a bit of an update

Well, hello!

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.

Thank you!


Richard + Elizabeth

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Solemnity of All Saints

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
Holy hands
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







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October in Ecuador

We are back from Ecuador!

We spent almost the whole month of October there planning for next year’s partnership teams, hosting a team for a week, and spending much-needed time with our family on the coast.

The team that we hosted in October was from Dassel, MN (our home state!) and they partnered with the Covenant church, Piedra Viva (Living Stone), in the small, Kichwa community of Rumipamba.

Now, you have to know, the province of Imbabura is my all time favorite province in ALL of Ecuador. I don’t know what it is, but I just feel so alive when I am there, especially in the region we were living for the week. You are nestled into the roots of the Andes and all you can see for mile after mile are glorious, grassy, magnificent mountains. The air is crisp, the weather is the closest you’ll get to fall weather in Ecuador, and the people are absolutely charming and welcoming.

Needless to say, I was the most content Elizabeth there ever was, so that even when we had to eat gizzards and intestines, I took my little bowl and ate away, so that even when a strange trumpet alarm clock woke us up everyday around 5:30 am, I gladly got up to get an early hike in, so that even when I got laryngitis and almost completely lost my voice, I clapped my hands even louder during worship and song.

Oh no, in a place as special as this place is to my heart, no sickness or uncomfortableness was going to stop me. But what did stop me, almost completely in my tracks was the way God worked though the team, the local church, and the local community.

I will always be amazed in the ways that people are willing to step out of their cultural norms and practices, their comfort zones, their knowledge of a language, and their different backgrounds to connect. To share. To work alongside one another. To learn from one another. To be present with one another. It is, for me, one of the most beautiful portrayals and experiences of the big, diverse, multi-ethnic/racial/generational, bold, beautiful body of Christ.

I loved seeing North Americans and Ecuadorians singing together, laughing together, eating together, crying together, praying together, learning together, teaching children together, doing a medical caravan together, hiking up a mountain together, sharing each other’s customary bonfire snacks together, and expanding His kingdom …together.

We so need each other. We so do and not just a normal, culturally homogenized and important community, but this whole community of Christ that reaches far and wide and is not contained to a certain theology or conceptualized faith, a certain border or race, He is so much bigger, so much better than we can ever know or see.

It was truly a joy. Truly. And we left that week feeling refreshed, so cared for, and yet again, connected more deeply to how God is working throughout the world. What an honor.


R + E



























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grey space

Lo seinto muchísimo!

We are so very sorry!

Really, we are so very sorry we slipped on keeping you all up-to-date via our blog on our whereabouts, life, happenings, inside scoop, etc.

Communication and being present and engaged is very important to us (especially coming from a communication major), as we want to stay present and in communication with those who are partnering and walking alongside us in this journey together. So forgive us for the many months of crickets.

Honestly, it has been really hard to have a routine, to stay focused, to be present when we are in a constant state of movement, of travel, of living out of our backpacks, of Spanish, English, Spanish, Kichwa, Spanish? English? what language am I even speaking?, of dealing with new jobs (which are great!), new partnership groups, meeting new friends/cohorts almost every week…..and believe me, like you know in your own life, the list goes on.

And we’re not saying it is a bad list, but coming from a person that thrives in routine, that thrives on schedules and predictability…..this has been a hard season, this transitioning from one country to another, from one ministry to another, from home to home? There have been many nights I wake up and for a few moments, I don’t know where I am…if I am in my own bed in Minnesota or in some sweet, host family’s house, high up in the mountains or am I in my sister-in-law’s house on the coast of Ecuador…..

We are looking at a house right now in Ecuador that we may possibly be living in come January/early Spring. And the thought of having our own place, even though we will continue to travel, serve, meet new people, stay in host homes, live out of our backpacks….makes my heart sigh in relief.

But until then, until we have our 80%, until both our feet are finally on the same continent and not straddling the expanse between (although our hearts always will)….we will continue to learn to live in the unpredictable, the constant changing rhythms of routine, the in-between, the grey space, the learning to be present in the moments where we are not even sure where present is or how it looks, and the grace to hold it all together.

grace. that is truly what we are learning. giving ourselves more grace, others more grace, breathing it in as it soaks into every weary bone and burdened shoulder, and breathing it out as we extend our hand and heart to another brother or sister, another fellow human being that we are called to walk with on this journey of life.


R + E





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We have our tickets!

We leave May 24th and come back sometime in August.

As much as we are excited, we are also…..in sort of a state of huh?

This is such a weird limbo to be in.

We’re going to Ecuador…..

But we’re coming back.

We’re packing up our house and moving out.

But will continue to live in the US for a while.

We are quitting our jobs and saying goodbye to our students and co-workers.

But are still working on fundraising.

Honestly, we were a little disheartened to reach April first and have to buy round-trip tickets to Ecuador. Our goal was to be in Ecuador by this spring, and while we will be in Ecuador this spring, we will be coming back in the fall.

