Friday, June 11, 2010


Find your Menomonie Strawberries. I have worked at Red Cedar Valley Farms for many years and always have enjoyed and appreciated the farm and the great strawberries they produce in Menomonie. We also have two sales sites right in Menomonie for your convenience. The season starts this Saturday, so make sure you stock up for the winter!

If you are from the Eau Claire area, Eau Claire strawberries can be found at three different sales locations around Eau Claire. The Eau Claire strawberries are picked fresh every morning, at our field in Menomonie, and sold the same day by our cheerful sellers!

For those of you who live in or nearer to Hudson, Wisconsin, we also provide Hudson strawberries. We provide the same juicy, sweet berries in Hudson, picked fresh every day, at two different sales sites. You can be sure that our Hudson strawberries are the best you will find!

I hope to see you soon!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ecuador Update, por fin

Greetings to one and all,

Thank you to each and every one of you who sent me an email in response to my last update. For those of you who are still procrastinating, as I did this email, I would still love to hear from you. Late is better than never! (Right?)

Lets start with some questions that are probably ringing in your head:

"Peter, How's life?"

Well, for the most part life has been pretty normal, well, at least as normal as life can get down here.

"Well, normal, that doesn't help me out much. What are some "normal" things that wouldn't seem normal to me?"

Well, for starters, everyone doesn't have a car around here, in fact, buses and taxis sometimes seem to outnumber the cars on the road, and definitely carry more passengers each day. Thus, my life revolves greatly around learning the different bus routes, and figuring out which routes are the best for taking me from where I live to each different activity. The family I live with has one car, and most mornings I can catch a ride to the Bilingue School, and from there most of my classes are walking distance. (within 8 large blocks) However, every evening, and whenever I have a change of schedule (or the car gets in an accident) I get to use the bus.

"Buses? What are they like in a third-world country?"

The bus system here is pretty amazing. True, you can't always count on the buses to use the same route every day, and sometimes you have to wait 30 minutes for the next bus, and sometimes the drivers are rather impatient, but generally the buses pass by quite regularly, and you can ride the bus as long as you want for 25 cents. That being said, that doesn't always mean that when you get on a bus you can count on having a comfortable ride. First off, the seats are built for 10-12 year-olds. Yeah, my knees are always squished against the seat in front of me, but that isn't the biggest problem. Finding a seat is most often out of the question.

I have gotten accustomed to riding buses with 30 seats, crammed with 60 or more people. In fact the other night riding back I counted 100 people that I could see riding in the same bus with me. (probably there were some kids or shorter people that I couldn't see in the back of the bus). When I got on, I was just standing in the door way, and we still added another 20 people before anyone got off at their stop. Its called squish a little tighter. I later found out that actually things have gotten better recently. In times past, at times they would have the inside FULL (evidently with a capacity of more than 100 people) and would have people hanging on with one hand to the doors, riding on the bumper, or anywhere else they could find a foothold before they would consider the bus full!

Thankfully the buses aren't always so full, so I sometimes get the privilege of sitting crammed in a seat for my 30-40 minute rides in the bus. (Yes, sitting crammed is preferable to trying to stand and hang on, especially when the driver is in a hurry)

"Well, what is travel in a car like?"

When I have the chance to ride in the car, life is also different. First off, many of the streets are so pot-holed you can't even attempt to avoid the pot-holes, you just try to avoid the worst ones. Secondly, traffic laws are very laxly adhered to. Turn signals are used at random, totally at random, sometimes the left signal is used to turn right, but more often no signal is used at all. Unfortunately I didn't make the effort to get an international driver's license before I came down here, so I haven't been able to try my hand at driving. It sure looks fun, though.

Ok, so traffic is a bit different around here. Whoever is bigger gets the right-of-way. That goes for pedestrians and bikes too. You have to watch out for your own safety when crossing a street.

"How about food? Is that different to?"

I have grown up accustomed to a wide variety of food, so I have been able to fully enjoy the food. The staples of the diet are rice, mote (a type of starchy large-kerneled, white-kerneled, and boiled maize), bread, and brothy soup (often with some type of meat broth for a base), with milk and natural juices for a beverage. Proteins are expensive, and used sparingly, but whatever food is prepared is superbly seasoned. The family I live with ends up eating more meat than is typical, (normally some sort of meat for supper) as they have the means to purchase the meat, and prefer meat to the more typical beans. Vegetables are more scarce than I am used to, but fruit is abundant.

