I served as a missionary to the country of Ecuador in South America through the 1980’s and the early 1990’s. I have many friends from Ecuador who have come to visit with us through the years and of course we have gone back and visited with many of them as well. While living in Ecuador I made many memorable trips to all parts of the country. I lived in the two largest cities of the country, Guayaquil down on the coast and Quito, the capitol, up in the Andes Mountains. I worked with the Shuar Indians in the Amazon and travel with them frequently to many villages scattered in the jungle area. I traveled the length and the breadth of the country during the fourteen years or so that I there
On one occasion I made a trip to the Galapagos Islands. I was invited to go along with the Ecuadorian Bible Society to help them out on a unique ministry trip they had planned. They primarily wanted me to go, because I had a 16mm movie projector and a couple of films they wanted to show, but lacked a projector. I wasn’t allowed to lend the mission’s owned projector out so I was invited along to bring the projector and show the films.
The Galapagos Islands are a unique environment to visit. In fact it is a hot tourist spot for many, especially Europeans who have an interest in exotic flora and fauna. Most of the animal species found there are found nowhere else in the world.
With all of this beauty comes some real unexpected surprises. The Islands are located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, on the equator. You would think that they would be a tropical paradise but you would be wrong. The temperature is moderate never getting out of the eighties during the day and down into the low forties every night. The frigid Antarctic waters that come up the South American coast by way of the Humboldt current cause this.
Another anomaly of these islands is that there are no natural water sources, by way of springs, streams or rivers. All water for the islands comes from the scarce rainfall or from the ocean mists that the wild plants capture. The human inhabitants depend on shipping in their water for drinking from the mainland.
On this trip which I made to the islands with the Ecuadorian Bible Society, I was privileged to travel between the islands on an Ecuadorian Coast Guard cutter (about the size of a World War II PT boat). Only a handful of the 59 islands are inhabited by humans with a combined total population of some 3,500 permanent residents in the early 1990’s..
I had been on the larger island of Santa Cruz for a couple of days and had my share of cold showers during my 10-day stay. There was no hot water, so you tried to time your shower for late afternoon giving the roof top storage tank time to be heated up by the sun, taking away the overnight chill. The time had arrived for us to fly back to Quito aboard a special military transport sent to pick us up. We took a small converted school bus to make the 15-mile journey to the other side of the island for a short 500-yard ferryboat ride to the small island of Baltrus where the military runway was located. We had almost completed the trip but when we were about two and a half miles from the ferry, the rear axle of the bus broke in two.
There began another journey none of us had expected or planned for. We had to walk the last two and a half miles. Normally that would not be a bad walk… but we were in the Galapagos, we were traveling, we were ministering…. So I had my two suitcases, cameras, video camera case, my brief case, and I also had a 16 mm movie projector with four large reels of movie film, which I had been showing. There was no one to help me carry all these things, because each one in the group had their own things to carry.
So I began a process that in the end amounted to my walking about twelve and a half miles to the ferry. First of all I picked up my two suitcases and carried them forward about fifteen or twenty feet, set them down and went back to pick up the movie projector and reels, and carried them forward and put them down. Then I returned one last time to pick up the brief case and the video camera case and carried them forward. I repeated that an innumerable amount of times until I finally arrived at the ferry. The group of Ecuadorians with me were all doing the same thing with their own personal effects and ministry items that they had along with them.
This scenario is true for each of us in our daily life too. Sometimes it seems that we are carrying a heavy load for much longer and much further than we ever expected that we would have to do. The trials of life do get heavy on our heart. Jesus has told us that when the burdens of life get to be too much for us to come to him. In Matthew 11: 28-30 we read, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When our group finally arrived at the ferry we were a ragged looking bunch, covered in sweat and red dust from the unpaved road. We were very weary travelers who wished that this ferryboat ride was a whole lot longer than just the five hundred yards to the next island. At least there was another bus, may I add with two good axels, to carry us the short distance to the military runway and plane that was to take us back to the mainland. It felt so good to just sit down and rest. To this day when I travel, I try to make everything fit in one suitcase or at the most two with absolutely nothing else to carry. I am a firm believer in traveling light!
Brad Morris, a retired minister, originally from Georgetown, served as a pastor and then as a missionary in Costa Rica and Ecuador, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has been in ministry for 50 years and a columnist for 17 years, 13 of which have been for the Georgetown Times.
Reach Nick Masuda at 843-607-0912. Follow him on Twitter at @nickmasudaphoto.