We’ve been here for almost one month.
And we’ve been running since we’ve hit the ground. Since we’ve arrived we’ve been full on with activities and Merge partnership teams.
We’ve hosted two teams this April, a multi-generational group from Berlin, CT and a group of pastors from the Covenant Church of Canada.
Both groups were able to partner in different ways. With the Berlin, CT group we were able to partner with a Covenant church in Sangolqui as well as in Quevedo. Actually, one of our dreams and goals as trip facilitators here in Ecuador is to connect a partnership team coming from North America to another team/church from Ecuador that is already visiting or supporting another church in Ecuador, in that way, both groups can go together to support and connect in an already established and healthy way. And that way, when the team from North America leaves, the other team will still be visiting the church/ministry and supporting them.
And that is exactly what happened with the group from Berlin, CT. We were able to come alongside the church in Sangolqui and join them on their weekly trip to Quevedo where they are planting another church.
It was so beautiful to see not only the two teams partnering together with the church in Quevedo, but also to have the Delps, Annalea, and Meghan (our fellow missionaries here in Ecuador) come along to lead a medical caravan. It was a beautiful week of supporting, encouraging, and learning from one another and bringing His kingdom here on earth. We were also super grateful for our awesome team of interpreters (and dear friends) who were also able to partner with us.
The other group that came in April was another step towards some dreams we have. The group from Canada consisted of four pastors who represented part of the Covenant church in Canada and who are, as a conference, committed to the Kichwa district here in Ecuador. Because of that, we were able to visit almost all the Covenant churches here in the Kichwa district which was a HUGE encouragement to the pastors and a learning experience for both. The pastors also participated in a church planting and church revitalization workshop. It was so great to see the dialogue happening and questions being asked and brought up and the listening and learning.
Other than preparing and hosting partnership teams, we’ve been connecting and reconnecting with other pastors and leaders here in Ecuador as well as planning for other Merge trips coming up this summer.
We’ve also been doing all the other “fun” stuff that comes with moving to a new country: registering our information in government systems, applying for visas (Elizabeth), fixing mission cars, house hunting, being stuck in the middle of a strike, and setting up accounts and keeping track of our budget, etc., etc.
Although it has been busy and go, go, go since we’ve got here, we have been really careful about prioritizing and making time to be with family and our friends here. We were so glad we were able to spend time with our family in Guayaquil for Easter as well as to connect with our fellow missionary, Denise, while we were there.
We are also learning and being diligent in making time for ourselves as a married unit and individually; to rest, have fun, explore and learn more about this beautiful country, culture, and people we live and do life with.
So with that, we are off to possibly sign a contract to rent a house and have a physical place to call, “home”.
Liz and Richard
there and back again…
We are back!
We are back from sunny, warm Mexico and are here again in sunny, cold Minnesota!
Wow, what a week!
Just to recap, we went to a week-long Merge Annual meeting/training in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
It was a week full of learning:
We had multiple speakers/trainers including, Alex Velasco, Dale Lusk, Reid Olson, Al Tizon, Mark Seversen, Nate Severson, and a local CPR/First aid instructor.
Al Tizon (executive minister of Serve Globally) and Mark Seversen (director of missional congregations) are a part of Serve Globally which is a mission priority of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
It was incredibly helpful and encouraging to have both of these representatives from the ECC come and share with us not only their hearts, hopes, and vision, but to have a willing ear to listen to us and share with us missional theology, and help us constructively figure out ways of bettering our partnerships with country-specific, national Covenant churches, other Covenant missionaries, and local churches and leaders. It was also just great to get to know them better.
We had a great time of devotions, enneagram, deepening our missiology and theology, deepening our relationships between other Mergies, laughing, eating WAY too many tacos, washing each other’s feet, CPR and first aid training, going over what we did well and what we need more work on, getting to know each other better through group activities, late night conversations about church, multi-ethnic missions, culturally contextualized faith, etc.
It truly was a beautiful, FULL, week of learning, growing, and deepening.
One of my highlights, though, was just getting to know my other Mergies better. I mean, we literally are expanding and come from all over the world. At the meeting we had Mergies representing: India, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Sweden, Argentina, Nicaragua, Chile, United States, Brazil, and Ecuador.
