Well, well, well…and we’re back!
Apologies for not writing since, May?
But, here we are, back at it again.
So, to do a brief catch up:
June: we hosted a Merge team up in the mountains as well as celebrated five years of marriage and hosted some friends in our home.
July: We left for the United states where we spent two weeks doing Merge team trainings and CHIC and then we were able to have our last two weeks just with family, enjoying family meals, walks, and talks.
August: We came back to a Merge team that partnered in a rural church in Guachala and hosted friends at our house.
September: Hechos 29 came to Ecuador and we were able to help out the first week with interpreting, I also made and canned salsa with friends, we hosted some friends in our home, and were able to start taking pottery lessons!
October: We celebrated Richard and my birthday, had Merge meetings, went to Guayaquil to visit the family, got really sick, and hosted some friends from the USA.
and now, November.
We are in full, Merge team planning for next year mode with emails and skype meetings, and church board meetings as well as Richard will be teaching for a week in Acts 29 school.
We’ve been busy but I know that is no excuse not to blog (or send out newsletters).
So, here’s to starting again!
“See” you in a week!
P.S. This is wisdom right here ^
“What do your days look like?”
“What does a normal week look like for you guys?”
These are questions we get asked a lot (strangely enough), and we don’t mind, since it is a very different life we live here then our 7-3pm job we had in the states. And a lot of times we don’t even know how to answer that question…what is a normal week for us? What does a normal day consist of? What is normal? Haha!
It is sometimes hard to answer those questions when we sometimes don’t even know the answers, and I think that is okay.
It has been something I have been pondering for a while and coming to terms with myself (which has been a journey in and of itself since I am Mrs. Routine and LOVE daily rhythms and schedules and to-do lists and knowing ahead of time and planning and ALL that sometimes gets thrown out the window…what a journey it’s been, creating rhythms where there is so much static you have to be intentional and “listen” carefully, or when there is just silence and the rhythms don’t come easily, sometimes just in your head)
So here is our attempt at sort of answering a sometimes-ambiguous question. Here is our attempt at grasping at a “normal” that maybe is not our normal anymore. Do you get what I am trying to say? Maybe?
Now I need to start by saying we are always caught between two, for sure, etched in stone rhythms/routines:
When a Merge team is here vs. when a Merge team is not here
1. When a Merge team is here:
- Monday: with the team
- Tuesday: with the team
- Wednesday: with the team
- Thursday: with the team
- Friday: with the team
- Saturday: with the team
- Sunday: with the team
So as you can see, when a Merge team is here, we basically are 24/7 with the team. And we follow the rhythm and routine of that specific schedule for the week.
2. When a Merge team is not here:
And let me preface this by saying, this is how an average week could, more often then not, looks like. Some weeks, it does not even resemble this routine:
- Monday: Office day (Writing cards, answering emails, working on Merge and budget accounts, planning future meetings and teachings and preachings)
- Tuesday: Marriage Bible Study (We love our Marriage bible study group and wish we could go every Tuesday of the month)
- Wednesday: Bible Study in the mountains (always look forward to this, we usually bring some baked goods to share, sing together, read a chapter of the bible together, converse and ask questions and seek answers together, and eat together)
- Thursday: Meetings day and travel day (we try to use this day to schedule any meetings with pastors, church boards, and ministry committees)
- Friday: Restocking day, cleaning day, laundry day (we use this day to go food shopping, to clean the house, do laundry, bake bread and sweets, and this is our movie night of the week as well)
- Saturday: Free day, exploration day, and pancake breakfast day (it’s hard sometimes not to want to live for this day…I also like to call this day, “Soul Care Day”, as we use this day to do activities or not do activities to feed and care for our souls)
- Sunday: Church, preaching, meetings day, plan and prepare for new week (Sundays can sometimes be the busiest day of the week with a lot of times having to go and preach in other churches, or teach classes or have meetings with church boards and pastors)
So that, my friends, is an attempt at answering your question: “what do your days look like” as we continue to discover for ourselves what it looks like and means to us.
