On Saturday our fellow missionary friends threw us an “hasta luego” or see you later party as we prepare to leave for home assignment. We invited many of our friends, colleagues, and partners in ministry to say goodbye and to just sit and enjoy each other’s company. We enjoyed seeing the people we serve together with and do life with here in Ecuador. We will miss Ecuador, we will miss our friends who have come to be like family. We so appreciate our fellow missionaries who love us well and encourage us and stand beside us. Thank you for sending us off well. Thank you to our partners in ministry for encouraging us and standing beside us. We will see you later!
Written by Tara Euler, Santiago Partnership Board Member
I was so fortunate to be able to attend the Casa Hogar one year anniversary this past week. It is almost hard to believe that from the opening last June, this beautiful house is now home to 17 children. There were presentations, food and music, but the stars of the day were the kids. It is a credit to all involved that this is not just a roof over their heads and food to eat. These children now have an extended family who love and care for them. From the house parents and employees of the home to the neighbors from the local church; Iglesia Emanuel and community, local law enforcement and government and medical staff of the Centro Medico Emanuel; everyone is a member of their family.
There is no shortage of hugs and smiles. The children are making strides in all areas of their lives. One thing that struck me in particular was the dance and music presentations. In order for children to express their talents in this area, their other needs must be met. A child who is hungry cannot dance. A child who lives in fear does not sing. The community has come together to welcome these children as their own. Children of staff members become sisters to the girls at the home. Boys become the sons of the local pastors and staff. These children now have someone to look up to, someone to model their own lives after.
With these relationships come hope for for their futures. A child from an abusive home now sees a father who does not hit, who does not scold but supports and encourages. A young woman experiences relationships with adults who are not looking to take anything from her, but to give to her unconditional love and support. She experiences, perhaps for the first time, a place where she can learn to live as a young woman who deserves love and respect because she is a child of God. A child from a home dominated by substance abuse now sees adults who are there every day and are the people who take care of their basic needs so that they can begin to learn. Some of these children are attending school for the very first time in their lives. They are able to be “normal” kids.
I am so very thankful to be a small part of this project. I am proud to be associated with the Santiago Partnership – an international partnership of people who care. This home has been carefully thought out from the beginning, anticipating and responding to the needs of these children. The children have access to psychologists, social workers, tutors, medical care and schooling. The impact of Casa Hogar goes beyond the children who live there, it impacts their families and helps to strengthen the broader community. So, celebrate with me the one year anniversary of Casa Hogar!
Yesterday, June 11, Simeon was baptized at our home church, Iglesia El Salvador. It was a wonderful day to reflect on the events and people that led up to this day. Simeon was able to have his teacher and family, his chaplain and a teacher that has been working with Simeon all year. Joel shared about it taking a village to raise a child and we are so thankful to have a village around us to help. We are thankful to see how God has worked through these people and how God has worked in Simeon. He has changed, Jesus has changed him and has made him a different kid which is what he prayed for. What a blessing he is and what a blessing to be able to witness this amazing event!
I seem to be in an interesting spot these days as we prepare for a year of home assignment in the States. I recently read a blog I had written as we were going to be returning back from the States to be long term missionaries. You may wonder what missionaries think or feel or react when they are preparing for home assignment or furlough. It’s an interesting place to be and by interesting I mean overwhelming and strange and foreign and exciting and scary all wrapped in to one. It’s hard to pin point one feeling or reaction or thought because there are just too many. I’m trying to write this blog to make sense and put in to words what is in my mind and my heart.
The honest truth is that it has taken quite a while to get used to the idea of going back to the States for a year. We try as missionaries so hard to immerse ourselves in our country of service by learning the language, raising our kids, doing ministry together, learning culture, trying to be accepted and now we go back to our passport country, a place that should feel like home, but seems to be more of distant memory of familiar, things that were comfortable but now feel foreign and overwhelming.
