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 ^
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!
And we’re back from Thanksgiving!
Even though Thanksgiving and I have our differences, I do love the fact that it brings family and friends together, and for that reason, I do celebrate and give thanks.
This year was the first year that I wasn’t able to be with my family during Thanksgiving and so it was really special for me to be able to come together with our missionary family here in Ecuador.
I loved the traditional food we had, the fact that everybody brought something and participated in some way, and that we all went around the table and shared what we were thankful for.
But what truly made it feel more like “home” was the little things, like laughing while doing the dishes, hearing the cracking and popping of a fire in the fireplace, sneaking bits of food here and there as we prepared the meal, the coolness of a rainy Quito day, and the sweet friendship and camaraderie we share.
And although we didn’t do the traditional Grothe, “after-dinner-before-dessert-hike-around-the-circle”, we did do a hike the day after thanksgiving and listened to Christmas music all day. *happy heart* It truly was a lovely Thanksgiving.
This past week we also had our first guests from Minnesota and our home church in Minnesota, the Millers! It was so fun to spend a few days with them as well as hear home church news and happenings in Minnesota. It was so lovely to be able to show them our lovely country we call home! Thanks Millers for the love, encouragement, and visit!
And with that, we closed off our November and said hello to the much anticipated month of the lovely December, which will be filled with but not limited to:
- Christmas decorating and music
- christmas cookie bakes
- much candle lighting
- cozy fires in the fireplace
- Christmas services and celebrations
- Christmas movie nights
- rest, and rest
- Richard’s whole family coming to spend Christmas with us in Ibarra.
- I am so excited that I could pop!
The Christmas season is definitely my favorite: all the excitement, decorations, togetherness, and what it means for us as a people of faith in Christ.
That is why I absolutely love and participate in Advent, as it prepares us and gently leads us into reflection and preparation for Emmanuel, the celebration of God with us. God with us.
God, with us.
Hallelujah and Amen!
Bring it on, December! We are so ready for you!
this is my love language.
Even when I was little, notes and letters were very important to me. I use to have pen pals, I would leave little notes everywhere around the house: to my siblings and parents. I would write to my friends often and during college I would leave little notes here and there for people to find. I would spend hours in the stationary section in stores perusing over paper, pens, stationary, cards, etc.
I love the written word; the time you invest in sitting down and writing to someone, the fact that it is your own handwriting and not a computers impersonal script. It is a beautiful way to say you care about someone.
I also love the tools and art that go behind writing: a good pen (I LOVE a good pen!), a sharpened pencil, beautiful stationary, a journal waiting to be filled.
If you want to get to my heart, a handwritten letter or a little note is one of the ways. (and I keep every single one of them!)
Well, my friends, we are so excited to let you know that we have a mailing address here in Ecuador! A P.O. Box where we can receive letters and small packages:
So that means, if you have sent us your Christmas cards in the past, please keep sending them! We would so love to receive them and have a little taste of home, your home! It would bring us so much joy!
Or if you find the time and want to write us a letter, you would make my heart so happy! We would so love to hear from you! And we’d also love to write to you as well!
Let’s keep this beautiful art of the written word alive, whether it be through notes, letters, journals, diaries, books, or Christmas cards!
As you’ve maybe heard, Richard and I have spent the last three weeks of November teaching, interpreting, supporting, and getting to know the students of Acts 29 in Ecuador.
It has been a beautiful three weeks of not only getting to know the students, but truly growing with them, learning from each other, and being encouraged by their comments, questions, and by who they are. But before I go any further, it would behoof me to answer the question that is probably in your heard right now, which is, “what is Acts 29?”
A brief history*: Acts 29 or Hechos 29, as we call it here Spanish speaking countries, started (here in Ecuador) in 2004. It was born from an idea from Krister Gunnarsson (Swedish Missionary) and was made a reality by Richard (my husband), Peter Hermansson (Swedish Missionary), Marcia Baquero (Acts 29 main leader), and Samuel Gunnarsson (Swedish Missionary).
It is a three-month long intensive, international discipleship and leadership school with an orientation towards missions and evangelism.
It is based on the truth that God is the same today as he was when the first church was formed. The school gives students the opportunity to see that, as they wholeheartedly give God a change to be God and as they live by the principles of the first church and apostles’ teachings.