We just got back from a week in the mountain suburbs of Quito, partnering with the church, “Jesus El Salvador” and a team from Ceresco, NE.
What a fun, incredible week!
The team was made up of six lovely individuals, who came and partnered with the church doing construction together, attending the regular church services, and partnering with the Santiago Partnership and putting on a medical clinic right there in the church.
One of the really, REALLY awesome parts of the week was that we all stayed with host families. I cannot stress enough how much more you connect with a church, with a culture, with a family, than when you stay with them in their homes.
Of course it is hard, maybe you don’t speak their language, maybe you are not use to how they live, maybe you feel awkward, but it is so, so worth it! What a great way to cross cultural barriers and show your brothers and sisters that you care about them and you want to learn about them by being hosted in their homes. So beautiful!
So thank you Ceresco, NE team! Way to be missional, flexible, and open hearted! It was a joy to partner with you and the church in Quito!
I love having people stay with us. I grew up in a home where there was “always room for one more”, where a year didn’t go by that we didn’t have someone from another culture, country, or state, living with us.
My parents were always welcoming people in. And because of that upbringing and home atmosphere, our home, here in Ibarra or wherever home is to us, also has the mindset of, “Come”, “You are welcome”, “Be at home”, “There is always room for one more”.
How much our lives have been enriched by the dear souls that have walked through our doors, by the conversations we have had as we have sat around our table or stood around our kitchen counter or broken bread together…. what a privilege and a blessing!
In May we were able to host two lovely groups of people.
The first guests were a retired missionary couple that had previously lived in Ecuador. They were the sweetest older couple with a daily morning routine of him getting up and making coffee and tea for the both of them with a side of crackers and chocolate (so sweet!).
They were such an encouragement to us, praying with and for us, exploring a bit of Ecuador together, and in the end, introducing us to one of my favorite devotionals to date (prayasyougo.com)
(We didn’t get any photos of us together, but we did get pictures of our explorations with them!)
The next group we hosted were our very good friends from Sweden/Ecuador. We had previously stayed with them in their home in Sweden last year, and we were so excited to be able to host them in our home this time. They also came with her parent’s from Sweden so our house had English, Swedish, and Spanish all going on at the same time, sometimes all within the same sentence. It was such a lovely time and again, such an encouragement to see them and spend time with them. Beautiful people!
We also were able to host our sister friend, Esther! Who is becoming a regular guest and practically has her own room in our house. WE LOVE HER!
Thanks for coming and visiting!
And if YOU, the friend, family or acquaintance reading this, ever want to come to Ecuador and need a place to stay, there is always room for you. Come.
We are back from Mexico, back from a week of training, being trained, fellowship, laughs, and SO MANY TACOS!!! (oh how I missed those tacos!)
We are back from the Merge annual meeting.
And like always, it was a wonderful time of training, brainstorming, connecting and learning from workshops and guest speakers, and just being able to connect more to the diverse family that is Merge.
I think that was the biggest thing I took away from the meeting: how Merge has come to be our family…that even though we all live miles (for some of us, thousands of miles) apart, come from different cultures and backgrounds, represent different countries, we are a family; and each of our own diversity enriches one another. It is so, so lovely.
We also were able to take time to celebrate 25 years of Merge and Dale Lusk, the director and creator of Merge. It was a beautiful time of sharing of how God has used Merge in all of our lives to grow us, strengthen us, change us, challenge us, and connect us all, and how we have seen so many beautiful partnerships formed and communities and lives changed as well!
Happy 25 years Merge! And here’s to another 25 more!
A couple weeks ago I was able to participate in a holistic women’s medical caravan that was led and planned by my friend and fellow missionary, Annalea Egging, in partnership with Nancy Guaman, the president of women’s ministry here in the Covenant church of Ecuador.
We were also joined by Annalea’s nursing friends from the USA as well as different women here in Ecuador involved in the Covenant women’s ministries (including my dear friend Esther!), the other lovely missionary ladies here in Ecuador and Pia Restrepo, Covenant country coordinator of Latin America who also partnered during the clinic as a Spiritual guide/director.
It was an awesome team of women to be apart of!
