Sharon Wilcox link letter no.24 September 2021

Hello Everyone,

Warm greetings from Santo Domingo. It is difficult to realise that we are almost three-quarters of the way through the year already. I think I expected it to be a slow year, but it is flying by. I think the Euro 2020 football, the Olympics and the Paralympics may have helped. The “feel-good” factor kicked in for a while here in Ecuador with the country’s second ever gold Olympic medal and its first ever gold in the Paralympics.

Young Ecuadorian man shows childlike painting of tree
Paul’s artwork

In my last letter I said that I still had not managed to get my ID card sorted. I am pleased to say that I now have it, after going to Quito on 28 June. I was expecting to have to queue for hours but, thanks to a couple of miracles, it only took two hours. Thank God for his provision of a couple of shortcuts on the day.

I also told you that the new president of Ecuador had said he would ensure two million people were vaccinated in his first 100 days in office. Thanks to pledged donations of various COVID vaccines he upgraded his promise to nine million in 100 days. As of the end of August, 9,980,000 people had had their first dose and 7,500,000 their second dose. Ecuador will receive 30 million doses in total this year, so most of the population of 17 million people (excluding small children) will receive the vaccine if they wish. Here, healthcare is a “right according to law”, but it is also your right to refuse it. Conspiracy theories led to a fear of the Chinese vaccines here in Santo Domingo. So that they did not go to waste, some centres began offering them to foreigners earlier that August. That meant I was able to receive both of mine before the end of July.

concentration!
Eli doing a word search

Unfortunately, the president is way behind with some of his other promises, especially more jobs and being a government that is “prepared to meet and talk with people”. The indigenous groups who rioted two years ago have already started holding demonstrations outside parliament because they have not been listened to. Please pray that the demonstrations will remain peaceful.

The Orchid Project has continued on WhatsApp, planting seeds, cooking, being artistic and learning Ecuadorian Sign Language as well as trying to maintain other skills. Since the middle of August, thanks to the fact that we have all had our two vaccinations (and therefore the parents have more confidence to let their children outside) we have been meeting once a fortnight in a local park to play football and just hang out with each other. Everyone was so happy to be able to spend time with friends they had not seen for 18 months. Jonathan’s mum rang me after the first occasion to say that he had returned home in a very happy mood. It was the first time since his parents split up in February that she had seen him so happy. Please pray for her as she needs to find work to support four children.

Sharon with young adults
Reunited

Also, in August I received a call from the church secretary telling me that they had a buyer for the building and that I needed to go and remove all of our equipment. I also needed to find a new location for the project. I had hoped that we would be able to start back in person in October.

Marlon planting camomile seeds

Firmly believing that God has not finished with The Orchid Project, I asked a few people to pray for us to find somewhere suitable, or at least where we could store all our equipment. The prayers worked. The secretary rang me a few days later to say that the sale had fallen through, and that the pastor says we can start back in person in October! Praise God. They still plan to sell if a buyer comes forward. The following Sunday, Pastor William from the Baptist church informed me that he had spoken to two or three pastors who are interested in helping us, and that he would take me to visit them. At the time of writing that has not yet happened.

The Baptist church has continued to give out food parcels, and has a group for Venezuelans on Saturday mornings, where they can get second-hand clothing and be fed physically and spiritually. It is lovely to see the church growing as a result of these ministries. Many people are coming to know the Lord and wanting to be baptised. In June William and one of the deacons baptised 10 people in the river.

3 figures in white in river with onlookers
River baptisms

Finally, I am hoping to be back in the UK for five months from next March. I will be contacting my supporting churches in the coming weeks to see if you would like me to visit while I am home. I am also helping my home church plan an event for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June. So please have a think about it now, so that we can quickly arrange a date for a visit. Your prayers that Ecuador comes off the red list, or that hotel quarantine finishes before March, would be appreciated.

Thank you for all your support, and for keeping in touch.

Every blessing,

Sharon

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