Well done…

There are people that come in to our lives that seem bigger than life. They seem to have this place and presence in our lives and we naively think that they will always be there. We know of course logically that doesn’t happen, but we don’t think about saying goodbye or about what life looks like or feels like when they are not there. There are not words for life like that. So, we struggle to find words to put finality to time here on earth. To find words sufficient enough to explain the presence of someone in our lives.  We want to just take a bit of time to pay tribute and give memory to a pillar in our lives.

Myrna Randall was one of the biggest cheerleaders we had in our lives. She was always present for encouragement and words to lift us up and they usually came on days when encouragement was just what we needed. Every time we were around she was always there with a hug that we needed and sweet words. You always left her presence feeling better than when you came. I (Kim) talk a lot about radical hospitality, and Myrna was an example of radical hospitality, going above and beyond in presence, words, encouragement.

The shoes that Myrna filled were great and you can’t replace the hole that is left in our hearts. We take with us lessons taught us through sweet presence and hospitality in all senses of what that is. We rest knowing we will meet again, but our hearts hurt for the hole left in us on earth. Myrna touched so many lives and you couldn’t be with her long before you just felt better. We are better people for her presence in our lives and we are so grateful. We hope we can carry the lessons and example given by Myrna to our lives, ministry and presence. Thank you Myrna, well done friend.

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In the Valley There is Confidence

In the Valley, there is Confidence…
It seems like an oxymoron, right? Confidence when we are in the valley? What does that even mean? I don’t know about you, but confidence is usually not what I am feeling when I am in the valley. I was recently listening to a song that had this phrase in it.
Through your story is My fingerprint
In the valley there is confidence
In the shadow, I will be your strength
One thing’s for sure, I am your Lord
Yes, I am
I am, I am
Through the chaos, I will be your joy
When you’re finished, I have so much more
In the waiting, I’m an open door
Stand still and know, I am your Lord
They’ll be times when you’re up
And times when you’re down
I’m never too far
Just look around and you’ll find Me
I’m by your side, arms open wide
I am good, you are loved
Oh, I am good, you are loved
Oh, yes, you are loved, you are loved
What was and is, is covered
By the One who was and is
You’re covered by love
What was and is, is covered
By the One who was and is
You’re covered by love
Through this whole song, as beautiful as it is, it still sticks out to me, this line, in the VALLEY, there is CONFIDENCE. Confidence meaning FIRM TRUST. Another definition I saw says, “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” Now, I don’t know about you, but when I am in the valley, there is nothing that says self-assurance, my own abilities or qualities. Usually it is the complete opposite of all of those things.
As I was writing this, I was reminded of the beautiful book of James. It is always so full of wisdom, but this passage always gets me saying:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
PURE JOY, REALLY?
Again, that seems crazy to me similar to feeling confident in the valley.
IN 2 Corinthians 12 it says:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Boasting in weakness, power made perfect in weakness? All of this. It is all so good, right? It is. And you may be wondering where I am going with this. Well, what do all of these have in common?
NONE OF THEM can be done on their own and ALL OF THEM shows us how insane need for Jesus. I’m sure that brings you joy right there, but there’s more! The great thing is, we are better for it. We weren’t meant to do this alone, we are meant to live in this mess WITH Jesus. Grace is sufficient, Maturity through trials. Not. Lacking. Anything. Why? Because we can’t be confident, we can’t boast about our weakness unless we know that our weakness is made strong through the saving power of Jesus in our lives. The sooner we can all live in to the fact that Jesus is with us and…AND NOTHING. Period. End of the sentence. Jesus is with us. In the valley. In our weakness. In our persecution. In injustice. When we realize we are weak, then we can get somewhere. When we feel we have to do it all ourselves, we soon realize, well, that we can’t.
Friends. Breathe. Lean Back. Stop. Be still. You don’t have to carry it all alone. You were never meant to carry it all alone. Why can we have confidence in the valley? Because we know that even in the valley, God is good, we are loved, we are seen, our burdens are carried, we are not alone. The same God that spoke the world in to being is RIGHT HERE WITH US. Take comfort and know that you are not alone. You are confident in your valley.

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Family Mission Project

Spurred on by mommy’s service on a Medical Caravan this week in Cayambe, we put together a Family Mission Project by making emergency kits for the people in need we encounter on the streets.  There are so many folks struggling in Quito since the beginning of the pandemic, so many immigrants and others on the margins that didn’t have the extra resources to sustain themselves when hard times hit.  On an average day when we leave the house, we come across 5 to 10 people in need asking for help.  We made these emergency kits to distribute to them that will include a message of God’s love as well as a way to find the local Covenant Church we attend.  To God be the glory!!