Each school is represented by at least two different cultures with the belief that the gospel is global and can be furthered by multi-cultural relationships and their understanding of the Bible and who Jesus is.
Through the years, the school has grown and changed, but always with the same original focus of living out the call to be disciples of Christ, globally and in our own homes.
Now Acts 29 has expanded to many different countries including, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, Sweden, Finland, Congo Kinshasa, Congo Brazzaville, USA, India, Spain, Russia, and Thailand. Next year will be the first time Acts 29 is held in Nicaragua and Alaska.
The director of Acts 29 is Carl-Johan Sävinger (a very good friend of ours).
End of brief history.
Footnotes: *according to my husband and the Acts 29 website.
We originally had planned on just spending one week with Acts as it was our week of teaching. Richard taught on prayer, the Lord’s prayer, specifically. It was not only fun to see my husband teaching, but to see the devotion he put into his teaching and on a subject that I truly see him living out daily and encouraging me in daily.
The last day of teaching we decided to take a break from the normal classroom atmosphere and we headed out to Metropolitano Guangüiltagua Park where we hiked to the top of the hill and had our class there, overlooking the valleys and hills. It was absolutely beautiful!
We then, at the end of the class, had a time of collectively praying over each of our countries and cities, it was a powerful, holy moment. It truly was a lovely week together.
Another aspect of Acts 29 is their practice week. Each month, the school has a “practice week” where they split up into groups and spend a week within a different district where they connect and support a local church or ministry.
As it turned out, the schools last practice week was here in our district, “Distrito Norte”. We had the privilege of being invited to support two groups, one here in Ibarra and the other in the mountains in one of the churches we are currently supporting there.
Another super encouraging, growing, connecting, laugh-filled, and food-filled week.
We were then invited to provide counseling the following week in the school as well as help out with interpreting other classes where,
I feel, we really connected and made life-long friends as well as strengthened previous friendships.
Even though it was something we hadn’t planned for, it truly was a joy to spend three weeks with Acts 29, and I, (Elizabeth), am so grateful to have experienced what was such a huge part of Richard’s life and ministry.
So, so grateful for each and every dear soul that makes up Hechos 29.
Until next time Hechos 29!
La historia continúa…..
Links for Acts 29:
1. warm fires at night (and if I close my eyes, I can almost imagine the snow falling softly outside)
2. decorating for Christmas (because here in Ecuador…..you start right after Halloween, THAT’S RIGHT THANKSGIVING!)
3. being creative (and making sneaky, little homemade christmas gifts for friends here)
4. cold nights (remember Elizabeth how you said you would never miss the cold…well, jokes on you)
5. wearing thick, wooly sweaters (that also itch like crazy sometimes, because: wool)
6. making special sweets for my Acts 29 friends (and speaking of sweets…)
7. being able to bake, a lot (it really makes me happy to bake)
8. feeling more at home in our church community/community (being able to say “Hi friend, how have you been?” and really mean it)
9. my husband’s carpentry work (seriously)
10. having a steady welcoming of friends and guests (wether spending a night or two or three or just chilling at our house)
11. candles, coffee, meditating/writing (every morning, every night. I need to buy more candles)
12. the company and solidarity of dear, dear friends here (aka, we don’t walk this journey alone or in this culture alone)
13. trips to the mountain every Wednesday (soul=alive)
14. exploring unknown roads (of course with music playing)
15. cow crossing (everyday, every time, we usually stick our heads out the window and look like fools as we moo to them or say hi)
16. the common greeting phrase of: “hola veci” (“hey neighbor”) (I LOVE IT! and it feels so Minnesotan that you say it to EVERYBODY you pass by or greet)
17. partaking in cultural traditions and ceremonies (the new food, music, togetherness, excitement in the air, rituals and traditions….nothing but love)
18. being able to make kombucha (kombucha=happy gut)
19. the mountains that surround us and how they look on different days (misty, mysterious, brilliant, like a painting, but always, always calling my name)
20. the eucalyptus trees that surround us (what a glorious fragrance!)
21. the 5 o’clock Ecuadorian shadow (aka: my life explained via light)
Now, don’t let this list fool you into thinking that it has been all rosey and peachy. My heart has been missing certain people, places, celebrations, and seasons like I never thought I would.
