words by jenny
As we have a alluded to many times before life here runs at a different pace, has the beat of a different rhythm than the life that we left behind in Chicago and that many are accustomed to in the US. And putting into words exactly what that looks like or what that means often feels like it escapes me. Often I feel like it is an experience that needs to be lived in order to be understood, try as we might to communicate what our life here looks like.
We are often asked what a “typical day” looks like for us. And while I can really appreciate the interest and the desire to learn behind the question, the question itself always makes me squirm a little bit because the truth is that there is rarely a typical day. Every week looks a bit different and everyday takes on a shape of its own. Our “job” is not 9-5 and our time is shaped by all of the benefits and drawbacks that come from that. There are days when we spend all day behind a computer and days that are full of meetings. There are times when we are traveling to visit project sites and pastoral theological education students in other districts. There are days filled with waiting in lines to complete governmental or legal paperwork or pay bills – often only to find that you don’t have all the documentation needed or the government computer system is down and you will have to start over again tomorrow. There are weekends filled to the brim with ministry obligations and weekdays that we can choose to Sabbath.
So, in an effort to share a bit more about what our life looks like here, I thought that I would let you in on those things that tend to anchor us. Those tasks and responsibilities and routines that we are constantly called back to – despite the other unknowns and out-of-the-ordinary opportunities that present themselves.
STAFF MEETINGS : Chris and I have been trying to take one long walk together every week and we have grown to affectionately refer to these walks as our “weekly staff meeting”. Since we began dating, we have always done our very best talking and processing while walking. So, with Otter at the end of his leash, we set out for a few hours of hashing out all that is happening – in our marriage and family life, in our ministry life together and with our national partners, in how we are processing and learning more about culture and language and concept of “home” and what we are thinking and dreaming for the future.
TUESDAY DEVOTIONS : Every Tuesday morning, the IPEE office staff gathers for a time of prayer and devotions – and coffee! Almost every Tuesday morning you can find us there, often with some sort of homemade baked good in hand to share!
COVENANT WORLD RELIEF : Covenant World Relief is currently partnering with two projects here in Ecuador. One is a dairy project in an indigenous community north of Ibarra and the other is a project on the coast in the city of Manta helping with continued earthquake recovery projects. We help to encourage and visit those projects and facilitate communication between the projects and CWR. We periodically host visits from the director of CWR and other board members as well.
OFFICE HOURS : Now that Chris is the interim rector of the seminary, he heads into the IPEE office for regular office hours a few days a week. You can find him there on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays – should you need him. He also meets every Thursday morning with the group of leaders that make up the Education Commission to vision and plan ways to move forward with IPEE pastoral education.
CAMPOBICI : Our kids have started taking mountain biking lessons and it is so fun! There is a solid group of kids from their school who show up for lessons after classes on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. It has been a fun sport for our kids to dive into and has been a great way for us to build community and make friends. And the teachers are amazing! They know just when to push the kids harder, when to back off and are unbelievably encouraging. We love CampoBici!
RIOS DE AGUA VIVA : Rios de Agua Viva is our home church and any Sunday morning that we are not traveling, you will find us worshiping there. We have been involved from time to time with youth events, preaching every once in a while and participating in church outings as well!
MENTORÍA : Mentoría is a group of pastors and leaders of IPEE that have been gathering to think through what the denomination here can be doing more intentionally to care for pastors and their families. We meet together every few months for workshops and to talk about more practices that can be put in place to create a greater culture of trust and support within the leadership of the church here.
SCHOOL : Our kids go to school, of course! It has been interesting to be here this time around and have our weeks and schedules somewhat dictated by the fact that we need to get the kids to school every morning and be there to pick them up every afternoon. It frees up our days in some senses, but we have definitely seen how it also limits our ability to travel together when ministry calls us outside of Quito. When they were babies, we would just throw them in the car and off we went! Now, we spend more time apart when traveling is needed.
COUNTRY COORDINATOR : There are currently 9 Covenant Missionaries in Ecuador. Annalea Egging, Cheryll Clark, Denise Garcia, Richard and Elizabeth Santana, Joel and Kim Delp and ourselves. We help to just call mission meetings and such, along with the Delps, to attempt to keep us all a bit organized.
MISSION TREASURER : I am currently serving as the mission treasurer which means I complete quarterly reports for Serve Globally, oversee the budgets, work with an accountant here to complete any reporting that needs to be done with the Ecuadorian version of the IRS and anything else money related that comes up!
LEGAL STUFF : The ECC has been working and partnering in Ecuador since 1947 and along with having missionaries, the mission also exists as a government recognized legal entity here. Back in the day, there were a few church properties that the mission purchased and the titles are to this day in the name of the mission. We are working (and have been working for years) to turn all of those properties over to IPEE, but anything paperwork wise takes a loooooooooooooong time to complete here in Ecuador. So, we also work with a lawyer to try and move that process along, as well as take care of a lot of other legal paperwork. Not our most favorite part of our job, but a part none the less.
ERRANDS : Just living life here takes up time in a way that has taken some getting used to. Many of the conveniences that we take for granted in the US just aren’t a reality here. We have to go to a special store to refill our large bottles of potable water. We have to go and get gas tanks refilled in order to have hot water and gas for our stove. We aren’t able to pay our bills online, and need to go to various spots to pay our bills every month. Mail doesn’t get delivered to our door so we have to go check a PO Box (and even then our mail often doesn’t make it here). There is no Amazon to deliver items to our door. We still need to use cash many places here which means frequent trips to the bank. We travel a lot and sometimes on some pretty rough roads and so the car goes into for maintenance regularly which means we are then without a car. And since everyone else in the country is also trying to do all of these things, long lines are the norm. And thus, all of this takes up time in our week quite regularly.
MONDAY ICE CREAM : Every Monday afternoon, we head to the tienda for ice cream. Sure helps you get out of bed on a Monday morning if you know that you’ll be getting ice cream just because later that day.
FUNDRAISING : Part of our regular work is also to continue fundraising and updating ministry partners on life and ministry here. We try to be diligent about it, but are always striving to do better. Let us know if there is something more that you want to know or learn about! It’s hard nowadays with such a wide variety of communication outlets to know where and what to put the most energy into, but we try to send out newsletters, Instagram and Facebook updates fairly regularly.
*if you want to be added to our newsletter list or want more information about becoming a financial partner, let me know!
SUNDAY NIGHT MOVIE NIGHT : A staple in our household for years and years. Every Sunday night we gather around our computer (cause we don’t have a tv – strange, I know) and watch a movie together. We spread a picnic blanket out on the floor and eat pizza and popcorn and get ready to tackle another week together. We have taken up a rotation system as far as who gets to choose the movie. The girl picks anything animated, the boy wants live-action classics from our childhood – like The Sandlot. I am partial to Disney classics or whatever has recently been released on DVD (we still need to see Coco!) and Dad is always pulling for an evening with “Documentary Dad”.
So this is a little glimpse. And in between is sprinkled visits from Serve Globally staff, extra meetings with ministry partners here, hosting all sorts of folks finding themselves near our home, working with teams or groups that come down to partner from the US, retreats and nation wide IPEE meetings and a myriad of other things that pop up. In many ways I feel like I can not even really give you a good sense of what our life looks like here with words alone – but at least this is a start. A framework with which maybe you can get a better glimpse of our life on the regular.