But, like a very wise and dear friend told me, “maybe it is a blessing in disguise” and we remember that. Sometimes we (ME…ELIZABETH!!!) are in such a rush to get from one thing to another, one place to another, one stage in life to another, that we forget this beautiful, step by step, sometimes seemingly slow, sometimes unnoticed, yet powerful thing called: process, journey.

God seems to be all about those processes, those slow (to us) processes. But he does things in them, he grows things in them, he changes things and renews things in them. I guess just think of nuts growing into trees or seeds growing into flowers, or babies growing into adults (no, don’t think about that too much, it will make you sad), or juice changing into wine, sweet tea into Kombucha? (hehe)…..a process. A growing, learning, changing, encountering, extending, expanding, enhancing, process.

It also gives us time to keep on preparing, to keep on learning, growing, connecting, forming partnerships, making memories, and just doing the daily habitual things that are so normal but so grounding and truly beautiful.

So, we move forward in faith that God can, in an instant, move us from 30% to 100%. And we move forward in faith that God is a good Father that can use this process to change us, renew us, grow us, stretch us, love us, and prepare us in his perfect timing, on this beautiful journey of life.





At the Grand Canyon….talk about a process!

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heavy hearts

Our hearts are heavy for the people of Ecuador. We have been glued to the different Ecuadorian news stations, skype, and email, in order to better connect and understand all that is happening in Ecuador, yet we feel the distance.

It was so good to finally skype with Richard’s family last week after the earthquake. They are fine but were very scared, especially Richard’s brother, Jairo, who, a half-an-hour before, was in a building in the coastal city of Manta, that collapsed and killed many people, we are thankful that Jairo is okay, but many of their friends were in that building when it collapsed. Please continue to pray for the people of Ecuador.

We have been so blown away by the unified efforts of so many different people, organizations, and governmental services that have been working together to rescue, serve, and rebuild the many different areas along the coast of Ecuador that were destroyed by the earthquakes.

We are so thankful for God’s protection over our family and friends in Ecuador, but our hearts mourn and hurt for the many, many families and individuals who have lost EVERYTHING. Some, literally EVERYTHING.

As we have been in contact with our family, friends, and different churches and ministries in Ecuador, we are beginning to hear stories. Stories of lament, of loss, of pain, and desolation, but also of thanks, of hope, of determination, of unification……and how much more as time goes on. These stories are important, so very important, and I hope we will give grace and time to hear and listen to these stories, not just now, but especially weeks from now, months from now.

I am so thankful for the ways the Covenant, the missionaries, along with many other organizations and denominations, are joining in on the efforts to help in healthy, holistic ways.

Please continue to pray as the process of relief, rebuilding, and recovery are long.



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finding joy .3

light. morning light, afternoon light, sunset light, sunrise light, moonlight, light, light, light! I seriously can’t get enough of the different ways light looks as it crawls across a floor, sweeps in between the trees, lays across my lap, flickers on the walls, diffuses through the curtains, agh! can’t. even.

heart listening. not physically listening to your heart, but more than just people listening. Really, truly, staying in that space and getting past that fluff and good stuff but oh baby, the richness is inside. Yes, teaching myself to stay in those spaces and wait, and listen, and ask, and listen…wow, the stories that are told! So important!

staying in other people’s homes. okay, I’m not weird, it’s just so…what? so…..honest and gutsy; to invite someone into your home to eat, sleep, use your bathroom, see your stuff, spend the night….it’s so vulnerable. and I just so badly love it! it’s so connecting!

jumping across streams. but you already knew that. BUT seriously, if you ever want to feel alive (and possibly wet)…DO IT. Okay, right, there are some…guidelines:

1. make sure you can almost NOT make it. gives you more of an adrenaline rush, more of a, “wow, I almost didn’t make that jump” feeling afterwards.

2. ALWAYS jump with others. because you get to laugh SO badly if the other person falls in, or you get to join in on the laughter after YOU fall in. either way: laugh.

3. ALWAYS preface your decision to start jumping (once you’ve found an adequate stream and have checked off numbers one and two on the list) with: “Okay, we ALL have to jump otherwise you ARE the weakest link. Goodbye.”


4. ALWAYS take pictures to document.

continuing on….

my sweet kindergartener’s reasoning. as follows (literally, word for word): “I really want the blue swatter, because….well, I just love the color blue, in fact, my SISTER really loves the color blue, actually, you see that blue wall behind you? Well, I love that blue wall sooo much that I just want to put it in my pocket and take it with me wherever I go…there, you see, so can you give me the blue swatter?” i die, every time.

flavoring kombucha with Abby. pure joy!

our small group. man, what am I going to do without those crazies!? I love you guys and have been SO impacted and changed by your honesty, stories, community, and friendship!

remembering memories of my grandparent’s old farm in Wisconsin. it’s the weirdest thing but every time, right before I fall asleep, a new, delightful memory pops into my head about staying on my grandparent’s farm when I was a little girl and man, I just fall asleep so happy and content!

the fact that Richard now likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. i really can’t explain it, he just…started liking it one day. well, maybe it’s because he said this one preschooler would have one everyday for lunch and he would wonder, “could it really be that good”. well, it is. it really is that good. i am so excited for the future pbj picnics we are going to have!

