An amazing month!!!

Wow!!!  Where did the month of July go?  For us, it was a blur because we had three consecutive mission teams who came to serve with us. What a blessing it was for everyone involved.

The first week we had a group that consisted of many of our friends from North Carolina.  They came with the ministry “Orbie for Orphans” which is led by our good friends Carl and Jill Toth.  We had connected them with an orphan care ministry here in Ecuador.  So, they came for the week to work with this orphan care ministry here called “Contigo Ecuador”.

The first day was spent providing curriculum training for about 50 orphan care workers who work in orphanages all throughout the Quito area.  Carl and Jill have developed a special orphan based animated curriculum and so it was a blessing for them to come and share with all the orphan care workers about their ministry and train them how to use the curriculum.  There seemed to be quite a lot of interest from the people that attended.

Then the rest of the week was spent visiting different orphanages and teaching the children by using the curriculum and showing the animated videos.  The team visited one or two orphanages each day and spent quite a bit of time ministering to the children.  At one ministry location, although not an orphanage but rather a place to minister the Gospel to children who come from very broken homes, I had the privilege of sharing a message with about 10 of the older boys while Maria was in the other room translating for the women who were sharing with the older girls while Carl and Jill were downstairs with the younger group showing them the video and ministering the love of Christ.  So, it was awesome that we were all in a different location in the house sharing the message of Christ with many.

Mid-week we invited the whole team to our house to have dinner and a time of worship and a devotional message. We had a great time with the team and were very thankful for them all laying hands on us and praying God’s blessings on our lives and ministries.  Wow, that was amazing!

One of the orphanages that the team visited was the one that the Lord has given Maria and I an open door where we go once a month for now just to share a Biblical message with the staff who care for the children. So, it was great for Maria to be there with the group and continue to build a friendship with the director which continues to give us further opportunity to bring the Gospel to this place.

The team did great all throughout the week and it was a pleasure to see them and spend time with them. We hope that the Lord brings back Carl and Jill and others to Ecuador in the future to continue this much needed work among the orphaned and abandoned children.

The day that the team left was the same day that a youth team from our home church arrived in the evening.  It was a group of 9 students with three leaders. We headed up to a rural Quichua area outside of Otavalo and spent the week there doing a VBS for a church there with whom we have been building a relationship with.  The week was great and the youth led the entire VBS.  They did a great job interacting with the kids and sharing the love of Jesus with them.  There were an average of about 50 kids each day.  The week also gave me the opportunity to spend some time with the pastor and get to know him better and begin to think about ways in which we might be able to help train and strengthen his church.  I’m hoping to get him a copy of Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” in Spanish and begin meeting with him and a few others on a regular basis to take them through it.

The day after that team left, our third team arrived.  The next day, we headed up to Otavalo where we spent the week ministering at Iglesia Bautista Canaan with Pastor Raúl.  The team did a VBS each morning and afternoon so as to allow as many kids to come as possible. Then we also did some other various ministries throughout the week. One day, a group of them went to the local jail to share the Word of God with the prisoners there and give them hygiene kits. Another day, some went to an elderly home to minister to the elderly.  On Tuesday night I was given the opportunity to preach at the church’s prayer service.  This was sprung upon me at the last minute, so I just shared a message that I had preached a month ago in another church.  On Thursday night, I had the privilege of teaching a marriage workshop. Also, the Youth & Family Pastor from the team shared during the workshop.  I had no idea that I was going to do this also until the day that we all arrived for the week.  The pastor sprung it on Maria and I like it was no big deal.  That’s just how things operate here in Latin America…no planning ahead…no marking dates on the calendar, etc.  But for me this was and is a big deal. And so I did not want to take it lightly. Therefore, I spent 2 whole days holed up in the hotel room just preparing material so that I would be equipped and ready.  The workshop went really well even though I didn’t even end up getting through half of my material.  Therefore I told them that Maria and I would like to come back soon and continue with this workshop.  Unfortunately, Maria could not help me with the workshop as planned because I had to take her and the kids back to Quito late Tuesday night because Jake and Gabriela were sick with a stomach virus.

Anyway, the week with this team from Church of the Living Christ in Pennsylvania was absolutely fantastic!  What an amazing group of young kids!  And I was so blessed to see and hear how the Youth and Family Pastor is truly shepherding them and making disciples for the glory of God.  The week was very Christ centered in everything that we did whether it was conversation at the breakfast table, hiking to a waterfall, or sharing a devotional message each night. It was truly a blessing.  Another tremendous blessing was that the group just really embraced Isabela as part of the team from the very first day until the last.  It was wonderful seeing these youth be such a positive Godly example for my daughter.  We all had a great time.  I would love to see them back in Ecuador some time.

So, that was the month of July!  One of the busiest times ever, but so incredibly rich with the Lord’s blessing as we served with many different people.  Aside from a stomach virus getting the best of Jake and Gabriela while in Otavalo and then really laying out Maria when we got home, the month was awesome…and exhausting.

So, the first week of August was spent just relaxing, spending some good time together as a family, and recuperating our strength…and maybe a little mountain biking:)

Thanks so much for all your prayers and support.  We’re truly humbled that the Lord has called us, broken and weak people, to carry His Gospel message to the world around us.  We cannot do it without you all living us up in prayer on a regular basis.  So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  God bless you.

Enjoy the pictures!

Killer mountain biking trails

Killer mountain biking trails

Super fun!!!!

Super fun!!!!

Nik, Pastor of Christ Covenant Church, teaches Christian Doctrine in Santo Domingo

Nik, Pastor of Christ Covenant Church, teaches Christian Doctrine in Santo Domingo

Some of our team with a husband and wife who were new to the training

Some of our team with a husband and wife who were new to the training

Jill Toth teaches the orphan care workers about the Orbie curriculum

Jill Toth teaches the orphan care workers about the Orbie curriculum

Me and a team member with the group of youth that we taught

Me and a team member with the group of youth that we taught

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Maria and Jill Toth

Maria and Jill Toth

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Me preaching at the Quichua church in Tangalí

Me preaching at the Quichua church in Tangalí

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The Quichua women sing a special song during the worship service

The Quichua women sing a special song during the worship service

The youth leaders from Lake Hills Church in North Carolina with Pastor Jose of Tangalí

The youth leaders from Lake Hills Church in North Carolina with Pastor Jose of Tangalí

The team plays with the kids outside the church

The team plays with the kids outside the church

Team member sharing a lesson about the forgiveness of Jesus

Team member sharing a lesson about the forgiveness of Jesus

Kids listen as the Word of God is being taught

Kids listen as the Word of God is being taught

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Getting to know Andersen, one of the few youth in the church in Tangalí

Getting to know Andersen, one of the few youth in the church in Tangalí

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Worship service in Tangalí

Worship service in Tangalí

The team sings a special song for the Quichua people

The team sings a special song for the Quichua people

Team member preaches during Wednesday night special service

Team member preaches during Wednesday night special service

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Team member Kali was all smiles and a huge help throughout the week

Team member Kali was all smiles and a huge help throughout the week

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Women from the church prepared lunch for the kids each day

Women from the church prepared lunch for the kids each day

Me and Pastor Jose

Me and Pastor Jose

The women insisted that I take a picture with them

The women insisted that I take a picture with them

Me and Jakester in front of Lake Cuicocha

Me and Jakester in front of Lake Cuicocha

I love living in the Andes!

I love living in the Andes!

My lovely bride in one of her favorite cities... Otavalo

My lovely bride in one of her favorite cities… Otavalo

Awesome downhill trail...very challenging!!

Awesome downhill trail…very challenging!!

Better lean way back over the seat on this one or else you'll go over the bars.

Better lean way back over the seat on this one or else you’ll go over the bars.

Worship service in Otavalo

Worship service in Otavalo

The team, along with Isabela, prepare their craft for the first day of the VBS

The team, along with Isabela, prepare their craft for the first day of the VBS

First hour of VBS at the church in Otavalo.  They averaged about 50 kids each day between the two different groups

First hour of VBS at the church in Otavalo. They averaged about 50 kids each day between the two different groups

Oh yeah...time to eat some Guinea Pig.

Oh yeah…time to eat some Guinea Pig.

Bring it on!!!

Bring it on!!!

Would you do it?  Truth be told, it did not really taste that good.  Isabela ate one of the kidneys. Yummy!

Would you do it? Truth be told, it did not really taste that good. Isabela ate one of the kidneys. Yummy!

VBS fun!!!

VBS fun!!!