"What are other cultural things that a Westerner would find strange or uncomfortable?"

Well, for starters, the traditional greeting for women is a kiss on the cheek, (women-to-women and men-to-women both) and it is very important that you greet everyone in a room when you arrive with the proper salutation (handshake men-to-men, and kiss for the women). Thankfully, I was fully aware of the tradition, and adjustment has been no issue for me. (Let's just hope I remember to readjust back to the cold western tradition of a simple handshake, or distant wave when I get back) ;-)

Hot water is a luxury. In the house I live in, there is not running hot water. For showers we use an electric shower head, which only provides minimal heating for the water. I have also gotten used to washing dishes in cold water. (much more difficult than in hot).

Perhaps that gives you a little idea of "normal" life down here. In general, life is a lot more simple with more emphasis placed on people, especially in times past. However, more and more technology is creeping in and taking time away from friendships and relationships. There is a lot less "surplus" income to use on luxuries and vacations, however, that does not prevent warm hospitality, and I have been blessed by many a gracious host insisting on feeding me a meal, or welcoming me into their home for a celebration.

"Ok, so maybe that's normal for you, but haven't you had anything out of the normal in the past weeks?!"

I have had the privilege to join the church on a Holy Week retreat to the coastal jungle. The climate was hot and humid, but the animal and plant life was magnificent. If you haven't already see the pictures on my brother's blog, I would suggest you to stop by and see some of God's beautiful creation. However, much more memorable and special to me was the fellowship, and the biblical teachings at the retreat. Pastor Santiago, Gerardo (on of the elders of the church) and Darwin Paccha (a young leader in the church) all taught different sessions on subjects varying from "The glory of Christ's death," to "the culture of noise." Did you know that the average American teen-ager spends just shy of 8 hours every day listening to mp3s, tv, radio, and playing video games? Can you imagine what influence this "noise" has on them? What a difference it would make if we were to turn off the "noise" to spend more time to listen to Christ!

I also had the opportunity to visit Nabon with Justo. Nabon is a small town a couple of hours away from Cuenca. My family lived in Nabon for 3 of their years in Ecuador. We visited many of my family's old friends, and I had the chance to see the house where the lived, and the school where Justo and Jessica attended Kindergarten. Justo is still well known in the town as not many "Gringos" (whites) visit the town, so he has to frequently stop to visit with some person or another.

"So, Peter, how would you rate your trip so far?"

Well, the Lord has really blessed me and my endeavors so far. I have been generally blessed with good health, and classes in general have been going very well. I teach about 22 hours of class each week solely in Spanish, with another 13 hours teaching English. (most of those hours I also use a lot of spanish) I also take part in 3 different cell groups, and take 4 hours of spanish classes each week to fill up my other free hours. Considering that I have to count on 30 minutes of travel for each class, I keep pretty busy.

As far as language goes, well, each day is better, but I still struggle a lot with the verbs. In Spanish, the verbs are conjugated differently for every person of pronoun, (I, you, he/she/it, we, you plural, and they) in past, present, future, subjunctive, and perfect tenses! Basically for each tense there are 6 conjugations of each verb to learn. Most of the verbs are regular and follow one of three set patterns, but there are just enough irregular verbs that are used a lot to keep a person confused. In general I am able to communicate what I need to, and I can do pretty well understanding most conversations, but I still have to concentrate to keep from getting "left behind" in a conversation. However, learning Spanish has gone fully as well as I ever expected. Considering that this was one of my main purposes for coming down here, I'd have to give my time so far an A+.

"So how has your time in a third-world-country, or specifically in Ecuador, changed you?"

Well, that is a really hard question. (why did I have to put this one in here anyways?!) Perhaps this is a question that would be best answered by you when we meet next. Quite honestly the culture, food, and people really didn't create the big of a culture shock for me. Perhaps I was expecting it to be far more different than it really is. The difficulties of language, and the challenges of teaching my first structured classes aside, it really has been more of a fun and exciting experience than a shock. Whatever the case, I would say that my time here has helped me to again rethink priorities. As I see the hospitality and generosity of these people, in American eyes generous and hospitable beyond their means, it makes me think again, what is really important, necessary for life? (Just to give an idea, a normal entry level salary here in Ecuador is $55-$75 a week. Often the work weeks are over 40 hours.)