As well as those that were not present or that do not have a representative yet but we still go to: Panama, Spain, France, Uruguay, Taiwan, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Equatorial Guinea, Japan, Germany, Africa, and Guatemala.
I mean, it is incredible! And I am so honored and my life is so enriched by my brothers and sisters from these countries and from spending the week eating, learning, laughing, and growing with them together!
Now, we are back in Minnesota, embracing the winter cold, the ever expanding list of “lasts before moving to Ecuador”, and marking our calendar up with all things festive, Christmas, and family.
We are still hoping to move to Ecuador sometime in January 2017 but it really all depends on Richard’s citizenship interview (read more about here). Please join us in prayer for that! We already have the first of the two appointments scheduled so we are thankful for that!
With that, peace to you in this season of Advent, in this time of active waiting, of having confidence that what is going to happen is going to change and transform things and to be eager and alert to be a part of it, to be present to it as we create space to allow Jesus in more fully and more deeply.
R + E
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%….
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:
ONLINE GIVING LINK
Or go to our “Partner With Us” page to see the others ways you can support and partner with us!
Finding Joy .2
watching the sun creep across the floor while sitting sick on the couch
reading my friend’s deep and encouraging words on her blog
that birds still sing in the middle of winter (I can hear them now)
walking on the frozen lake at sunset
being able to celebrate (with my WHOLE family) my grandpa’s 91st birthday
traveling, with my siblings and husband, to the point, the tip top of of Wisconsin’s peninsula, which is Gills Rock.
stacks of books on the floor around the house
caring about my body
the noises the house makes as its warmed by the sun
starting my first seminary class!
dates (the fruit)
reading about Sabbath
this wooden table and beige blanket
meeting my dear friend’s sweet babe
free mondays and breakfasting with my sister
Today’s Monday favs:
1. first day back at work and seeing my sweet (sometimes crazy) estudiantes!
2. getting back into that sweet routine (finding the delight in it, and learning to be fully present in it)
3. starting new year changes (steadfastness, prayer, joy, spanish, piano)
4. better self-care (rest, creativity, books, walks, time, etc.: healthy mind, body, spirit)
5. the power of words (speaking truth, recognizing lies, speaking truth)
6. pottery time!!!! (#3 and #4)
7. laundry day (this and this=FUN! Thanks, Katie D.! )
8. the sound of pen on paper (so missed, so welcomed)
9. morning tea, midmorning joe
10. being organized
11. sun filtering in through high windows and crossing my work table
12. my job (spanish all day, children all day)
13. listening to sherlock holmes (audio book babes)
14. sneaky joy letters (sending and receiving)
15. my co-workers from spain (ONE WORD: VOSOTROS) No me digáis!!!!
a summary of 365 days.
Feliz Año Nuevo!!!!
For me, it’s always the dreaded blog post, the dreaded Facebook post, the dreaded Instagram post, the dreaded whatever-type-of-social media-post, that being, and decidedly titled,
“Summarizing 365 days of my life in two (maybe three) short sentences (or paragraphs if I’m feeling nostalgic)”
I’ve always had a hard time encapsulating a year as we move into the next one.
I’ve always had a hard time summarizing 365 days of living, experiencing, breathing, eating, laughing, crying, yelling, singing, whispering, dreaming, feeling, listening, hearing, learning, unlearning, failing, triumphing, growing, stretching, opening, closing, creating, taking, breaking, and all that is this….life. Living.
I can’t summarize it. I can’t encapsulate it, properly, that is.
Or maybe, I just don’t want to.
Maybe it’s my reluctance to let go of the year and all that has happened (the joys and sorrows) and embrace a new year and all that will happen. Maybe it’s growing a year older, now three years married, now 29, now not anymore in Minnesota, in the United States….change can be really hard for me.
But, like I mentioned in my previous post, I am learning to intentionally enter into and be apart of the changes and different seasons of life. And part of that process is, I think, not forgetting the past seasons, but learning and growing from them, carrying certain “experiences” over to the next season (or year) or choosing to leave them behind. And to do that, we must remember, we must reminisce, we must go into the hard places, the glory places, the sacred and holy places of life.
