Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Thirsty Youth

Where has the time flown. . . I'll work to update you all on what new developments have been happening briefly, then get to the subject of today's post.

We did hear, due to my regular contacting by telephone, from our Visa Facilitator in Quito that our applications for the Pensioner's Visa have been approved!  This means that the FBI Criminal Background Check requirement has been waived by the abogado at the Ministario de Relaciones Exteriores in Quito.  The emails from our FBI approved Channeler, National Background Check, Inc. (NBCI) were accepted as sufficient.  They had our names, identifying information, a statement that the quality of the fingerprints was poor and no positive identification could be made, and had the NBCI employee's name, title, and contact information listed.  I had hoped and prayed that good sense in this matter would prevail. . . and the verbal word from our Facilitator Joseph Guznay was good to hear. 

Now to get that approval in writing and receive the actual pensionado Visas and Cedula cards.  It has been about two weeks and still no word from our abogado law firm in Cuenca or Joseph.  I need to follow up on this, of course. . . important item to take care of. 

Just got back from Quito (by intercity bus - air fare is too expensive on our budget) from a visit to the US Embassy in Quito.  Social Security seems to have mailed our SSA 1099 Forms for our tax preparing and filing purposes - June 15 is the US expat automatic extension/deadline - to our previous address.  So I had to visit the Embassy in person as emailing the required documents were too large in their pdf format.  Time consuming - trip up is one day, a day at the Embassy, and then a day for the trip back - but it had to be done.  Never been to a foreign US Embassy before.  Worth a future post down the road.

And Carolyn Anne fell down by accident in the middle of a busy street in the El Centro of Cuenca.  That was last Thursday.  All is well presently.  She suffered a dislocated left arm at the shoulder, as well as what turned out days later to be a large bruise on the side of her body below the chest.  Intense pain from the dislocation that subsided very well when the trauma doctor reset the arm back into the shoulder.  Healing from the injuries should be in another five weeks time.  She's wearing a cotton sling for her injured arm so it can rest and recuperate.

          ***                    ***                    ***

Many of you are familiar with the story of the Woman at the Well, told in John 4:1-45.  While there are not that many similarities between this Samaritan woman and the sixteen year old Cuencano youth I met on the intercity bus traveling from Quito to Cuenca yesterday, one thing stood out: this young person was thirsty, both literally and spiritually.  (I ended up giving him the water remaining in my last one liter water bottle, which he really appreciated).  

Ecuadorians are in general more apt to begin a friendly conversation with a stranger, even an extranjero like me.  As the questions developed, they became more spiritual and relational focused.  Like the Woman at the Well, however, Damien's questions were not focused where they needed to be: on the person and work of Jesus Christ.

To help focus his many questions about the world, religion, Roman Catholicism, and world religions, I kept asking him the same question: "Who do you say that I am?" - Jesus Christ in Matthew 16:15  He, of course, didn't have an answer.  "Read and study the Gospel of John," I advised him.  "Ask questions.  Don't stop asking questions.  There are answers for you, and they are found in the Bible."  

It didn't hurt that God serendipitiously provided a bilingual Ecuadorian young man to sit next to Damien during much of the two hours of the last distance from Quito to Cuenca.  He ended up voluntarily providing translation for me to Damien, doing this for well over an hour and a half.  Stephen, too, was struggling in his faith with problems and challenges, but told me he was a follower of Christ nevertheless.  This allowed me to be even more adept and precise in the kind of responses and questions I asked of Damien - and in an honest evaluation, Stephen told me I can communicate in Spanish, but I can use more work in improving my speaking skills.  He was glad to be of service to us.   

On my own, after Stephen left, I let Damien know that he wasn't trash - he was indeed precious in the sight of God and loved by Him.  And, of course, not to give up on the path he was on. Searching is a good thing if you are searching for truth, for Jesus Himself declared He was "The Truth" (John 14:6).  

To be sure, Damien is not totally clear on a lot of things.  He says he does not believe in the Bible.  He mentioned Ghandi and other world religious influences in his many comments.  He wants to know if God cares about and is involved with Ecuadorians.  (I said yes. . . one way to know God was actively listening to the cries of Ecuadorians was to know the fact that God sent me to Ecuador.)  He is without mother and father, but does go to school and even learns English there.  An apparent orphan.  I let him know he could contact me by email or telephone, and gave him my contact information.  He brightened up on receiving it, but then said he was too busy with school to email me.  We did, nevertheless, share some supportive moments where he clearly got that he was loved by me.  Thumbs up signs, smiles, and a real sense of relief on his face that he had been appropriately listened to.  Maybe the first time in a long time that had happened to him.

He knew of Fundacion Hogar in El Centro, and I told him if he had more questions, people there would be happy to help him there - they are friends of ours.  No money for a camera, but he let me know he would have enjoyed taking a photo of me.  He was so entirely respectful of me to the point of placing my bags in the taxi for me. . . and we said our good byes as I was driven home.  

Please pray for Damien that he finds the Peace that passes all understanding, and that he hungers to truly know the One True and Living God that loves him better than even I could do.  He admits to being angry with injustices suffered in his life. . . so please pray for his ability to forgive those who may have wronged him.  

*This* is what my wife and I signed up for when we answered God's Call to live in Ecuador.  The hunger and thirst for what is Right and True is alive and well in Ecuador, and they need our continued prayers.  Please join us in that, won't you?