Thursday, July 26, 2007

Our Creative God

We FINALLY made it home! Praise the Lord. After a four and a half hour delay in Quito, then another five hour layover in Atlanta, we pulled onto the church parking lot somewhere around 3:30 pm Saturday afternoon. We had been awake since 7:00 am Friday morning. Needless to say, we were some very tired travelers. But even though we were tired, we were so full of excitment, thanksgiving, and memories of a great ten days in Ecuador. Please allow me to share a few more photos with you.

Dan and Susan Madison at the top of a mountain overlooking Quito. This is an actual picture. It looks like they are in front of a painting, but they are not. God's handiwork at its finest!

This picture was taken at the Center of the world at the Equator. Bobby Kennedy is checking out a balanced egg on the head of a nail. Fascinating!

This is just one of the MANY views that we enjoyed in the beautiful country of Ecuador. God is indeed an artistic and creative God.

Wow! What a beautiful view over Quito. Pastor Clayton and I, along with a few others from our group, climbed a little higher to get a better view. It was simply overwhelming!

I had one leg in the Northern Hemisphere, and one in the Southern Hemisphere.

Roger Woolbright riding down the mountain on a Llama. (Ok, it was a doctored photo)

Bob Smrt making the most of one of the LONG airport delays.
Thank you so much to everyone for your prayers during our trip. We could feel your support. We went into the job a week and a half behind, and ended up a week and a half ahead. We had beautiful weather, and great health. Stephen Nichols, one of our team members was sick for a couple of days, but thanks to your prayers, he ended up being fine, and continued to work.
  • I would like to share a couple of thoughts with you this evening.
How many are Your works, O Lord! In wisdom You made them all. Psalm 104:24 NIV
  • One day in Hyde Park, London, author Frank Sheed was speaking about the remarkable order and design of the universe, when a heckler shouted, "Even I could make a better universe than your God!" Unruffled, Sheed replied, "I won't ask you to do that today, but would you mind making a rabbit just to establish credibility?"
  • Author Bob Gass says, "Know what? If the earth was as small as the moon, its gravitation couldn't sustain our needs. On the other hand, if it were as large as Jupiter, its extreme gravitation would make human movement almost impossible. If we were as close to the sun as Venus, the heat would be unbearable; if we were as far away as Mars, every region would experience snow and ice nightly. If the oceans were half their size, we'd get only 25% of our present rainfall. If they were one-eighth larger, annual precipitation would increase 400% turning the earth into a vast, uninhabitable swamp. Water solidifies at 32 degrees below zero. But if the oceans were subject to that law, the amount of thawing in the Polar Regions wouldn't balance out and we'd all end up encased in ice. To prevent this catastrophe, God put salt in the sea to alter its freezing point. Not a bad day's work!

  • David said, "How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom You made them all… I will sing praises to my God as long as I live" (Psalm 104:24-25 NIV). If God's workmanship doesn't make you want to stop and praise Him, what would?
  • I love you guys, and want to thank you once again for your interest and prayer support during our trip.
  • I will continue to post devotions and thoughts on this blog. I hope you will continue to visit with me here as we "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" together!
  • Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Friday, July 20, 2007

Flight Delay

The airport in Atlanta had some delays, so our 9 pm something flight was delayed until 12:50 am. That means that our flight coming in to Memphis won't arrive until around 2 pm on Saturday.

Well, we have a long night ahead of us, but all things work together for our good....

Praise the Lord!
Pastor Rusty

Heading Home!

Our work is done and we are coming home! It has been a great trip and I think I can speak for everyone to say that it was life changing.

On our way back to Quito on Friday we get to see a little more of Ecuador. I believe the equator and another volcano is on the sightseeing agenda.

The team and I would appreciate your prayers as we travel home. We are supposed to be at the airport around 7:30 or 8:00 tonight. We will be in an airplane or airport until we land in Memphis at 9:20 am.

Sunday morning I am preaching a message God laid on my heart about Ecuador. If at all possible, I encourage you to be there.

