If the copious amount of tears that we shed as we were dropped off at the airport by our beloved entourage weren’t enough of a sign, our visit to Ecuador in February left us with no doubts that this was the place we wanted to pursue living and serving in. After re-connecting with old friends, meeting the leadership from IPEE*, visiting inspiring development projects through FACE** , and just knowing our way around Quito and being able to communicate in Spanish, we felt confident that this was an opportunity we didn’t want to pass up. Upon our return to Chicago we immediately got in touch with our friends (and yes, family) at Covenant World Mission (Serving Globally) and asked that they officially consider our application to become short-term missionaries. We filled out paperwork and background checks, participated in a couple of interviews, submitted essays and statements of faith, and finally, were accepted and invited to attend the two week new missionary training and orientation meetings, called METE***. All of this happened in a matter of a few short weeks, and we were relieved to get the ball rolling so quickly!
METE was a l-o-n-g, but important “rite of passage” that we gratefully participated in with around 15 other people preparing to go abroad and serve with the Covenant. Several people planned to go to Europe, some to Asia, some were missionary veterans who had been on a hiatus, and others were SO new to the game that they weren’t sure exactly where they would be serving at all yet. Overall, though, it was a great blessing to be with everyone on this similar journey as we tried to navigate these first steps into this field. Leaders from across the denomination graced us with presentations regarding their respective roles and their perspective on God’s Mission in the Covenant. Everything from HR and benefits, logistics and IT support, to core values and affirmations- we were truly made to feel connected to the ECC**** as a whole. One great blessing of METE was having the opportunity to hear from respected scholars, teachers, and pastors like Paul DeNeui, who gave us a crash course in Missiology, Soong-Chan Rah who taught on Cross-Cultural Communication, and Debbie Blue who led us through a powerful weekend of examining “Racial Righteousness”, (just to name a few!). Thankfully, we also had sweet times of worship, devotions, and Bible study to add to our fellowship.
Whew! What a packed two weeks (and I didn’t even write about half of it)! However, we are so grateful for everything we learned and the connections we made during that time; it was invaluable.
One of the things I (Kristina) took away from our sessions at METE was an encouragement to not think of this preparation and fundraising time as a precursor to our “real ministry”. It is easy to get bogged down by the tasks and support raising that needs to get done before we can purchase our plane tickets, but we were challenged to consider this phase as a vital part of our ministry! Gathering a community of committed supporters and partners is so important, and we are already learning so much more than if we had dashed off on our own, right away. Not that we want this phase to last too long, but already within the past month or so we have seen how our faith has been increased by the abundant affirmation we have been given. The fund raising that we had been dreading (for years!) has been really quite painless and even very humbling.
Finally, I want to make sure I mention what an important occasion our Commissioning service was. On June 26th, we joined the other individuals and families who went through METE with us on stage at the ECC’s annual meeting, Gather 14, and were presented before the denomination as vetted candidates for missionary service. We were then prayed upon by hundreds of people surrounding us and laying hands on us. It was a powerful evening where we felt so encouraged and blessed to be a part of the Covenant, and had a huge sense of support and care. What a great launching off point that was into this first phase of our ministry!
Thanks for being on this journey with us.
*(Iglesia del Pacto Evangelico Ecuador, or the Ecuadoring Covenant Church)
**(Fundacion del Adelanto Comunitario Ecuador, or Foundation for Community Advancement Ecuador)
***(Misssionary Training and Equipping Event)
****(Evangelical Covenant Church)