Thank you Bethany Covenant

Last week we had a visit from Bethany Covenant Church in Berlin, CT.  We have partnered with them before doing a medical caravan 2 years ago in Quevedo, Ecuador.  Last week we partnered to do another caravan in Las Delicias which is about 30 minutes outside of Santo Domingo.  It was in fact a triple partnership working with Iglesia Misionera de la Valle in Sangolgui as well as with a church plant they are working with in Las Delicias and Pastor Hugo and his family, Bethany Covenant and The clinic and project in Cayambe.  The medical team saw around 111 patients in 2 days.  This is an area with very minimal access to quality healthcare.  Most of the adult patients, probably 90% had high blood pressure, two patients, high enough to send to the hospital.  With no ambulances or emergency medicine (we were in the middle of a plantain plantation) it complicated matters.  Annalea (our nurse working with the Santiago Partnership) and I (Kim) also got lost on the 2nd morning of the caravan.  We took a wrong turn and were an hour late for the start of the caravan!  We got lost in a plantain plantation!  That was a first!

We had a pediatrician and psychiatrist with us who were able to care for patients in different ways than a lot of our caravans usually can.  We were so thankful that both were busy almost the whole time.  Other team members were doing VBS and crafts as well as a pilate/yoga class and educational classes as well.  There were many working parts to this team and they embodied what 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians with many parts but one body all working together.

The theme T shirt for this team was “love needs no translation”.  They lived this out in each interaction they had with each other and with those they served.

Thank you so much Bethany Covenant for allowing us to partner in your ministry and service and for allowing God to use you.  Thank you also for your support and encouragement of our family as well as The Santiago Partnership!  We can’t thank you enough!

Check out some pictures from the time we were together this week.

VBS and playing with sidewalk chalk

Dr. Linda (our pediatrician) seeing patients

Fun picture with Merge and Santiago Partnership staff

Sunset

This is what the road looked like when we got lost in the middle of the plantain plantation

Our fearless driver when we got lost

Kim seeing patients

Medical team working together

Educational workshop with those patients waiting to be seen by the providers

Cacao and plantain trees by where we were seeing patients

VBS

 

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“Don’t Cry Over…Broken Teapots and Mugs?”


It was a tough week for ceramics in our house.  It’s summertime so all kids are home all the time which makes the probability of things happening a little higher.  The first accident happened in the kitchen with Ephraim.  I had worked quite hard to get this Japanese tea set down to Ecuador from the States.  I had packed it really well trying to keep it safe, placing it in between thick clothes and puffy supports on all sides.  I unpacked each piece carefully and placed it on the bottom shelf in the entry way of our kitchen.  I had looked at it a few times and thought to my self, “self, you should probably move this, it is in prime position to get broken”.  However, other things got in the way and it never was moved.  Last week Ephra was playing with the top of the teapot.  I told him please don’t play with that and even thought to myself again “self, you really should move that” and then not 10 seconds later, I hear the crash of little piece and see the top of the teapot in multiple pieces.  I immediately yelled period.  There is no way to defend it, I yelled.  I told him “that is why I told you not to play with it!”  (like that makes any type of sense to a 3 year old).  He just wanted to play tea party.  The immediate shame came as he cried and said “you scared me”.  (insert the gulping back tears emoji here).  I immediately scooped him up and looked him in the eyes and said “I’m sorry”.  Followed by many words of apology including please forgive me, even though saying that felt so futile after I had just yelled at my 3 year old over a tea pot.  Sure, did it have significance, yes.  Could the list of excuses gone on?  Yes.  But why?  I was wrong, so very wrong and I knew it.  Enough to know there were no excuses to be made, just the act of apology, realizing I had nothing to stand on but apologies and forgiveness-asking.  It’s one of those that I will remember and tell myself never to do again.  It’s a hard lesson to swallow.

