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.