Paul says in ITim. 6:8, that we should be content with food and clothing. (and no, he didn't leave out the ipod and cell phone because they weren't invented yet, I believe God inspire him to write it exactly how he did). If food and clothing (yes, shelter as well in a northern climate) are sufficient for contentment, shouldn't that be a reminder for us to take our eyes off of temporal things "where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal"? Instead, where does God say to lay up our treasure? in heaven.

I have been challenged recently by the example of the apostle Paul. Here he was, a trained, intelligent, man. One who most likely could have lived a comfortable, if not affluent life, but he chose the life of service and danger. (I Cor. 9:19-22, II Cor 11:22-33, ,IITim. 1:8-11; 2:9-10; 4:6-8, and numerous places in Acts.) He rejected the comforts of this temporal life to strive for the eternal souls of men. "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his soul?"

So how does this apply to me today? Does this mean I should live a life of poverty, rejecting all the comforts of life? Nay. Rather, this is a reminder where my focus should be. We have the responsibility to preach the Gospel to all nations. In whatever we do, to do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. To cleanse ourselves from profane and idle babblings, strivings, youthful lusts, disputes, or whatever else may hinder our witness or impede our race of faith, and finally to prepare ourselves for every good work. (Mat. 6:33a, Acts 1:9, Col. 3:17, II Tim. 2, Phil 3:12-16) We need to give the more earnest heed to God's Word, to prepare ourselves for the work God has called us to. (Eph. 2:10) In this day and age of affluence and prosperity, it is often to easy to get caught up looking for the bigger paycheck, working those 5 hours overtime for some spending cash, or taking that second part-time job to allow for that vacation to Hawaii. What does that profit for eternity? (for more thoughts along this line, I encourage you to read about William Borden)

Yesterday I read of a man, Leonard Dober, who actually sold himself as a slave in the Virgin Islands to be a missionary to the slaves. Here a respectable, free man, sold himself to work as a slave, to be able to effectively minister to the slaves. However, it wasn't his sacrifice that shocked me the most, nor his willingness to ask for a lower position of servitude to better relate with the slaves he felt called to serve, it was the ridicule and shame he received from other Christians! Here was a man who sacrificially went to the extreme to serve God, and yet his "friends" ridiculed and mocked his service. However, the Lord blessed his ministry, and in 3 short years his ministry had grown to, not 100, not 1,000, but 13,000 new converts!

How often have I looked down on those who have sacrificially given up luxuries of life, perhaps a good job, perhaps a comfortable parish, to serve God, in their entirety?

So how can I pray for you in your last few weeks in Ecuador?

A heart of service: that the Lord can create in me a heart fulling willing to serve Him in any way he sees fit!

Safety: This is not just for me, but for everyone down here. Crime is a big issue, just over a week ago the church was robbed, and I know of at least one other person in the church who was robbed this week.

Mateo and Pablo: That I can be a good example for them, and that the Lord can continue to put the desire in their hearts to grow spiritually.

My Time: That the Lord can guide me in how to best balance my time, especially in these final two weeks, as there are sure to be many people wanting to "send me off" in these last weeks.

Do you have any praises to share?

Do I ever!

Parra family: When I arrived down here, the dad was not in the picture, and their children were really struggling in their studies. In the past months, I have seen the father come back, start digging in the Word, and start faithfully attending cell groups in the church. The change in the family has been absolutely dramatic. The Parras have been by far my best homeschool students, and their joy in having their father back is fully evident. What a change intact parents has on the children, and what a change our risen Lord can have on a marriage!

Homeschoolers: Along with the continued struggles, there have been some definite improvements. A couple of the families have been really difficult, but in the last couple of weeks they have started to be more responsive and more attentive in class. PTL!

Marriages: The struggles continue, but this last Sunday the sermon was on marriage, and afterwards the was a sharing time, followed by a prayer time for the 4 people who came forward to share their struggles. What a joy it is to see the public commitment to rebuild the relationships!

Once again I would like to offer my sincere gratitude for your support in communication and prayer! I look forward every morning to my chance to check my email inbox for new emails from all of you. God bless!

In Christ,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A non-update

Greetings everyone,

My life continues to be very busy. This week seems to be birthday week. My brother Justo has his birthday today. Claudia, he secretary of the Bilingue school (and one of the more active families in the church), had a birthday on Monday, and Pedro Domingues, an English teacher at the Bilingue School who I have gotten to know, also has a birthday tomorrow. 