The second incident happened a day later when I am in the kitchen again and the 2 older kids were upstairs.  I hadn’t finished my cup of coffee (which always happens) because I got pulled in to something or started something else and forgot where the coffee cup was.  I had used my special coffee cup, the one with my favorite colors that the kids made me a couple of years ago for Christmas.  it’s special and I think of them and smile each time I look at it and drink out of it because they did such a great job in showering me with love.  The know I love mugs, orange and yellow, coffee and ceramics.  They hit the jackpot of gifts when they made it and I cherished it, loved it as a reminder of how much love there is between us.  So when I hear the shrill scream of my daughter and the scolding voice of my sun and then running footsteps and hands grabbing mine to “come, something happened”, it’s a little unnerving.  The mug wasn’t on my mind at that point, only the kids.  Usually the shrill scream comes with a small scrape or a little blood on the lip or other wounds of childhood play with siblings.  But I come up to the living room with the smell of cold coffee and see the shattered remains of the coffee cup the made.  There was blaming.  There was finger-pointing and unkind words between the kids.  The were “awwwws” from my mouth, sounds of disappointment, but really just small twinges of pain over losing something valuable.  I try not to hold too many things too close in our lives.  Being mobile so often we often don’t have too much of our lives that we hold with us all the time.  That’s not a bad thing because those things are just things.  But when those things get lost or broken or damaged or consumed by many means, there can still be little twinges of hurt when you lose them.  Am I over-dramatizing?  Yes, yes.  I agree, let’s reign it back in.  Why am I even sharing this?  This blog is getting a little long to read, right?  Bear with me, there is redemption in the end…

I don’t share these because I like sharing my weak moments.  No one does.  But I realize ALL the time that my weakness are usually the things that bring change, redemption (insert other highly spiritual, holy things here), but mainly they just help me see I’m weak.  Life does that, right.  So as I reflected on my reactions and apologies and broken pieces, the verse about jars of clay came to mind.  I hadn’t really ever studied all that much.  I mean, I couldn’t even remember the passage where it is located.  But God put it on my heart and I wanted to dive in to see what my weakness would once again teach me ( SO EXCITING RIGHT?!)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but no in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.    -2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Jars of clay are pretty fragile, just like my ceramic mug and Japanese teapot.  Why would I look at myself any differently?  I sometimes wonder if Jesus just chuckles at us when we try to be like heavy steal drums carrying all our crushed, despairing and abandoned thoughts, when we really just should be holding our fragile, broken piece of our ourselves up to Him apologetically because we were never meant to try to be something we aren’t.  We aren’t steal drums, we are jars of clay that although put in the fire to seal it and “make it ceramic”, are still fragile.  Guess what?  It is OK to be fragile.  Take that in.  Being fragile or weak is OK to live in to because that is truly what we are.  It helps us to keep ourselves in perspective that our fragility is God’s canvas to make Himself known.  It’s OK to allow our weaknesses to help us in our journey because it helps us to realize our need for Christ.  Without Him, we would just be a plain jar.  But with God in us, we can stand.

 

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When family comes to Ecuador

Some often ask how our families are involved in the work here in Ecuador and how do they feel about what we’re doing.  Many missionaries have many different answers for that and I suppose we are no different.  Our families are involved in different ways and on different levels.  However, I think most missionaries will tell you that having visits from  your family to see what you do on the ground and living the day in day out life with you is encouraging and uplifting and just brings something more to you when family is willing to do that.

We had this experience recently when our niece, Brianne (Joel’s sister’s daughter) and her husband Colton came down to volunteer and be with us for a week.  It is the first time that either of them had been here and ALL of us were SO excited to have them!

Brianne is going in to her last 2 years of pharmacy school at Cedarville University and Colton recently finished his MDIV at Cedarville as well.  We put both of them to work and Brianne was able to use this time towards her international credits as well.  Colton preaching at our partner church Iglesia Emanuel and doing home visits with our chaplain and care worker staff for the Home for At Risk children.  He was able to visit families and children who had been reunited as well as families in the process currently.  They prayed with families and counseled them.  They also both got to know the children in the Home, playing UNO together, soccer games, pushing them on swings and just having fun as kids should.  Brianne helped in our clinic.  We soon realized she was “la experta” (the expert) in pill counting and we had her be in charge of helping with inventory of medications.  She also helped review all the inventory of the clinic and storage areas, order medications and go through medications for expiration and other needs.  We also did some fun sight seeing and relaxing too at the natural hot springs in Papallacta.

It was so wonderful to spend time with them and to get to know Colton better as well.  We see why Bri loves him so much!  We do too!  It was such an encouragement to see how God has gifted them both in their own areas of service and profession but woven their lives together.  We are excited to see what their future holds!