I think it’s okay to ask, “why’s”. And I think it’s okay to grieve that which is no more, that which will not enter into the new year or new season with us, even if we so badly want it to. Yet we can’t stop there, we can’t lose hope. We also need to enter the spaces of the past year that were holy and hard and remember….and recall, His faithfulness, His peace, His active love and sweet and gentle grace.
I suppose it’s a healing thing to do, that’s what people tell me at least, and I am finding that to be true.
So, I won’t let the new year, and all that has happened in the year we are leaving, hinder me from doing the hard work of being present, nor will I let it slip out of memory without recalling and remembering, without purposefully holding on and letting go. Nor will I let the year go without being grateful and giving thanks for another year, no matter how hard, how good, how lost, how grounding it was….I will choose to give thanks and I will choose joy and hope for the things to come.
So there, I did it. I wrote a “Farewell 2015, Hola 2016” post.
p.s. watch out, I did my summarizing in pictures…..
Farewell, Minnesota Christmas…….
I can’t quite let go of Christmas yet.
I mean, every year when December and the Christmas season are coming to a close, we begrudgingly get back into the routines of daily life, but this year, knowing that this is probably our last white, Minnesotan Christmas for a while, I am even more reluctant to dismantle the tree, the greens, the hanging cinnamon stars, and the cozy, stringed lights.
I am even more reluctant to end the daily gatherings at my parent’s or siblings’ homes, sitting by the wood-burning stove, playing games, reading together, going on morning, winter walks or evening moonlit strolls.
I am reluctant to let this season end, literally and figuratively speaking.
I know it is a process, of letting go, of holding on, of saying goodbye, of saying hello, er…hola. But still….it’s hard. It is a PROCESS. Just like much of life; growing up, getting older, experiencing sorrows and joys and mountains and valleys and days of triumph and days that feel like a failure.
This process of life, of seasons…..it’s hard stuff. It really is, but to resist it, I think, would only make it worse, as hard as it is, I am learning to be fully aware and to be consciously and intentionally apart of it. To be awake to the changes and the feelings and emotions of it all, to not let it drown me, but be okay with feeling sad or feeling excited. To be okay with it being messy and not exactly what I thought.
But the hope of process for me is, we do not have to do it alone. We are all in process, in different seasons, in motion, in change, but we are not alone. I am so thankful for the community of support around us, for our friends and family who have known or know that seasons and different processes we are going through and offer us their space and time to process with them. We are so thankful!
I am so thankful for Christ and how he intentionally and purposefully chooses to travel with us through every season and process, daily.
Just today, as I was spending sometime alone, thinking on the past year and how some parts of it were so hard and ugly and thinking to myself, “what a waste that time was, I wish I could re-do or re-live those moments and do things differently” or, “I wish I never had to go through that season, that I could have erased that moment in my life”. Instantly after I thought that, I felt in my heart, God saying:
“It was not for nothing, it was not in vain, it was not lost. The things that you think are dead are breathing in life again. In silence, I was and am there. I am in the grief. I am in the seemingly wasted years, in the mistakes, in the ashes, in the pain, in the unnoticed, in the broken…look closer, look closer, I was there and am there. I am there. There is no “wasted” or “lost” in me. I am NOT a passive Father”
And it is so true. He isn’t passive, in the waiting, in the silence, in the proceses, in the different seasons, he is not passive, he is right with us, walking with us. Oh, that my eyes would be open to Him. OH, that even when I don’t see or feel, that I would choose to believe. Oh that I would choose to believe!
So, in this process of “lasts” and in this season of change and bittersweetness, I am going to try to have my eyes wide open to each moment, to intentionally be apart of the process and the season, whatever one it may be, I want to be apart of it, not wishing it were over, or trying to blur the days away, but through the mountain highs or valley lows, singing out to remind my soul, that I am not alone and I am not alone.
So maybe we’ll keep the tree up just a little bit longer and we will linger just a little while longer in the moments we are together, and be thankful for this season and the next.
Still climbing: Antisana
We wanted to give a quick update:
While we were still in the process of creating this “challenge” we had two generous friends donate in the Antisana category. We are so thankful!
That just leaves us with 8 supporters left to give in the Antisana category! Woohoo!
