Woodside Volunteers Invest in Ecuador Community

How do you measure the impact of cross-cultural volunteers?

For the 26 members of Woodside Bible Church, Romeo Campus, the impact was plentiful in the physical work accomplished, and the emotional and spiritual growth among the team and the community of Pifo, Ecuador. The Woodside team made its third trip to Ecuador in five years, each time working with long-time ER partner Buen Pastor and supporting ER programs in Quito.

This year the team finished the second story on the Buen Pastor School just in time for a dedication celebration and the fall semester. This is a huge benefit to the community because the school can now accommodate more students. Last year the Woodside team cleared the land and prepared the foundation for this building, so the progress was monumental.

As in previous trips, the connection between the volunteers and the students, teachers and community at-large was powerful. Romeo Campus Pastor Billy Creech shared the team’s experience, which began with a focus on the building project, but steadily shifted to blessing people.

“I love how so often short-term teams arrive and feel overwhelmed at the scope of the job in front of them. By the end, they realize that not only are all things possible with God, including finishing the task, but they also realize the real task is not the ceilings or the painting. It always goes back to the Lord and people. Our time with Zac and Abby Carnill (ER staff in Ecuador), as well as the partners at Buen Pastor, truly blessed us beyond measure.” he said.

Returning team member Amy Maxwell felt the power of God exemplified throughout the trip.

“When I returned this year to Ecuador on a short-term trip with Woodside, I was again blessed to see how God is working among and through the people of Ecuador and the ER staff. Our interaction with the people there was by far the most impactful part of the trip,” Amy said.

“They showed us what it means to be grateful even though some have so little, and they gave us perspective on what it means to love like Jesus loves. We worked alongside the members of the community and connected with them in a way that deepened our understanding of the importance of global missions.”

“It was an honor to be led by the ER team in Quito as it was evident they aren’t simply doing a job but following a calling from God. They truly invest in the people they are serving and give all of themselves for the mission – their time, their care, and their hearts. I was supremely confident to give of my time, talent, and treasure to ER, knowing they are carefully stewarding every cent and every minute of time given in service,” Amy added.

“I am so thankful I was given this opportunity, through ER, to follow God’s command to let His light shine to the world through me. I can’t wait to return!”

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Woodside Team Builds Relationships Via Music, Meals, Construction

September, 2022

Take 85 seconds to view this inspiring video of a volunteer team from Woodside Bible Church in Michigan. The 22 team members packed a ton of outreach into one week. They first reconnected with the members of the Palugo Church where the team worked previously.

This was followed by several days of building a foundation and cement floor for new classrooms for the Peniel School, which is operated by long-time ER partner Buen Pastor. The team also put up lights for a soccer field and rehabbed a playcenter.

While the projects were rewarding, what really stoked the hearts of the team members was playing games and engaging with the school children, who responded with joyous love and enthusiasm. Gang hugs were a common event.

At the Garbage Transfer Station (Quito Dump), the team provided a meal for night shift recyclers and sang “Way Maker” in Spanish, while Pastor Jose Jimenez shared a message of hope. For the volunteers, it was a time of reflection and connection as they served dinner to each recycler.

At ER’s Quito Family Resource Center, the team toured the Dream Center rooms and provided meals for the Women’s Group and kids who attend ER’s afterschool programming.

One woman, Johanna, shared her moving story. ER short-term team leader Zac Carnill interpreted for the team. As a single mom, Johanna is struggling through cancer, while trying to care for her children, who are 13 and 8. Her mother worked as a recycler, but passed away recently, leaving a gaping hole in Johanna’s life.

In Pifo, the culture is warm and accepting. People love to sing and dance, which was contagious for the Woodside team. The Buen Pastor church sanctuary, which was built in part by a previous Woodside team many years ago, doubles as a gathering spot.

Every day, the volunteers were greeted by the selfless joy of the people they had come to serve. Team members were honored with food and drink, interactive games, gifts and special video presentation. It was humbling to experience this spirit of generosity.

At right, Bob dines with five new friends in Palugo, while Steve, Billy and Scott enjoy the festive meal. Scroll to the bottom to see more Woodside team coverage.

Interested in joining or sending a short-term team to Ecuador, South Africa or the Philippines? Email us at


Scroll below to read about Woodside Bible Church’s previous trip to Ecuador.


Woodside Volunteers Experience Life Impact in Ecuador

October 2019

Every short-term team has a unique experience based on the country, culture and timing of its trip. This serendipity is one reason why joining a team of volunteers is so rewarding. Team members think they are traveling to help others, but often return surprised at how much they are personally impacted.

Woodside Bible Church sends volunteers to EcuadorThe Romeo campus of Woodside Bible Church in Michigan recently returned from a deeply impactful trip. Just four of the 15 participants had previously been on a missions trip, so serving cross-culturally was a fresh experience. ER connected the team with Ramiro Baez, head of long-time partner Buen Pastor. Ramiro has planted numerous churches and schools in the small communities around Quito.

Ramiro presented a wonderful opportunity: Come and build a second story on a fledgling church in the small community of Palugo. Another short-term team previously provided a Christmas party for the community in 2018. The people of Palugo responded with open arms. The plan called for the Woodside team to do construction in the mornings and run a kids club in the afternoons.

Church Construction Booms, Kid’s Club Doubles, Volunteers Broken

Volunteers build churchThe team embraced a construction goal of erecting a steel structure, roof and start on the walls. But the group was so efficient they finished all of this and 85% of the walls. The church building just needs doors and windows to enclose the sanctuary. Pastor Julio will preach from the sanctuary much earlier than expected.

Sixty children from the neighborhood showed up on the first day of the kid’s club. Word spread quickly and more kids showed up every day. By the last day, 120 excited kids participated. The club’s impact was heart-felt throughout the community, which continues Volunteers build relationships to embrace the church’s efforts to love and care for them. Pastor Juilo said the overall impact was nothing short of a miracle!

The Woodside team also visited the Quito Dump recycling community. They saw first-hand the women’s and men’s life skills/livelihood training programs and the children’s after-school program. Many on the Woodside team said seeing the hardship faced by the Dump recyclers broke them spiritually and they felt their lives would never be the same.

Volunteer Impacts Refugee

Volunteering Rocks!People from the community helped with construction. One of the local workers was a refugee from Venezuela named Cesar, a welder. Steve, a Woodside team member, befriended Cesar. He was struck with compassion when he learned Cesar and his wife were refugees and expecting a child.

Steve and ER’s Pete Emery reached out to Cesar and asked him if he was a follower of Jesus. Cesar said ‘no’, but he said he was ready to become one. The three of them prayed and Cesar is now a Christ-follower!

If you’ve read this far, hopefully you’ve been encouraged by the impact this team of volunteers had on Cesar, Pastor Julio, Pastor Ramiro and the entire Palugo community. Be part of an ER short-term team in 2020. Email us at or click here to get involved.

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