Jake gets in on making the tambourine craft

Jake gets in on making the tambourine craft

The kids loved the puppets each day

The kids loved the puppets each day

Team performs a drama at the Tuesday night special service.

Team performs a drama at the Tuesday night special service.

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Me preaching in Otavalo during the Tuesday night special service

Me preaching in Otavalo during the Tuesday night special service

Photo with some church members after the service

Photo with some church members after the service

Last photo before team departs.

Last photo before team departs.

Jake and Lela at the park in Quito during some down time.

Jake and Lela at the park in Quito during some down time.

Jake at play

Jake at play

Gabriela finds the stash of Dulce de Leche

Gabriela finds the stash of Dulce de Leche

New upgrades to my Cannondale....Disk brakes, Mavic rims, Shimano XT hubs, WTB Rocket saddle...and still more to come!

New upgrades to my Cannondale….Disk brakes, Mavic rims, Shimano XT hubs, WTB Rocket saddle…and still more to come!

 

 

 

Work and Play in Ecuador

Another update and pics of our life and ministry here in Ecuador.  Again, we thank the Lord for the many opportunities that He has given us to see His gospel go forward and reach the hearts of the people of Ecuador.  It has been a fairly busy month and also a very enjoyable one.  In addition to working hard for the glory of God, we have also had opportunity to play hard and enjoy the beautiful gifts that He has bestowed upon us.

Our church recently finished up a week long evangelistic crusade.  It was a lot of work and we pray that the their has been true life changing fruit born as a result of it.  I preached the Wednesday evening session speaking from the text of Is 55:1-4 and the invitation that the Lord gives us to come to Him, to stop spending money on what is not bread and labor on what does not satisfy, and come and partake of the eternal life that He offers.  I pray that the Lord used this message to awaken hearts.  I also spent all day Thursday in Calderón where I often help lead the Bible Study. We held two nights of the crusade there as well, so I spent all day Thursday visiting house to house and sharing the Gospel with the evangelism team.  Many people made professions of faith upon hearing the message of the Gospel. We only pray that these are genuine, knowing full well that only the Lord knows the hearts of people.  All in all, the crusade gave us many opportunities to preach the Gospel both to the masses as well as to the individual families in various communities.

Much of these past few weeks have been spent preparing for the several mission teams that we have coming soon.  We have a pastoral training team coming at the end of this week. We will spend the whole week in Santo Domingo.  It is not only pastoral training that we will be doing, but many other ministries and outreaches as well since the team consists of nine people.  Maria and the kids will be joining me for the whole week.  We have a lot of different ministries planned such as: youth conferences, women’s conferences, sharing the Gospel in public and private schools, pastoral training, etc.  Please be in prayer for us throughout the week.  On the last Friday we will have a fun day at the beach to also celebrate Isabela’s 11th birthday.  She is super excited.

July is a month that could not possibly be more full.  I’ll be attending a 2 day Pastor’s Conference the first week here in Quito. Then, for the remaining three weeks of the month we will be with teams.  We have a team that consists of many from our home church that will be here for the week ministering at many different orphanages.  Then, the same day that they leave, our first youth team arrives from our home church and will be with us for the week in a Quichua village near Otavalo called Tangalí.  We will be doing a VBS for the kids in the community as well as some youth activities in the evening. Then, the day after they leave, our next youth team arrives and will be with us for the week in Otavalo. We will also be doing a VBS for kids during the day and some outreaches in the evening including ministering in a local jail as well as ministering in an elderly home.  It will be a very busy week.

In addition to working hard, we have also had some good opportunities to play together as a family and just enjoy God’s goodness together.  We bought a bike for Isabela for her birthday and now her and I often take leisurely bike rides around the neighborhood.  When I am not leisurely riding with her, I am riding hardcore on the trails or riding on the street for conditioning.  I am really enjoying getting back into this sport. It also is getting me in great shape.  Last Saturday morning, before having to head to Otavalo for the weekend for ministry, I woke up at 6am and headed to a new trail to get in some riding. I did not know that the ride would be all uphill right from the start.  It ended up being a 9 mile climb all the way to the top of the mountain. The trail is called Las Antenas because it reaches to the top of the mountain where all the cell phone antenas are. I think I climbed about 5,000 feet.  It was brutal, but I felt good for having accomplished it.

The rest of the weekend was spent in Otavalo and Tangalí. We had a meeting with Pastor Raúl on Saturday afternoon to plan details for the upcoming mission team. Then, on Sunday morning we visited the church in Tangalí and fellowshipped with the Quichua believers there. The service was all in Quichua.  After the service, I had a meeting with the pastor and leaders to plan for the upcoming mission team that will be working with them. After saying goodbye, we had a family day out at a nearby waterfall. It was very relaxing to be in the midst of God’s great creation and just share a special time together as a family.

Please pray for us for the upcoming months which will be very busy. We have all been battling a lingering cold, so please pray that we will be healthy by the time the first team arrives.  It is a blessing to serve here in Ecuador!

Preaching the Gospel on a night of the crusade in our local church

Preaching the Gospel on a night of the crusade in our local church

After sharing the Gospel on a home visit, a Quichua man blesses us with some of his herbs

After sharing the Gospel on a home visit, a Quichua man blesses us with some of his herbs

Sharing the Gospel from house to house in Calderón

Sharing the Gospel from house to house in Calderón

Sharing the Gospel with a large family with their children in Calderón

Sharing the Gospel with a large family with their children in Calderón

A family is given Bibles after hearing the Gospel and praying to receive Christ.

A family is given Bibles after hearing the Gospel and praying to receive Christ.

Evangelistic Crusade under the tent in Calderón

Evangelistic Crusade under the tent in Calderón

A view from the mountain bike trail I ride along the ridge at Parque Metropolitano

A view from the mountain bike trail I ride along the ridge at Parque Metropolitano

My Cannondale with some new upgrades. She runs great now!

My Cannondale with some new upgrades. She runs great now!

When you don't have cable  and you want to watch the championship soccer match...you head to the mall and hang out by the Direct TV booth. That's what I do at least!

When you don’t have cable and you want to watch the championship soccer match…you head to the mall and hang out by the Direct TV booth. That’s what I do at least!

This was the view of the city below when I was nearing the top of the 9 mile climb. Yes, I started way down below.

This was the view of the city below when I was nearing the top of the 9 mile climb. Yes, I started way down below.

This is what some of the climb looked like. Hard to tell, but it was extremely steep!

This is what some of the climb looked like. Hard to tell, but it was extremely steep!

Celebrating at the top

Celebrating at the top

Mission Accomplished!!!!

Mission Accomplished!!!!

Beautiful view at the top

Beautiful view at the top

Isabela and Jake sporting some new hats at the market in Otavalo

Isabela and Jake sporting some new hats at the market in Otavalo

Me sharing with the Quichua church in Tangalí

Me sharing with the Quichua church in Tangalí

Isabela and I after coming back from a ride

Isabela and I after coming back from a ride

a 43rd birthday celebration with my favorite dessert...strawberry shortcake. Yummy!!!

a 43rd birthday celebration with my favorite dessert…strawberry shortcake. Yummy!!!

Daddy and son lunch time!

Daddy and son lunch time!

Jake z arteeest

Jake z arteeest

brother and sister just kickin' it.

brother and sister just kickin’ it.

I don't know about you, but this is the cutest little owl I have ever seen!

I don’t know about you, but this is the cutest little owl I have ever seen!

 

May update w/ pics

We rejoice in what the Lord has been doing among us here in northern Ecuador. Just last week we completed our first week of a new pastoral training site in Otavalo among the Quichua people. Being the fact that it was the opening week, I really did not know what to expect. I was just hoping that by the time we were supposed to begin on Monday morning that there would be at least a couple of bodies in front of us to whom we could teach the Scriptures. Well, the Lord certainly exceeded my expectations as the morning session brought in about 20 people each day and the evening session brought in about 30 people. There were probably about 8 – 10 different churches represented with several pastors, leaders, and church members all eager to learn Biblical truth. The first week’s topic was Old Testament Survey as well as the spiritual discipline of reading the Bible.

