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!

Update of Life and Ministry in Ecuador Jan. 2015

These past few weeks have been fairly busy and really great! We finally feel like we are starting to get settled in as a family which the truth be told is not an easy thing to do after moving to your 4th new foreign country. But by the grace of God things are beginning to fall into place both personally as a family as well as in our mission work.

The truth is that ministry opportunities abound all throughout…both in the city of Quito as well as places in the rural Quechua areas. We are excited to see how God is unfolding His plans to us. We only want to be surrendered to His will and give our all for the sake of the Gospel going forward and the Kingdom of God touching lives.

In addition to the continuous opportunities opening up to train and equip pastors and leaders, we are excited about the things that God is leading us to get involved in. I have been getting more involved in the school in Pifo where our co-laborer Joselito is the Rector. It is a Christian school in the sense that they seek to provide a Christ centered education and learning environment, but the reality is that just about all the students that attend are not Christians and sadly even the majority of the current teachers are not Christians. So, there is a lot of work to do. But the good news is that there is a wide open door there to preach the Gospel and minister to the people the truths of God’s Word. So, I will now be serving there on a regular basis helping out as a Chaplain. I will be teaching some of the chapel services each week as well as helping lead a Bible Study for the teachers. But also I will be helping provide counsel to students who are going through difficult times. This will also give me the opportunity to start meeting with some of these students in their homes and helping minister truth and provide counsel to the parents and other family members as well. I see this as a tremendous opportunity to be able to minister the Gospel to the lost on a regular basis. Joselito’s church also has started a mission church on the school grounds in Pifo so that there is a place of worship for the people in the community whom we are connecting with. So, I will probably also start helping preach and teach in this mission church as well. I am very excited to serve in this way and be able to make an impact for the Gospel in the lives of at-risk youth and families. Please be in prayer for this ministry. I recently preached another evangelistic message there last week during the parent conference that we had just before starting the 2015 schoo year. It was great that God gave me the opportunity to preach the Word to about 200 or more parents of these students. I pray that the Word of God goes forth with power to change hearts and make new lives.

Also, another ministry that has opened up to us recently that Maria and I are both absolutely thrilled to be involved in is ministry to the orphans. The Lord has recently been showing us that this call to minister to the orphans, which is what originally led us to the mission field in Haiti, is still active in our lives and it is still something that the Lord is calling us to get involved in addition to the pastoral training ministry.   So, we started looking around and finding out what the orphan situation is like here in Ecuador. We have connected with another missionary couple who has started an orphan care ministry. They currently have connection with about 15 different orphanages in and around Quito. They are so excited to hear that we want to get involved and help serve in this ministry. Please pray for us as we get to know them and seek the Lord as to His direction for how we might best serve Christ through ministering to the orphaned and abandoned of Ecuador.  There are many different ministries around Quito that target both the orphaned and abandoned.   So, we are very excited to see how the Lord is going to unfold His plan. May the Lord use us to be His hands and feet to these precious souls.

So, as you can see, the Lord is certainly leading our steps and we feel that He is beginning to lead us into those exact places where He has called us to invest our talents for His glory. I am excited about all the opportunities that He is leading us into.

The opportunities for training continue to abound. I was just in a Quechua town called Otavalo last Saturday with my partner and we taught the pastors, leaders, and church members there an all day workshop on Inductive Bible Study. It was fantastic to be able to equip our Quechua brothers and sisters to be able to grow more in the knowledge of the Word of God and be able to be more effective in preaching and teaching. We have learned of a few other Quechua villages further north almost near the border of Colombia where there is an open door for us to come and begin a Gospel work where none currently exists. In February, we will be heading to one of these towns called Imbaburaka where we will be distributing Samaritan’s Purse gift boxes to about 80 children and doing some outreach among the people. I hope to get the opportunity to share an evangelistic message with the people.

There are other good things that are taking place, but space does not permit me to go further. We are excited for what the Lord is doing in our midst. We are happy to be here, thankful that God has given us the grace to persevere through the difficult time of adjustment, thankful that His sanctifying work continues in our lives, thankful for how He is leading us in service to His great name, and of course we are thankful for all of the people on our support team. May the Lord be glorified in all that we do to make His name known throughout the world.

