You will find that most of the books reviewed on these pages are books that deal with religion (or spirituality, which is not necessarily the same thing), psychology, and philosophy as well as novels. I do not intend to focus on recently published books, although there will be some of those. Some of the books most worthy of our reading are those which have stood the test of time and I would like to bring those to the attention of individuals who may not be familiar with them.

As for my interest in Ecuador, it all began with a mission trip there in September of 2014. I found the people there to be incredibly friendly and happy despite their often gloomy material circumstances. Since that trip I have been brainstorming about ways to help raise additional funds for FEDICE so that they can continue their work of providing childcare, medical care, building homes, educating the people on topics ranging from hygiene to agricultural technology and providing low-interest loans to families to allow them to start their own business raising goats or cows or growing beans. Families that have taken advantage of these loans have found that they can become self-sufficient. It seems almost miraculous to me, but the default rate FEDICE has experienced on these loans is zero percent.

Ecuador is a land of extremes. The particular mission project I participated in was located in the highlands, in the small village of Romerillos, at an altitude of about 10,000 feet. Interestingly, because Romerillos is located so close to the equator, the temperatures year-around range between roughly 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Ten thousand feet and never any snow! Of course, the peaks which towered above us exceed 20,000 feet in altitude and they are snow covered throughout the year. This same country is home to lush tropical jungles when one goes down to sea level and FEDICE works there as well. Several hundred miles off the coast is Ecuador’s greatest prize (other than her people), the Galapagos Islands, the place made famous by Charles Darwin. As I sit here at my desk in southern Illinois I am struck at the coincidence of the pull on my heart of a country associated with Charles Darwin, one of my heroes,¬†and a U.S. state associated with Abraham Lincoln, another of my heroes. Both men born on February 12, 1809. Call it serendipity.