Finding Community

By Maddison Souza, an MAF missionary serving with Alas de Socorro del Ecuador (ADSE – an MAF affiliate) in Shell, Ecuador. 


Something that we really struggled with when we first moved to Ecuador was feeling like we didn’t belong. We were the new people and the only foreigners on our team here at ADSE, and we didn’t connect immediately with a local church.

The Souza’s hosted a Father’s Day dinner in the Nate Saint House for the couples of their church. “It was a sweet time of fellowship and getting to know one another better,” said Maddison.


“This was a baptism service with our local church,” said Maddie. “Praise the Lord for new believers!”

But as the years have gone by we’ve realized, especially during our times of deepest need, the depth of community that God has blessed us with here. When we experienced a family trauma, our ADSE teammates showed up at our house and sat with us for hours. When Marcos traveled out-of-country and I stayed here with the kids, friends brought meals, checked on me via text, and came to hang out and give us something to do. When we just needed to see another living person during the lockdown of 2020, our neighbors became like family.

This didn’t happen overnight. It was the result of several years of praying and intentionally working towards building relationships with people. And it goes both ways, with us being on both ends of the giving and receiving that happens when you live life together with other people.


The Souza family visited Shandia, the community that Jim and Elisabeth Elliot lived and served in.

Finding community in a new place can be hard. It takes work; it takes hanging on through the awkward beginning when you aren’t quite friends but you are something more than acquaintances.

There are days when the effort doesn’t seem worth it, or you don’t want to make any effort at all. Friendships, especially ones worth having, don’t usually just fall into your lap. It takes a commitment to be the one to invite, to go out of your way to make time for people, to be available to help, serve, and give.

But the results? Oh, the results are beautiful. They are beautiful because they reflect what being the church is all about. We are the church and the beauty of the gospel is lived out in our actual lives. Invest in creating a gospel-centered community where you are, and you will be amazed at the results.


Learn more about the Souzas, a maintenance specialist family serving in Shell, Ecuador.


  • Beverly Ecker says:

    Encouraging story!
    Thanks… keep on keeping on.
    We prayed for you!
    Bev and Tom

  • Dianne Thunhorst says:

    May God Bless you, your Family and those you serve.

  • John (and Nel) Rogers says:

    Hello to your family! I love what MAF is doing, and glad you are there! I happen to be younger brother of Lloyd Rogers, who was also born in Congo to missionary parents. Early in our marriage, we attended the church assembly where Jim Elliot’s parents were, and Jim Elliot’s brother Robert officiated at our wedding. I have been at the Shell hangar on several trips over the years, and my son became a commercial pilot so we keep up on planes and missions. I hope to meet you on a future trip, and want to bless you for your service there for the Lord. I’m not sure I’ve heard about the family trauma you went thru; trust His grace has significantly continued there!

  • Joanne Megahey says:

    My husband & I are MKs, parents served in Nigeria from 1947-1963, so I can relate to what you have & are going through. It’s all worth it for sure, especially when we see such dear ones come to know Jesus personally. We will remember you in our prayers. God bless you & keep you safe!

  • C. Pat & Joyce M. Lewellyn says:

    We served Our LORD in Niger Republic in the early 90s. Our email address was provided by MAF are forever thankful for that help in our years there. I’m thankful for the ministry of MAF.
    In Jesus Name,
    Pat & Joyce Lewellyn, retired IMB 1999

  • Kirk Rueb says:

    Always praying for Mission Aviation Fellowship! Thank you for all your efforts in serving around the world!

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