 

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Humility and the Cross

As we entered the Lenten season this year, we invited our whole family in to this to experience “Fat Tuesday” and Ash Wednesday.  It is really one of the first times we have done this WITH the kids.  We want them to learn about this season and what leads up to the cross and resurrection.  It has been a beautiful and sweet time so far, although slightly challenging (teaching the transfiguration to a 5 year old…well, you can use your imagination).

Lent is a time particularly appropriate for NEW BEGINNINGS in the faith or returning to the Lord.  We recall our own mortality (intentionally) and wait on the Lord for the renewing of the Spirit.  We put aside our sins and failures in the light of who we are YET to become by the grace of God.  All of this is for true and authentic faith and a true dying and rising WITH Christ to a new life in God (Adapted from the Covenant Book of Worship).

During this season (and let’s be honest, during Advent as well), I have been reading a really great book called:  Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen.  First, I highly recommend this book, it has been an amazing wake-up call for my brain.  Because I don’t have a whole lot of time to read, the thought of re-reading a chapter seems super crazy since I just want to capitalize the time I have.  But a specific chapter in the book was quite significant, enough to read twice and continue to go back to reference.  The main focus, humility.  GULP, right?  In a world that significantly inflates self, uhh hello Facebook, Insta, Twitter and basically social media.  We want to PRESENT the best version of ourselves to others, even when that self is a mess, and we all live in that mess no matter how much you feel you have it together.  There’s no better example of humility than Jesus as Phillipians tells us,

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

 

WHEW!  NO PRESSURE!

 

It seems there is no greater time than Lent to make us painfully aware of our mortality, ashes, palms, Hosannas that we know quickly turn in to Crucify Him!  It can be overwhelming.  But the great thing about Jesus, the Cross, this season is that those significant things, can turn our brains upside down, but in a good way.  Just as Jesus is our example of humility, the Cross and the death of Jesus, turned our approach upside down.  Humility is counter-cultural, it isn’t what the world preaches to us to “get ahead” or to be successful.  But our example isn’t of this world.  Our example although a King, was also a servant and when we can learn to see ourselves less and see Him and OTHERS more than ourselves is when we can start being the better version of ourselves and living in to the person we have been called to be.

When we put God in His rightful place we can start living in to humility.

 

“We replace the lie of our greatness with the truth of who God is-and how needy we are apart from Him.  Humility becomes the only logical posture of our hearts”

Jennie Allen

 

May we all take steps in these next few days of Holy Week to live in the steps of Jesus, literally, and His journey to the cross-the most humble of all journeys, but oh what we can learn…

 

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Radical Hospitality

Radical Hospitality

It’s been quite a few years now that God continues to bring me back in one way or another to Romans 12, speaking of Love in Action.  In Romans 12:9-13, Paul says these words:

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  PRACTICE hospitality. 

Now, let’s be honest, I think almost each line of this passage could be a sermon all in itself.  Maybe that will happen someday, but not today.  I feel I have something else that God is trying to help me “verbally process” over the computer.  So, let’s get to it…

I am currently in a cohort of missionary women working through different themes: racial righteousness, Sabbath and rest.  We are reading together a book called: Healing our Broken Humanity.  (Disclaimer, I am only halfway through the book so I am not sure exactly my take-aways yet for the book as a whole), but I will say, the chapter I just finished, Reactivate Hospitality really made me re-think and re-shape some of my thinking.  As you can imagine, with a book of this title, there is a lot going on in the book.  The main premise for this section was obviously to talk about hospitality, but hospitality in relation to “the other”, people that are different, “them”, “they”.  The Western church, in my opinion looks at “the other” very differently than the rest of the world.  I feel I can speak to this as my own view of “the other” has been challenged since I have been living in Ecuador.  The Church is big, and primarily where it is largest is not in the West, it is everywhere else.  The average Christian today is not white, middle class and Western, they are female, brown or black and likely of lower class.  The Church is different now than when I was growing up.  Guess what?  That is good news!  It is becoming more diverse.  Isn’t that what the call of the Western church was?  To go in to the world and evangelize and tell people about the good news?  However, it seems that the Western church doesn’t know what to do with those evangelized because they don’t look like them?  They are “the other”.  The Church around the world is in a unique place to embrace “the other” in an act or rather a command of “PRACTICING” hospitality.  The kind of hospitality described in Romans as well as the kind I witness here in Ecuador and hear around the world in black and brown churches is RADICAL.  It is messy and hard and requires a cost, but isn’t that what Christ requires of us?  He doesn’t expect any more from us than he practiced and lived out himself.  We have a perfect example of how to do this in Jesus.  So, why aren’t we? (When I say we, I mean the Western church).

