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.
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!
I do hope all you lovely readers have had a delightful time of gathering with friends and family, enjoying each other’s company and conversations!
We were able to spend time together with our whole family (Elizabeth’s side), as well as have a little get-a-way with our family to a cabin up north to celebrate my sister’s golden birthday.
The days and moments that we get to spend with family and friends here in Minnesota have become even more dear and special as we know that in the near future, we will be holding them as sweet memories when we will be in Ecuador and a quick, “drive to hang out” or “catch up over coffee” won’t quite be possible (although we are hoping and are excited for visits in Ecuador!!!!)
But it is wonderful to know that we are not alone either in Ecuador; we have family there, friends there, and amazing co-workers (who are also friends and much like family) that we will be in community with.
The Hoskins (who are missionaries in Ecuador) just posted about their Thanksgiving in Ecuador where all the missionaries there were able to meet up, celebrate, and fellowship together. It was so encouraging to see and makes me realize just how important community is, no matter where you are, no matter who you are, no matter the circumstance…we need community. We need each other. We all need each other.
You can read about the post here: “Giving Thanks”
So, I suppose that was an update as to where we are at…uh..emotionally? And now here is an update as to where we are locationally, along with some upcoming travels:
We are in the process of…..PACKING! Packing up our house and packing for Ecuador.
Since we are almost at 80%, we will be moving out of our first *tear* ever *tear, sniff* apartment as a married couple and moving in with my parents! We decided that we really wanted to be intentional about our last days and weeks here in the USA about spending time with our family and friends, so we decided that moving in with my parents was a way to do that as my parent’s house is always a hub of family and friends stopping by….really. So when do we exactly plan on leaving for Ecuador……..
We are hoping to leave in January! But (and this is a BIG BUT….) it all depends on Richard’s citizenship process. Richard sent in his application to become a citizen of the USA!!! But before we can leave for Ecuador, he needs to have an interview with the government and actually get his citizenship (for many complicated reasons this is the best option for us). So, please PRAY that this would be a quick process and he would get his invitation to the interview soon!
Merge is having their annual meeting and this year it is held in Mexico! Although we are not technically in Ecuador yet…we have been unofficially working with Merge since the summer (well, technically we have been working with Merge since 2009, but not as Trip Facilitators).
So to Mexico we go! We leave tomorrow, actually.
We are so excited to catch up with all our other Mergies from, literally, around the world as well as have a week together to learn, improve our ministry, and solidify our team! Please pray for unity, safe travels, and for continual learning in how we can better serve one another and better facilitate cross-cultural ministry with our brothers and sisters all over the world.
Richard + Elizabeth
Every time I walked down the hall of the church, I passed them and I was drawn to them…to the rolling cart filled with colorful, stained-glass-esque candles. I wasn’t quite sure why they were sitting there but every time I walked past them I felt a deep sense of peace and sadness. And I wasn’t quite sure why.
I light candles almost daily, in our own home, and I’ve never really felt sad by their flickering presence, in fact, they make our house feel cozy and warm. But for some reason, seeing these rows and rows of tiny candles sitting on the rolling cart gave me a different sense than the cozy effect they have on me at my house.
Now, I did not grow up following the liturgical calendar, in fact, a couple years ago I had just begun to start to read about it and learn more about the rhythms of liturgy and what it meant in my own daily life.
I have been so thankful for this season at our new church (for many different reasons but one of them being….) for the fact that they do follow the liturgical calendar and through the days and weeks that I have been getting acquainted with the staff, the community here, the different schedules…I have also been getting better acquainted with liturgy, but not just through written word, but experiencing it as a church body, a community. It’s been beautiful discovering these different liturgical rthyms of the church and one of the recent discoveries I have had with liturgical calendar was All Saint’s Day as we remembered and participated in it yesterday at our church.
All Saints Day or, also known as, All Hollow’s Day, Feat of All Saints, Solemnity of All Saints is a mark in the liturgical calendar remembering, honoring, and commemorating the saints that have gone before us, known and unknown. This could be the canonized in the church like St. Francis of Assisi, the Apostle Paul, Mother Theresa, St. Hildegard of Bingen, or it could be family or friends, the “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before us and are now in Heaven. It is a time to honor their memory and reflect on their impact on our spiritual journey as a church body, family, and individually. In many faith communities, this day is remembered and the saints are celebrated by lit candles, wreathes, flowers, food, and even feasting.
As the service began in our church, they mentioned that they would be remembering and celebrating All Saint’s Day today, and at that moment I happened to look to the back of the church and there they were, the rows upon rows of colorful, stained-glass-esque candles, lit, flickering and I realized at that moment what they stood for, what they meant, and later on, as we all walked over and picked one up and brought it to the front of the church, I thought of each precious, dear face that is no longer here but has impacted my life and others greatly by their life, their presence, their own journey. I thought of Tico, of Mark, of my grandma, and of my brother-in-law, Christian.
And after we remembered, we prayed a prayer in unison. It was yet another beautiful reminder of common time, of God showing up in the daily rhythms of life, of the beauty of liturgy, and the impact our lives and stories have….of how important it is to walk together in this life, to remember, to celebrate, to cry, and to laugh, it’s all so bittersweet. So beautiful, bold, and broken. This life.
A Prayer Meditation for All Saints Day by Safiyah Fosua
We give you thanks, O God, for all the saints who ever worshiped you
Whether in brush arbors or cathedrals,
Weathered wooden churches or crumbling cement meeting houses
Where your name was lifted and adored.
We give you thanks, O God, for hands lifted in praise:
Manicured hands and hands stained with grease or soil,
Strong hands and those gnarled with age
Used as wave offerings across the land.
We thank you, God, for hardworking saints;
Whether hard-hatted or steel-booted,
Head ragged or aproned,
Blue-collared or three-piece-suited
They left their mark on the earth for you, for us, for our children to come.
Thank you, God, for the tremendous sacrifices made by those who have gone before us.
Bless the memories of your saints, God.
May we learn how to walk wisely from their examples of faith, dedication, worship, and love.
R + E