Posted by dcarnill on Feb 20, 2011
Ecuador Trips Improve Michigan Couple’s Vision
While Dan and Karen Brown’s sight hasn’t actually changed, they now see the world more clearly. They attribute their improved vision to trips to Ecuador through Extreme Response. Dan has made three trips; Karen two.
The trips have impacted them powerfully and broadened their view of how they can serve others. Dan has lead teams from Michigan to Ecuador the last two years.
“My first visit was as part of a construction team to El Refugio,” Dan said. “I had never been outside the U.S. and Canada.
“One of our tasks was to work to enlarge the school yard. It was difficult to see the poor condition the school was in, even after we finished.
“I came away from that trip with a huge vision for what could happen with enough manpower. Visualizing children in an improved building was exciting to me.
“Being in construction, this kind of work was easy for me. I love hard work and I love what I do. When you add in the people and see the joy in their hearts, it makes it so much fun.”
“I was impacted by the love and passion the Quito pastors show to the people they serve,” Karen said. “They are there serving their communities day in and day out. I don’t know how they do it.
“It was so precious to see someone come into the parties with hurt on their face and then start smiling,” she added. “You hear about pain and suffering in the world, but to see it first-hand makes me realize my suffering is nothing.”
“Extreme Response uses these parties to demonstrate love for the people, to help bring them joy, changing lives one at a time,” Dan said.
“It was difficult to come back to the U.S. and listen to people whining over the wrong color tile in their $30,000 kitchens,” he added. “It’s a reality, and that’s OK, but there are huge needs in the world.”
by Tim Fausch
Posted by dcarnill on Feb 13, 2011
Dave Findlay Transforms into Papa Noel for Kids
Many people enjoy the idea of transforming themselves into someone else. Often, they dream about becoming a world-class athlete, rock star, or actor.
Dave Findlay wanted to become Santa Claus so he could encourage kids. So he did.
The Guelph, ON, Canada resident donned the red and white suit and became “Papa Noel” at Christmas parties in Quito, Ecuador. He joined with volunteers from around the world who gathered to help throw seven parties in five days in community centers and the Zambiza Dump. The parties are coordinated by Extreme Response.
The location of the parties – impoverished areas of Quito – may have lacked the glamour of a stadium, stage, or Hollywood set, but the results resonated deeply.
“I came on my first Christmas party trip three years ago after my daughter and granddaughter said to me, ‘Let’s go’,” Dave said. “My reaction was ‘wow’. I really enjoyed the people and the work was tremendous.
“I looked at the guys who were playing Papa Noel at the parties and said, ‘I can do that’. I had a ball being Santa. I see so much love in the people. The kids hug you so freely.”
The country of Ecuador was not new to Dave. He had first come to Ecuador in 1958 and worked for HCJB before retiring. Returning as part of an international team of volunteers has been rewarding.
“We fell in love with Extreme Response when we saw what they were doing in Quito. It really opens your eyes to the needs. I love that ER’s programs allow you to be hands-on with the people they serve.
“We visited the orphanage in Manta in 2009 and loved what they are doing there too. I had to come back.”
by Tim Fausch
Posted by dcarnill on Feb 07, 2011
Clean Freak Pattie Wolfe Gets Dirty in Quito
Pattie Wolfe likes a clean house, clean hands, and well, clean everything. So when she joined a team traveling into sometimes less-than-sanitary situations in 2004, Wolfe had to make a choice.
“Coming on these trips takes me out of my comfort zone,” Pattie said. “I’m a clean freak. This is a chance to hold hands that are dirty, kiss faces that are dirty, and pick up trash with my hands.”
Pattie has been coming on trips to Ecuador for four years; her husband Jim, two. The Indianapolis, IN, couple has joined teams operated by Extreme Response that reach out to those living in extreme poverty, often lacking basic necessities that U.S. citizens take for granted.
Pattie has learned not only how to embrace people whose exteriors are a bit dirty, she values the relationships built by showing love to people who are often overlooked by society.
One way that has been accomplished is by throwing Christmas parties in poor sections of Quito.
“I’ve been impressed with how all the Christmas parties are organized,” she said. “I have always felt that if I am going to invest my time and money, I want it to be for something where I feel I am being used.
“There is a special part for each person to play on these teams. I now feel as though I have brothers and sisters who are Ecuadorian.
“I admire the partnership ER has with the local pastors and their wives. I’m impressed with these strong leaders and their heart for the people they serve. They don’t rely on help from the U.S., but they value our partnership.
“Jim and I value these trips because we’ve been able to show our kids there is so much more in life than being successful. Two of our children have come on trips and one is working in South Africa after going on a Christmas trip with Extreme Response.”
