Art & Missions: VineArts First Missions Trip: Quito, Ecuador
With 5 Artists from Boise, Idaho set loose in Quito, Ecuador…the creative and fun factor possibilities were endless! We flew down to South America, first landing in Guyaquil on the coast of Ecuador and then hopping over & up to Quito in the Andes Mountains.
We spent 8 days serving the people of Iglesia La Vina in Quito, painting 8 murals within their building and facilitating an art & worship service for adults and children. It was an amazingly rewarding time for all of us involved.
The city of Quito houses about 2 million people and sits in a valley with mountains and volcanoes surrounding it. It is the capitol of Ecuador and is at an elevation of about 9,500 feet. The city is beautiful with it’s multi-colored buildings and rooftop gardens. There is tons of automobile, pedestrian, and even air traffic everywhere. The part of the city that Iglesia La Vina is located in is gripped by high crime and poverty that marks it’s streets and buildings. It’s in that area that we stayed and spent the majority of our time.
Art is everywhere in Quito. From the museums and galleries, to the art markets on the streets, to the graffiti art on the city walls. Everywhere you go there is big, bold, vibrant colored art expressing the heart and feeling of the modern Ecuadorian people. One of their most famous artists is Guyasamin…and many local artists do copies of his work as souvenirs for tourists.
Since we were staying in the building of Iglesia La Vina, we cooked most of our own meals (which consisted of cereal, eggs & chorrizo for breakfast, sandwiches and chips with fruit for lunch and spaghetti or pasta meals for dinner). But on occassion we did enjoy going out once in awhile to try the local cuisine….everything from tamales to torte de queso to quimbolinos to fresh fruit to cafe con leche (coffee with milk) to cuy (“kwee”…guinea pig…yep! I ate it!)…we tried it all. Water was extremely important too! The water there is undrinkable (too much bacteria and other parasites in it) so everyone (even locals) purchase bottled purified water to drink. And we had to drink water non-stop! The altitude is so high that it’s easy to get dehydrated…so we were constantly hydrating to stay healthy.
We had the privledge to tour outside of the city of Quito a couple of times. One day our VineArts team of 5 were joined by the 5 from the States that made up the SOBA team (School of Biblical Action, part of Vineyard College of Mission) from Boise, Idaho. We took a tourist bus to a town called Otovalo to do some shopping for Ecuadorian textiles. Then we continued on to Cascada de Pegucha, a waterfall in the Andes. It was a wonderful day hiking in nature and enjoying the beauty of Ecuador.
THE PAINTING EXPERIENCE:
Have paintbrushes will travel! We had quite the task load to accomplish inside the facility of Iglesia La Vina. We would need to paint murals in 3 rooms that were utilized for childrens Sunday school, a mural in the stairwell leading up to the childrens’ rooms, a mural on the sanctuary backwall, church logos on 3 entryways, and prep 4 canvases for a Sunday morning art & worship service that the congregation and children would be painting on.
The largest room we worked on was what came to be known as the Jungle Room. We created mountainous tropical forest scenes that would be fun for children to view.
We created the murals by a simple color by number process:
1. chalk on designs using photos and outlines as references
2. number the paint colors and then number the areas on the walls corresponding to each color
3. match paint number with chalk number and paint within lines
4. step back and marvel at the completed mural
We painted the nursery room like a Garden with flowers, bugs, and clouds. Many of the people from Iglesia La Vina came to help us paint the murals and it made for a fun experience to paint side by side (North Americans and South Americans).
The third room we did a mural in was what we called the Sea Room. We created an underwater scene of tropical fish and animals. One couldn’t help but sing “Under the Sea” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid when we were painting together.
Up the stairwell from the entry of the church to the childrens rooms we created a huge grapevine that twisted upwards to the word Bienvenido (welcome). The plan to attach photos of the children of La Vina from the twirly vines as a way of showcasing their little treasures.
Our VineArts Director and Team Leader created the 3 logos for the Iglesia La Vina. One is placed on the garage door that is at the street so passerbys can know which door is the entrance to the church. One is placed just inside the garage, and one is placed right inside the actual church building.
It was requested that we do a special wall mural that would become the backdrop of Iglesia La Vina’s sanctuary where they hold their Sunday services. The Worship Leader and the Pastor of the church showed us 3 images that they liked and we worked to integrate each image into one harmonious painting for them. By this point in the trip we were joined by 5 other people from the States who had also traveled from Boise, Idaho to serve with Iglesia La Vina (in various other ways). That team of 5 joined us for the backdrop painting and also for touchups on the 4 other murals.
The most rewarding experience for us as a team didn’t have much to do with us painting…it had everything to do with allowing the people of Iglesia La Vina to take ownership of the arts and worship themselves and get involved with us as the Body of Christ worshipping God creatively. Side by side painting the murals…and on Sunday during their morning service.
We prepped 4 canvases ahead of time for them to paint on. We set up painting stations for them (3 in the main sanctuary and 1 in the childrens rooms) while their worship band played music and while their Pastor spoke about listening to God. They were free to paint on the canvases however and whenever they felt led to by the Spirit of God.
For our artist team…we had the glorious honor of stepping aside and watching the Ecuadorians flow free in worship through music and art and the teaching. It was truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been a part of…to see people so willingly create works from within themselves to the Creator of all. Even the children…especially the children…were unhindered.
At one point, those of us on the team stopped filling waterbuckets and joined in singing the praise songs in Spanish…it was so absolutely incredible to sing loudly to the Lord in another language side by side with people from another country…and know that our hearts were connected. People with people. Hearts with hearts. All to God. That moment is probably my fondest memory of the entire trip.