Truly, the week was fantastic! Each day the room was filled with believers who were hungry to know more of the Word of God. Each session would end with about 45 minutes to an hour of Q&A. These times often went over their allotted time because of all the questions that they were asking. It was great to be able to share biblical counsel with so many and help them see what the Scriptures say about their particular situations that they were asking about. In addition to the Q&A time, I was constantly being approached by others during our break time asking me further questions about the Christian faith. Needless to say, I didn’t really get a lot of “break time” because my breaks were spent sharing one on one with individuals who had further questions. At times, I even missed eating our evening meal together because somebody would flag me down just as I was about to head out and ask me for some private counsel about their specific situation. But the truth is that I was so pleased to miss a meal so that I could open the Word of God with my brothers and see the Holy Spirit bring truth and clarification into their lives.

The team we had that came to teach was great. They are from a church in PA. They did an awesome job teaching throughout the week. We were incredibly busy because we were teaching two 5 hour sessions each day, one for those that came in the morning and the other for those that would come in the evening. And often times between sessions, instead of having a time back at the hotel to rest, we would go out to lunch with the pastor and have even more discussion about issues pertaining to the Bible. So, although it was one of the busiest weeks I’ve had here in Ecuador, it was also one of the best and most fruitful. The week also brought my translation skills to a new level since I was the only translator in the morning 5 hour session. But this has shown me that the Lord has brought me to a point now in my language skills where I can effectively translate for long periods of time. Therefore, from now on, in all of our pastoral training programs all throughout, I am going to be the translator. I think this will make the sessions even more effective because I as the translator know the material that is being taught and so it often gives me opportunity to elaborate with the group on a specific area if I feel that they need to really understand something better. So, even though it will be a lot of work, I know it will be worth it to help lend to the teaching times. Our next session in Otavalo for pastoral training is in September.

But we will be up there for two consecutive weeks in July with mission teams that we are hosting back to back. The first one will be a youth team from our home church, Lake Hills Church in Asheville, NC. There will be about 9 youth and 3 adults and we will be ministering to children and youth throughout the week in a small Quichua community outside of Otavalo. Then, the day after that team leaves, another youth team is coming in to work with us for the week in Otavalo. We will be working with our contact pastor there in Otavalo, Pastor Raúl of Iglesia Bautista Canaan. We are excited to see how the Lord will use these opportunities to make His name known in Otavalo. July will be a blur because we will also be working with another mission team coming to work with many of the orphanages here in Quito. So, we will be helping out with that as well.

We also have a pastoral training team coming to Santo Domingo in June for our third week of training there. In addition to the training, others are coming so that we can do outreach and ministry during the day. We have a great week planned of ministering to children in schools, ministering to youth in the churches, women’s meetings, helping clean up a community that was devastated by landslides, and of course our pastoral training in the evenings. I am excited because this time Maria and the kids will be with me because Maria will be one of the additional translators that we need with such a big team.

One other important ministry to be in prayer about. Our church is having an evangelistic crusade all this week. There is preaching each night as well as home visits and other ministries during the day. I will be preaching Wednesday night and will also be helping all day Thursday in Calderón where I have been helping lead the Bible Study. Please be in prayer for this outreach effort that the Word of God would go forth with boldness and that the Lord would use His church to proclaim the message of salvation. On the first day, there were a few people who came forward to confess their need of a Savior. Pray that the Lord would bring in many throughout the week through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit that regenerates a dead heart to life.

Thanks so much for all your prayers and support. We are all doing well. The family is healthy and by the grace of God we are growing together in love for one another and in holiness and sanctification. Gabriela is now standing on her own and is able to walk with some help. Jake is becoming a lego master and is fascinated with building lego airplanes. He looks like an engineer when he is doing it. Isabela just has creativity oozing out of her from all directions. She is now teaching herself how to knit and she continues to get better with crocheting, which she also taught herself to do. She is excited to have her birthday next month (June 21st) and spend it at the beach during our free day with one of the mission teams. Maria is becoming quite the decorator of the house and is really turning this place into a home. Me, well, I have zero creativity skills, but I have been developing mad skills on the trails with my mountain bike. I try to get on the trails at least once a week as well as do a couple of road rides each week to get into better shape. I am learning that Ecuador is a mountain biking and cycling paradise. There are races all over the country. I’m hoping to do a race by the end of the year. But I love mountain biking here. There are so many incredible trails with amazing views of God’s beautiful creation.

So, as much as the ministry is growing and doing well, so too our personal lives are growing and taking root here in South America. We pray that the Lord gives us further opportunity to plant our roots here and that whatever we do, we would do for the glory and honor of His name!

Here are some pics of life and ministry in May!

Pastor Don teaches on spiritual disciplines while I translate

Pastor Don teaches on spiritual disciplines while I translate

The students were presented with a really good study Bible at the end of the week for a very minimal cost.

The students were presented with a really good study Bible at the end of the week for a very minimal cost.

Very happy faces

Very happy faces

Pastor Dean shakes hands with a pastor who was part of the training.

Pastor Dean shakes hands with a pastor who was part of the training.

The students were very happy to receive their certificate of completion that the church presented to them at the end of the week.

The students were very happy to receive their certificate of completion that the church presented to them at the end of the week.

Group shot on last day of class

Group shot on last day of class

Spending a few free minutes at the market in Cotacachi.

Spending a few free minutes at the market in Cotacachi.

Me, Isabela, and Pastor Raúl in Cotacachi

Me, Isabela, and Pastor Raúl in Cotacachi

A daughter sings a Mother's Day song as a tribute to her Mom. Very touching

A daughter sings a Mother’s Day song as a tribute to her Mom. Very touching

The Quichua women sing a special song on Mother's Day.

The Quichua women sing a special song on Mother’s Day.

The three amigos...famous in Otavalo!

The three amigos…famous in Otavalo!

Pastor Raúl welcomes the students for another day of teaching.

Pastor Raúl welcomes the students for another day of teaching.

Pastor Dean teaches on OT Survey

Pastor Dean teaches on OT Survey

Beautiful catholic church in Otavalo

Beautiful catholic church in Otavalo

Me teaching the group about the importance of verifying everything with Scripture

Me teaching the group about the importance of verifying everything with Scripture

I've yet to be able to do this crazy climb all at once because in the middle of the climb it takes a ridiculous sharp turn that always causes me to have to bail.

I’ve yet to be able to do this crazy climb all at once because in the middle of the climb it takes a ridiculous sharp turn that always causes me to have to bail.

Some of the trails that I ride...lots of climbing

Some of the trails that I ride…lots of climbing

Very fast single track all along a ridge that has beautiful views of the whole city. Just don't wipe out to the left or else you will take a long fall!

Very fast single track all along a ridge that has beautiful views of the whole city. Just don’t wipe out to the left or else you will take a long fall!

A technical turn on the downhill, then a technical climb on the way back up.

A technical turn on the downhill, then a technical climb on the way back up.

View of the city from the trail.

View of the city from the trail.

Fast single track along the ridge line

Fast single track along the ridge line

This is my ride before some of the upgrades that I have done.  Little by little I am trying to upgrade it to be in racing condition.

This is my ride before some of the upgrades that I have done. Little by little I am trying to upgrade it to be in racing condition. I recently added new low rise bars with a much shorter stem…the difference in handling is amazing!

The drop in and exit of the trail that leads to the ridge

The drop in and exit of the trail that leads to the ridge

Better pick the right line or else its certainly OTB (over the bars...handlebars, that is)

Better pick the right line or else its certainly OTB (over the bars…handlebars, that is)

The trail heading back after a 10 mile ride.

The trail heading back after a 10 mile ride.

La Basilica del Voto Nacional

We moved to Quito about eight months ago. And eight months ago, while driving lost in this city, we noticed this huge tall building standing higher than the rest as you go towards South Quito. We kept on telling ourselves that one day we would visit it. Well, it only took us eight months. It is the Basilica del Voto National, or the Basilica of the National Vow, in the historic center of Quito. Now, I (Maria) love architecture. It makes me think about the things we will see when this earth is restored and God’s people are living in pure paradise. God has given man incredible talents and creativity. I believe that we get this creativity because of being created after His image and likeness. When I look at beautiful architecture I can’t help but think of God as the giver of such ability to create beauty. And even though basilicas and cathedrals and all sorts of magnificent buildings were not intended to glorify the true living God, I am still amazed that in some ways they do, because God alone is the master architect behind all human creativity and possibility.

So as you look at these pictures imagine how much beautiful it will be when this earth is restored back to the saints and when God himself directs the artwork of men for the purpose of displaying His glory and His love. Some of the pictures are blurry. I tried shooting these while holding Gabriela and doing some acrobatic maneuver to avoid falling into pits and crazy-scary traps. I survived. So did Gabriela. And Jake. Cody and Isabela had a blast. They loved the danger. Enjoy these!

Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito, Ecuador.

Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito, Ecuador.

From the moment you walk in the architecture is truly amazing.

From the moment you walk in the architecture is truly amazing.

Inside the basilica.

Inside the basilica.

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The basilica has a small chapel inside. I was very impressed with the colors and designs inside the chapel.

The basilica has a small chapel inside. I was very impressed with the colors and designs inside the chapel.

It was sad to see that the only representation was that of Mary. Such of common thing in Catholic churches.

It was sad to see that the only representation was that of Mary. Such of common thing in Catholic churches.

Very pretty designs on the columns.

Very pretty designs on the columns.

Isabela can get her Latin lessons here.

Isabela can get her Latin lessons here.

Circular staircase near the chapel.

Circular staircase near the chapel.

The colorful floor in the chapel.

The colorful floor in the chapel.

Beautifully done stained glass windows.

Beautifully done stained glass windows.

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There are stained glass windows everywhere you look.

There are stained glass windows everywhere you look.

There are stained glass windows even in the ceiling.

There are stained glass windows even in the ceiling.

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Someone wrapped a note to Mary around this candle. I wonder if that can be a fire hazard.

Someone wrapped a note to Mary around this candle. I wonder if that can be a fire hazard.

Inside the basilica.

Inside the basilica.

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Here is an extremely sad prayer posted inside the church. The prayer is translated below. For those who consider the catholic religion a form of Christianity this is really  a revelation of in whom catholics place their faith.

Here is an extremely sad prayer posted inside the church. The prayer is translated below. For those who consider the catholic religion a form of Christianity this is really a revelation of in whom catholics place their faith.

This is the translated prayer:

Prayer

Oh Hurting Mother!

Because of your tears, because of the crown of thorns,
because of the nails that you carry in your hands,
because of the swords of pain that went through your heart, turn those merciful eyes of yours and reach us from your holy son full of intense pain for our guilt and alive feelings of faith, hope, and charity.

Oh Hurting Mother!
Protect the holy church
Protect our nation
Protect the youth
Protect the children (or childhood). Amen.

Here is the store where you can buy statutes.

Here is the store where you can buy statutes.

The outside of the basilica.

The outside courtyard of the basilica.

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The doors on the basilica.

The doors on the basilica.

I don't think I want to climb those. There is got to be another way out. :-P

I don’t think I want to climb those. There is got to be another way out. :-P

My two handsome guys.

My two handsome guys.

One of the clock towers of the basilica.

One of the clock towers of the basilica.

Inside the basilica from above.

Inside the basilica from above.

Amazing stained glass design.

Amazing stained glass design.

Part of the city from above.

Part of the city from above.

Gabriela and Daddy.

Gabriela and Daddy.

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The old organ.

The old organ.

Isabela practicing her musical skills.

Isabela practicing her musical skills.

The steeple. If you look closely you can see someone inside it.

The steeple. If you look closely you can see someone inside it.

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I love these circular windows.

I love these circular windows.

Only a small part of the city of Quito. Notice how half the mountain is green and the other is covered with buildings.

Only a small part of the city of Quito. Notice how half the mountain is green and the other is covered with buildings.

Some of the roofs from above the basilica.

Some of the roofs from above the basilica.

We continue to go up up up inside this place.

We continue to go up up up inside this place.

Another circular widow.

Another circular widow.

Crossing the small bridge to continue to going up.

Crossing the small bridge to continue going up.

The bridge is very narrow.

The bridge is very narrow.

The ladder is very narrow and steep.

The ladder is very narrow and steep.

One of the clock towers.

One of the clock towers.

The two clock towers. I couldn't get a shot of both of them together with my fixed lens.

The two clock towers. I couldn’t get a shot of both of them together with my fixed lens.

Part of Quito.

Part of Quito.

Cody and Isabela climbing up to the steeple, the highest part we could climb up to.

Cody and Isabela climbing up to the steeple, the highest part we could climb up to.

Jake looking down from very high up.

Jake looking down from very high up.

I love this! This is the back part of the stained glass window. It reminded me of Corrie Ten Boom's quote, “Only Heaven will reveal the top part of God's tapestry”.

I love this! This is the back part of the stained glass window. It reminded me of Corrie Ten Boom’s quote, “Only Heaven will reveal the top part of God’s tapestry”.

Returning from our high up journey.

Returning from our high up journey.

Ooops! I just noticed this sign. No children under 5. Oh well, Jake and Gabriela had a great time.

Ooops! I just noticed this sign. No children under 5. Oh well, Jake and Gabriela had a great time.

A cafe inside the basilica.

A cafe inside the basilica.

The stair rails are pretty nice too. That's Jake going up up up.

The stair rails are pretty nice too. That’s Jake going up up up.

The steeple with people inside.

The steeple with people inside.

Quito.

Quito.

The front of the basilica from above.

The front of the basilica from above.

More buildings in Quito.

More buildings in Quito.

These huge things below to the giant clock.

These huge things below to the giant clock.

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The back of the giant clock.

The back of the giant clock.

You can see the bells if you look closely.

You can see the bells if you look closely.

Quito. Well, part of it.

Quito. Well, part of it.

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I love that this city has so many parks and plazas. I've yet to see them all.

I love that this city has so many parks and plazas. I’ve yet to see them all.

Beautiful architecture.

Beautiful architecture.

There is an indigenous celebration going on in front of the church. We are watching from up high.

There is an indigenous celebration going on in front of the church. We are watching from up high.

Jake bravely going up to see the bells.

Jake bravely going up to see the bells.

The back of the basilica.

The back of the basilica.

South Quito.

South Quito.

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A view through a “marker stained” window.

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Jake going down the spiral stairs.

Jake going down the spiral stairs.

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An indigenous show from up high.

 

We even got to see a wedding.

We even got to see a wedding.

There is the bride and her father. I acted like a professional hired photographer. haha!

There is the bride and her father. I acted like a professional hired photographer. haha!

Outside architecture.

Outside architecture.

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Us. Minus Isabela who was taking the picture.

Us. Minus Isabela who was taking the picture.

Running around.

Running around.

Posing.

Posing.

One of the front doors of the basilica.

One of the front doors of the basilica.

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The front entrance to the basilica.

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Jake thinking he is king of the sidewalk.

 

The outside of the Basilica.

The outside of the Basilica.

Part of historical Quito.

Part of historical Quito.

Love the streets. They remind me of Old San Juan.

Love the streets. They remind me of Old San Juan.

Love the Spanish colonial buildings.

Love the Spanish colonial buildings.

Going down back to north Quito.

Going down back to north Quito.

Passing another park on the way.

Passing another park on the way.

You know you are in a city when your traffic jam consists of this!!

You know you are in a city when your traffic jam consists of this!!

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The trolley and bus stations in Quito.

 

April Ministry Update w/ Pics

The month of April has seemed like a blur to us because of many things going on in the ministry.  We are thankful for what the Lord has allowed us to be part of here in Ecuador.  We see more and more the truth of Jesus’ words when He said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.  This is the case here in Ecuador. There are so many opportunities to bring the Gospel to the people, and so we pray that the Lord will indeed raise up more laborers that can work along side of us in this great work that He has called us to.  April was really busy, but things are going to get even more busy in the next few months as we have a lot of things going on such as evangelism crusades, pastoral training teams, mission teams, etc.  May the Lord give us the strength to work hard for His glory and the wisdom to maintain balance so that we remain healthy as a family as well as ministers.

The chaplain work at the school in Pifo continues to grow.  Thankfully, there is now an intern from our church who is helping out a few days a week at the school.  The head chaplain and I have begun to do some more one on one counseling with those students who are experiencing problems at school.  I pray that the Lord uses these moments to connect with the hearts of these kids and be able to bring them the truth of the Gospel.  It is a blessing as well as often times a huge challenge to speak to these groups of students week after week and share with them the precious truths of the Gospel.  Sometimes the students seem to listen attentively and other times there are those who really could care less what I’m saying.  But, even as I sometimes tell the crowd that seems very disruptive, if there is even one person in the group who is listening and desires to know God, then it is worth it and I will continue to proclaim His truth.