Besides birthday parties, a trip to the mall with and English class from the Bilingue, and sending off the Elizabeth and Rebecca Lackey, this has been a pretty normal week. I continue to see the Lord's work here in Ecuador, and of course there are still the areas that are lacking, but I'm not here to talk about my life this email, I am asking you: What has the Lord been teaching you in your life? What has been going on in your life? What was your most memorable even in the last 2 days, week, or month?

God's Blessings from Ecuador, and I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you! 

Phil. 3:13-15

PS Don't feel like you have to compete with my updates. One or two paragraphs is fine!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Long overdue update!

Greetings to each and every one of you!

I wish that time permitted me to compose a personal note to every single one of you, but alas, I have been blessed with many different responsibilities and activities which pretty well fill up my weeks. I hope you will permit this hastily "penned" note to fulfill your curiosities, and provide you with some insight to the many marvelous things I have had opportunity to experience.  

The two (plus) weeks that have passed since I last filled you in on my life have been filled to the full with many exciting activities, as well as my regular schedule of teaching. I know many of you follow my brother Justo's blog. To those of you who don't, I would recommend that you drop in to get a pictorial account of my recent activities. If a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, then he has hundreds of thousands of word waiting for you to view. Besides, pictures can explain my recent activities far better than my faltering pen, or rather fingers, ever could. 

First off, what does the weekly "grind," as many call it, consist of for me.Well, first off, "grind" is about as far from the truth as it gets. Rather each and every moment is another opportunity to see the hand of God working in the lives of myself and others. Quibbles aside, my weekly schedule goes something like this: 

Monday-Friday: 11-1 WWII history Classes in the homes of each of the different home-school families. (with lunch afterwards with the family, normally not leaving until about 2:00)
Monday 2:30-4 Teaching Piano
Monday 4:30-6:00 Youth Cell Group
Tuesday 8-11 assisting with English Classes in the Bilingue school. 
Tuesday 2:30-5 Biblical History class with all of the home-schoolers together in the Paz de Dios Church. 
Tuesday 7-9 Men's Cell Group
Wed. 8:30-10 WWII History classes with another of the home-school kids.
Wed. 3-3:45 Teaching Piano
Thursday 8:15-10:45 Classes with the McKweeny family (a missionary family living here in Cuenca)
Thursdays and Fridays 2-4 Spanish Classes with Mateo, the 18-year-old son of the family I am staying with.  
Friday 7:30-9:30 Basket Ball with the youth from in the church. 
Saturday 3-5 (every other week) Youth Group Activity
Saturday 5-6:30 College Cell Group. 

Considering transportation also consumes a good bit of my time each day, I generally am not bored. Most people use the bus system, which is quite inexpensive, but takes time. Generally you have to count on 30 minutes to travel any distance on the bus, counting waiting for the bus at the bus stop, and walking to your final destination. Thankfully, every morning I am able to catch a ride with Pablo (another son of the family I'm staying with) to the area of the Bilingue School (where most of my activity centers around) each morning. 

Ok, life actually hasn't been focused on this schedule to much in the past two weeks. In fact, this week is the first week that I have actually strictly followed this schedule. Last week was spiritual emphasis week in the Bilingue School. Justo and I were asked to help out with the activities for the week. Each morning we had 4-5 classes with the kids, where we sang some choruses, and Justo, or Giovani (the Chaplain of the Bilingue School) taught the "Pot Story."  I assisted leading the kids in the songs, taking pictures, and acting in the "Pot Story." 

On Friday, after our last class with the Bilingue, Justo, German, and I went with another family to the Jungle. We went on a three hour hike in the Jungle on Saturday, spending a good portion of time swimming in the river, playing in some waterfalls. In the afternoon we went to small zoo with a nice selection of native birds and mammals. Sunday morning we had a church service with the Shuar Indian kids that live in the camp we stayed at. After which we went to a nearby river to swim and eat lunch by the river.

The river was amazing. The water was crystalline clear and very deep. We could dive off the rocks, and never touched bottom. However, this was only the beginning of the adventure. We left the Jungle about 1:00 hoping to get home around 8:00 in the evening, but that was not to be. Only about 1.5 hours into the trip, one of the cars broke down. We tried a few things to fix it, but ended up having to leave it at a person's house along the road. The other family took a bus to get home, and German, Justo, and I continued home in German's car. 