I look forward to seeing you all.
Rejoicing in this wonderful day,
Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ahead of Schedule!

What an amazing trip this has been! God has been so faithful to use this team and increase our efforts.

We came into this project a week behind because of the way the weekends fell etc. As of today, Tuesday, we are ahead of schedule. We have only one and a half work days left and we are almost done.

Today, while our team finished up the day's work, I was able to accompany Bro. Barber as he made some necessary trips to other parts of Ecuador. I told my wife that I felt like I travelled to the top of the world. We crossed to wilds of the jungle (well, it felt like it) to a remote village church where Bro. Barber needed to meet with the church leaders.

While he was in his meeting, I had the privilege of spending time with the church's pastor. We were quite a pair. He knew no English, and I knew no Spanish. So, we spent the hour teaching each other words in our respective language. I think I would have to say that today was one of my most adventurous days ever.

Our team is in good spirits. It is refreshing to know you have worked hard and accomplished an impossible goal. It is great to know that you have a great big God on your side. It is also wonderful to know that in a few days you will be headed home to your family!

Thanks again for your prayers. We could not have accomplished what we have if you had not joined our team through prayer. Also, thanks to each of you for praying for Stephen. He is doing better and appreciates all of your heartfelt prayers.

Have a great night's sleep and a blessed day tomorrow!

Rejoicing in this wonderful day,
Pastor Rusty

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ecuador in Pictures: People and Places

Our hotel.

Farmers go by every day with their cattle.

This is an "animal swap".

Ms. Joy and some of the local children and a grandparent.

Pastor Clayton with the Pastor and his wife. The lady in the pink striped shirt is one of the interpreters.

This picture is of a passing wedding celebration.

Answered Prayer Already!

Thank you for praying for Stephen! He does not have to have an appendectomy! PTL! He has bacterial gastritus and this can be treated with medicine.

Please continue to pray for him because I believe he is still in pain.

Thanks again for your prayers!

What We are Here For: Our Work Pictures

One of our first days.

Our crew, Missionaries Phil and Deanna Barber, and the Pastor and his family.

This is our "break room".

Moving the rocks. There were 3 piles like this. We moved every single rock.

Here is the reason we moved them by hand - our dump truck was stuck.

A much needed break.

The rocks are moved to the foundation area. Today (Monday the 16th) we poured concrete over these.

This is what we did ALL day Friday.

Missionary Phil Barber.

Almost done on Friday!

Beth and Diane bent the rebar wires! Very hard work.

Prayer Need

Good morning to everyone!
We just received a phone call from Susan Madison in Ecuador to ask everyone to prayer for Stephen Nichols. They believe he needs to have his appendix removed immediately.

We ask that you pray for several things:

God's healing touch for Stephen
The perfect doctor and medical staff for this situation
Wisdom for the doctors in diagnosing and treating Stephen
Proper medical care and sanitary facilities
Quick recovery
Safe and comfortable return travel
Pray against any type of infection
God's perfect will in every situation
Peace for Stephen and his family and the rest of the team
Wisdom for the team leader and missionary on how to best handle the situation

Thank you for your prayers. Also, remember - things like this do not take God by surprise. Anything the enemy means for harm, God has a plan to use it for His ultimate purpose. Stephen is in God's hands and in God's perfect will. Our God will receive Glory for this.

Have a great day!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Finally, Pictures!

Our team today on the much deserved R&R day. This picture was taken outside the restaurant where we ate lunch.

Okay, it is already Sunday morning - early I might add - but I am determined to get these pictures on the blog!

The picture below is of our work site in Autunkia which is about 20 minutes from where our hotel is in Ibarra. Notice the pile of rocks. We moved 3 piles of these by wheel barrel and laid them on the foundation. We will pour concrete over these on Monday.

This is a picture of part of the hotel where we are staying.

I believe this is a view from where we are working on the new church. They have a beautiful view. That is snow on the mountain. Even though it looks like lava - it is not. The sun must be shining on it.

