Monday, October 31, 2011

An Update on our Experiences in Ecuador

Teaching in Ecuador has been wonderful!  We have classes full of students who care about learning.  Since Keith and I have made ourselves available for students who need help, we rarely have time to ourselves.  Students come in for help just about every period that we are not teaching.  The period just before lunch usually has at least 10 students there for help.  What a change!  I also usually have students coming in before school and, if I can stay, after school.  It is a lot of work, but we love it!
We are also loving our encounters with the work of Nazarene Missions while we are here.  Every Sunday that Dwight and Carolyn Rich have been here, we have been invited to go with them to attend various Nazarene Churches in and around Quito.  We have attended an indigenous youth rally in Otavalo (over an hour north of Quito), and an indigenous church plant in Latacunga (1  1/2 hours south of Quito).  The first one was held at a school because none of the churches were big enough to host the event.  We have found that the indigenous churches are the most generous with visitors.  They usually prepare a meal for the visitors to eat.  Something that really bothers me, but I know it is a cultural thing, is that the indigenous people will feed their guests the best of the food, but will not sit and eat with them.  I have been told it is because they do not feel worthy to eat with their guests.  We are ALL brothers and sisters in Christ.  Not one of us is any greater than any other.  At the first indigenous church they fed us a typical soup.  We got pieces of chicken in our soup, but very few others did.  The second indigenous church fed us a typical meal of cuy, boiled hominy,  potatos, popcorn, baked plantain, pork and a cheese empanada.  For those of you who don't know what cuy is.... we call them guinea pig.....  It was good, but for some it might be hard to get past the roasted rat look....
We have also attended several Jesus Film Plant churches in suburbs of Quito and a church that has at least a 50% Haitian population.  To see how God is working and transforming lives through the work of the Church of the Nazarene has been wonderful.
On Saturday, while we were attending a seminar in the chapel at the school, we experienced a first for us.  At 8:51, while our principal was speaking, we heard a rumbling noise.  Within seconds, the floor started vibrating and the roof creaking.  There were a couple of pretty solid jolts and then all quieted down.  Some people knew immediately what was going on and dove under the tables.  Those of us who had never lived through an earthquake before just kind of stood there looking around.  The epicenter was 10 miles north east of Quito (within about 4 miles of where we live).  It was a 4.0 on the richter scale, so it was nothing major and there was no damage to any of the structures at the school or the seminary,  but it definitely woke anyone who was sleeping up.  They felt it more at the seminary than where we were.  We have heard that a bridge north of Quito was damaged and one store lost some windows. 
We continue to thank God for the privilege we have to be a part of His work in Quito.  We pray that we can have a positive influence on the students we work with and the people we come in contact with.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another example of the Body of Christ working together.

A couple of weekends ago, we went on a retreat with the faculty and staff of the school we work at.  We were so impressed by the way ALL staff members were treated. We were treated to a nice three course meal.  At each of the tables were people who were in administration or chaplaincy, board members, teachers and janitors or cafeteria workers.  We spent dinner time sharing about our lives and what we did at the school.  After dinner, we had a time of prayer for all groups from the janitors to the board members.  All of us gathered around those in the group being prayed for.  There was such unity in the body.  Some of our Ecuadorean workers who are in what are normally considered menial labor were so thrilled to be included in the event.  They were walking around with smiles on their faces the whole time.  Our service on Sunday emphasized how each member of the body was important and that the ultimate goal of our school's existence is to make an impact on the lives of the young people we serve now.  We as a body all have to work together to accomplish this goal.
This week, we again experienced the body caring for its members.  The clutch went out in our vehicle to the point it was no longer safe to drive.  We had to have it taken in to be fixed yesterday.  Unfortunately, yesterday was also open house which meant we had to stay late at school.  None of the missionaries here at the Seminary were going to be able to come pick us up at 8:45 p.m. because they were all going to be at one of the missionary's houses for dinner and a time of welcoming a new family to the Seminary.  We were going to have to hire a taxi to take us home which can be dangerous during  daylight hours for "Gringo's" who speak little Spanish.  At night time it can really be dangerous.  We were quite concerned about trying to get home.  One of our tech guys noticed I seemed bothered by something and asked me what was going on.  I shared with him our concern about getting home.  He immediately said we could borrow his van.  He let us borrow it so that we could get home and then we had a vehicle to get to work today.  Tonight, one of the missionary's loaned us his vehicle so that we could get to work early (we do detention duty Thursday mornings).  God has supplied our need through the unselfish attitudes of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The thing that is so amazing to us is that 6 weeks ago, these people did not even know us.  Yet they are willing to trust us because they saw a need and had something that could take care of that need.  We are so grateful for this body of believers who have become our family and friends.  Thank you, God, for bringing us here to be a part of this body.  Help us to work well together for the furthering of Your Kingdom. 
What an AWESOME God we serve and what an AWESOME family we have!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Crunch time, another miracle and Ecuador!

