This past week past week we had a vist from the ECC president, Tammy Swanson-Draheim, the ECC Executive Minister of Serve Globally, Grace Shim, the ECC Latin American Regional Coordinator, Pia Restrepo, and NPTS Professor Elizabeth Pierre, as well as her best friend, Yakong. This was the first time ever that the President of the ECC has visited our project and the first time in 6 years that we have had a visit from the Executive Minister of Serve Globally.
We were super blessed to have many very special visitors from the U.S. and all over Latin America that were all here in Ecuador as a part of CIPE. CIPE is a triennial event/gathering of pastors, missionaries and leaders from all over Latin America, including Colleen, a missionary friend from Argentina, Jochy, a pastor, Christian rapper, missionary from the Dominican Republic!
We had a lot of great memories and new friends made. Here are some of the highlights in pictures. Meeting, chatting and learning from Elizabeth Pierre and her friend Yakong, amazing, just amazing! Having so many leaders come to the project and visit was a definite highlight. The new program we are developing for women coming out of domestic violence (which you will hear more about soon), made necklaces for all the ladies. One of the children who has been reunited with his mom from the home for at-risk children came back for this visit and gave his testimony. We were able to pray for him which was a MAJOR highlight for me (Kim). We had friends, pastors and missionaries over for fajitas! We had the privilege of hearing testimonies from patients from the clinic, whose lives have been touched and changed by the staff and care they have received. We heard Jochy rap! We were able to pray for leaders and pastors from CIPE at our church.
During the months of June, July and August 2022, we will not be sending out our normal monthly newsletter as after 12 years in ministry (17 since Joel first served as a pastor), we are taking our very first sabbatical. Thank you to everyone that has supported us in this endeavor! We’ll see you again in September!
I was listening to a song a couple of weeks ago and there was a part in there that says:
“Some days are long, some work is tough Whatever I lack You make it up Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light
You gave me life, You give me love
Whenever I’m dry You fill my cup
Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light”
The song is based on Matthew 11:28-30 which for a couple of months now has been a bit of a theme verse in my life. At every turn things come back to this verse and this experience with this song was no different.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I went in to last week’s women’s caravan burdened. There was a lot more prep than normal since we were going to be in a remote area with minimal access in which to refer patients for consults. Not only was I feeling burdened, but there was a very strong sense of anxiety that came along with this caravan as well. I didn’t know why the anxiety other than the prep had been more than I thought and as is often the case, I felt in over-my-head in leading a caravan like this. So, I hear this song and one of the lines that stood out is what is highlighted above, whatever I lack, you make it up! That is a fabulous summary of this caravan for me. I felt in over-my-head, weighted down and burdened, anxious and God made it all up. All that I lacked, in spite of me, HE made it up. He showed up. As He always does. In spite of all of our weakness, He shows up, again and again.
During the second day of the caravan, a family traveled five hours to see us from Puyo (another jungle town) for help because they heard there were doctors that could help them. Their son has a genetic condition that requires a lot of care and a lot of expensive medicines. As he was one of our last patients of the day, I was feeling tired and worn out and wondered what else I could give. None of us are specialists in the area, but I felt such a responsibility to help or at least try since their family had traveled so far…for some hope. I contacted my kids’ pediatrician in Quito who is well connected and eventually he was able to reach out to contacts of his to try and get them help. Is this what I imagined this situation might turn out like? No. After talking with the family I felt very helpless and in all honesty, pretty hopeless that I didn’t think we could do anything. Did we cure our sweet new friend? No. But we were in a place where we could connect them and that is a win, that is hope! Our team prayed with the family and as so many times before, I realized my limitations as a medical provider. That sometimes we have to get over ourselves and the idea that we can cure everything and realize the great healer has been here all along and shows up in ways we can’t imagine, connecting the dots and putting people where he wants to be a piece in a much bigger puzzle.
That is what so much of these caravans and care are. It isn’t curing everything. Sometimes it is being a piece in a puzzle, sometimes it is a laugh or a smile, but mostly it is presence. It is time spent together empowering women to know and understand their worth. To know they are loved, seen and cared for. Did I feel burdened, yes, was it worth it? Again, yes. It is always worth it to be part of God showing up and allowing us to be instruments in this love journey together.
