by Lisa Tome
For years, Jackie Bolado has been hearing stories about the Pleasant View Baptist Church mission trips to Ecuador.
This year, Bolado, 13, got to go along.
In all, 15 people, including five teens, left recently for the two week trip. They are being led by Pastor Mike Gentry who has been going to the Shell, Ecuador for a half dozen years.
"We go to help two different groups," said Pastor Gentry. He explained that the church has a key role in supporting an orphanage of 65 abandoned, unwanted, and disabled children. The group will spend a week of their trip focused on the children and meeting their needs.
The other week will be devoted to supporting the jungle people of the Waorani Tribe. That tribe killed missionaries 60 years ago. Now, Pleasant View mission workers are helping to build a training center where the jungle people will learn trades and skills.
The two weeks will be spent living in a primitive hotel with just the basics.
"We can't drink the water. It has to be purified. Our meals are rice, fish, and chicken," said Pastor Gentry.
He said the goal for all on the trip is to help others.
"I want to change their lives. The five (teens) going were raised in junior church here. They've been prepped and prepped and prepped," said Gentry.
Each of those who signed on to make the trip was responsible for raising $2,200 per person. They sent solicitation letters. Other church members supported the effort by helping to gather needed items for the trip the including making shawls, and providing fishing lines, hooks, sinkers, and more.
"I love it. I have a heart for this place," said Gentry.
Final trip preparations were underway last week at the church. Luggage was being weighed and bags stuffed with extras for the tribe and the orphans.
Bolado said he was nervous about flying for the first time. But his excitement overcame his trepidation. "I'm looking forward to meeting the little kids," said Bolado.
Leah Filliaux, 14, who attends Rising Sun Middle, already understands children. "I'm a babysitter and I really like kids. I've never been out of the country and I've never been on a plane before. And I've never been to an actual jungle," said Filliaux.
Grace Griazdowski, 16, was also excited. "I've been wanting to go for seven years," she said.