Jasne. possibly the best soup I’ve ever had in my life, made by my husband. It is so good. google it. make it. so good! *update: you can’t google it, I tried and it doesn’t exist, so you will just have to ask my husband to make it for you 😉

Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap. I could walk around smelling that stuff all day. “Is that soap in your nose?” “Why yes, yes it is”.

DARK CHOCOLATE peanut butter cups. no explanation needed.


With love,























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to Ecuador we….go?!?!

Sorry for the long silence!

I decided to take a break from social media for a while so I could really refocus and “unplug” (such an overused word but SO appropriate!) and just take. a. break.

It was really nice.


Well, a lot of changes and planning has happened and we are super excited to say that:




Now, just hold on a second…

we will be coming back in late August (like we mentioned in this post) to continue fundraising, but we are so excited that we can get started and join in on the different ministries and projects in Ecuador, start ministering as Merge staff and working with different teams coming down, start re-connecting and connecting with our friends and co-workers, and be able to start looking around for a place to rent…which we are all super excited about, but…going to Ecuador also means that:

we get to see our family and friends!!!!!!

It truly is such a blessing to be able to live and do ministry as short-term missionaries in another country where we have family and friends…familia y amigos….conocidos! (as they say!) 

We are pretty excited! and I would say that they are too!

(I, Elizabeth, haven’t seen them in over a year!)

So, as soon as we have our plane tickets purchased, we will get some dates up on the sidebar so you can journey with us during our summer in Ecuador and see where we will be and what groups, ministries, churches we will be partnering with at different times. We will also be updating here during the summer as well!


In other news:

We are still around 30% funded so we are still looking for supporters so please, partner with us today:

Click here: SUPPORT to go to our online giving site.

Anyway, that is our short, but exciting update for today and we will have more details later on for you!

We will also be updating this here blog/online journal AND we will be sending out our FIRST newsletter coming up soon, so stay tuned! 🙂 and give us your emails!

peace and joy,


p.s. here are photos of us jumping. why did I post these photos of us jumping, you may ask….well, other than the fact that jumping over streams is an activity that I think EVERYBODY needs to try at some point in their life, (it is also a past-time of ours, more like a…hobby?)…..it is really significant of the journey we are on right now. steps and leaps of unknowns, in faith. 




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A financial update…..

Hello! and Hola!

We have just about 30% of our funds raised now.

And we are hoping to have at least 80% by the first week of April.

We need to raise 67,746 dollars in 1 1/2 months.

Let’s just say we have been learning a lot about faith lately.


Because we are the new trip facilitators in Ecuador, we are required to be there this summer, starting June.

Now, the ECC has graciously made an exception for us and has told us that we can leave in June for Ecuador to facilitate the teams coming during the summer months, but, if we do not have 80% of our funds by then, after the summer is over and all the teams have left, we have to return to the USA to continue fundraising.

Our hope and prayer is that we would have (at least) 80% of our funds in before then so we do not have to return and can stay in Ecuador and start life and ministry there.

That means, starting now until April, (when the director of Merge Ministries is going to buy our tickets to Ecuador, which we are hoping he will not have to do and that we can use the funds we raised to buy the tickets instead, like we have budgeted and planned for) we need to raise $67,746 to reach our goal of 80%….

by April.

It seems a bit crazy. That is a TON of money, in a very short amount of time, BUT…..as I said, we have been learning a lot about faith through this whole process and we know that God is the giver and sustainer of faith, we just need to take our part, act, say yes, open the door, sign up, step out and THAT is when we start to see God reality, God initiative, and God provisions happening.

I love what is says in Luke 12:29-34:

What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bank robbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” 

Of course, we aren’t going to do anything without praying and seeking the Lord and talking with our close friends and family, much like the process of saying yes to God’s calling us to Ecuador in the first place. But we know that He started it, and we know He is faithful in every step we have taken thus far, and every step we will continue to take. 

So, we are asking YOU to take that step of faith with us, however you can. We know without a shadow of a doubt (although sometimes the shadow seems REALLY large and REALLY dark), that God is greater then $67,746. And that this whole process of fundraising is neither us sitting back, letting God do all the “work” nor us thinking that WE are the ones gathering in the funds…..it’s a partnership; He’s so relational, so close, and so intimate with every detail of our lives and yours.

We pray together: “Father God, we believe, help us with our unbelief! Strengthen us and sustain us as only you can. Show us today, in this moment, how you are working and moving and how we can join you in what you are already doing! Amen!”


Please click the link below to donate online:


Or go to our “Partner With Us” page to see the others ways you can support and partner with us!


Thank you!


The Santanas


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