Small in number, but immense in heart, a group of 8 volunteers traveled to Ecuador to join with a team of Ecuadorian youth working together to host a Soccer Camp during the month of July.
They were unforgettable moments for this group not only playing soccer in the Ciudadela del Ejercito in the south of Quito where the soccer camp is hosted each year, but also the moments shared together with the Ecuadorian volunteers who partnered together to offer faith and hope to those in need.
This year was an especially significant and meaningful outreach for La Mano of Hope as the soccer tournament was hosted in honor and memory of our beloved mentor and pastor, Terry Broadwater, who gave his life to share the Hope of Jesus Christ around the world. He believed in the vision and mission of La Mano of Hope and encouraged us from the organization’s inception. Pastor Terry left this earth and began his life in eternity this summer as he was sharing in missions outreach in the Himalayan Mountains in India. He is forever in our hearts and in our mission! We love you Terry!
One demonstration of faith and hope was shared with Javier Golden, a 13 year old boy who had left his home because of family struggles. He had been living on the streets for several days when the team arrived. This group of angels from the La Mano of Hope gave him all of their love and the incentive to keep going forward with his life. Later, after living with the team for a few days, the miracle was realized. The young man decided to return to his home and begin a new life together with his family. The group was able to share with his mother and his younger siblings in a beautiful atmosphere of familial love and reunion full of joy with Javier smiling, laughing and grateful for the moment. The family was able to receive counsel and was further connected with the local church and pastor Erik Pinto, who leads the growing congregation at La Fraternidad Cristiana del Ejercito in this neighborhood.
This year was an especially significant and meaningful outreach for La Mano of Hope as the soccer tournament was hosted in honor and memory of our beloved mentor and pastor, Terry Broadwater, who gave his life to share the Hope of Jesus Christ around the world.
The La Mano of Hope team, the majority from Maryland and Delaware, also had the opportunity to share with the female prisoners at the women’s prison, El Inca, in the north part of the capital city of Quito. The organization held a mini soccer camp inside the prison with the women who graciously responded to the gestures of love and hope. The outreach was hosted by the ministry of Alma Libre which is led by local missionaries and volunteers who are in the prison on a weekly basis building relationship with the women and sharing in Bible study and educational classes. At the end of the soccer portion of the day, the team was able to share testimonies and prayer with the women. “They are women who need support, love and faith”, said Melissa Linn, director of La Mano of Hope.
Over 200 women enjoyed a full day playing on their teams representing their respective cell blocks. Thanks to the donations of many faithful partners, the women competed for prizes given through these donations of hand soaps, body lotions, shampoos and women’s hygiene items. In the midst of hugs and words of gratitude, the team ended their time with the women full of joy and appreciation for the opportunity to share faith and hope.