I was listening to a song today, because, well it seems God always seems to touch my heart through melodies and words that seem to express the things my own words can’t. SO, I’m listening to a song today from when I was younger. It reminded me how easy it was then to say Hallelujah and to take leaps of faith, giant leaps of faith without thinking. Then, I always wondered why those who were wiser than me struggled so much with these leaps. They didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. But now, NOW, thinking of those leaps scares me to death sometimes. It’s harder now. Maybe it is the life experience from then to now. Knowing I’m not invincible, knowing that death happens, unfair things happen to good people, I’ve seen it and experienced it. So, when we say Hallelujah, to me it means that whatever is in front of us, whether we know what it is or not, we will say Hallelujah. That is SO hard. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, or a week from now or next year. As I prepare to step in to the overwhelming unfamiliar, I ask God to help me to say Hallelujah, no matter what the future holds. I’m learning, I’m trying to choose Christ over the fear.
In good Kim fashion I am posting the song that started this whole thought process.
This week, members of the Santiago Partnership team had the privilege to work with 2nd year medical students from Michigan State University in Cayambe. The students prepared a 7 station medical clinic to give individuals and families a general check up and then refer them to our clinic. On Friday and Saturday, the students saw around 250 patients in the central park of Cayambe. There were different stations for checking heart and lung sounds, ears and then cleaning them, eyes and then providing lenses, lung function, nutrition information and blood pressure, height and weight as well as education about teeth! It was an honor to work with these students and future doctors. They came with hearts to serve and they served indeed! A special shout out to Sarna Becker, a good friend and missionary who put this whole idea together! What an example you all are!
This past week we partnered with the Evangelical Covenant Church of Ceresco, NE to serve alongside the local church Primavera Alto in holding a medical caravan for their surrounding community in Quito. During the week, we saw around 150 patients and held a day of educational workshops. It was fantastic week of serving together uniting the local church to serve through the local church.
Yes, that’s right. Very soon we will be coming to a church near you. On June 20th, we fly to Minneapolis, MN to be a part of the Covenant’s Annual Meeting which will be held there. From the Annual Meeting, we will begin a process of over a month of consistent travel (visiting churches in Minnesota, Canada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island) before we settle into our home for a year in Goshen, IN. We will be living in my (Joel) parent’s house as my dad is now living in a retirement home. My dad is also going to let us to use his car for the year so some of the essentials for our year of Home Assignment are already taken care of. Though it will be difficult to be away from our friends, our ministry and our home in Ecuador for a whole year, we are really excited to see the family and friends that we will be able to spend time with this year while we are in the States. Please pray for us during this crazy time of transition and travel that we can remain sane. We will see you soon!
This week the Santiago Partnership had the privilege to partner with a group of women who served the women of Ecuador in Ambato and Las Delicias, near Santo Domingo. The group was made up of three Nurse Practitioners, a nurse, a “Jill of all trades”, a pastor and spiritual director from the States. We had multiple Ecuadorian ladies who also partnered, including the head of the national ministry of women for the Evangelical Covenant Church and others from Ambato, Las Delicias and other places too. Additionally, four of the missionary ladies here in Ecuador were also able to join. This caravan was all women, serving women and was lead by one of our own from the Santiago Partnership, Annalea Egging. It was a great week as women were seen for many ailments, treated in ways in which they would maybe not have been given treatment, cared for, encouraged and prayed over.
A HUGE thank you to Annalea for all her prep and leadership and thank you to ALL the ladies who gave of their time to serve in Ecuador.
Are you interested in being part of something like this? We can use anyone who is a women and would like to serve. Every 6 months, we are trying to do a women’s caravan such as this. The next one is scheduled for October of 2018. If you are interested, please contact the Santiago Partnership: email@example.com or Annalea Egging: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to our friends Vanessa Alleruzzo and Janelle Fountas as they are heading home after three months of volunteering with us in the area of Occupational Therapy. They served the Medical Clinic as well as the Home for At Risk Children and also reached out to a school for Disabled Children in Cayambe. It has been a great time of partnership and serving together. You will be missed!
This past weekend we were blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the Ecuador Field Missionary Retreat. Our Regional Coordinators, Pia & Eugenio Restrepo, were able to come down lead us in our time of devotions. In addition to this, we also had a special family, the Bulgrins, who were able to come down from their home in Omaha, NE to be with us and for the sole purpose of watching all of our kids during the retreat. It was so nice to be able to worship and have our time of devotion knowing that our kids were in good hands and were having a great time. It was truly a time of rest and relaxation in the midst of an incredibly busy schedule that we have had.