (think Sierra Highway if you want to know the role Gran Columbia plays in the street system in Cuenca and are from where we came from, the Antelope Valley).  No English language signs for the tiendas and cafes, a quieter vibe in the morning than in the more familiar part of El Centro, and definitely no Gringos in sight!  We took a taxi to our appointment and the chofer immediately remarked in Spanish, "not as much traffic here - I like that!"  You see, in a 450+ year old city which Cuenca's El Centro is, with one way streets narrower than in the tourist sections of San Francisco, California, and with the Tranvia subway under construction in El Centro beginning next week, it gets old driving in a street system designed for pre Columbian times.

Upon arriving at the clinic, we met the morning DJ of Iglesia Verbo Cristiana's Radio Familia 96.9 FM radio station studio - they broadcast uplifting Christ centered positive programming from this location in Cuenca 24 hours a day, and have for over a decade.  Something different and clean in the air, as Jack French of the SOS radio network  based in Las Vegas, Nevada used to always say.  She is a friend we have seen while attending the worship services at Verbo. Nice to see welcoming friends!

We went upstairs to the secretary's office and met both Chio, the Director, and one of Verbo's Elders, Boris.  Boris was there to provide the bilingual translation, though Chio, who we met previously the week before at Verbo, has some English speaking and understanding abilities.  I did not have to translate this time!  We had also met Boris two weeks ago in the course of visiting the Verbo church office when we were seeking a dogsitter (now obtained courtesy of Chio). 

The conversation was rather short and decidedly informal between Chio and Carolyn Anne.  Yes, the clinic could use her training and abilities.  !!!  They would provide a lab coat, etc. for her time as a volunteer so she would be recognized as part of the staff.  Comfortable and appropriate clothes are the dress code - no need to buy clothes while a volunteer nurse in the medical clinic.  She would start in the next few weeks assisting the efforts of Taylor University students currently here in Cuenca in one of the "Medical Brigades" held six times a year to help the poor and underprivileged here in Cuenca.  And again, no need to have any particular knowledge of Spanish - other staff and/or volunteers would assist in translations between her and the patients.  All good stuff, indeed!

At the moment, we are a bit confused on the reporting date in April, but that will be easy to confirm later since we have Chio's telephone number at home.  We're happy to have Carolyn Anne begin her Cuenca volunteer adventure, finally!

As for me and my application to teach English as a Second Language at the Arco Institute at Iglesia Verbo Cristiana . . . it's still here waiting for me to have some time to fill it out.  No worries . . . it'll get done soon. 

Back to Boris for a moment: it turns out he is the one behind the Clinica Medica getting started.  A humble man, but one with vision from God on how things could be for Verbo and the citizens of Cuenca.

Unlike a typical job interview, he concluded our time with what is really needed as one volunteers in the medical clinic setting at Fundacion Hogar: a loving heart - love transcends all linguistic boundaries.  The cultural kindness of offering a friendly !Buenos Dias! to all one comes in contact with, followed with a hug, is both desired . . . and right up Carolyn Anne's alley so to speak - it's her style.  These small niceties coupled with the medical help provided help soften people's hearts to be open to the Good News of Jesus Christ - that is, the Gospel.  In the case of the Medical Brigades, a Gospel presentation is also provided to patients and family.  A good number of people have come to know the Lord and attend Verbo now because of these Medical Brigades, to cite but one example.  Exciting. . . and definitely a new adventure as we explore the direction the Lord desires for the both of us.  

In terms of vision for Iglesia Verbo, Boris understands that all Believers in Jesus Christ who have truly been Born Again have Spiritual Gifts.  They are to be used to edify, build up, and grow the church and thus the Kingdom of God.  All Believers are to use their Gifts in service to the church body and to the community at large outside its doors, and not just a select few such as Pastors and church leaders - the great error known in the New Testament known as Gnosticism.  He gets it! 

I'd love to sit down with Boris for a while and pick his brain on topics related to Servant Leadership and Christian Formation . . . that may take some doing.  Boris has a job besides his Elder duties and is not paid for his pastoral role in Verbo.  He also serves as the pastor of the Verbo church in nearby Azogues.  Neat guy to know, but he keeps a full schedule.  Of course, the busy, focused, yielded person of God also gets things done - and that describes Boris in a nutshell I think.

I know I have been rather stingy in supplying only my words to these posts these many months.  Considering the breakneck speed we have been traveling in making so many changes to our lives, I hope you may understand.  Once I get a table for the desktop computer, get the printer working again, and get caught up that way I should be able to have time to download photos of our past trip to Cuenca last year as well as provide new photos of what we are seeing now.  Please stay tuned!

In the meantime, I found a couple of YouTube videos on the topic at hand - Cuenca, Iglesia Verbo Cristiana, and Fundacion Hogar and the medical clinic.  Both of these are several years old, and so some of the information is not the most current. Cuenca now has a population of over 500,000 and Verbo has attendance of about 2,000 on Sundays.   Both are by current longtime Verbo church leaders/pastors.  Enjoy the sights of Cuenca and Ecuador while you gain an appreciation for the work at hand for medical volunteers here in Cuenca.

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