Posted by dcarnill on Jan 23, 2011
Homeschooling Mom Cheryl Tomas Bends the Rules to Join Christmas Team
As a stay-at-home mom homeschooling her daughters in Fishers, IN, Cheryl Tomas follows a rigorous schedule. It’s the only way to assure the girls achieve their educational requirements and the needs of the family are met.
The problem was Cheryl’s friends Santi and Ruth Arteaga and Joe and Julie Wendel continually shared their positive experiences serving those in need of help in Ecuador. The Arteagas live in Quito and work as Extreme Response staff and the Wendels are ardent supporters and volunteers.
Her friends’ compassion eventually got the best of Cheryl. She and her husband Nate decided it was time for her to join a team heading to Ecuador to help throw Christmas parties at the Zambiza Dump and several community centers in Quito.
“I’ve wanted to join the team in the past, but felt the need to stay home and continue the girls schooling. I don’t like to get behind schedule,” Cheryl said. “But this year it was impressed on my heart the selfishness behind that reasoning.”
Nate, a technical manager for a software company, offered to work from home to keep the girls on schedule. Cheryl organized classroom assignments the girls could do on their own while she was in Ecuador.
Cheryl said being an active participant on the Christmas team had a tremendous impact on her.
“While volunteering at the Quito parties, I watched the children’s and adult’s faces light up at a single word of encouragement, a smile or a hug,” Cheryl said. “Through this I realized how desperate people are for someone to come along beside them and love them. I should be intentionally looking for ways to encourage people around me.
“This trip opened my heart to the people around the world who are struggling daily to support their families,” she added. “I no longer believe giving monetarily is enough for me, although still extremely important. Intentionally getting in the trenches, being vulnerable and building relationships are the keys to helping people.”
by Tim Fausch
Posted by dcarnill on Jan 17, 2011
New Hampshire Couple Finds Kindred Spirits at ER
As the founder of Love In Action, an organization dedicated to connecting, empowering
and mobilizing volunteers, Adriana Mendes looks for partners to help achieve the group’s goals. But when she reached out to organizations serving in Ecuador, she found many were unable to help her.
When Extreme Response offered to help Mendes and her organization as they seek to care for the poor, she was overjoyed.
“ER helps connect us. The staff is flexible, open and operates in an organized manner,” Adriana Mendes said. “ER makes its resources available to us for our work. They donate extra supplies for our Christmas parties.”
Adriana and daughter Tania Mendes launched Love In Action after witnessing the poverty and needs in Ecuador. Adriana, her husband Chris, and their 13- and 15-year-old daughters Dana and Bianca traveled from their home in Merrimack, NH, to Ecuador to volunteer at some ER Christmas parties, and oversee the construction of a community soup kitchen, while running separate Christmas parties in Quito.
“ER has an open philosophy,” Adriana said. “We’ve brought several volunteers from different backgrounds to work at the parties in the dump. It’s easy for Love In Action to be an extension of ER’s outreach.
“The organization (ER) is awesome,” said Chris. “Everyone is on the same page and everything is well run down to the minutia. I love seeing people benefit from the food distribution and the games.
“What ER is doing is very unique,” Chris added. “We’ve encountered a lot of obstacles, but ER has been a big help. Their hearts are in the right place.”
For more information on Love In Action, email Adriana via at email@example.com.
by Tim Fausch
Posted by dcarnill on Jan 10, 2011
Hog Heaven: Michigan Family Overwhelmed by Ecuadorian Family’s Generosity
In 2006, Don and Kim Clapham and their daughter Stephanie traveled from their home in Lake Angelus, MI, to Quito, Ecuador. Their goal was to help a team of Extreme Response volunteers rebuild a home for a struggling family that worked in the Zambiza Dump.
When the Claphams left Michigan, they viewed their trip as a one-sided affair. They would serve an Ecuadorian family by helping provide safe housing.
They did not expect the family to serve them.
“Unfortunately, the family had lost their home when the roof had collapsed earlier that spring” Don Clapham said. “We learned the family worked six to seven days a week at the Zambiza Dump, digging through the garbage to sort out plastic, metal and cardboard, which they sold for a very small amount of money.
“Because they did not have the time or the resources to rebuild their house, they were forced to live in a home with a leaky, dilapidated roof, exposed to the elements.
“We worked on the home from Monday through Friday, mostly mixing mortar and laying cinder blocks. The work was long and hard, but very gratifying because we knew how appreciative the family members were of our efforts from the looks on their faces.
“As we worked, we noticed that the family had three large pigs in their possession. Upon inquiring, we learned that the pigs made up the majority of the family’s life savings. The pigs were, therefore, of great importance to them.
