Wellbeing—Where Eating Well is Being Well
About four years ago, something that I had dreamed of for a very long time, took place. Our family-owned vegetarian restaurant in Quinto, Ecuador became a reality! The plan came together once my grandfather allowed us to use the first-story apartment in his house to open our restaurant, Wellbeing. It was very suitable for this kind of work. However, the finances and investment money for such a ministry was not available. We began to pray, and God provided us with the generosity of some folks in the United States who donated some means. It was enough to buy a couple of refrigerators to keep groceries cold, a counter desk for reception, and a couple of tables with chairs.
Our first plan was to provide a healthy fast food service, such as cold healthy shakes using many of the local fresh fruits that grow abundantly in the country, along with sandwiches, veggie burgers, healthy desserts, and perhaps soup. However, we realized over time that the local people’s tendency is to have a good lunch hour with a full lunch menu, rather than a fast food option. Lunchtime in Ecuador is the most important meal of the day. People expect lunch food to be a good hearty meal. So, as we received suggestion from our visitors, we decided to prepare a typical lunch menu that consists of a soup, a main entrée, and a beverage.
It was challenging because none of us were experienced with large-quantity cooking. My sister was the most capable of leading out in this task, but had only been accustomed to preparing food for the household, and occasionally for special guests. To prepare meals for a business was another deal! Despite the challenges, we began. My brother and I would assist my sister in whatever jobs she had for us, including chopping, peeling, blending, mashing, and so forth.
It didn’t take long for our two available dining tables to fill up during the lunch hour. Eight to ten people sat there, eating their meal! Others would be asked to wait, and we had to offer sitting space at my grandfather’s dinner table. This was only a short-term solution, so we began to pray for more tables and chairs.
Nevertheless, we continued to work under these conditions for about seven months until we had saved enough money from business sales to buy four additional tables with chairs. By this time, we also needed to hire a worker who was more experienced with large-quantity cooking.
As an additional service in our restaurant, we decided to add a health food store. We sold healthy products, including soy milk, nuts and seeds, prunes, dried fruit, veggie meats, tofu, and similar items.
All of this work took place as an endeavor to share the Three Angels’ Messages with the people of this city and the country of Ecuador. The first angel’s message is to fear God and give glory to Him. I have been an Adventist since childhood, and the health reform was the basis for our family’s encounter with the truth. I grew up with the feeling that Ecuador had too much hostility and apathy against this diet and lifestyle. Knowledge regarding how to share this message properly with outside people had diminished within our church ranks. God allowed my family and me to establish solid foundations on our principles and beliefs, in spite of the lack of support from our own extended family.
But many years went by and conditions have changed. Here in Ecuador, people have adapted much of their lifestyle and eating habits to that of the average American. This has caused an increase in the same health disorders as is seen in the United States, including cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, liver and kidney failure, and many others. Unfortunately, these diseases have become a part of daily reality in this society.
These facts have created a need to open the minds of the people toward the research of something better and the reformation of their diets and lifestyles. The restaurant has given us a great opportunity to share God’s health message, and the knowledge of His second coming, with the locals! We have been blessed with literature to share with our customers, including Steps to Christ, Desire of Ages, The Great Controversy, and many other books. As a personal testimony, I can say that it warms my heart to hear someone leaving the restaurant with a thankful comment that they had enjoyed the meal along with the peaceful atmosphere created by sacred chapel music.
Many folks with terminal diseases have come to us for advice and help. It is deeply rewarding to see that the establishment of the eight laws of health in their lives brings healing and reverses those sicknesses. Currently, we have about 50 regular customers eating at our facility on a daily basis, and God has allowed Wellbeing to become a self-supported ministry with worldwide reach. We provide many additional services, such as cooking classes that are presented in different media formats at our websites and on social networks. We also do health seminars, nutrition assessments, stress therapies, health consultations, and much more. The Lord has also opened doors for my siblings and me to present televised health programs on Adventist television stations in both North and South America. Currently, I speak regularly on public radio stations and local television stations. I know that God’s light—with which we Adventists have been blessed—is to illuminate a world that has become ripe for the harvest of Jesus’ second coming.
One year after we established the restaurant, my siblings moved to other places for personal reasons. I decided to continue with the work that had been started. A lot of effort has been made to overcome the challenges and trials of the restaurant and ministry. We have come so far, but I know that God has many more blessings in store. He will send the faithful servants, ready and eager to labor, and the means needed to continue this work.
I pray that God will find us faithful in this endeavor to be His servants wherever we are.
By Esteban Salazar of Wellbeing World Ministry, Ecuador. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.gowellbeing.com.