The week consisted of general wellness checkups, workshops about the changes our bodies go through as women, and the chance to talk and pray with Pia.
The clinics were held in two different rural cities: Cuchibamba (which is on the outskirts of the city of Ambato in the mountains), and Las Delicias (which is on the outskirts of the city of Santo Domingo heading towards the coast).
Both areas were very different and diverse from each other, in landscape, culture, and climate. One was in the mountains, which, on a clear day, you could stand outside the church and see snow-capped Mount Cotopaxi, looming in the distance, and the other location was in the hot, humid, vivid-green climate of the coast.
Yet even with these differences of climate, landscape and culture….one thing remained a constant: the beautiful incredible women that we had the privilege of meeting and seeing.
I was asked to help interpret for one of the nurses that came from the USA to participate in the caravan and it was such an incredible experience to see and get to know the women that came in; maybe feeling a bit nervous, unsure, some with a heavy weight on their shoulders, but because of the safe space that was created by women serving and seeing women, they left a little lighter, encouraged, a little healthier, and, I pray, with a deeper understanding of their worth and dignity in who they were as women, mothers, daughters, grandmas, sisters, friends, and human beings.
It was a powerful week and I look forward to the next caravan in October!
I love how diverse ministry and doing life together can look, and this past March, we were able to host a team from River Falls, WI that was partnering with the church, La Paz de Dios, wayyyyy up in the mountains in a community called Lote 3, or in English, Lot 3, as they did ministry and life through milk tank cleanings, yogurt classes, farm visits, as well as other activities.
The majority of the members that made up the team were cow and crop farmers as were the members of the community and church in Lote 3. It was so cool to see their relationships strengthened as they talked over milk quality and production, soil and planting, as well as tank cleaning and sanitation.
The also really wonderful part about this partnership between the church in River Falls, WI and Lote 3 is that it has been growing and continuing for over 10 years!
That’s incredible and something that as Merge, we highly value and try to promote; long term partnerships and relationships, mutual encouragement and learning together.
It was a really beautiful week and we truly enjoyed being apart of such a lovely partnership!
This past February we were invited to the 70th annual meeting for the Covenant Church here in Ecuador.
We were invited to share about who Merge is and what we do.
It was so wonderful for me, as it was my first time attending an annual meeting in Ecuador.
In some ways it felt like a mini-reunion, meeting up with all the pastors and laypeople who we have worked with through Merge over the years.
Richard’s parents were also there so it was fun to, at least, eat breakfast with them and talk a little bit between sessions.
Honestly, until I became a Covenant missionary, I really did not know a lot about the Covenant, but through trainings, meetings, workshops, and personal study and reflection…I am so, so proud to be a Covenanter.
I really love who the Covenant is and what they stand for, and that love transfers over here in Ecuador…as a member of a Covenant church here in Ecuador, I find myself equally as proud and connected to the Covenant family as I did back in the USA.
And as I sat watching the different brothers and sisters that I’ve gotten to know here in Ecuador, mingle and laugh and talk, all I could think about was how lovely it is that the Covenant represents so many peoples, backgrounds, cultures, families, worship styles, and that through its diversity, we represent a bigger picture of who God is through this Covenant family, and even more so through this walk of faith in Christ!
It was a very beautiful time!
We love hosting and partnering with groups from the USA….but we also LOVE partnering with groups from other places around the world!
Not a lot of people know that Merge is open to and has hosted groups from all over the world, and not just groups that have a Covenant background either….Merge has hosted groups before that were from a Catholic church, non-denominational, Baptist, Lutheran, etc. It is so awesome to see God’s Kingdom work done here on earth through different denominations and peoples and cultures.
This past week we were able to host and partner with a group from Canada!
The group was made up of different Canadian Covenant churches that all met together in Ecuador and spent the week in San Antonio de La Paccha partnering with the Covenant church there as well as partnering with the Santiago Partnership!
We had a lovely week of women’s ministry, children’s ministry, youth ministry, as well as a parenting conference.
Thanks, Canada team for your partnership and for extending grace, love, and a willingness to be taught and changed!