We are SO thankful they were able to come and experience life with us and see what life in Ecuador is like!

Here are some pictures from our time together.

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Breathe

There must be a theme going on today about prayer.  Sometimes we don’t know HOW to pray or what to pray or where to even start.  Sometimes for me personally I feel like “hey I’m a missionary, I should have this prayer thing down”.  But missionary or not, pastor, chaplain seminary professor or lay person, it doesn’t matter.  We will ALL have times when we don’t know what to pray.  But the redemption in that whole experience?  We don’t HAVE to know!  YEAH!  HUGE RELIEF EMOJI!  Let the pressure come off of your shoulders and mind.  I saw this picture today and posted it on Facebook.  This is how my mind feels a lot of days.  More times than I would like to admit, but it was such a great reminder for me that God can speak FOR us as Romans tells us:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.                                                                                              ~Romans 8:26 and 27

I was reading my devotional today from Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray and she has an amazing technique for prayer.  I thought I would share it with you here.

Breath Prayer

It is a contemplative way to pray that the early church used to practice “praying without ceasing”.

Let me know what you think.  I tried this today and I felt like the above picture of all the jumbled letters were in place.

 

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Do you want a Santiago Partnership fiesta party?

The Santiago Partnership is proud to announce a new way to have fun Ecuadorian style, all for the benefit of At Risk Children and the Medically Underprivileged in Ecuador. Introducing the Santiago Partnership Fiesta Box! Let us know if you are interested in hosting a Santiago Partnership Fiesta Party and we will send you a “party-in-a-box” that will contain several items that you can use to host an Ecuadorian missions party where you can share your favorite trip photos and experiences from your time in Ecuador. We will send promo videos that explain the mission of the Santiago Partnership if any of your friends/ family feel led to support us. Also, we will send you small souvenirs from Otavalo, Ecuador that you can sell for a donation to the Santiago Partnership at your Fiesta party. Items for purchase could be scarves, coffee, a doll, blanket, tagua jewelry, etc. Each box will be unique!

Our bookkeeper, Angie Eberhard, recently hosted the first ever SP Fiesta Party! It was a fun time for everyone who attended!

Email us at info@santiagopartnership.org if you would like to host your very own Fiesta Party!

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Pleasant View comes to Ecuador

Pleasant View Church from Goshen, IN (our home church while we were on Home Assignment) recently came to Ecuador for the first time to minister in partnership with our Home for At Risk Children and Medical Clinic in Cayambe.  We had a great week together as they ministered through medical caravans in some of the newest communities that we are reaching out to, providing Day for Girls kits to the ladies who came to attend the seminar.  They also ministered to the children in the Home through a VBS type time together that the kids loved.  The group also continued the construction on the 2nd floor of the Home and put up about half of the walls that for the entire floor.  We had a wonderful time ministering together in partnership!

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Thank you Coshocton Christian Tabernacle!!

Even before we arrived to Ecuador June 15th, we already had a mission team who had arrived a couple of days previously from Coshocton Christian Tabernacle in Coshocton, OH.  It was wonderful to have them as we had several of our Board Members/Volunteers of the Santiago Partnership that were a part of the team: Tim and Angie Eberhard, Richard and Tara Euler and Janae Stevens.  They came to help us do construction on the second floor of the Home for At Risk Children as well as they held medical caravans in nearby communities.  It was a wonderful week of serving together and a great way to start our time in Ecuador!

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Back in Ecuador!

Here’s what our bag situation looked like leading up to our trip to move back to Ecuador.

Then we moved back to Ecuador on June 15th and really everything went pretty smoothly especially considering the large amount of bags that we needed to get into the country with us without paying an arm and a leg.  We really couldn’t have had a better day traveling considering the fact that it was an international move with so much stuff so we were very glad for that.

It was so nice to be greeted at the airport by our missionary friends, Chris Hoskins and Annalea Egging and then we had dinner with the Hoskins and Annalea and spent the night at Annalea’s.  After that, we hit the ground running as we needed to get up to Cayambe right away to be with a Mission Team who had arrived a couple of days before us.

 

 

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10k Complete!