I contend that we have a lot to learn.  This is one area where we as the White, Western church can throw our hands up and say we need help, and that is OK.

We need new narratives, new stories, new ways of looking at Scripture that is through the lens of “the other”.  Again, we can go back to Scripture and follow the Israelites all the way up to Jesus to show us how to do this.  Then we can go to our neighbor, “the other” who doesn’t look like us or talk like us, who thinks differently and interprets differently because their story is likely more relatable to that which is in Scripture than we can imagine.  We need to read Scripture TOGETHER with “the other” to learn who the Bible was written to.  Does this sound odd or scary?  Good.  Lean in.  Push through it because we will be better for it.  Listening.  Learning.  Asking and attempting to understand new narratives and new stories.  The refugee, the immigrant, the foreigner, the outsider, the incarcerated, the women.  The other.  These are all stories we need to hear and listen to.  You may wonder why?  Scripture calls us to practice, PRACTICE radical hospitality.  Not with those who look like us, but with the other.  If that is the call, the command, than why aren’t we doing it?  Why are we afraid?  The time of fear needs to be over, because there is a group of “others” who need the Church.  They need radical hospitality and the church is in a prime place to embrace as we were embraced, love as we are loved, cared for, healed and reconciled as we are becoming.  Step up Church and be the reconciled, be the ones that show radical hospitality when everything around us in the world tells us to push the others away.  Stand up.

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Joel and Rolando’s First Ever Podcast

Joel and Rolando were recently interviewed on the Social Enterprise Podcast for the work we do in Ecuador.  Please listen here when you have some time: https://soundcloud.com/finca-international/episode-36-the-santiago-partnership-in-ecuador

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Pandemic Wedding

Recently, Joel was asked to help with the wedding of one of our good family friends here in Ecuador.  Of course the answer was yes.  Simeon also got to help by holding the microphone during the vows.  What a privilege and honor to part of this day.

 

 

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Forever Flowers

As many of you may know by now, the 6 weeks leading up to the end-of-the year, The Santiago Partnership ran a campaign to raise funds to help empower Ecuadorian leadership in the creation of a flower farm with the ultimate goal of ongoing self-sufficiency.

The goal was to raise $98,800 for land, greenhouses, coolers, plants and many other things.  There was such an amazing response from so many that $110,751 was raised!!!!

 

As many of you know, the area of Cayambe is known for its production and export of roses all around the world. Unfortunately, the rose is a very fragile flower, requires a lot of labor and due to the competition of all of the large rose plantations in the area, the margin that is made on their sale is very little. We don’t want to try to compete with the big boys!! 

Conversely, the Alstroemeria flower, also known as the Lily of the Incas, is a hardier flower that isn’t as susceptible to disease and requires much less labor to cultivate, thus driving the cost of production down.  It’s also a flower that we can start with a small production and sell locally and grow into a large business, hopefully, eventually for international export as the Alstroemeria Flower goes perfectly in the rose boquet.

Our business model will be to start small, produce high quality flowers, and then teach others to grow the Alstroemeria flower as well so that way we can produce more product together to be able to sell at higher quantities.  After we establish a revenue stream with only domestic sales, then we will look to convert our flower into an international product.

So, what is next?  Well, in all honesty, A LOT!  Here is what we hope to work on over the next few months.

To learn more about Forever Flowers and the campaign in its entirity, visit https://foreverflowers.causevox.com/

 

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Memory of Last Year

Last year, on September 22, 2019 I was involved in a very traumatic experience that ended in the loss of a precious Ecuadorian baby boy to a fatal accident.  I tried to blog about it last year, to write about it, but I had a really difficult time wrapping my head around serving a good God, but experiencing a loss of this magnitude, a loss of innocence and purity in a baby.  Here was the first email I wrote to my bosses explaining what happened:

We were driving to Mindo to go ziplining with my best friend and she had never been and were stopped due to an accident.  There were a lot of people and they were running around frantically, so I went to see if I could help.  There was a woman and a man who were on a motorcycle with a baby and they had cut in front of a bus trying to pass the bus and the bus clipped them.  When I arrived, they baby was on the ground, crying and clearly in distress.  Probably not more than a couple of months old.  The baby had a severe head injury and I knew it would likely not make it.  The baby decompensated and eventually needed CPR.  Once police, paramedics and ambulance arrived we made a make shift immobilization and they had me carry the baby in the back of a police car, doing CPR while they took us, with the dad who arrived with the ambulance, to Nanegalito to the “hospital”.  The physicians there had  not seemed to see anything like before and after 45 minutes at the hospital, the baby was pronounced dead.  It has been quite traumatic for me to be honest.  I had nightmares and flashbacks the first few nights.  I did better and then the protests hit so we kind of had a one track mind with that.  This week I have had a few nights where I have had nightmares and some difficulty sleeping.