The climb was almost completely vertical, but the view from the top was worth it.

Hiking with a friend. The climb was almost completely vertical, but the view from the top was worth it.

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Beautiful views all around.

Beautiful views all around

Marveling at the glory of God's handiwork.

Marveling at the glory of God’s handiwork.

Preaching an evangelistic message to several hundred parents of students in Pifo

Preaching an evangelistic message to several hundred parents of students in Pifo

My beautiful wife on her birthday...rocking a new haircut!

My beautiful wife on her birthday…rocking a new haircut!

And Isabela makes her homemade birthday cookies!

And Isabela makes her homemade birthday cookies!

Teaching a Saturday workshop to Quechua people in Otavalo

Teaching a Saturday workshop to Quechua people in Otavalo

We did an all day workshop on  the importance of inductive Bible study

We did an all day workshop teaching them the Inductive Bible Study method

My compañero explaining the importance of understanding context when studying the Bible.

My compañero explaining the importance of understanding context when studying the Bible.

The church presented them with certificates at the end of the day

The church presented them with certificates at the end of the day

Such a joy to see the Quechua people excited about all that they learned

Such a joy to see the Quechua people excited about all that they learned

They all made great sacrifices to attend a day of training.

They all made great sacrifices to attend a day of training.

To them, it is a big deal to receive this training and they are proud to show their certificates at the end.

To them, it is a big deal to receive this training and they are proud to show their certificates at the end.

December Update of Life and Ministry in Ecuador w/ pics

Here are some pics of things that we have done, both personally as a family and also with regards to different ministry opportunities.  We enjoyed our first Christmas and New Year’s celebration as a family living in South America.  We look forward to the coming year in the opportunities that the Lord is giving us to serve.  We thank the Lord for working in our lives, giving us the grace to get settled in to a new country, and for giving us opportunities to serve Him in many ways.

January will be a fairly busy month.  I am preaching at the school in Pifo at the parents conference on Wednesday, January 7th.  This school is led by one of our ministry partners and he has given me a wide open door to minister in the school whether to the students, teachers, and/or parents in the community.  I recently shared an evangelistic message there at their Christmas party. It went well even though it rained quite a bit and the party and everything was outdoors.   Anyway, I have been praying about ways in which I may get more involved in the ministry there.  For starters, I have been asked to help lead the quarterly parent conferences by sharing an evangelistic message each time.  There is one coming up this Wednesday,  so, I am thankful that I will be able to share the truth of the Gospel to many people in the community.  I also plan to start helping lead the chapel service there once in a while.  I think the school and community there will lead to some great opportunities to minister the truth of God’s Word to the lost and the broken and I am praying that the Lord will reveal His plan for my involvement there.

Also in December we began a monthly training workshop to Sunday School leaders in la Iglesia Bautista Universitaria in Quito.  We’re teaching them about biblical evangelism methods.  I taught the first workshop and it seemed to go well.  There were about 15 people there.  Maria will lead the next one some time this month.

This Saturday I will be heading to Otavalo to provide a training workshop to a group of Quechua pastors and leaders.  My compañero (fellow worker) and I will be leading a class on the importance of proper Bible study and interpretation.  I will lead the first two hours talking about the importance of studying the Bible in an inductive manner and the dangers of studying it deductively, and then my compañero will finish the last two hours teaching about the importance of context.  We are hoping to begin a three year training program there within the next few months.  Please pray that the Lord will call a church in the U.S. that will be willing to partner with us in this way.  The people there are ready and eager to get started.  We just need a church that is willing to send a small team of teachers and trainers every 4 months.

This Friday we will be having a dinner/meeting with a missionary here in Ecuador who has an orphan care ministry.  We are very excited to learn more about the orphan situation here in Quito and pray about ways that we might get involved in serving the Lord through ministering to the orphans.  Please pray that the Lord reveals His plans for us in this regard.  We have not been working directly with orphaned children since our days in Haiti and the truth is that we miss it and realize that it is something that the Lord has still given us a burden and desire to do.  So, we are excited for this meeting to see how the Lord might open up a way for us to get back to the ministry of caring for orphaned and abandoned children.

