Where Shall We Go?
Lord, where shall we go? That had been our special prayer for the past two years. Ever since the first time my husband Barac and I met, we had both cherished the dream of starting a small mission or school—some way that we could help the native people of Ecuador, the country where Barac was born and raised. We started looking for land away from the cities many years ago in different parts of the country, but without ever being able to find the “right place.” There was always something that hung up, proving to us that the Lord was not in favor of that place at that time. After leading us through a real “wilderness experience” and helping us to learn to truly wait on the Lord, the doors opened to purchase a large property in the coastal mountains of Ecuador at a price lower than what we had prayed about and set as a purchase price; also at the same time we received many calls encouraging us to help start something in Ecuador.
Immediately we began building a house on it with the money we had saved. We chose cement block because it is more secure and needs less maintenance (termites are a real problem there) than a wooden structure. At first, our plan was to live and work among our neighbors and the community. But as time has passed, we feel more and more the need for starting a school of the prophets. Nothing like that exists in Ecuador that we know about, and there are youth starving for the truth and desiring a place to get a practical and godly education. Just in the community around us, there are so many interested children and youth, and even adults, that a school would be packed full the first day we opened the doors.
Ecuador is a small country, about the size of Nevada, with around 14 million inhabitants who are 90 % Catholic. We have three climate zones: warm and humid coastal, high mountain and hot, sweltering jungle—all reachable in a short time compared to our neighboring countries.
The area in which we live is among hills, lots of trees and small villages. The Lord has blessed us with numerous fresh water springs on the property that have plenty of water even in the dry season. We have electricity, but it does fail a lot for either one excuse or another, especially in the rainy season. We have emergency power by generator, which is very helpful when we have apagones or “power off” for a week or two sometimes.
The soil is very fertile, and with the use of our own compost, we find it easy to grow almost anything year around. Learning from experience, we are building a greenhouse roof over the garden to keep the plants from washing away in the rainy season. We are trying to live off of the land and grow all of our own food. Rice is the staple food, especially in the coastal regions of Ecuador. So this is the second year that we have planted and harvested a good rice crop. All of this has been a new learning experience for both my husband and me, but with the help of good neighbors and some youth that have come from a self-supporting school in Colombia (Fundación Las Delicias), we are moving ahead with this project.
Our staff right now consists of my brother-in-law and his wife, my husband and I and two young men. It is a huge job with few laborers, but we have asked the Lord to send the workers and believe that He will impress the hearts of those that want this project to go forward to join us in helping to teach these youth and young adults the present truth: evangelism, medical missionary work and a practical trade that they may make a living for their families and support themselves like Paul as they carry the gospel to a perishing world.
Our first goal is a school building that could be used as a church on Sabbaths. We have usually 15-20 that come to our home for Sabbath school and church, and we have not gone out and really invited more because we do not have enough room and chairs for more. This is an urgent need, because many more have voiced an interest in coming, and we want to have room enough to receive them. Like I mentioned earlier, the Lord has blessed us with youth that have come as volunteers, only receiving room and board in exchange for the hard, backbreaking work that they have done in getting the land cleared and landscaped, setting up the garden and planting fruit trees, without mentioning their help in finishing the two houses and garage building that we have so far. The whole property is about 80 acres, but just keeping the grass cut on the 20+ acres that are right now being used is a never-ending job.
Our projected costs for the school/church building are around $24,000; that will include the building with roof, windows, doors, electricity and plumbing installed and plaster finished inside and out. The benches, desks, blackboards, cupboards, etc. expenses are separate, and we calculate that costing about $4,000.
From what we have seen in the past at different schools that we have visited and from Spirit of Prophecy counsel, instead of building dorms for the students that are not from the local area, we are considering that the youth be divided among the staff families. That way each family would have the responsibility to care for and protect a couple of “adopted young people,” and the youth would have the family environment and loving care of a good Christian family. The way we see it, dorms can be lonely and scary for youth that have never been away from home and also are an open door for temptation and getting into trouble. We are stepping out in faith and want to start building these small, simple, economic family homes, so that we will have a place to receive the workers that the Lord sends. Cost for these homes comes to about $20,000 each; that leaves them finished and ready to move in.
We need to improve the water system and build a large water tank for a reservoir for the houses and school. What we have so far is not big enough as we start to grow.
We welcome any volunteers, whether they are short term or long term. Monetary donations can be sent through Mission Projects International. Please keep us in your prayers.
By Laurie Orellana. Barac and Laurie Orellana may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for the Ecuador project can be sent through Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058. Ecuador is this quarter’s 13th Sabbath feature.