Two weeks ago, one of the RTIM missionaries from the home office was here in Ecuador to learn about the ministry that we have here and then to help with a pastoral training team in the south.  So, the first week was spent taking him around to all the different places where we are ministering here in the north so that he could get an understanding of what the Lord is doing here.  We spent most of the week on the road traveling to our different ministry sites in the north.  Then the following week we both flew to the southern part of the country to help with the pastoral training program in Tambo.  First, we flew to Guayaquil to spend a day with another new RTIM missionary who was in Ecuador to scout out a possible place of service in the south.  After that, we met up with the team from the states who were flying into Guayaquil and then took a four hour bus ride almost at midnight through the mountains to reach the training center in Tambo. I had already been really sick with a bad stomach bug and so the four hour bus ride through the mountains just about did me in.  It took me a few days to fully recuperate.  So, the team spent the week in Tambo teaching the pastors and leaders there about worship.  It was a great week.  This was the last of the three year training program for this group of students and so there was a graduation ceremony on the last day.  They were super excited to receive their certificates.  I was not there because I only stayed until Tuesday before flying back to Quito.  I did not want to spend the whole week there since next week I will be away from home again for a week as we have our first training program starting in Otavalo.  So, I spent the rest of the week just relaxing with family and recuperating some of my health since I had been sick earlier.

This past Sunday, I was invited to speak about the Reaching and Teaching ministry at a church in Ibarra which is about 30 minutes north of Otavalo. So, we all headed up there early Sunday morning. We had a good time worshiping with the people there and afterwards I had the opportunity to share in more detail with the leaders about the ministry and the new training center that we are starting in Otavalo.

Tomorrow, Maria will be speaking again to the staff of an orphanage here in Quito that has invited her to come once a month to share with the staff about the Word of God.  Maria also gave a workshop last week at an all night prayer vigil at our church. The workshop was about how to follow up with a new believer.  They asked her to do this since our church is having a huge evangelism crusade in two weeks.  So, during the all night vigil they had various people doing workshops.  Thankfully, Maria’s slot was only from 10:30PM – 11:30PM, therefore we were able to get home close to midnight.

This Saturday the team arrives that will be ministering in Otavalo. We are very excited to see this new pastoral training program get under way.  I will be up there the whole week with the team.  I will be preaching on Sunday morning to get things started off. Please pray for our time there throughout the week.  The team will consist of three guys from a partner church in Pennsylvania.  They will be teaching throughout the week on Old Testament Survey.  I think I’m going to come back mid-week and bring Maria and the kids back with me for the rest of the week so that we can be together and also so that Maria can have opportunity to minister to some of the women in the church in Otavalo.

The Lord is good and He is certainly doing a lot of things in our lives.  Personally, the Lord has me in a season of bringing to light some things that have been in the darkness for a long time that have been like a slow cancer eating away at my soul.  He has drawn me with cords of lovingkindness which has led me to expose the deep places of my heart to Him as well as to some trusted others.  He is really doing a deep work in my heart and I feel like I am coming to know and experience His love and mercy like never before.

Our family is doing well and continuing to adjust and get settled in to life in South America.  We love it here even though daily life has its many challenges.  We pray that the Lord begins to grow our team so that we can develop a little community of RTIM missionaries who live and work together for the glory of God.

Sharing with the 7th graders (my most attentive group) during chapel service

Sharing with the 7th graders (my most attentive group) during chapel service

Tony Steele preaching at the Thursday night Bible Study at the mission in Calderón

Tony Steele preaching at the Thursday night Bible Study at the mission in Calderón

Tony Steele, home office RTIM missionary, with our friend Dani during a visit to his house to provide some prayer and counsel.

Tony Steele, home office RTIM missionary, with our friend Dani during a visit to his house to provide some prayer and counsel.

Preaching at the church in Alluriquín

Preaching at the church in Alluriquín

With the pastor of the church in Otavalo and a church leader in Ibarra

With the pastor of the church in Otavalo and a church leader in Ibarra

The cross in the garden of Getsemaní where we sometimes take the students for chapel service

The cross in the garden of Getsemaní where we sometimes take the students for chapel service

Sharing with the mission church in Calderón

Sharing with the mission church in Calderón

Me and our good friend Dani whom we have been counseling since they are going through some rough times

Me and our good friend Dani whom we have been counseling since they are going through some rough times

Teaching the 3rd graders at chapel service in the garden.

Teaching the 3rd graders at chapel service in the garden.

Sharing with the church in Ibarra about the Reaching and Teaching program about to start in Otavalo

Sharing with the church in Ibarra about the Reaching and Teaching program about to start in Otavalo

Me with some of the Quichua brothers

Me with some of the Quichua brothers

Great times spent with these guys. So excited for what God has in store for them

Great times spent with these guys. So excited for what God has in store for them

Simple Quichua worship.

Simple Quichua worship.

Me with two of the RTIM stateside missionaries who came to Tambo to serve for the week

Me with two of the RTIM stateside missionaries who came to Tambo to serve for the week

Me with a young couple who are praying about joining RTIM in Ecuador

Me with a young couple who are praying about joining RTIM in Ecuador

Some of the Quichua brothers who have been part of the training for three years

Some of the Quichua brothers who have been part of the training for three years

RTIM missionaries teaching about worship to the Quichua pastors

RTIM missionaries teaching about worship to the Quichua pastors

Inca ruins on a very cold day with blustery winds

Inca ruins on a very cold day with blustery winds

Part of the Inca ruins. This was the place where animals were sacrificed to the Inca gods

Part of the Inca ruins. This was the place where animals were sacrificed to the Inca gods

Visiting the Inca ruins at Ingapirca near Tambo the day before the training.

Visiting the Inca ruins at Ingapirca near Tambo the day before the training.

A raging river in Tambo that my Quichua pastor friend tells me often claims animals and sometimes people.

A raging river in Tambo that my Quichua pastor friend tells me often claims animals and sometimes people.

Tony Steele, a visiting RTIM missionary, joins us at chapel service at the school in Pifo and loses a contest and is forced to stand on the chair and belt out a song. The kids were cracking up

Tony Steele, a visiting RTIM missionary, joins us at chapel service at the school in Pifo and loses a contest and is forced to stand on the chair and belt out a song. The kids were cracking up

Such a great time to share God's Word with such precious souls

Such a great time to share God’s Word with such precious souls

The Saturday Kid's Program at the mission in Calderón.

The Saturday Kid’s Program at the mission in Calderón.

Celebrating our pastors 50th birthday at the church

Celebrating our pastors 50th birthday at the church

 

A little bit of our life in Ecuador

Last month we worked every Saturday. This month we decided to take a few Saturdays off and enjoy some family time. Here are some pictures of some of the things we did as a family. We are truly blessed to live in a country where we can serve the Lord and enjoy its natural beauty. Enjoy these!

On one of our Saturdays, we went with some friends to a park in a town north of us called Pomasqui. Jake enjoyed playing. After the park we went to a little restaurant to eat some freshly made sausages. They were super yummy! Afterwards we went to our friends’ house to play some card games. We truly had a lot of fun. :-)

Jake, having fun at the park.

Jake, having fun at the park.

He loves the swings.

He loves the swings.

Then the following Saturday we ventured with other friends to Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi is an ice/snow covered volcano. From where we live it looks very pretty on a clear day. We went on a day that wasn’t so clear so we really only got to see the base of it. Nevertheless, the park is absolutely beautiful. We enjoyed our time there with our friends.

The base of Cotopaxi volcano.

The base of Cotopaxi volcano.

Grass sledding with friends in Cotopaxi.

Grass sledding with friends in Cotopaxi.

He is having fun!

He is having fun!

Down he goes!

Down he goes!

Isabela gives it a try.

Isabela gives it a try.

Whoa! That looks like fun!

Whoa! That looks like fun!

Jake and daddy.

Jake and daddy.

My handsome guys. :-)

My handsome guys. :-)

Down the hill.

Down the hill.

So much fun.

So much fun.

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Cody gives it a try.

Cody gives it a try.

Beautiful area in the Cotopaxi National Park.

Beautiful area in the Cotopaxi National Park.

My little girl.

My little girl.

Out on a chilly day.

Out on a chilly day.

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My big princess. She blends in beautifully with nature.

My big princess. She blends in beautifully with nature.

My handsome guy. :-)

My handsome guy. :-)

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Me. Wearing my "I need to stay warm" outfit.

Me. Wearing my “I need to stay warm” outfit.

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Staying warm.

Staying warm.

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I loved seeing the wild horses.

I loved seeing the wild horses at the park.

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And the wild cows too. :-P

And the wild cows too. :-P

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Gabriela. Discovering the grass.

Gabriela. Discovering the grass.

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Laying down on the Inca ruins.

Laying down on the Inca ruins.

Hat hair.

Hat hair.

This nice green carpet feels funny!