Then next weekend I will be making my first trip to the jungle.  Our church , La Fuente, has a sister church there and so a few of us will be heading down there just to provide some encouragement and support to the pastor there.  I’m looking forward to seeing this part of Ecuador.  I hope that the Lord would give us opportunity to minister in the jungle on a regular basis.

Then, in less than three weeks we have a team of two coming for our second training in Santo Domingo.  Our partner church, Christ Covenant Church in Raleigh, NC, will be coming for the week to teach New Testament Survey to the group of pastors and leaders in Santo Domingo.

On a personal side, December was enjoyable as a family.  As you know, Jake is enrolled in a pre-school program.  So, the school put on a little Christmas program with all the kids and it was just so adorable to see Jake all dressed up and singing his little Christmas songs with all the others.

For Christmas, we decided to head to the beach for a few days. So, we packed up the car and headed to the coast eight hours away.  Wow! It was a long drive.  There is a coast much closer, but we could not find an affordable place to rent there in time, so we settled on the coast further away.  We had a great time enjoying some fun in the sun.  The beach that we went to is called Playa de los Frailes. It was beautiful. The only bummer was that fishing was prohibited.  So, I still have not had much of an opportunity to cast a line here. But, oh well.  I’m sure the time will come.

Then, for New Years Eve, we celebrated it latino style.  The tradition in many Latin American countries is to “burn the old man” at midnight.  People make and sell big stuffed dolls that resemble an old man which is to represent the year that is coming to a close.  At midnight, they all take to the streets and set the doll on fire.  One sad and very ugly part of this tradition takes place during the evening just hours before the new year. Men (mostly younger guys) dress in drag style in a very vulgar way pretending to be the widow of the old man who is about to go up in flames in a few hours. So, they get in the streets and don’t let your car pass by until you give them a coin.  Very ugly.  I refused to give any coins and had a lot of people angry with me.  But oh well.  Anyway, that’s the only part of the tradition that is ugly and that we will not support.  So, at midnight, people take to the streets and set their old man on fire.  You also see people walking down the street carrying empty suitcases representing their desire and hope for good fortune to travel in the upcoming year.  Also, people eat 12 grapes, one on each strike of the midnight hour.  So, it was super cool seeing this all around us on New Year’s.

Here are some pics of life in December.  Feliz Año Nuevo!

Students in Pifo waiting for the start of a Christmas Outreach in the community

Students in Pifo waiting for the start of a Christmas Outreach in the community

Students having fun playing Gladiator

Students having fun playing Gladiator

My cutest little boy watching his favorite movie

My cutest little boy watching his favorite movie

Parading down the streets in Pifo before the start of the Christmas program.  School parades are very common in Latin America

Parading down the streets in Pifo before the start of the Christmas program. School parades are very common in Latin America

Little students singing about the birth of Jesus. Notice the live lamb! Que chevere!

Little students singing about the birth of Jesus. Notice the live lamb! Que chevere!

Me preaching the Gospel in the rain talking about why Christ came in such a humble way.

Me preaching the Gospel in the rain talking about why Christ came in such a humble way.

Jake's first ever Christmas program. So cute!

Jake’s first ever Christmas program. So cute!

My boy is so cute!

My boy is so cute!

Que lindo!

Que lindo!

On the way to our beach getaway.  I think this town must be known for their production of corn. Haha.

On the way to our beach getaway. I think this town must be known for their production of corn. Haha.

The beach was beautiful, but the whole area around was desert.

The beach was beautiful, but the whole area around was desert.

Gorgeous beach...and practically empty.

Gorgeous beach…and practically empty.

Fun in the sun

Fun in the sun

Gabriela having fun at the beach

Gabriela having fun at the beach

Brother and sister having a blast in the sand.

Brother and sister having a blast in the sand.

Observing God's great creation

Observing God’s great creation

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Isabela found a sand dollar.  Actually, she found three.

Isabela found a sand dollar. Actually, she found three.

She is so pretty!

She is so pretty!

Maria rocks in that hat!  Well, she rocks all the time...but I also think she rocked the hat!

Maria rocks in that hat! Well, she rocks all the time…but I also think she rocked the hat!

Teaching Sunday School leaders about effective evangelism.

Teaching Sunday School leaders about effective evangelism.

 

 

 

 

Wow! This country is absolutely gorgeous…outside of Quito.

