by Stephanie Butler, mother of a volunteer
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.”
Stewart K. Hine
This past November for Thanksgiving, I had both the pleasure and the finances to visit my missionary daughter, Brittany, in Guayaquil Ecuador. It was a wonderful experience.
Upon arriving at the airport in Guayaquil, my only thought was that of seeing my daughter, it had been 10 months since she had left for Ecuador. I was so excited I didn’t even pick up my luggage until after I got to hug and hold Brittany for a few minutes.
As I write of my experience in Ecuador, I automatically think of its beauty. This was threefold; first, that of the beauty of God’s creation, second, the beauty of the Ecuadorian people and third seeing the beauty of God’s spirit working in the Heart’s Home Community.
God’s beauty in Ecuador was most noticeable to me in the second part of our week after travelling to Banos, and to the jungle of Puyo. As you can imagine, we saw many sites such as majestic waterfalls, mountains with breath-taking views, and even one non-active volcano. In the jungle, we viewed more waterfalls as well as parrots, monkeys, alligators, very large and very “ugly” fish, and even a poisonous snake. I believe, that all this is evidence of God’s glorious creation.
Second: The Ecuadorian people. They were a delight to get to know. The families that Brittany introduced me to in her neighborhood were so warm, so accepting of me and extremely hospitable. Many of them wanted us to come for supper or for lunch. We received so many invitations that, regretfully, we just couldn’t possibly accept all of them in such a short visit. That, I later learned, disappointed quite a few people. I also learned quickly that one gives and receives a kiss on the cheek rather than a handshake on being introduced! What impressed me the most were two things: all individuals were so eager to meet me; someone they didn’t even know. Secondly, prior to my coming to Ecuador, they chose to learn some English so they would be able to speak to me in my native language when I arrived. That was such a compliment and a blessing! I too had tried to learn Spanish for them, but they, however, did a much better job at their English than I did in my Spanish. Regardless of the language barrier that we struggled with, their love for my daughter, for her community and myself, was evident in their smiles, eyes, and their actions. Sometimes love needs no words!
Third: Ever since Brittany began her mission in Ecuador, I was curious as to what exactly she (and her community) did. So during our first four days, Brittany showed me. I “shadowed” Brittany and her community members as they visited the crippled, the blind, the lonely, the bedridden and the abandoned. My eyes were opened and my curiosity ceased. I was shown that Brittany and her community daily provided a compassion-type ministry, just like Mother Teresa did in India. Throughout the days’ visit, it was hard for me at times to witness as they ministered. It even saddened me on some occasions, but that soon disappeared as the realization sunk in of just how much these people were being shown the love of Christ through Brittany and her whole community. Without them, who would visit them? Without them to hold their hand or simply to bring them a flower, how much lonelier they would feel? Without them to celebrate their birthdays and bring them birthday cake, would there be cause to even celebrate or to even remember one’s birthday at all? So yes, I was sad at first, but the Heart’s Home Community, consisting of 5 ladies and one gentleman, acted as the hands and feet of Christ. This took away my sadness soon after it appeared. I know it takes away the sadness for those they minister to as well!
In closing and speaking from a mother’s perspective, I feel having a daughter as a missionary is a double-edged sword. I do indeed long for Brittany’s company, her weekly or even daily conversations, to see her smiles, to feel her hugs, and her presence for birthdays, holidays and just everyday life in general. However as much as I yearn for these things, I am equally, and at the same time, praising God for this ministry Brittany (and her community) provide as they use their God-given gifts to bring the gospel to others and the love of Christ to the hurting. After all, isn’t that what life should be about? To focus on that which brings eternal rewards? To share and give of ourselves, while bringing glory to God’s kingdom? This is truly what I believe is what Heart’s Home mission is all about, and that is true beauty!
One proud mother.