Dearest Family and Friends,
Many of you have seen e-mails and Facebook messages and some of you have read our blog about the things that have been happening here in Ecuador. So much has happened that it is hard to pick where to start. So back we go to our arrival. We landed in Quito, Ecuador on February 18, 2011. After a long night and day of travel we arrived at the base around 10:30 pm. The Winter Boot Camp was well underway. We quickly got to know the kids and enjoyed being with them. We were happy to see some of the people that we enjoyed spending time with last summer. Jorge, Austin and I got to help with the Obstacle Course and we got to enjoy the evening rallies. Within a few short days we had our commissioning service and the teams were headed out to do their mission trips. A few days later Jorge and Juan Carlos Velasquez traveled into the jungle to check on the teams.
Then it was time for Debrief. That was a really fun time. I got to help with the recreation time every afternoon. We came up with some really fun games for the kids to do. The last day was the most fun and the most challenging. Some of the stuff we had them do was pick one person to be the mummy that they wrapped in toilet paper, (they had to carry this person through all the parts of the challenge). They had to find a scripture coin in a bucket filled with mud, find the clothes pin with their team name on it, sing a song to Mama Flor in the kitchen, pass a hollowed out egg to each team member by spoon in mouth, and pop three balloons with a question in it and find where the answer was located in the Bible. On other days they bobbed for apples, then searched for candy with their mouth in a bucket filled with flour, which got flour all over their faces. Good times!
After the teams all went home it was time to get down to everyday normal life… so to speak. We were able to start Isabella’s schooling right away, thanks to my friend Kim who provided us with all the books for her homeschooling. Austin has yet to begin his homeschooling because of difficulty with the internet as well as communication with the Florida Virtual School. We hope to get him started very soon. However, they are both doing their Spanish class every day. Austin has fun playing with Blackie, our base dog, and building forts with Isabella. They also enjoy hiking around the different areas of the base. Isabella enjoys doing dance and choreography with the students and working alongside them in the afternoons.
Bible School: When we arrived here we were expecting to see three Bible school students and to our surprise there were six. After the Boot Camp we added another four students and we have two more on the way from Honduras. It is very exciting to see how God is growing the school and expanding the ministry of Teen Missions and outreach to the local churches. Many of our teachers are preachers and lay people from the community that want to invest in what we are doing here. This is opening doors for our students to do their weekend ministry in the local churches. Please keep the students in your prayers as they adjust to life here on the base and pray for us as we minister to them.
As I sit here typing this letter to you I hear the BMW students singing in the next building. What a wonderfully sweet sound. Though I cannot yet understand all the words to the songs I can praise Him along with them, for He is worthy. Imagine life and speech before the tower of Babel. We could all understand each other and praise together and understand… that would be amazing. That brings me to the praises that I have concerning language and language barriers. Isabella is doing wonderful with her Spanish. She is way ahead of Austin and I. I am teaching English classes to the students every Saturday, so that is helping us all to understand each other a bit better. It is challenging but fun. When we get really stuck, you can hear us yell “Jorge!” He is doing a lot of translating. I am enjoying the English as a Second Language (ESL) classes that I am teaching. I teach twice a week at our church and we have and average of 40 people between the two days. This week I start teaching at another church, one day a week, on Fridays. Who would have thought that taking the ESL training almost 9 years ago would have me using it here in Ecuador today. To God be the glory!
In the afternoons the students do work projects around the base as part of their training. One of the projects has been to renovate the kitchen by building walls and counter tops; we are also in the process of working on the dining area. We need more tables to accommodate our growing number of staff and students. The students are also starting work on our staff house. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have that underway. We have a lot of prep work to do before the adult work team from Georgia and the American Teen team arrive this summer. Right now we are living in a one-room dorm room with a divider wall between the kids’ bunk beds and our bed. It is cozy, but I am ready for a bit more space.
Many of you have a great time each November filling shoe boxes with stuff to be sent to kids in foreign countries through Samaritan’s Purse. We as a family have done this very thing for years. In 2003, while Jorge was unemployed, he had the pleasure of working for one month in one of the Samaritan’s Purse Distributions Centers. This is where they prepare the boxes for transport, making sure the things in each box are appropriate, and will travel without damage. Now our family, along with our students and staff, will get the privilege of handing out these very boxes to the children in two of the local schools. The kids will go through a 12 week discipleship class that the BMW students and the Teen Mission Staff will facilitate. What a privilege to be able to witness the full circle of how Samaritan’s Purse works and what a tool it is to spread the Gospel.
It truly is an honor and a privilege to be here serving the Lord at this base. It is very different than living in Florida or Georgia because life here is slower, there is no Wal-Mart to be found, internet is not always working, and we miss our English-speaking friends very much, however, God is working and this is very energizing! This is what we live for, it is what we want our children to realize and live for. We want you all to know that we could not be here without your love, prayers and support. God is using you to use us here. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Please keep us posted on what your prayer needs are. It is our honor and privilege to pray for you and your family. The best way is through e-mail or Facebook, however we check the mail a few times a month and we all love getting a “real” letter in the mail.
We feel your prayers and realize your sacrifice.
Prayer Requests: Izzy’s & Austin’s Schooling
More students and Staff for the base
Health (Jorge’s strength, Allie’s breathing, Izzy’s rash)
Wisdom and Guidance as we teach, preach & minister Finances