By this time it was dark, and the road we were driving is nothing like roads in the states. 3 places the road goes right through a river, (yup, no bridge) and for most of the way, you are dodging potholes and large rocks in the road.  We didn't end up arriving back at German's house until midnight. That made for a bit of a tiring Monday, but it was all worth it. See God's amazing creativity in Creation, the vast variety of different plants and geological formations was truly awe-inspiring. 

This week has been pretty normal, but this weekend, I plan on going on a hike in the mountains (In Cajas national park) with some of the youth from the church. That should be fun. 

So what has the Lord been teaching me in these past weeks? Last week, I read 2 Cor. 12 in my devotions. Verses 7-10 really stuck out to me. Sometimes I feel like my language impediment  in the Spanish is such a hindrance in my work. I sometimes feel like language is my "thorn in the flesh." Just the day before I came across this verse, I had a really tough day communicating what I wanted to teach in my classes. However, the Lord really spoke to me with these verses. "...And He [the Lord] said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will most gladly boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me... For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2Cor. 12:9, 10) We do not know what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was, but almost certainly it was much more difficult than my current lack of Spanish. If Paul, with his "infirmity" could trust fully in the Lord, so how much more with my little impediment, can I put my trust in the Lord. He can give me the words He wishes for me to speak, when He wishes for me to speak them. 

What was really special for me, however, was the confirmation the Lord gave on this past Tuesday. In the Tuesday night cell group which Justo leads, we studied Mark 8:5, and the concept: what can I give to Jesus? Not only can we give Jesus our time, our talents, our strengths, but He also yearns for our burdens, our struggles, our cares. He yearns for us to "cast all our cares upon Him." He pleads with us to repent and give Him our deepest "secrets." God's Word promises in I Jn. 1:9  that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!" 

What do you have to give to Jesus?

Once again, I would like to thank each and every one of you for the prayer support you have been giving. You have no clue how much impact your prayers have been having. Teaching, in general, has been going quite well, better than I expected with my limited Spanish, and the kids have in general been pretty good. However, I still need your prayers:

Safety: Yes crime is present. Just this past week someone in the church was the victim of some petty theft. 

Language: I have really felt the Lord's help in language, but I continue to struggle. I am now having Spanish classes with Mateo twice a week, so that is very positive, and a great help.

Marriages: There are a few broken families in the church right now, pray for the F. family and P. family specifically, and a continued strengthening of the marriages. Satan loves to destroy the family!

My Testimony: That I can be a good testimony in action where I fail in word. That I can not hamper my testimony with social faux pas. 

"Many, O Lord my god, are Your wonderful works which you have done; and your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Ps. 40:8

Relying on Christ's Strength

PS  A big Thank You to each and every one of you who replied to my last update. Even the quick notes are very encouraging! I love to receive emails. If you have the time, I'd love to hear what has been going on in your life! I will try to respond as I have time. 

Once again if you know of anyone else who would like to be added to my email update list, feel free to put them in contact with me! Also, if you wish to be taken off my update list, let me know, and I will gladly take you off my list. If you are recently added and would like to receive my previous updates, let me know and I can forward them onto you as well. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ecuador Life

Greeting to one and all!

It has been an exciting and busy 13 days since my last update. With far more happening than I can possibly recount with my faltering "pen" I will simply try to expound on a few highlights. 

The first part of my first week I spent trying to organize my "horario" (schedule). On Tuesday I met with Pastor Saintiago Gomezcoello and Justo to get everything nailed down. Well, we really didn't get everything nailed down, but we got a good outline at least figured out. Plenty for me right now. :-) As I get into the swing of my schedule I hope to add a few more classes and activities to my week. 

Wednesday through Friday were "regular" days following my schedule, but the rest of the weekend was anything but normal. Carnival celebrations started in earnest. For those of you who do not know what Carnival is, you definitely need to visit someplace in Latin America the week leading up to Lent. I can guarantee that you will enjoy more than one unexpected bath. Carnival is the last wild "fling" before the penitence of lent sets in. In Ecuador it is celebrated with LOTS of water. The more unsuspecting the person the better! You have to watch what you are doing all the time, or you will become the next victim of some "Carnivalero." On Saturday Justo, German, and I went on a road trip. In every little settlement, every little cluster of houses, you could expect to have at least two groups of people standing by ready to douse anyone who didn't get their window rolled up fast enough. Justo only got caught once, although we had a bunch of other close calls. 

