Go Tell It On The Mountain ~ A Testimony of Faithfulness from Ecuador


Many times in our lives we are unknowingly put into situations that cause fear, and ultimately, great personal growth. 

I had a pretty good feeling going into the trip with Operation Christmas Child that there might be a few of these situations. I had an idea what the trip would look like, but it's impossible to know the details. 

You've heard the saying, "God is in the details." 

Yes, HE is. 

The Mountain

After a hectic and crowded distribution at a local church, we piled into our bus for the next scheduled stop - a public school with around 200 children receiving gifts.

Our views (from the bus) in and around Quito looked pretty much the same: massive amounts of people, concrete dwellings, and very curvy roads.  I was expecting this next distribution to be more of the same.


I was mistaken.

As we turned off of the paved road onto a dirt and gravel road we kept traveling UP. After a few minutes I'm sure someone must have broken the silence and said, "Where in the world are we going?" 


What we didn't know was that we were traveling to the very TOP of a mountain near Quito - so far up that we needed to put on our jackets and everyone felt a bit light headed.

I'm not fond of heights. I don't think I would say I have agoraphobia, but heights aren't my favorite thing. 

Sitting on a bus in a third world country, traveling up a steep mountain (with no top in sight), watching the city of Quito FAR below you, will increase that fear. That fear, however, was slowly replaced with a PEACE that I am certain came only from God. 

I know God placed some very funny folks on this bus to help me out - as we started our ascent one of them called out, "Well, I hope everyone is right with God!". While I laughed, there was a lot in the statement that made me think. God had our group in the palm of his hands.

{This danger was minimal compared to the dangers faced by so many who deliver Operation Christmas Child boxes.}

That peace enabled me to take out my camera and take pictures as we slowly climbed our way UP the mountain (Never mind the thought in the back of my head about the fact that we we would have to come back DOWN the mountain.)

I took a short video - it really doesn't do it justice, but you can see a bit, and hear the reactions of everyone else on the bus.  I love how one little guy can be heard exclaiming, "Mira!" - which means "look" in Spanish. Notice the clowns at the end of the video - they traveled with us the entire time and would perform skits before each box distribution. They were a GREAT group of kids!



We slowly started to see dwellings, and increasing numbers of people as we approached the community at the top.


When I saw all of the children in their school uniforms - and it was obvious they were excited by our bus and trucks carrying boxes, I began to relax and look forward to this distribution.


I did verbalize a bit of my fear to a couple of people on that bus, and with a few pats on the back I was ok. God's protection was over our group, just as it had been our entire trip. Why did I even need to fear? 

The Blessing(s) at the Top

We stepped off of the bus and I cried. (I saw others with tears, too.) I didn't cry out of fear or sadness. I cried because of the relief and joy I felt.  

I cried because my mom was, at that very moment, undergoing surgery back in the United States because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer right before I left. I had been so worried about her -- but this bus ride showed me  God takes care of ALL of his children.

I cried because the Mary that had left the United States was much less faithful than the one who had made it up the mountain - and I cried because I felt so selfish for thinking this bus ride was about ME.

It was all about HIM. 

The community of people at the top of this mountain had seen our bus and knew something special was coming. I saw children running, and adults coming to greet us. We spotted the school and just knew this was going to be a special experience. 


As with every distribution, the troupe of clowns that had been traveling with us performed several skits about God's love. The school children were sitting in neat rows, laughing and cheering. They were the most beautiful children I have ever seen. 



Joy is universal whenever God is present.


Those Little Shoe Boxes

The shoe boxes arrived with us, in the back of a Ford Explorer and pick up truck. They cover the cartons so the whole event is a surprise. 

Before the boxes are handed out, a booklet, The Greatest Gift, is given to the children. It is the story of Jesus in their language with colorful pictures and age appropriate text. 


The children were then divided into ninos and ninas (boys and girls) and also by age. All it took was a quick instruction from their teachers and they simply divided. (I was thinking of my time as a public school teacher and how - depending upon the students and teachers - this would have been a much more difficult task.)

While the boxes were being handed out, I took the opportunity to hand out some rubber band bracelets to the children.

"Senorita, por favor! por favor!"


They loved the bracelets! Even the adults were wearing them - this tangible sign of God's love from so many children in the United States was something I will always remember.  I gave a bag to a team member, and he just started throwing them into the lines of children. I had to stand back and marvel at God's blessings on our day. 

As I was sitting with a group of children, one of the pastors here in Ecuador that volunteers for Samaritan's Purse called me up to do the box countdown. The children are all instructed to keep their boxes closed until the count of 3, at which time they anxiously open them. 

It was perhaps one of the greatest joys of my life to stand in front of these children and shout, "Uno!  Dos!  Tres!" As they opened their boxes the pastor hugged me and I couldn't help but cry tears of joy. He told me - "muy bonito" - which means "very beautiful". 

This was indeed a BEAUTIFUL moment. 


When the children open the boxes the volunteers take joy in sitting with the children to see what they have received. These children are very aware that these boxes have been packed with the love of Christ. Jesus loves THEM, and these boxes are a tangible representation of that love.


They are a starting point to a life of faith in Jesus Christ. 

A Gift for the Operation Christmas Child Team

Our team was invited to have lunch at the school after the distribution of boxes. These people, who had so very little, opened their hearts to a group of 25 Americans and cooked us a wonderful meal. What a treat! 


As we ate lunch we had time to reflect on the morning and talk about God's blessings and provision as we went up the mountain.  

When we were walking back to our bus, there were children running and playing with the toys they had received.

Note: Little boys LOVE Hot Wheels in their boxes! The boys with cars were zooming them along the walls as they walked. 

How Was the Trip DOWN? 

The trip down that mountain was every bit as treacherous, but guess what? 

I wasn't a bit nervous. (We even had to switch sides of the bus several times because we were leaning on the ride down - that's how steep and curvy it was.) 

Our driver, Julio, was amazing. We clapped at every successful turn and sang Christmas Carols on the way down.  As we were singing "Go Tell It On the Mountain", I just knew I had to share the story with you. 

It's my Ecuador testimony of sorts. 


Beyond the Box

The children at this school will be discipled further thanks to Operation Christmas Child. Materials for a 12 week discipleship course, The Greatest Journey, will be given to their local pastor. Teachers will be trained, and children will be given the opportunity to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

At each distribution site, the local pastor is prayed for and given a gift. They are being lifted in prayer by the people of Samaritan's Purse. Little by little, the love of Jesus is being spread around the globe thanks to Operation Christmas Child. 

It is SO MUCH MORE than a shoe box.  

What our own children might consider a box of items that they have in abundance, these gifts are sometimes the very first gift a child in another country will receive.  While I am feeling a bit guilty for just giving each of my children ONE present this Christmas, these children have just been given the greatest gift of all.

Do you remember Ruby? I will never forget that sweet girl and her very first gift. 

You might get tired of hearing me say this, but I want you to know what an impact just one box can have in the kingdom of God and in the life of a child. 

There is NO GREATER GIFT than the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. 

Maybe that's the message we need to keep in our hearts this Christmas.