After having spent several weeks visiting family and friends, we arrived back in Florida on July 26th.  We hit the road running, trying to get the junk cleaned out of the house.  Between that day and August 3rd, we had very little sleep and infrequent meals.  There was so much to do and so little time.  We did not finish the way we wanted to (with a totally clean house), but thank God for a good friend who was willing to go in afterwards and finish the clean out to get it ready for renting. 
That last day, I was still running around town trying to finish up car business.  I was supposed to try to sell the van at one of the dealerships.  I had to call Keith and tell him there was no way I would have time to do that and finish cleaning out.  So, it looked like we were going to be storing and paying for a vehicle until December when I might have time to try to sell. it.  I called a friend to see if he would allow us to leave it at his house.  He agreed.  Within a short period of time, he called me back wanting to know how much we wanted for the van.  To make a long story short, we finalized the arrangement for him to purchase the van on the way to Miami.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!
We pulled out of our driveway right around midnight on August 3.  As we were driving away, I had the distinct feeling that we will never live in that house again.  It was a bitter sweet moment, to think of all we have gone through in that home.  After dropping the last of the stuff off at the storage unit Keith and our friend dropped the van off at the friends house, while I drove to Rosalyn's house to wait for the them to pick us up.  We left her house around 1 a.m. and got to the hotel in Miami at 3:40 a.m.  We caught the 10 a.m. shuttle to the airport and then started checking weights of bags.  We discovered that a couple of our bags were overweight.  This meant we had to do a shuffle between bags to reduce the weight.  With only a bit of a struggle, we were able to get all of them at or below the 50 lb. limit.  Check in after that was a breeze.  We had nothing more than the usual issues going through the security checkpoint (Keith has a titanium knee and Roslyn has a metal rod in her back).  Due to our exhausted state, we pretty well slept through the flight (except when they served dinner), 
As we began our descent into Quito, the clouds rolled back revealing a lush green countryside with beautiful mountains.  It was definitely awe inspiring.  We landed and rolled up to the terminal. Quito airport is not the most modern.  Only a few planes have the luxury of a covered gangway.  We were one of the lucky ones.  Going through customs was nothing more than a few minutes at a desk after waiting in line for about ten minutes.  Then on to pick up our bags.  Four of the six were easy to find.  One had fallen off the belt and landed between sections of the belt.  The other one had been pulled off on the far side of the belt.  PRAISE GOD all bags arrived safely! 
We were met at the airport by Dwight and Carolyn Rich, the field strategy coordinator and his wife.  They took us to the home of another one of the missionaries for dinner and fellowship.  We had a great time sharing and finding out other points of connection.  When we finally headed to our apartment, we brought the stuff in and put some of it away before collapsing.  The seminary campus is at 9,400 ft.  Needless to say, it is sometimes hard to catch our breath.  Other than that, we have had very little trouble adjusting to the altitude so far. 
We are thanking God for the privilege we have of serving him in such an awesome place.   I know that we will have "those days", but we cannot deny that God has called us to this work.  Please continue to pray for us as we prepare for the school year.  God is SO GOOD!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Visa's and such