Click here! to support us today!
Remember, you can give either 100 dollars a month for a commitment of two years OR a one time gift of $2,400. Of course, you can give whatever you feel compelled or called to give as well.
Thank you so much for your support and hope!
The Four Peaks Challenge….
We are SO excited to be sharing with you guys the…….
What is The Four Peaks Challenge?
The four mountains/peaks represent the four tallest mountains in Ecuador, which are: Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and Antisana.
Our hope and goal with The Four Peaks Challenge is really to make very clear our budget need, how we can get there, and the best ways to do that.
We’ve had a lot of people confused about how much support we need to raise and if we do indeed need to raise it all ourselves…..so, we decided to put forth The Four Peaks Challenge; a simple, clear, easy, yet VERY important way of partnering alongside us financially.
How it works?
We will start with the smallest “peak” (10 supporters giving 100 dollars a month for two years) and work our way to the tallest “peak” (90 supporters giving 10 dollars a month for two years).
We wanted to give our supporters different ways they can support us financially, thus the different mountains with different amounts.
Of course we do NOT want to limit people and what they feel called to give, but since so many people have asked us for the best ways they can partner with us financially and how to go about doing that, well, here it is!
Some people have asked if they can just give a one time donation, of course you can!
If you do wish to give a one time gift in one of the mountain categories, we have the totals below.
Remember: it is MONTHLY for a TWO-YEAR commitment. OR you can give a one-time gift equal to that amount:
One person giving $100/month for two years: $2,400
One person giving $50/month for two years: $1,200
One person giving $25/month for two years: $600
One person giving $10/month for two years: $240
Each week we will be sending out an update on our current mountain and how far away we are from the peak (or, how many more supporters we still need to reach our goal for that category). Once we reach the peak, we start on the next mountain! And by the time we’ve reached them all, we will have raised the amount of money needed to pack our bags and leave the United States and head to Ecuador to start ministry and life over there! So exciting!
We will also start sending out our monthly newsletter, which will also have information and updates about The Four Peaks Challenge.
So here we go!
Our total thus far that we need to fundraise is: $117, 600.
Starting next Monday we will begin with mount Antisana (10 supporters giving 100 dollars a month for two years). We are hoping within three weeks time we will be able to “scale” the mountain and reach the peak/goal of having 10 supporters giving 100 dollars a month for two years and then we will start the next mountain!
So please join us as we begin The Four Peaks Challenge! starting this coming Monday!
See ya at the top!
tea, toast, and an interview
Hello and happy beautiful Friday!
I am sitting down with my husband to a cup of tea and toast. And the music of Gungor is a lovely undertone to the moment.
And as we are sitting here, I am thinking of you and the best way to explain “Why Ecuador?” “Why Merge?” Why now?”, etc. And it brought a memory to mind of when I was being interviewed at a radio station and I clenched so tightly to the chair I was sitting on while being interviewed that my hands turned white and not even the strongest wind could have torn me from that chair. I also remember that my throat all of a sudden became so dry that I was having a hard time talking, even opening my mouth. So embarrassing!
Formal interviews are obviously not my thing. I would much rather talk with you like my husband and I are now, over a cup of tea (or coffee), in our home, with some music, the windows open….so let’s just go with that:
Where will you be living/doing ministry?
When will you be leaving?
How long will you be gone for?
Who is involved?
We are. You are. The Evangelical Covenant Church of Ecuador. Merge Ministries.
Who is impacted: We are. You are. Pastors, youth pastors/groups, local churches, and communities. Ministries, families, schools, and individuals as we partner with many different people in many different ways and as God uses each of us to bring His Kingdom here on earth; how He calls each of us to partner in what He is already doing. It is through God in partnership, community, and commitment that we can do what we do.
Why Merge Ministries?
It’s so beautiful and humbling to see how God works; even in the midsts of confusion and uncertainty, God is faithful. And how beautiful to look back and see where he has been leading and walking beside us and to know that He is still leading and walking alongside of us as we continue on with his call on our lives to ministry in Ecuador. Thank YOU, for being apart of this journey!
(being commissioned as short-term missionaries at the Evangelical Covenant Church annual meeting)