Sunday was Carnival at the church. The church service in the morning was pretty normal, although a bit low in attendance. (Many people take vacations over Carnival as Monday and Tuesday are bank holidays in Ecuador). After the service, everyone changed into more casual clothes, and we had a church picnic, followed by water, water balloons, corn-starch, and foam getting spread liberally around. Almost everyone got wet, and I mean drenched! We also played about 3 hours of soccer, but even soccer isn't immune from Carnival. In one corner of the field were a good group of non-soccer players, and every time someone venture close enough, they would be sure help "cool them off". In between all of the fun and water, one of the leaders in the church organized a time of group games, and also some Bible skits. It was really special to see the way the church can balance the fun, and fellowship so well. 

Monday, we played more carnival. A family from the church invited the church up to their place in the country, and after a delicious lunch, a time of singing and a short Bible teaching, and a walk up the mountain, out came the water and cornstarch, and everyone, or at least almost everyone, in sight became a target for water.  Again, it was so special to see how Biblical teaching is woven in, even on the "fun days." 

Tuesday was pretty quiet, (we stayed home most of the day, even though it was technically the last day of Carnival) but Wednesday was busy once again. Justo and Perdo Soto organized a fishing trip high in the mountains (up at between 12,000 and 13,000 feet). In the end there were 6 of us who went on the trip, including German (the guy who hosts Justo in his house), Chris and Timothy McWeeny (a missionary family living in Cuenca right now), and myself. In total we caught 9 trout. More important than the fish, however, was the time of fellowship that we had traveling in the car, and hiking to the lakes. 

 Wednesday night I moved from German's house, where I lived with Justo and German for the first week+,  and moved to live with Flores family. (Mom Lupe, and sons Pablo and Mateo) The plan is for me to stay with them for the rest of my time here. Lupe is a sister of Santiago Gomezcoello, the pastor of the Paz de Dios church. They are very welcoming and hospitable! The plan is that Mateo will also be tutoring me a bit in Spanish during my time here. 

Now Thursday and today I have resumed my "regular" schedule. With all my talk about my "regular" schedule, what does my schedule look like? Basically I class with home-schoolers every day 11-1 with lunch following at their house. On various other days I have a morning class (8:15-10:45) as well, and most afternoons I have other various activities, Bible Studies, cell groups, and other gatherings. Lord willing I will also be filling in my schedule with possibly some piano lessons, and teaching at the Bilingue. 

So what has the Lord been teaching me throughout this time? Well, quite honestly, even though I had a good grounding in Spanish, I have still found it overwhelming being immersed in it. I often times find myself not really following the conversation, or when asked a pointed question, getting a blank look when I try to answer (incorrectly). It has been quite humbling for me to make so many mistakes. However, it has caused me to depend all the more on the Lord. Ps. 61:2 has really been a special verse to me during this time. Dad shared it with me in one of the first days I was down here, and it has meant a lot to me. Along that same line, yesterday in my devotions Prov. 18:10 really stuck out to me. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe." I find that the weaker I feel, the more powerful the Lord shows Himself. 

Prayer requests: 
Language: I continue to make mistakes by the dozen, and simple comprehension of instructions is sometimes difficult. (Especially now that I am with an entirely spanish speaking family)

Teaching: That the Lord can give me wisdom and guidance in knowing how to teach the classes that I am supposed to be teaching, and that I can know how to motivate and encourage the kids. 

Protection: I don't really feel in danger, but the reality of crime is always before me. Almost every house is gated and the windows barred. 

Praise: For the really bright spots that there are in the church, the maturity in some of the members, and the real vision to continue to disciple the youth!

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly!" (Ps. 84:11)


PS I'd love to hear from you! Drop me an email when you have a chance!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Ecuador Update: Arrival!

Greetings everyone,

First off, I need to thank the Lord for a generally uneventful trip. Planes were delayed so I ended up over an hour and a half late at Guayaquil, but my luggage arrived with me, and Justo and German (the guy Justo has been staying with in Ecuador) were there to pick me up. We got immediately onto a bus headed for Cuenca, and enjoyed a foggy, dark, though uneventful ride to Cuenca, arriving at our destination, Cuenca at 6:30 AM. Thankfully, I was able to get some sleep both in the plane, and much of the way in the bus. Overall, I am very glad how the trip went. I´d rather have less excitement than more stress on a long trip like this.