Today we went to the world famous Otavala Craft Market. There were people there from many countries and we heard lots of different languages.

This lady was a beggar in the market. She was walking around to our group with her hands out. I asked her if I could take her picture and she let me for a dollar.

My new hat I bought at the leather market.
This evening, Bro. Phil Barber and I left for Quito, where we picked up the rest of our team. Susan Madison and Roger and Jennifer Woolbright flew in tonight from Memphis. They will be in service with us in Quito. Then tomorrow afternoon we will join the rest of our team for another service in Autunkia.

This has been an amazing trip. On other missions trips we have worked on existing structures and helped with all sorts of construction projects. This is my first trip to walk onto a piece of land that has nothing on it. We are laying a physical foundation of concrete and our pastor friend has been working on laying the spiritual foundation. Other teams will come in and build on what we have started.

You see, he and I aren't so different. We are just from different backgrounds and have different resources. But our Source is the same! Our goal is the same - to build up the body of Christ and lay a solid foundation of God's Word in the hearts of the hearers. On this trip our team is laying the physical foundation. I am honored to be able to help out a fellow pastor and his congregation!

There is much more I would like to share with you, but if you notice the time, it is extremely late. I have had some issues with posting the pictures. Hopefully Dorinda will be able to get the rest of the pictures on here tomorrow for me. We are using modern technology to its extent getting this thing working.

I have asked God to give you a mighty outpouring of His Spirit in your services on Sunday. Please pray for Pastor Clayton and I as we share His Word with the body of Christ in Ecuador.

Rejoicing in this wonderful day,
Pastor Rusty

Friday, July 13, 2007

Work Day #3!

Good evening! It's hard to believe it is already Friday. We have been working 3 days and we are ready to pour concrete on Monday!

I have a little more time tonight - so let's see if I can give you a few details.

Today started off with a dump truck full of sand getting stuck. We had to unload the truck with shovels and wheel barrells. That was okay though. Then I kind of felt like I was in Poland again - we literally moved three loads of BIG rocks to the foundation by wheel barrells. Today the ladies helped us move the BIG rocks. These ladies have made us proud. They are hard workers! We are definitely getting our work outs. I ran a wheel barrell for several hours. Sore muscles have a new meaning now.

To get to our work site the men have been driving back and forth in the back of a truck. It is a 20 minute drive. Our trusted truck driver (aka Dan Madison) - let's see - how would I put it - hasn't had a GPS system...... But that's okay, this is the one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!

Tomorrow is our R&R day. We are all looking forward to taking it easy. We are headed to Otavala which is world known for its crafts. We will also go the the leather store. After that we are going to the volcano and paddle across the opening - and no, Dorinda, it is not an active volcano.

Saturday evening Bro. Phil and I will return to Quito to pick up the Woolbrights and Susan Madison. So tomorrow evening please check the blog again, because I will be able to post LOTS of pictures. I hope you will be able to see the beauty of this place.

Sunday morning, I will preach in Quito, while Pastor Clayton will preach in the town of our work site - which I still can't spell.... Then Sunday evening, the Quito group will travel back and our entire missions team will be in service together.

Some of you have wondered about the food here. It has been great! We've had steak and baked potatoes. Tonight we had shrimp and french fries.

The town here reminds me of something you would see in a documentary film. Several times during the day we can look up and see old cattle herders passing by in a cattle drive. The town is an old Indian village - not Indian as in cowboys and Indians - but Indian as in jungle type Indian.

I guess everyone is excited with the amount of work we have gotten done. Tonight some of us played ping pong and pool.

I sat outside earlier in the week and got some pictures of the surrounding mountains. There are mountains all around and a few of them are snow capped.

Okay, I hope that gives you a better feel of how our week has gone. Thank you for your prayers - and remember, check in tomorrow for the pictures.

Rejoicing in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty

Thursday, July 12, 2007

End of Work Day #2

Well, work day #2 is over and we have a very tired team. They are working hard and making great progress. It is evident that God has hand picked this team. As I said earlier, we are the first of four teams to come in. What we are doing is called "grunt" work - it's the job that all the other teams are glad they won't be doing.

