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Locals are sharing their faith in Ecuador

Several Lincoln Countians are in Ecuador this week helping out at Casa de Fe, an orphanage founded by a soldier from Brookhaven.

Patti Sue Arnold, a former member of First Baptist Church of Brookhaven, moved to Ecuador in 2001 after retiring from the Army. She’d originally planned to repair wheelchairs in Quito, but God had other plans. She became a foster parent, and eventually moved to Shell and opened the orphanage, which in English means “House of Faith.”

Each year, volunteers from FBC and other area churches fly to Ecuador to help with construction as well as ministering to the needs of the people of Shell and the children at Casa de Fe.

Stan Foster, president of Trustmark Bank, was part of the group of about 35 people who made the trip. Some, like Foster and his stepson Will McDowell, came back to Brookhaven Friday, while another group went down for the second week of mission work. Foster’s wife, Sarah, and daughter, Meg, are staying in Shell for the entire two weeks.

Foster said mission groups have been going to Shell from FBC for 10 or 11 years, but he’s only gone a few times.

He said the men, women and college students who go help with construction projects but also interact with the dozens of children in the orphanage who have physical and mental challenges.

“They just need to be loved on,” he said. “Stuff we take for granted is just a challenge for them.”

Several in the group helped clean out ditches to complete work in the children’s playground. It’s hard work, Foster said, but the payoff is priceless.

“You go down there thinking you’re going to be a blessing and in the end, we’re the ones getting blessed,” he said.

The volunteers stay in town — at a hotel with running water — and walk a mile to the orphanage each day. They spend time with the townspeople when they’re not working at the orphanage.

“It’s a reality check,” he said. “They’re happy. The ones that have received Christ, that’s all they may have, but you come to the realization that that’s all you really need.”

Foster said spending time in Ecuador — away from social media, television and cell phones — is a great eye-opener.

“It’s neat to go through that process and really understand that there’s so much that gets in my way, in between my relationship with Jesus,” he said. “It’s good to go down there and unplug and sort of rededicate what I’m put here on Earth to do and that’s to spread the gospel.”

FBC Brookhaven plans their trip at the end of June each year. For more information or to participate in the 2018 trip, call the church at 601-833-5118. For more information about the orphanage, visit lacasadefe.org.