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.