This nice green carpet feels funny!

The bottom part of Cotopaxi.

Wishing the cloud would move out of the way of Cotopaxi.

Here are a couple of pictures of Jake making funny faces for the camera. He discovered this can be a new hobby.

Jake making silly faces.

Jake making silly faces.

Happy!

Happy!

Very happy!

Very happy!

Silly happy!

Silly happy!

What!?

What!?

Serious.

Serious.

Funny!

Funny!

On March 15, we celebrated Gabriela’s first birthday. We had a little party for her with cupcakes and balloons. I don’t think she noticed the balloons, but she did notice the cupcake on her highchair tray. I think she liked it. :-)

Our birthday girl waiting for her cake.

Our birthday girl waiting for her cake.

Homemade strawberry cupcakes.

Homemade strawberry cupcakes.

Yum!

Yum!

Clapping for her cake.

Clapping for her cake.

Wondering how it tastes.

Wondering how it tastes.

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Yummy! Yummy!

Yummy! Yummy!

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Sugar coma.

Sugar coma.

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All gone!

All gone!

Looking at her birthday present.

Looking at her birthday present.

Learning to use her new toy.

Learning to use her new toy.

Taking the first step.

Taking the first step.

It has been a fun month. Not that last month wasn’t fun. It truly was, but we also enjoyed having a few Saturdays to relax and enjoy family. And the beauty of Ecuador. :-)

Ministry Update and Pics

So, things continue to develop in the ministry that the Lord has called us to here in Ecuador.  As we are getting more and more involved in our local church (Iglesia Bautista Universitaria) which we really love, we are given more and more opportunities to minister the Gospel in many different ways.

A few weeks ago, one of the women in the church told us about a neighborhood children’s ministry that her and her husband have been doing for about 6 months and she invited us to come out and minister to the kids. So, we went and had a great time seeing her ministry and sharing the love of Christ with the children.  There were about 15 young children there who received us by singing a worship song that the leaders had taught them.  Then, Maria gathered them together and I taught them a worship song on my guitar. Then, Maria shared the Gospel message with them using props and other things that would keep the attention of 5-7 year olds.  It was a great time to be able to share with the kids and encourage the husband and wife who have been doing this in their neighborhood just trying to be a witness for the Gospel.

2 Weeks ago, the director of our mission flew to Ecuador to spend a couple of days with us.  We had two key meetings in locations where we are hoping to start additional pastoral training centers.  One of those locations is in Otavalo where we are hoping to start our first training in May. We went up there and shared with them during their Sunday morning celebration. After the service, we met with their board of elders and shared with them about the ministry of Reaching and Teaching and answered any questions they had.  Then, we were invited to join them as they were gathering to do some baptisms and then celebrate with a potluck feast.  I was privileged to help the pastor perform the baptisms.  We had a great time just spending time with the people of the church and getting to know them better.  I will be heading back there on the 29th of this month to preach.

The chaplaincy ministry at the school in Pifo continues to go well.  2 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share a biblical and evangelistic message with about 300 of the parents during the parent-teacher conference.  I shared with them about the importance of using healthy discipline in the home, but that in order to do that, we need Christ to teach us first how to truly love like He does.  It was such a great opportunity to have so many non-saved people among us who were hearing the Word of God being taught.  We recently restructured our schedule of chapel services that we do and now I have the opportunity to teach all the older grades since we have combined some of the grades together.  For the remainder of the year I plan to teach each week about the different attributes of God.  I’m emphasizing to them the greatest important thing in life is to love God, but we can’t truly love Him if we really don’t know Him. So, I have created a phrase that the teachings are going to be based off of:  Para amar a Dios verdaderamente tenemos que confiar en Él completamente, pero para confiar en Él completamente tenemos que conocerlo íntimamente. (To truly love God, we have to trust Him completely, but to trust Him completely, we have to know Him intimately.)  So, I’m starting them off with the attributes of God so that they can begin to know who He is.  This week I began by teaching about the sovereignty of God.

Maria finished out the evangelism training that we were giving to the Sunday School workers of the church while my Director and I were visiting a pastor in Lasso and discussing the possibility of starting a pastoral training center there. She did a great job and the people seemed to really learn a lot.  The next training that we will do there will be on Inductive Bible Study.

The pastor of our church, who is also my co-laborer in ministry, Joselito, asked me if I could teach the Wednesday night Bible Study that we have at our church.  We are going through the Book of John in a very thorough expositional manner.  So, I accepted the invitation and for several days threw myself into intensive study of the Book of John so that I could be well prepared to teach expositionally on this particular passage.  So, after buying a couple of additional commentaries on John (D.A. Carson and Craig Keener) to add to our Logos library in addition to the books that we already have, I had plenty to use to get a very thorough understanding of John 2:1-11 the story of the wedding at Cana.  So, last Wednesday I taught at the church and I think it went well.  I’m going to teach this Wednesday as well because I had so much material that I gathered from my study that I could not fit it all into one night.

I’m trying to work out a schedule where every two weeks I travel to Santo Domingo to visit one of the churches there that is part of our training. Santo Domingo is about three hours away, so it is pretty challenging to get there often.  So, this past Thursday I went out there and visited a church that was even further out than three hours.  The pastors are always super encouraged when they receive a visit from a guy that comes all the way from Quito just to spend time with them and encourage them.  But it makes for a long day when I drive three and a half hours out and back the same day, often not arriving home until after midnight.

Since each weekend in February was super busy, we have been taking it easy during the weekends in March.  Last Saturday, we hung out with our friends in Calacalí at a nice park and then at their house playing a new card game. And today, we went with other friends to Cotopaxi National Park and had a picnic.  Next Saturday, we plan to stay in our pajamas all day and not leave the house.  Tomorrow, we will celebrate the 1 year birthday of our beautiful daughter Gabriela Edén Whittaker!

 

Maria greeting the kids at a neighborhood kids program in South Quito where we visited and taught

Maria greeting the kids at a neighborhood kids program in South Quito where we visited and taught

The kids singing a new song we taught them

The kids singing a new song we taught them

Maria sharing the story of the Gospel with the kids

Maria sharing the story of the Gospel with the kids

Me teaching at Wednesday night Bible Study at our church.

Me teaching at Wednesday night Bible Study at our church.

Teaching expositionally through John 2:1-11

Teaching expositionally through John 2:1-11

Me teaching at the parents conference at the school in Pifo

Me teaching the parents conference at the school in Pifo

 

Teaching the parents about godly discipline and our need for Christ to raise our kids in a healthy way

Teaching the parents about godly discipline and our need for Christ in order to raise our kids in a healthy way

 

Worshiping in Quichua at a baptism service in Otavalo

Worshiping in Quichua at a baptism service in Otavalo

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Me praying for those who are about to be baptized

Praying for those who are about to be baptized

I had the privilege of helping the pastor perform the baptisms

Pastor Raúl baptizes a new believer for the glory of God!

Pics of life and ministry in the last few months.

Things have been going really terrific over the last few months.  The family is really getting settled well and the ministry is really beginning to grow.  There are so many opportunities coming our way. We need wisdom from the Lord to know what to get involved in and what to pass on.  We are beginning to understand the verse “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” And so we pray asking the Lord to raise up more workers that can help us minister here in Ecuador since the needs are endless.

The chaplain work at the school is going well.  There is so much need there that sometimes I don’t even know where to begin.  I have been leading the chapel service for 5 of the grades each week.  Last two weeks was vacation for the kids, but the teachers had workshops all during the first week, and so I had a great opportunity to share three messages with the teachers during that week.  The new semester started today and the chaplain and I are trying to implement some new ideas of ways that we can begin to reach the older students.

I just started discipling an 18 year old guy named David who is part of a ministry here in Quito that works with former street kids.  We only met once so far but it went really well.  I will be meeting with him every Wednesday to mentor him and teach him the Word of God.  Please keep him in your prayers.  He has had such a hard life and it will take the power of the Word of God to break through the walls that have protected him for so long.  He’s a really nice guy.  I’m really looking forward to meeting with him weekly.

I have preached a few times in various places.  Last week, I visited a church in Santo Domingo that is part of the training program.  I shared a short message from Psalm 139 as it was their Tuesday Prayer and Testimony service. It was great to be able to fellowship and pray with them.  The pastor was absolutely shocked when I told him that I drove 3 hours from Quito just to visit his church.  So, I’m thankful for the time that I had to get to know his church a little more and for the opportunity to encourage the church.  I also preached at a mission church in Calderón in a very poor community.  This is a ministry that is part of our home church. It was great to share God’s Word with the simple people and pray that my teaching on John 1:29 ministered to their hearts.