I am already getting into the middle of things here. This afternoon we are going with the youth from the church, Paz de Dios, to help paint a needy congregants home.

So far the language has been only mildly overwhelming. I can understand the gist of most conversations, using context to explain the words I do not understand, but answering pointed questions is more difficult. Like others have said before, almost no one knows any English down here, and those that do aren´t hankering to try it out on you.

Some of my highlights so far have been, some nice turbulence as we appraoched Atlanta, safe and uneventful travel, easy customs, seeing old friends from Ecuador, and meeting new ones, and getting to put pictures to the places that I have heard so much about.

Right now my most pressing prayer requests are:

Language: Quick comprehension of the language
Culture: Limiting social faux pas´.
Attentiveness: to not only grasp the layout of the city and figure out how to get to the places I need to go, but also to see the ways I can best help those who I am called to serve.

So long for now

In Christ,
Ex. 18:8-11 (this was a verse that German shared with us this morning)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Ecuador Update

Greetings Friends and Family, 

As I have prepared for leaving for Ecuador, I thought it would be only proper to give you a little idea of what I will be doing in Ecuador.

Hunh? Isn't the Equator the imaginary line equidistant from the North and South poles? Where is that god-forsaken place anyways? Why would you care to go to that place? Isn't Mexico closer? Whatever are you going to be doing there? Is it safe? How are you going to protect yourself from the half-naked savages that might try to spear you? Probably some of these represent the thoughts that ran through your head when you first heard I was going to Ecuador.

Now, you may not be brash enough to ask me all those questions, but just to assuage your fears and calm your curiosity, I will try to answer them all anyways.

To give you a little geography lesson, Ecuador is located on the West Coast of South America, below Columbia and above Peru, right on the Equator. Although it is on the west coast of South America, longitudinally it is directly below Florida, on US's East Coast. It's area, approximately 99,000 square miles is equivalent to Oregon, 9th largest in the US.

Ecuador's Geography is divided up into three distinct areas. From West to East, they are as follows:

La Costa, the coastal lowlands;
La Sierra
, the mountainous highlands (Cuenca, where I will be living is in this region);
La Amazonia
 or El Oriente, a slice of the Amazon rainforest, accounting for about half of Ecuador's land mass, although only containing about 5% of Ecuador's population.

Ecuador's fauna is some of the most diverse in the world. Its 16,000 species of plants, 1,600 species of birds (15% of the world's known bird species), and 6,000 species of butterflies, and nearly 300 endemic species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined, make it a biologist's treasure-chest!

However, Ecuador is not just a place, it is also a home to 4 major ethnic groups, including many indigenous tribes. Its population of 13 million is equivalent to Illinois, 5th greatest in the US. Its density of 139/sq. mi, would place it 22nd in a list of US States (between South Carolina and Kentucky).

Also, Ecuador is not "god-forsaken." In fact, 95% of the population would consider themselves Catholic. However, this Catholicism is closer to pago-Catholicism syncretized with the traditional pagan tribal rituals. However, there is a small Protestant movement in Ecuador as well, about 4%, and it is with one of these churches that I will be primarily working.

Is Ecuador safe? Although your perceptions of the country may be diluted by thoughts of savage jungle head-hunters, those tribes never made up more than a small percentage of Ecuador's population, and today, many of those tribes have been touched by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeing it is still a poor country, theft and other petty crime is high. However, as I feel God's guiding hand in bringing me to Ecuador, it is within his power to protect me or subject me to danger and trials as He sees fit. As Corrie Ten Boom has said, "The safest place to be is within the center of God's will!"

To be perfectly honest my main purpose for traveling to Ecuador is three-fold: 1. To learn Spanish, 2. To experience the country, culture, and people where my family lived for 8 years as missionaries, 3. To assist the church and my brother in their ministries. I think the first two reasons are pretty self- explanatory, so I will expound further on the last reason.