We took a trip to a town called Papallacta which is about an hour and a half outside of Quito. I wasn’t expecting to find such beauty so close to the city. But lo and behold there it is. Once you step outside the big city and leave behind all the tall buildings and concrete you find yourself surrounded with amazing natural beauty. I am not a city person so for me it is a treat to see so much green. And I love that we don’t have to drive too far to begin to enjoy how beautiful Ecuador is in its natural state. I hope you enjoy these pictures. I hope they entice to come visit us in Ecuador. The beauty that surrounds the city is definitely one of the things I love about being here. – Maria

The scenery begins to change as soon as you leave the city behind.

The scenery begins to change as soon as you leave the city behind.

I love country roads with country houses and lots of green.

I love country roads with country houses and lots of green.

These mountains are so majestic. I feel so small just looking at them.

These mountains are so majestic. I feel so small just looking at them.

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We spotted waterfalls coming from the rocks and the mountains all the day up the mountain.

We spotted waterfalls coming from the rocks and the mountains all the way to our destination.

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These shrines give proof of Ecuador's catholic mindset. You can see then everywhere alongside the road.

These shrines give proof of Ecuador’s catholic mindset. You can see then everywhere alongside the road.

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Here is photographer in training, Isabela, taking pictures of the scenery.

Here is my photographer in training, Isabela, taking pictures of the scenery.

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I thought it was interesting that in such an isolated area they track your speed by radar.

I thought it was interesting that in such an isolated area they track your speed by radar.

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Our vehicle pared on the side of the road while we took pictures and took the view in.

Our vehicle pared on the side of the road while we took pictures and took the view in.

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The public transportation in Ecuador.

The public transportation in Ecuador.

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A small town nestled in the mountains.

A small town nestled in the mountains.

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Entering the cloud forest.

Entering the cloud forest.

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The more we went up the prettier it got.

The more we went up the prettier it got.

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The oil refinery. One of many. Ecuador produces its own oil which is good for us since the price of gasoline is so cheap.

The oil refinery. One of many. Ecuador produces its own oil which is good for us since the price of gasoline is so cheap.

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One of the many rivers we came across during our drive.

One of the many rivers we came across during our drive.

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A house with the river on the background.

A house with the river on the background.

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So pretty. My camera could not capture all the beauty my eyes witnessed.

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Always nice to see a "danger" yellow line near where you are driving.

Always nice to see a “danger” yellow line near where you are driving.

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An unattended fruit stand. I guess you don't have to worry about anyone taking your stuff.

An unattended fruit stand. I guess you don’t have to worry about anyone taking your stuff.

A narrow bridge we crossed.

A narrow bridge we crossed.

The river over the bridge.

The river over the bridge.

An oil pipe coming our of the mountain.

An oil pipe coming our of the mountain.

A town in the middle of no where.

A town in the middle of nowhere.

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You can have your car washed here. I wonder if they have you take it into the river. :-)

You can have your car washed here. I wonder if they have you take it into the river. :-)

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Another waterfall coming out of the mountain.

Another waterfall coming out of the mountain.

A river Cody wanted to check out.

A river Cody wanted to check out.

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Cody going down to explore the river.

Cody going down to explore the river.

We parked on the side of the road to explore the river.

We parked on the side of the road to explore the river.

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Going down.

Exploring.

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This is what Cody hiked to get to the river.

This is what Cody hiked to get to the river.

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The little restaurant where we enjoyed trout for lunch.

The little restaurant where we enjoyed trout for lunch.

Another waterfall.

Another waterfall.

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On the way back to Quito we noticed this beauty. It is a totally majestic snow covered mountain.

On the way back to Quito we noticed this beauty. It is a totally majestic snow covered mountain.

Gorgeous.

Gorgeous.

The colors on the rock.

The colors on the rock.

These guys are busy with a very heavy load.

These guys are busy with a very heavy load.

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I thought this sign was funny. It reads "mandatory detour" as if all other detours where optional. :-P

I thought this sign was funny. It reads “mandatory detour” as if all other detours where optional. :-P

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Another waterfall.

Another waterfall.

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I love all the green.

I love all the green.

Driving back to the city.

Driving back to the city.

Out of the mountain.

Out of the mountain.