Maria shared at a quarterly women’s conference in our church 2 weeks ago.  She is really starting to get more involved in ministering to women in the church.

Last Friday and Saturday we spent in Otavalo ministering to the church there on Friday and then doing a children’s outreach at a nearby church on Saturday.  Maria and the pastor’s wife shared with the women while Joselito shared with the men downstairs.  It was a great time to be able to encourage the church there.  Saturday, we drove 30 minutes further north to a little Quechua town called Taguali where we did an outreach for about 75 children in the community.  It was a great time to connect with another church in Otavalo.  I talked some with the pastor there and shared about the training center that we will soon be starting with Canaan Baptist Church in Otavalo. He is very excited to be part of the training.   The church in Otavalo (Canaan Baptist) has received us with open arms and are hoping that we continue to get more involved.  We hope to be starting a training site there in the next few months as soon as we have a partner church or churches in the U.S.  They are super hungry to learn more of the Word of God.  We will all be heading back again this Saturday since our mission director will be in town and I want to introduce him to the pastor there and have some time to talk about mission work there. Then I will return again on March 29th to preach in their Sunday morning service.

That’s just a brief snapshot as to what has been going on with us in the past month or so.  Enjoy the pictures!

Visit from a missionary we haven't seen since our missionary training 5 years ago.

Visit from a missionary we haven’t seen since our missionary training 5 years ago.

Me with the two teachers (Tom on my right on Josh on the far left) with a couple from the church in Santo Domingo.

Me with the two teachers (Tom on my right on Josh on the far left) with a couple from the church in Santo Domingo.

Tom Mercer of Christ Covenant Church teaching the group in Santo Domingo through the pastoral epistles

Tom Mercer of Christ Covenant Church teaching the group in Santo Domingo through the pastoral epistles

Jorge's young students in training leading a children's ministry at a new church plant in Chininde.

Jorge’s young students in training leading a children’s ministry at a new church plant in Quininde.

Me with Jorge and Tom as we get ready to minister in a new village.

Me with Jorge and Tom as we get ready to minister in a new village.

Delicious tilapia lunch after spending some time with a couple from the church.  I didn't eat the head:)

Delicious tilapia lunch after spending some time with a couple from the church. I didn’t eat the head:)

What a blessing to meet up with our good missionary friend from our days in Haiti, Emory Wilson. He was in Quito for the week and we got to have dinner with him.

What a blessing to meet up with our good missionary friend from our days in Haiti, Emory Wilson. He was in Quito for the week and we got to have dinner with him.

One of the churches in Santo Domingo where I visited and preached.  This is Iglesia Galilea, a small store front church in the city.

One of the churches in Santo Domingo where I visited and preached. This is Iglesia Galilea, a small store front church in the city.

This is the mission church in Calderón where I preached, which is a ministry of our home church.  It was such a blessing to visit these sweet people and get to know them better. I definitely plan on returning.

This is the mission church in Calderón where I preached, which is a ministry of our home church. It was such a blessing to visit these sweet people and get to know them better. I definitely plan on returning.

Maria and Joselito's wife, Anita, after our third Evangelism training workshop for the Sunday School teachers.

Maria and Joselito’s wife, Anita, after our third Evangelism training workshop for the Sunday School teachers.

Maria sharing about specific evangelism methods.

Maria sharing about specific evangelism methods.

Maria sharing at Iglesia Bautista Universitaria about specific evangelism methods.

Maria sharing at Iglesia Bautista Universitaria about specific evangelism methods.

Jorge teaching at the new church plant in Quininde.

Jorge teaching at the new church plant in Quininde.

A Quechua dance that the school in Pifo put on during one of the holidays.

A Quechua dance that the school in Pifo put on during one of the holidays.

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So glad that my brother sent me his old Cannondale from the states so that I can get back in the saddle.

So glad that my brother sent me his old Cannondale from the states so that I can get back in the saddle.

Replenishing after being out for my first mountain bike ride in 7 years.  So pumped to be back on a bike!

Replenishing after being out for my first mountain bike ride in 7 years. So pumped to be back on a bike!

This girl is too cute!!!!!

This girl is too cute!!!!!

 

Anita sharing with the women of the church in Otavalo

Anita sharing with the women of the church in Otavalo

Maria teaching the women at the church in Otavalo

Maria teaching the women at the church in Otavalo

Beautiful view outside the church in a new ministry site near Otavalo called Tangualica where we distributed gifts and ministered to the children and families.

Beautiful view outside the church in a new ministry site near Otavalo called Tanguali where we distributed gifts and ministered to the children and families.

Unloading Samaritan's Purse gift boxes. We gave out about 80 boxes to some very happy children!

Unloading Samaritan’s Purse gift boxes. We gave out about 80 boxes to some very happy children!

Maria sharing some counsel with a woman after teaching a group of Quechua women in Otavalo.

Maria sharing some counsel with a woman after teaching a group of Quechua women in Otavalo.

Joselito sharing with the men of the church in Otavalo about healthy and Biblical discipline of children.  It was a fantastic message!

Joselito sharing with the men of the church in Otavalo about healthy and biblical discipline of children. It was a fantastic message!

My beautiful wife, and Reaching and Teaching missionary, Maria Whittaker!

My beautiful wife, and Reaching and Teaching missionary, Maria Whittaker!

Pastor Joselito leads the kids in some songs of worship.

Pastor Joselito leads the kids in some songs of worship.

Isabela poses after her and Belen did a few dances at the outreach.

Isabela poses after her and Belen did a few dances at the outreach.

Isabela, Belen, and Anita lead the group in some songs and dances.

Isabela, Belen, and Anita lead the group in some songs and dances.

Me teaching the children about the ultimate gift, salvation through Jesus Christ.

Me teaching the children about the ultimate gift, salvation through Jesus Christ.

Me sharing the Word of God with the children.

Me sharing the Word of God with the children.

Isabela handing out gifts to the children.

Isabela handing out gifts to the children.

Pastor Raul of the church in Otavalo hands out gifts to the children.

Pastor Raul of the church in Otavalo hands out gifts to the children.

Happy faces as the kids receive their gift boxes!

Happy faces as the kids receive their gift boxes!

Isabela and her good friend Belen who is the daughter of Pastor Joselito and Anita, our ministry partners

Isabela and her good friend Belen who is the daughter of Pastor Joselito and Anita, our ministry partners

The ladies prepared a Quichua snack for us after the outreach. Potatoes, habas, fresh cheese, and aji sauce. Que riquísimo!

The ladies prepared a Quichua snack for us after the outreach. Potatoes, habas, fresh cheese, and aji sauce. Que riquísimo!

Having breakfast before heading out to the ministry outreach.

Having breakfast before heading out to the ministry outreach.

Happy face!

Happy face!

Beautiful view in Otavalo!

Beautiful view in Otavalo!

Downtown Otavalo...a very charming little city.

Downtown Otavalo…a very charming little city.

Jake trying to put on his Woody doll cowboy hat. Such a silly boy!

Jake trying to put on his Woody doll cowboy hat. Such a silly boy!

Trying to stay warm inside our heaterless house!

Trying to stay warm inside our heaterless house!

Such a cute girl!

Such a cute girl!

Isabela and Belen looking cute!

Isabela and Belen looking cute!

Sweet princess!!!!!

Sweet princess!!!!!

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What is she up to with that face?

What is she up to with that face?

My handsome little boy!

My handsome little boy!

I can't believe how beautiful she keeps getting!

I can’t believe how beautiful she keeps getting!

I definitely need to buy a gun!

I definitely need to buy a gun!

So proud to be her Daddy!!!!

So proud to be her Daddy!!!!

And this little one is just so adorable!!!

And this little one is just so adorable!!!

Stopping off on the way home from Otavalo for some famous biscochos. Yummy!!!!!

Stopping off on the way home from Otavalo for some famous biscochos. Yummy!!!!!

Quechua woman in Otavalo

Quechua woman in Otavalo

We love Otavalo and plan to spend a lot of time here this year as the ministry grows.

We love Otavalo and plan to spend a lot of time here this year as the ministry grows.

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Happy girl with her gift box.

Happy girl with her gift box.

Joselito teaches a song to one of the leaders of the church in Tagualiki.

Joselito teaches a song to one of the leaders of the church in Tanguali.

Quechua mom and child after receiving her gift box.

