His name was Fabian.  He served as our driver and guide into the Ecuador countryside and several small towns outside of Cuenca.

His story unfolded between the sights, smells and shops of markets and town squares.  Proud of his heritage and beautiful country, we learned of the people, politics and problems facing the people of Ecuador.

We also learned that we were in the company of a Creator.  Like installments in a week of soap operas, between stops we were treated to stories of his trek as a teenager from Ecuador to Chicago. Rather than pay a “Coyote” to guide their journey, he and his sister and a friend of hers left their home with no passport or visa and what they could carry on their backs.

Everyone – especially males from the small towns – shares the goal of reaching America as the land of opportunity.  Emigration is a huge issue.

His incredible travelogue was one of a journey that unfolded one adventure after another.  They met each border crossing with humor and the naiveté of youth, always finding a way over, around or through.  Often they only knew the next step in the adventure, would enter a town, scope out the next route.  They made it up a “baby step at a time.”

He made it to Chicago, where he lived and worked managing a painting crew for six years, before deciding to return to his native land.  He them followed into his parents’ business of buying and reselling cattle.  As he pursued this work, Fabian invested $30,000 (a small fortune in Ecuador) in buying a truck to transport the cows.

Being the friendly and helpful man that he is, when he met a couple of chicken farmers who needed help to get their birds to market, he open-heartedly obliged.  Unfortunately, they were also ruthless thieves who bound his hands and feet – and covered his mouth – with duct tape and left him in the woods for dead.  He was eventually able to extricate himself, find his way back to the highway and hitch rides to get back home.

There was not a shred of Victim in his telling of this story.

That was a few years ago – and he was delighted to share that he was only a few months away from finally paying off the loan for the truck.  He also shared how that experience had transformed his perspective on life and living each day happy, healthy and in service to others.

So, he bought a used car that could qualify as a taxi.  Just a few weeks before our trip, he had sold that car and bought a newer used car.  “A step at a time,” he said.  His vision? To eventually buy a van and truly become a tour guide to share his beloved country with people like us.

He left an indelible mark on us of a resilient Creator who seeks to serve and grow his serving one baby step at a time.