Soon after this happened, the protests started happening here in Ecuador, and grieving got put on the back burner a bit.  Of course in my practice as a nurse and Nurse Practitioner, I have lost patients, I have even lost children and babies, but never as a first responder as I did last year.  It changed me.  It made me question, it made me grieve in a way I had not and I experienced a bit of PTSD from it which I didn’t realize at the time. Here is a journal entry I wrote a few days after the accident:

In reading “A book of prayers”, one line struck me…”In bread and wine we taste the great homecoming feast, and in the midst of death, we are in life”.  This resonates with me as I feel so much of life continues in the midst of carrying death.  I see life, love, growth, service all around me and there are times I just picture the little boy and flashback to being on the road, praying over him to live, then praying just crying out Jesus’ name in my head and out loud.  Sometimes it seems a little too heavy to carry; death and life all at the same time.  I keep hearing God’s goodness, provision throughout this story.   I know God is good, it’s just hard reconciling a good, loving God taking a baby from the earth in such a traumatic and painful way.  It just hurts my heart, my mom heart that a good and loving Father would do that.

Lamentations 3:22-23, 31, 55-57

In all honesty, I still struggle with this reconciliation of a good God allowing this.  I know the Sunday school answer is that sin is in the world.  Bad things happen and are allowed to happen.  But that doesn’t always cushion the bad that does happen.  That is OK.

Ironically, the song that was going in my head even in the midst of this accident was called Good and Loved.  “I am good, you are loved” are the words that kept going over and over during the CPR, during rescue breaths.  So, I know God knew that trying to reconcile this in my own heart and head would be difficult.  I have resolved in my mind that I will likely not be able to reconcile it and that is OK.   I know God is good and I know His heart breaks at the death of this baby, more than mine.  He understands and carries the tears cried over this baby.  I know God is still good and I know God cares and loves and that is enough.

I hesitated writing something as I knew it would bring up a lot of emotions.  But I have also realized over the last few days that my demeanor has been different and I didn’t know why.  But I now know it is still carrying this grief with me.  As the 1st anniversary passed of this accident, it was almost not spoken of, but I am glad I am now able to give voice and words to the grief.  Even after a year I can still carry death and life at the same time.  Yes it is still hard and yes I see things that remind me of this day and allowing it to be felt is not easy.  I would rather push that pain away, but to feel it and carry it reminds me to not forget.  I never heard the baby’s name, only that he was a little boy and I guessed his age as 2 to 3 months.  But I remember and I won’t forget.

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Grace Knows my Name

There is nothing quite like a worldwide pandemic to make you feel the weight of your inconsistencies, failures inadequacies.  I don’t know about you, but they seem to stare me in the face some days, maybe most days and it can get heavy, really heavy.  The weight of the world is heavy right now.  Everything seems heavy and overwhelming.  If this makes sense, my very being seems heavy.  Some days I feel I don’t recognize myself and the representation of who I am just is heavy to carry.

I have been reminded recently of WHO  or maybe better, WHOSE I am.  Some days I forget who I am.  Some days I lose myself and I doubt myself.  I doubt that I can change.  Some days anger takes over and I don’t recognize the positive parts of myself because it is easy to focus on the negative in myself which seems to be what represents more than the positive.  Anger seems to be my go-to emotion, although I am realizing, what comes out as anger, may be just a reflection of deeper emotions that haven’t made their way to the surface yet.  However, anger still takes over some days and as much as I am trying to learn and understand and change this negative stain in my being, most days I just feel stuck; asking myself, will I ever change, will I ever rise above this, will this ALWAYS be a struggle?  It may be.  We are all human and we carry human things in us. 

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18

I don’t often have time to delve in to scripture, but yesterday I was reminded through song of Who I am and although the negative surrounds me some days, the negative of life around me, the negative world and the negative parts of myself, but that is not the end of the story.  There is redemption, there is grace, God continues writing my story, ALL the parts of it because ALL parts can be redeemed.

So, I am not perfect and I am very aware of that, but I know that grace knows my name and I am trying to LIVE and rise in that.

Yesterday, I realized I needed some music to help me realize who I am.  I started with the first and then the rest just kept coming one after another.  Maybe today you need to be reminded of who you are, WHOSE you are and that your story is still being written.

Known

Different

God’s Not done with You

See A Victory

Rebuilding My Ruins

Alabaster Heart

He Knows My Name

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