My brother, Justo, for the last year-and-a-half, has been working with the Paz de Dios Church in Cuenca, Ecuador, discipling the youth in the church, and helping a few families as they pioneer homeschooling in Ecuador. I will be assisting him in this mission, helping teach/tutor some of the homeschoolers, primarily in History and English. Also attempting to encourage them and give them the vision for learning that my parents instilled in me from a young age. I will also be taking some Spanish tutoring and connecting with the youth in the church.

In closing I would like to share with you a message that a godly leader once gave to another young man serving as a missionary. This godly leader, Paul, gave this young man, Timothy, this charge in I Tim. 4:12-16.

"Let no one despise your youth but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith , in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in your, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to the, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

I have taken this section of scripture as my challenge, as my calling, and as a description of my mission in Ecuador.

For those of you who are willing to remember me in prayer, here are a few specific prayer requests.

  • Travel: That connections can go smoothly, paperwork can be without a hitch, and that customs may be no problem.

  • Language: That I may pick up the language, Spanish, speedily, and that my falterings may not be a hindrance to the Gospel.

  • Culture: That I may be able to embrace the culture, and enjoy the differences!

  • Ministry: That the Lord can give me wisdom in knowing what to teach, and how to best teach the students I am working with.

  • Testimony: That my life can be a good testimony, not only to those within the church, but also to those who are "outside"

  • That I may be teachable: That the Lord may let me see His will and purpose in each situation He places me in, and that I may be willing to learn the lessons He has for me.

I have taken the liberty to add a few of you without your express permission. For those of you who wish to be taken off my newsletters, or if you know of someone else who would like to receive my updates, contact me by email:

If you have any questions, or just would like to send a word of encouragement, feel free to jot off a line or two to me!

If you wish to keep up on my life in pictures check out my blog and my brother's blog

In Christ,


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ecuador Bound!

So, yes my blog has suffered from gross neglect recently, and really don't expect it to be suddenly revitalized now. (If you haven't noticed, I do keep my "News I Note" sidebar updated, though)

However, despite the quite on the blog, the Lord has been working in exciting ways in my life, guiding and directing me in ways I sure didn't expect. Yes, I am Ecuador bound. In fact I have tickets bought to leave this coming Friday, the 5th of February! Lord willing I will be in Ecuador about 3 months, learning the language and encouraging and helping out the home-schoolers there. I will be joining my brother Justo, who has already spent the majority of his last year-and-a-half in Ecuador. (Check out his blog) His focus has been helping to establish a few families as they brave the home-school frontier in Ecuador, as well as encouraging and working with the youth in the Paz de Dios (Peace of God) Church. 

I hope to be able to give you some updates during my time in Ecuador. However, be sure to follow my bro's blog for pictures of my activities! I really appreciate the verbal and prayer support that so many of you have given me over the years, and now all the more as I head down into Ecuador! Feel free to contact me personally for specifics on my ministry. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Strawberry Season!

Yes, it is that time of year again. It is not as if I generally keep up on blogging to well anyways, but I can almost guarantee that I won't be around for the next three weeks. Strawberry season is starting up come Thursday, June 18th. We work at a strawberry patch just outside of Menomonie, Wisconsin. Red Cedar Valley Farms produces some of the best berries in the midwest, and we are glad to be a part of helping get them out to people.

Basically, if you want to see me in the next three weeks, your best bet will be to visit the farm and see me there. The picking is great, the berries are fantastic, the rows are clean and the personel, well, you get me. Best of all, did I mention that you can eat all you like while you pick your pail? Hey, and perhaps if you come during a quiet spell, you may even get me to pick a handful or two for you!

We are open from 6:30AM until 6:00PM every day (weather permitting), Monday-Saturday until the end of the season. Of course if you are driving a distance you can always call ahead just to make sure we're open, (715) 235-94111, and talk to my friendly sister. The season is short, so you'd better be ready to catch it! Come pick your strawberries in Menomonie, visit Red Cedar Valley Farms for the juciest, sweetest, finest berries in the Mid-west!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Does gun control work?

The old maxim goes, "If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them." And this is so true. Take a look at his worthwhile video. It gives a well documented approach to this volatile issue. Notice the concern of the criminals, no it isn't a concern for the gun laws, it is a concern for the citizens carrying their own guns!

I have over 50 hours of riding with law enforcement officers, and the consensus is almost unanimous, they would prefer the average law-abiding citizen to carry a gun. They realize that they often only arrive on the scene of a crime to document it, to late to prevent it.

How many of you have heard of the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law? Can you see the media bias?