Quechua mom and child after receiving her gift box.

Quechua Dad and child.

Quechua Dad and child.

Jake trying to look Quechua receiving his gift box:)

Jake trying to look Quechua receiving his gift box:)

Quechua children pose for the camera.

Quechua children pose for the camera.

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Excited children!!!

Excited children!!!

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A Quechua girl very happy after receiving her gift box.

A Quechua girl very happy after receiving her gift box.

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Isabela serving the Lord with a happy heart!

Isabela serving the Lord with a happy heart!

First Trip to the Jungle in Ecuador

Last weekend, some people from our church took a trip to Santa Ana in the jungle region of Ecuador. The purpose was to encourage and minister to the church there which is kind of like a daughter church to the one in Quito which we attend. The purpose also was to help the church by doing some ministry and outreach in the community. 17 people went, including me and my travel buddy, Isabela. She had such a blast. It was so awesome to see her jump right in making friends with the kids that lived in the jungle.

Our time there was very short, but very impacting. After about a 7 hour drive, we arrived Saturday afternoon and immediately started setting up for the weekend. We slept in the church which was basically just a one room concrete chapel with a tin roof. We slept in tents so as to protect ourselves from the mosquitoes and other huge flying bugs. As soon as we arrived, the children from the community started coming by eagerly awaiting for the activities to begin.

We then went over to the community area where some of the group led the children in songs, skits, and other activities. Isabela was part of a skit that taught the story of Zechariah. She did great. Many adults were looking on. Then some of the us decided to play a game of soccer with the kids. After playing for about an hour and having it handed to us even by children, we were all sweaty and decided to go bathe…in the river. That was our only place of showering or bathing. So, all the children and the adults piled into the pastor’s pickup truck and headed down to the river and jumped right into the cold stream. It was a great way to cool off.

Later that night, we gathered together for a prayer and worship service. We spent some time just praying for the church, the community, and the work that the pastor is doing there. We sang songs, read Scripture, and labored in prayer that God would move mightily among that small community where there is a lot of darkness.

I was so excited to go to sleep as early as 9AM since I was so exhausted from the long drive down. So, I climbed in my tiny little tent and passed out. But several hours into the night I was woken up by the sound of something like a freight train. There was such a massive thunderstorm and with the hard rain hitting the tin roof it was so loud that I thought the building was going to collapse. But it was awesome. I love being in thunderstorms under tin roofs. Anyway, the rain continued all throughout the night as I was periodically woken up by loud peals of thunder.

Sunday morning came and after breakfast and taking down the tents, the people from the community started filing into the little concrete chapel. By 9:30 there were about 35 people plus us gathered together to worship. I was thankful for being given the opportunity to share for about 10-15 minutes from the Word of God before the main sermon which was preached by the pastor that was part of our team. So, I shared with them from John 7:37 where Jesus, on the last day of the feast, stands up and gives an invitation to anyone who is thirsty to come to Him and receive the living waters. I really felt like the Word of God was doing its work as I looked at the people who were really intently listening and seeming to agree about how the things that we often seek in our life to satisfy that deep craving in our hearts just never seem to satisfy, and that only Christ can truly satisfy the longing in our soul because God made us with that longing so that it could only be filled by Him. So, I was so thankful to share God’s Word with these people and pray that seeds were sown. Then pastor Steve preached a great message from 1 Jn. 2:16 talking about the inner conflict that all believers face of wanting to do good, but always fighting against the lusts of the eyes, lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life. It was a great message.

After the service, as the kids were hanging all over us, we packed up our cars, took pictures, said good byes, and headed back.

On the way back, we stopped off in Shell for lunch which was pretty cool because that was the home base of Jim Elliot and the other missionaries who were killed while trying to reach the Waourani tribe for the Gospel.

Then, a few hours later, since I was driving my own car with a few people, I decided to stop at a beautiful waterfall in Baños to take a picture, and then we decided to ride the cable car that crosses the cliff and takes you straight to the waterfall, suspending you in mid-air over the waterfall so that you can take a good picture. It was really beautiful. Then we motored on and finally arrived back in Quito at about 8PM.

Overall, it was a great trip and I was really thankful to be able to minister the Gospel to a people that live so remotely that there are not many opportunities at all for them to receive the Gospel otherwise. I’m so glad that there is a new church there and that we were able to help encourage the pastor and spend some time helping him reach out to the community. I’m looking forward to going back again and maybe spending several days there helping provide some training or discipleship.

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Beautiful snow capped mountain

Beautiful snow capped mountain

Scoring some ice cream along the way in a town famous for ice cream

Scoring some ice cream along the way in a town famous for ice cream

Gorgeous scenery

Gorgeous scenery

Stopping for lunch in Baños

Stopping for lunch in Baños

Crossing a river to reach the jungle town.

Crossing a river to reach the jungle town.

Church in Santa Ana

Church in Santa Ana

Kids eagerly waiting for the fun to begin...

Kids eagerly waiting for the fun to begin…

setting up tents and hanging out with the cute kids

setting up tents and hanging out with the cute kids

Preparing for the skit

Preparing for the skit

Kids learning about Jesus through song

Kids learning about Jesus through song

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Team member sharing about Christ with an indigenous woman

Team member sharing about Christ with an indigenous woman

Indigenous child shows off her coloring skills

Indigenous child shows off her coloring skills

Cooling off in the cold stream.

Cooling off in the cold stream.

Isabela always so quick to make friends

Isabela always so quick to make friends

Isabela and Zoila (pronounced "soyla")

Isabela and Zoila (pronounced “soyla”)

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Piling into the pickup

Piling into the pickup

Sunday morning worship with the people of Santa Ana

Sunday morning worship with the people of Santa Ana

Me preaching the Word of God to hearts eager to hear

Me preaching the Word of God to hearts eager to hear

Steve sharing the Word of God with the people of Santa Ana

Steve sharing the Word of God with the people of Santa Ana

Me with some new friends.

Me with some new friends.

Beautiful waterfall in Baños called Bridal Veil Falls

Beautiful waterfall in Baños called Bridal Veil Falls

Me and my girl

Me and my girl

Hanging in the air from the cable car

Hanging in the air from the cable car

The treasures of a proud momma!

I took these pictures of my little treasures while playing with my camera. One great thing about Ecuador is that there are soooooo many great things to photograph. Yet, I found that the best are right here with me in our living room everyday. Enjoy these. ~ Maria

The prettiest 10 year old.

The prettiest 10 year old.

The silliest and cutest 3 year old.

The silliest and cutest 3 year old. And his chocolate face!

Why is it almost impossible to take a picture of him?

Why is it almost impossible to take a picture of him?

My best tween girl.

My best tween girl.

I love when I can capture his cute smile.

I love when I can capture his cute smile.

Learning to stand up on the couch. Busyness ahead.

Learning to stand up on the couch. Busyness ahead.

Isabela saved up all of her allowance for weeks to get a curling iron. So proud of her!

Isabela saved up all of her allowance for weeks to get a curling iron. So proud of her!

Kisses kisses!

Kisses kisses!

Speaking of kisses, this little one learned how to blow them on command. Kiss kiss! Muah muah!

Speaking of kisses, this little one learned how to blow them on command. Kiss kiss! Muah muah!

So grown up.

So grown up.

"I am going to cause people to chase me around."

“I am going to cause people to chase me around.”

Already exploring!

Already exploring!

Caught in the act!

Caught in the act!

"This bin of toys is so boring. I wonder what is in the kitchen."

“This bin of toys is so boring. I wonder what is in the kitchen.”

That serious look.

That serious look.

And that serious look too!

And that serious look too!

Learning to play together.

Learning to play together.

"I got to find something I can play with"

“I got to find something I can play with”

"Oh look. These are the keys to my new car."

“Oh look. These are the keys to my new car.”

Not quite liking beets.

Not quite liking beets.

"Please stop the beets."

“Please stop the beets.”

My handsome boy!

My handsome boy!

I love those deep brown eyes.

I love those deep brown eyes.

Beet face!

Beet face!

Doing school work.

Doing school work.

All these silly faces.

All these silly faces.

Silly girl!

Silly girl!

A yawn and a smile at the same time.

A yawn and a smile at the same time.

This is blurry, but I thought she looked so cute.

This is blurry, but I thought she looked so cute.

Looking for something to bite.

Looking for something to bite.

"I found it!!"

“I found it!!”

My favorite 10 month old in the whole wide world!

My favorite 10 month old in the whole wide world!