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HeartSprings Missions in Guangaje
GUANGAJE FAMILY (OCTOBER 15, 2009)
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(WRITTEN BY STEVE JONES WHO WENT WITH HIS WIFE, KAREN, AND SERGIO AND NIXIE MORA TO ECUADOR)

On Thursday October 15, we left our hotel in Quito for the five hour drive to the remote village of Guangaje (Won-gah'-he), located far to the south of Quito at an altitude of 15,000 feet (that's three miles above sea level).   (Guangaje was the site of our first new Safe Water System installation for this trip.) The Andes Mountains were stunning in their splendor and sheer size, with several peaks covered with a beautiful white cap of snow glittering like jewels in the sun.  We were perhaps 30 minutes from Guangaje when another miracle occurred.  We saw what looked like a hay stack close to the road, but upon closer inspection, it proved to be a house.  As we paused on the road to get a picture or four, a young boy and his yet younger sister ran down the path to the road and invited us to come up and visit his home if "we would pay a little money".  Nixie translated for Karen and me, and was utterly amazed at this invitation.  She told us that the Andes Indian mountain people NEVER, NEVER invite foreigners to their houses.  We were thrilled at this opportunity and parked the car right on the road.  It was a hard climb up to the house because the air is so thin; we lowland people were not at all accustomed to these kinds of altitudes, so we had to breathe extra hard and pause to try to catch our breath often.  This house was built with bundles of straw or grasses in the shape of a dome, perhaps 12 feet in diameter.  The floor was dirt, with rugs or blankets (made by the family) on the floor in lieu of a carpet.  I could not see any furniture; there was no electricity, no running water, and no bathroom in view.  The kitchen was a fire pit about 20 feet from the house enclosed by a tattered sheet of clear plastic held up by a few sticks. There was a donkey resting behind the house, a couple of ducks, a lamb or two, and a goat.  The family living here consisted of 2 parents (who were absent - the only reason, probably, for the invitation to visit) an older girl recently married and her husband, four children of various ages, and a grandmother.  Every person wears a hat or head covering of some kind.  Their cheeks are red and scarred.  I later asked the reason.  The sun is so directly overhead at the equator that the UV rays will quickly burn even dark skin (hence the hat or head cover), and the scarring of the cheeks is due to the sun and dirt.   You need to understand that these people have no indoor plumbing - no bathtubs or showers:  most of them from older adults on down, in all probability, never in their lives had a complete bath or shower.  They all wanted to shake hands with us, and their hands were so crusted from sun and weather that they felt like we were touching old cracked leather. But let me be very clear, I could sense everywhere in these high Andes Mountains that God has a deep, abiding love for these precious people; and we "foreigners"  saw their family bonds and their work ethic and their simple yet hard lifestyle and we began to love them, also.  In point of fact, that love was the sole reason we were here, hurting lungs, trembling legs, and all.  It was our privilege to pray for each of them before we gave them some money and took our leave.  The young lad walked us to the car, and said that we were welcome to come back any time for another visit.  What a wonderful opportunity to see their culture and lifestyle.  We received a clearer understanding of these dear people.
 
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