I tried to send a picture with my cell phone today, and that didn't work. So, I can't post pictures until Saturday when I get back into Quito. Until then I will just summarize our days.

The area we are working in is beautiful. Our hotel is in a valley, while our work site is a little more elevated. On one of our R&R days, we will be taking a boat over the mouth of a volcano. I am anxious to see that.

We all want to thank you guys for your prayers. We are working very hard and at the end of the day are bone tired, but so far so good.

I will try to be a little more specific when I have more time tomorrow. Thanks for checking in.

Pastor Rusty

Continue to Pray for our Team

Hi! This is Dorinda. Pastor Rusty will not be able to post a blog tonight but he said he hopes to do so tomorrow night and give you some pictures of the area and the work sight.

I want to ask you all to even more so lift up this team. The work they are doing is quite strenuous - and the altitude makes it even more difficult.

Would you agree with me in prayer that God will give them supernatural strength and endurance to perform the task. I know we have mentioned this several times but again, here are some things that we can agree on together in prayer:

physical strength
endurance and fortitude
smooth work days without unnecessary delays
good working weather
ability for each team member to know what he/she can do to maximize the effort
servants heart
favor with the locals - in the church and community
opportunities for our team to share Jesus
safety and protection
the anointing of God to rest upon them
all things to work according to God's plan and His will

Tonight I have prayed the following verse over our team:
Colossians 1:28-29
"We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me."

Lord I pray for our Missions Team, that you would minister through them as they proclaim You. Give them opportunities to share You and teach about You, with and in, all wisdom. May they be a blessing to the missionaries and the local pastor. As they labor to build up Your Kingdom, may they work with Your energy - and may Your Spirit work powerfully through them. Strengthen them with Your Might and Your power. Work Your will through them and may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Thank You Lord. I pray this is Jesus Name.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Going through Customs at Ecuador

We are safe and sound in the South American country of Ecuador! Thanks to everyone for your prayers for a safe flight.

As we left Memphis early this morning we ran into some rain that followed us into Atlanta. Landing in Atlanta was a little bumpy, but we managed to make it without using any blue bags. Because of the storm our flight leaving Atlanta was a little delayed.

As we waited in the Atlanta airport everyone got one last bite of American food.

Our layover in Atlanta was about 3 hours. We boarded our plane for Quito around 4pm CST. As we walked onto the plane, I have to admit I was a little nervous. We were going to be flying over the ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico in this thing? It was a smaller plane than I had expected with tight quarters.

Everyone has been excited all day. We are anxious to get to our work city - which by the way I cannot spell, yet. We landed around 9:15pm and headed directly to customs and immigration - which went very smoothly. Here is a picture of the Quito Immigration.

Everyone was tired and making short phone calls as we waited in line.

After making it through customs, we boarded the bus to our hotel.

The weather is great tonight - about 57 degrees and perfect. All together it was about 2 hours from the time we landed until we arrived at our small hotel. We are all very tired and our tiny beds (which are very hard by the way) were a sight for sore eyes!

I think I should add that it is amazing I was able to post anything tonight. As Dorinda walked me through the blogspot options, I messaged back to her that my entire page was in Spanish. Modern technology is wonderful! With some ingenuity and the help of messenger texting, I was able to decipher and change it so I could read it. Bro. Juan should be with us!

We wake up bright and early and head out for our 3 hour bus drive at 8 am. We will arrive at our work sight and begin our first day of construction at around 1 pm tomorrow.

Again, I thank you for your prayers. I know there are many of you who would love to be here with us but can't for one reason or another. When you pray and intercede for the work we are doing here, you are just as much a part of this team as we are.

Well, this tired Arkansas boy is going to bed. And yes - we have checked the beds and no lizards, bugs, or any other creatures! And no mice!

I hope to send you more pictures tomorrow! Don't forget to leave your comments.


Pastor Rusty