I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to post this update! We’ve been a bit busy these past couple few weeks with packing for Ecuador, moving to Ecuador and then jumping right into a mission team once we got here. I completed my 10k on June 8th with a time of 1 hour and 9 minutes which was 6.2 miles with just over a 11 minute mile pace. I won’t be breaking any records with that time but I was happy as it was my fastest pace with all of my long runs that I had during my training. We’ve raised $782 for far through GoFundMe for the Santiago Partnership. You can still give if you’d like to. Thank you so much for your support!

https://www.gofundme.com/training-for-a-10k-for-15-good-reasons

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Faith like a what?

I’ll be honest as I usually am.  I have been contemplating writing this blog for a while now.  I know it is something that needs to happen.  It is a good way for me to somehow organize my scattered brain right now.  A way to be able to put into words what I am feeling even though I really don’t know what I’m feeling.  That is kind of the space I have entered at this point in the journey.

 

This year has been a lot, PERIOD.  It has been full with visits, new people, new homes, old friends, coming home friends, family and more.   It has been trying new things and experiences.  It has been dealing head-on with tough issues and things I would rather not deal with.  It has been diving into deep rooted parts of me and trying to understand and make changes.  It has been finding and understand rest.  It has been about loving me for me and understanding deeper who me is.  So, when I say journey, that is truly what this year has been.  Now, we enter into a new space as we venture back to Ecuador.  It is familiar and new all at the same time.  We aren’t the same people we left Ecuador as and I know those in Ecuador are not the same as they were.  The ministry in Ecuador has grown and changed.  Friends have changed.  Some are there, some have embarked on new journeys of their own.  All is different and all is the same.

 

A lot of people I’m sure wonder what the transitional, missionary life is all about and why we do it.  I often wonder that too.  Sometimes I realize that I didn’t have things figured out last transition to the States, but now I do for this move.  Only to realize that there are a whole new set of emotions, decisions and things I can’t even name that I can’t understand.  Why would I cry over place mats?  I don’t even USE place mats?  I cried because those place mats had memories attached.  They were used for countless Christmas dinners.  It is a thing.  But this missionary life makes things like that simple decision complicated.  You can’t take everything like that in your suitcases.  You can’t hold on as tightly to things as I usually might.  To most, those simple things are simple.  For me, they are hard.  When people ask about this life.  At this point, on this day, in this time, it’s hard.  Period.

 

Simeon asked me today as we were packing yet another bag, ‘mommy, why did you start the Santiago Partnership?  Was it to help people?’  I explained about ‘call’ which I’m sure to a 9 year old boy sounds pretty interesting.  I told him that we followed what God asked us to do.  Sometimes, at different times in my life, those few simple words sounds crazier than they ever have.  To say to myself, I am following what God asked us to do when I have to say goodbye to my best friend and her family.  When my son gets off the bus and cries in my arms because his heart hurts that he had to say more goodbyes.  When we have to pack up and leave behind a family house that has so many wonderful memories.  Packing up our lives once again and deciding what is important enough to make the journey with us and what will likely be thrown away (for instance old photo albums, antiques and bluebird houses).  Do I know these are just things you may ask?  Of course and that is why the decisions are made for those things to stay behind.  There are not bluebirds in Ecuador that I know of.  But my heart still hurts because those things would probably stay with us if we lived in the States.

 

Would I change the call I feel God has placed on my life?  No.  There are some days, hard days in ministry when my call has been what has gotten me out of bed in the morning to continue.  Would I be happier here in the States?  Well, I know we would be fine if that happened, but I also know God hasn’t called us from Ecuador.  God has placed us there and if we were anywhere but the will of God, we wouldn’t be living life obediently or abundantly.  You don’t think about your children crying in your arms because they have to say more goodbyes when you answer YES to serving as a missionary.  You don’t think of what ‘home’ is or your lack of definition to that simple word anymore when you raise your hand and say “send me!”  You don’t think about the guilt or the goodbyes or the problems and struggles when you say “I will go”. You just…GO.  PERIOD.

 

That’s faith, right?  Taking that step not always knowing where it leads.  Going deeper in the water even if you don’t have a life jacket.  Jumping without a parachute.  It’s all crazy isn’t it?  Faith can be crazy and scary and emotional and a place you don’t understand.  I am there right now.  But part of faith is knowing that there is someone that is your life jacket, your parachute.  Someone that holds your hand when you take steps in to the darkness and unknown.  I have seen the evidence in the past that God doesn’t leave.  He is walking with us.  He’s holding our hand and guiding.

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