“When the house was nearly finished, the family invited us to have lunch with them. While we were putting the final changes on the home, we noticed that one of the pigs was missing.
“We then realized the family, out of their extreme appreciation, had butchered one of their three pigs to feed us lunch. Knowing how important that pig was to them moved us all very deeply. We will never forget the heartfelt gratitude the family showed us that day.
“This experience with Extreme Response stirred my heart to serve people in extreme situations, Clapham added. “The appreciation and love shown by the Ecuadorian people made the effort very fulfilling. My family returned to Quito with Extreme Response in 2007 and 2008 and we hope to collaborate with them again in the near future.”
by Tim Fausch
Posted by dcarnill on Jan 02, 2011
Laurenne McDougall: “A Part of My Heart Will Always Belong to Ecuador”
Laurenne McDougall is a serial “Ecuadork”. So taken with the people and culture of Ecuador, Laurenne joined work teams from Woodside Bible Church three years in a row. In 2008, she and her team traveled to Quito to help add two stories, a roof, bathroom, and classrooms to the Good Shepherd community center.
“A few hours into the first day, a truck rolled in with at least 1,000 cinder blocks. The blocks needed to be moved from one end of the yard to another, so we started a block relay. My arms felt like they were going to fall off. I never wanted to see another cinder block again. However, as part of the construction crew, we needed to lift all the blocks up the stairs to the second floor. Amazingly, we were able to finish all the projects we hoped to that week.”
“We also led the kids in crafts. We made notebooks, bracelets, totes, and t-shirts. At one point, we had 400 kids. The kids loved playing with us and we loved the kids. Little Ecuadorian girls would randomly pet my hair and tell me that my curls are very beautiful.”
“On this trip, we made dinner for 300 people who work the night-shift at Quito’s Zambiza Dump. The very young children of the dump workers go to the nursery everyday, and all of their meals come from programs run by Extreme Response. The older children attend kids camp. As they leave, each takes a vitamin and a snack.”
“From a catwalk, we watched dump workers digging in mountains of trash looking for items they can sell. One woman found a cup of yogurt and ate what remained. Another woman pulled out a blackened sweater to give to her child. My eyes have been opened and my heart softened to the horrible conditions in which much of the world lives.”
“Near the end of our trip, my friend Hannah and I volunteered to serve fruit snacks as the kids were leaving. We were both weeping. We received hundreds of hugs. It broke my heart when the kids would say, ‘Thank you for everything’ in English.
“The people of Ecuador captured my heart. They really know how to make you feel loved. The generosity of the Ecuadorians will never cease to amaze me. A part of my heart will always belong to Ecuador.”
by Tim Fausch
Posted by dcarnill on Dec 29, 2010
A team of 7 traveled to India and Nepal – flying 49 hours, through six different countries and drove 54 hours on bad roads to put on 6 different Christmas celebrations.
Party #1 in Nepal was with 500 children from a local community and the outlaying slums. The kids had a great time watching the drama, the cultural dances and listening to the Christmas story.
Party #2 (Nepal) took place at a Hindu school high in the mountains and Party #3 was for a group of young Hindu mothers and their small children. The young mothers had a great time laughing and playing together.
Party #4 (Nepal) was for street boys who enjoyed the food immensely! We were able to give each one of them a warm wool hat.
Party #5 took place in India for a group of 100+ orphans ranging from 2-23 years old. They all enjoyed the Christmas story and loved the food and gifts.
Party #6 (India) was for girls who live in the slums. They put on their best dresses and came to get their faces painted and enjoy the food and fun.
Thank you for helping make these parties possible!
Posted by dcarnill on Dec 16, 2010
Yesterday we stuffed 1112 gift bags with a beanie baby, toothbrush & tooth paste, hotwheels car, 12 crayons & two coloring books. We worked together with the Youth Mobilization (YM) staff. It was a great day and our team worked efficiently and hard to complete this task. We were singing Christmas carols and rejoicing knowing where these gifts will be given and received. We have been training and waiting for this day for many months. It was time for our first Christmas party for 200 of the cutest kids in the Manila area. There were little ones still nursing to upper elementary school age. They were so excited and 80% dressed in red, which is a very good choice of colors! Our team helped with 11 Filipino games and the kids had an absolute ball! They were running around giving “high fives” to all of us and placing the back of our hand to their foreheads, to give them a blessing. They love getting their pictures taken while making their little hand signs to frame their faces and then seeing the result immediately. We were saying Maligayang Pasko (Tagalog for Merry Christmas) and they were repeating Merry Christmas in English. I wish you could have observed our team loving on these beautiful children, with their parents close by smiling with approval. We were being asked to pose for pictures with their children and to autograph their balloons!