We have to have visas to go to Ecuador if we will be there more than 90 days.  In order to get the visas, we have to have several forms from the sponsoring group.  The forms need to be current, so they cannot be sent too early.  They had been promised to arrive shortly after July 1st.  When I had heard nothing by July 11th, I contacted the missionary who is in charge.  The worst case scenerio was having to have the papers drawn up again (at least 3 days) and then having them sent by Fedex (another 2 to 3 days).  That was cutting it real close to when we have to go to the embassy in Washington, DC to get the visas.  I sent out a call to prayer.  By that evening, I had heard from the missionary that the people who were supposed to mail it to me had forgotten and would mail it the next morning.  I was relieved to know that it had not been lost and that it should reach us before we left my mother's place.  The people overnighted it to us and the forms arrived early in the afternoon on July 13th.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!! 
Please pray that all will go well when we go to Washington, DC and that there are no complications with our getting the visas.  That is the last hurdle for us being allowed to travel to and live in Ecuador.  After that, all we have to do is finish the clean out and finish packing.  Please pray that we can accomplish all of this without becoming too exhausted.  We want to arrive in Quito, ready to get to work.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Peeling an Onion

I never realized how much stuff we had accumulated and how hard it would be to get rid of it.  But layer by layer, it is being peeled away.  Not without tears though....  It has been hard to sort through and choose what is important and what is not, what to save and what to throw.  In the long run, how much of it really is important?  NOTHING really, except our relationship with Jesus Christ and our families.  But those pieces of paper with childish scrawlings that say "I love you Mom" and those pictures of grinning kids with chicken pox splotches on their bodies...  Each layer that gets peeled away brings tears, but also freedom because one less "thing" is an anchor keeping us from freely following God's call. 
God, please help us to peel away all the dried and unnecessary layers until there is nothing left but the living and useful part of us.  We want to be free of all those things that tie us down and keep us from being all that you want us to be.  Help us, Lord.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Southern Florida District Nazarene Missions Convention

WOW!  What an awesome convention!  Listening to Rev. John Haines talk about what God is doing in the Eurasia District was awesome.  He is able to present his messages in a way that really gets your attention.  The theme was "Cast your net on the other side".  The key was the disciples obeying when Christ told them to cast the net on the other side even though they had caught nothing during a whole night of fishing.  Sometimes, in our Christian ministry, we do not see much in the way of results for the work we do.  But, if God has called us to the task, we must stay the course and be faithful.  For the disciples, they did not see success until they did something different but God directed.  Then they were greatly rewarded with God's blessings.  If we obey God's call, we may not see results right away, but we must stay faithful.  God will take our faithfullness and bless it.  In the story, the net can symbolize the methods we use to draw people to the Lord.  The net catches many different kinds of fish.  The net does not discriminate against any fish.  All are drawn in.  We too, should not discriminate against those who are drawn in to the Lord.   God values ALL people and wants all to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  That should by our goal too. 
At the convention, they also had a prayer time for us, Rev. John Haines, Wes Chambers, and Amanda Pound.  All of us are in or entering into a new stage of serving our Lord.  God's presence was stongly present during that time.  Thank you, God!  We covet prayers during the time of transition. 
It was sad to know this is the last Southern Florida District's Mission convention we will be attending for a while.  But again, we are excited about what lies ahead.  God has been so faithful to us.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

God is Faithful

These past few weeks have been a bit tough.  I had sugery on April 20th.  I debated about whether I should have the surgery or not.  It turns out according to the doctor I was wise to have it when I did because, though there was nothing seriously wrong now, there were several issues that could have become serious within a short period of time.  At least this way, I was able to have the doctor I knew and trusted do the surgery.  God has been faithful through it all.  I am recovering well, but slowly.  There is so much to do, and I have little strength to do it. We really only have a little less than two months left to clean out and get ready for the move.    Please pray for us that we will be able to accomplish all that needs to be done.