And moving to and living in a new country and culture has it’s moments of embarrassment (ask me someday about the time I went to the store to “try” to buy a large stock pot…seriously, ask me), confusion, homesickness, peoplesickness (as in, “missing people”, not “sick of people” or “people that are sick”), frustration, anger, loneliness, etc.
And life, as life anywhere lived, is filled with us: broken people, with broken relationships with ourselves, others, God, the world, etc.
But, in the process of dealing with these feelings and my/our brokenness, I have also been learning to be grateful. To take moments throughout the day to reflect on His goodness, His blessings, His solidarity, Him, as a good Father, His promises, and His words and what he is saying.
That is why I make these lists, not only to remember the joy of discovering new, beautiful parts of living in this culture, but choosing to find the beauty (whether hidden, in plain view, LIKE THAT MOUNTAIN OUTSIDE MY WINDOW, or just having to be searched for a bit more) in any place, any circumstance, and any season (even if that season doesn’t have autumnal leaves or snow or a routine or familiarity). AMEN? Amen!!!
Peace to you in whatever season you may willingly or unwillingly find yourself. This is a prayer for us today:
Back from the coast!
And back from an incredible week in Mejia!
We spent 10 days in the community of Mejia which is a couple hours from the coast. We were there with a team from my home state, Minnesota!!!! which made it an extra special week, especially since some of the team members are dear friends of ours!
The team was from New London Covenant church from New London, MN and partnered with the church, Jesus La Vid Verdadera in the small town of Mejia.
Mejia is another town that was greatly effected by the earthquake in April 2016. Many homes were destroyed, including the pastor’s house.
One of the beautiful ministries the church started there was helping rebuild some of the homes in the community of Mejia that were completely destroyed by the earthquake. The really cool thing is that it wasn’t just the church community in Mejia that was involved but a church community in Cayambe (over 7 hours away) that came down many times in partnership with the church in Mejia to help rebuild homes. We LOVE this!
It’s so beautiful when two local churches, whether in the United States, in Ecuador, or anywhere, partner together in bringing God’s kingdom here on earth in tangible ways. So beautiful!
And the really neat thing is that, two of the families, who’s homes were destroyed and were rebuilt, thanks to the local church in Mejia and Cayambe, were able to host members of the team from Minnesota that came down (as we all stayed in host homes).
I was able to talk with one of the families and they said it was truly a gift from God to be able to host someone in their home when, after the earthquake, they thought they would never be able to again.
Along with staying and connecting in host homes, we helped rebuild the pastor’s home. Because of a really rainy season, many streets and homes in Mejia were flooded, especially the pastor’s home because of a really low foundation (along with it just being unsafe to live in because of earthquake damage).
We also visited different surrounding communities, helping out with a children’s program, participating in two youth nights and the women’s ministry night, and at the end of the week, we rented two big buses and went with our host families to the beach!
I am not sure if it was because the team was from Minnesota or because Richard and I have really connected with the Mejia church community (both, actually) but there was such a unity and joy that week! (well, and let’s be honest, Jesus has everything to do with that!) We so, so enjoyed each and every person from the Minnesota team and the Mejia team.
We ate lots of fish, lots of plantain…we laughed A LOT (literally tears from laughing so hard), shared different cultural games with each other, made rice crispies together, we cried together, prayed together, worshiped together, sweat together, shared our stories, had a couple hospital runs at 2am (everybody is fine!), and were able to create such deep, great relationships that there were many tears when the time came to say goodbye (but just a goodbye for now!).
Truly, a restful, joy-filled, unifying week.
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
So here it is guys! The first mountain! If any of you feel called to give $100 dollars a month for a commitment of two years OR a one-time gift of $2,400, please click the link below which will take you directly to our fundraising website where you can commit to either a monthly gift or a one-time gift. We are praying for 10 supporters who feel called to give $100 dollars a month!
As supporters commit, each week we will be sending out updates and you will (hopefully/prayerfully) start to see the white “$100” dollar dots on the mountain start to be filled which signifies a supporter committing to that amount.
Thank you so much! We are so excited to see how God is going to move and how we are going to scale this mountain together! 🙂
Also, once you decide if you want to give monthly or a one-time gift on our fundraising website from the link above, there will be an opportunity to write a “Giving Note”, if you want, ( you do not have to) you can mention what mountain you are “climbing” with us, i.e. : Antisana.
Peace and Blessings.