We passed out the gift bags to the children and food to the parents. Some of the food was spaghetti with a hot dog on top. The kids went outside and devoured the spaghetti and then decided to open their gift bags…interesting! They seem to really love the beanie babies – both boys & girls hugging and holding them. They really liked the crayons & coloring books too!
Our last party was yesterday with the Kanawan Tribe in the mountains. We had a 30-45 minute hike up the mountain on Sunday evening in the dark, using our flash ights under a beautiful sky replete with millions of twinkling stars! The Kanawan children carried our backpacks, bedrolls, pillows, mosquito nets, food, Filipino games and two large boxes with 50 gift bags each. These heavy boxes were carried by some of the teenage boys. The children in the village were elated to see us. We remembered some of the children from our last party in 2008. The kids were climbing all over us, playing hand slap games with our younger team members, piggy back rides, tag, tons of “high fives” and one happy reunion! The children sang and danced for us and as usual asked some of us to join them…it wasn’t pretty! We slept on mats on the floor of their beautifully remodeled, expanded church building, under 15 mosquito nets hung expertly on twine, with our bodies plastered with mosquito repellent with a high concentration of deet.
The party the next day was a big success. The kids were so happy and full of food. They played one game where a 25 ft. pole is greased and they have to TRY to climb it to the top to retrieve a flag. Only one kid in the whole village succeeded.
Today we drove to Cavite City to share a party for 100 very poor children who usually get one meal per day! We had a two-hour drive in three vans to accommodate the YM team, us and the supplies for the party.
The children were really excited to see us!. They heard the Christmas Story through our Illusionist. We met five senior citizen men who were playing checkers on the perimeter. They told us Christmas is never for them because they never get anything! Joanie wanted to do something for these men so we bought them ice cream cones from a local vendor and we sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas and then gave them their cones. They beamed!
Today is our final day in the Philippines and we leave with mixed emotions. Last Thursday we also had a party at Jollibee’s Restaurant in a mall for 210 street kids. These children had never been inside a mall before and had never eaten inside a Jollibee as they always ate the leftovers from the dumpster behind the restaurant. What a celebration we had! The kids were so excited with the program for them, eating a delicious spaghetti, rice, juice and ice cream sundae, dancing, magic show, our team singing two Christmas carols for them and then the gift giving and balloons shaped in animal forms. Wow this party was the best for so many of us! The parents prepared weeks in advance for this party, sacrificing and saving their money to buy their children some party clothes. The children arrived sparkling clean, neatly dressed, hair fixed a full of energy!
Yesterday we traveled three hours to a remote area, Tiaong (pronounced Chi-ong) where the primary employment for the parents & children is rice farming. There were 110 children at this party. They were more subdued than the street children from the previous parties, but still energetic, smiling, high fives, excited and thankful for the games, gift bags and food. This party was later then the rest, 4-7:30 pm. We arrived home late!
Thank you ER Philippines Team – you’ve helped change many little lives!!
Posted by dcarnill on Aug 03, 2010
Summer is work team season for Extreme Response. One of the ways we can best help our partners is to provide them with teams willing to help out for a week or two and bring the funds needed to get the work done. The teams really get to know our people and projects personally. We have 16 teams scheduled for Ecuador during the summer months (June, July and August). Although we do work teams in other locations, Ecuador is the number one destination this summer. Here’s a list of who they are and who they are working with.
- Avery Coonly School 8th grade Class – Quito dump project
- Fair Lawn Church – For His Children Orphanage
- Kensington Community Church – Por Amor Foundation and Montañita Children’s Home
- Woodside Bible Church – Buen Pastor School
- Wellesley Village Church- For His Children Orphanage
- North Point Community Church – Haven of Love & Por Amor
- St. Paul’s – Por Amor Foundation
- Good Shepherd Lutheran Church – For His Children Orphanage
- Providence Christian Academy – Quito Dump daycare center
- University South Carolina – nursing students helping at various Ecuador projects
- Calvary Church in Souderton – New Friends (Nuevos Amigos)
- Fountain of Life Lutheran Church – Bread of Life (Pan de Vida)
- Water’s Edge Bible Church – building a home for a dump family
- Westside Church of Omaha – building a home for a dump family
- Glenkirk Presbyterian Church – For His Children Orphanage
- Lifetree Adventures – Quito Dump project
Thank you, teams, for all your hard work and encouragement!
making friends with one of the children from the dump daycare center
North Point Community Church Team
painting the dump daycare walls
fixing the steps to the playground at the dump
Providence Christian Academy Team
handing out food to the night workers at the dump