“By women and for women” is what the above title means. You may be wondering why that wording. Well, the significance is significant! You may have heard previously or read in prior blog posts that the Santiago Partnership does this exact work through the hands of women FOR women through medical caravans ONLY for women. Another one of these caravans took place last week in four jungle communities in Ecuador. The significance for the women serving on the caravan and those who received care is that women were serving women to care, empower and let other women know they are loved!
It was a diverse and amazing group of women serving together from Ecuador, Sweden, Finland and the U.S. There were four nurse practitioners. In total they saw 213 women! There were two counselors, Gunila (a Swedish missionary serving in Ecuador) and Pia who is the Covenant Regional Coordinator for Latin America for Serve Globally of the Evangelical Covenant Church. They saw 51 women through counseling services. We had a dental hygienist who saw 40 patients and two Ecuadorian oral surgeons who saw 59 patients and did 80 procedures! We also had an amazing teacher who came to give Days for Girls workshops and hand out reusable menstruation kits to all of the women as well as incontinence kits for some ladies. Kim’s best friend, Christa became an optometrist for the week and her niece Shea was our expert nurse! We had a lot of help from the communities as well setting up, preparing, getting the word out and the amazing work of the Women Ministries of Ecuador who lead beautifully! In total, in the four different communities in the jungle where we served, Pacto Sumaco, Bellavista Alta, Rukullakta and Tambayaku, we saw 363 women! Por Mujeres y Para Mujeres! That’s what this last week was. What a blessing to all of us who gathered together for a common goal of service for women.
We are planning on being in the area of Illinois and Indiana from mid-June to mid-July. If anyone has knowledge of a car that we can borrow during this time frame, it would be a huge help for us in reducing our expenses for our sabbatical. Please just send us an email and let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We recently had a visit from one of our long term supporting churches, New Community Covenant Church of Chicago. They have been one of our supporting churches (of the Delp Family) since 2014 but just this year, they have made their first visit to Ecuador to be a part of the ministry Cayambe. It was a wonderful time as they helped us pick potatoes (on the Forever Flowers farm next to the greenhouses), spent time with the children in the Casa Hogar and served as a part of our community based ministries as well. Enjoy the pictures from their time. Thank you New Community for your service with us!!
A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated 75 years of Service Together as IPEE (the Covenant Church of Ecuador) celebrated it’s 75th anniversary in the Annual Meeting of the national church. It was a wonderful time of being together as we ordained six pastors to the ministry, received international visitors as well as celebrated each of the conferences of Covenant churches. Among those who visited was Eugenio Restrepo, the Regional Coordinator from Latin America, our friend (and boss!) in the Evangelical Covenant Church. It was wonderful to spend time with him and all of our Ecuadorian brothers and sister of the IPEE as it was the first time we were all together in three years.
It was a great weekend to catch up with my friends in the camp in Santo Domingo. I was so happy to see the the camp finally achieved its dream of having a pool on the campgrounds.
Before the Annual Meeting, we were able to spend some time with Eugenio taking him to the project in Cayambe as well as going out to eat with him.
I don’t remember ever really “celebrating” Lent growing up. I could very well be remembering it wrong, I am getting a little older and over-the-hill now. Maybe we did something significant remember 40 days of something, but I don’t specifically remember Lent. However, for the last 20 years, attending Covenant Churches and being involved in the Lenten season, I have realized the beauty in remembrance. Probably even more so during the pandemic when our family was very intentional about going deeper in Lent and helping our kids walk through it in light of the pandemic. It is sacred. It’s a holy space. Some years, mainly before the pandemic, Lent would sneak up on me and oftentimes I wouldn’t be as prepared as I would have wanted.
But this year God has really been drawing me in to this season of Lent. I welcome it. Even during Advent I kept thinking how significant it was that Jesus was born to die. How amazing and awful and beautiful and mysterious it all can be. We can complicate it sometimes, but that is the reality. He was born to die.
As we enter Ash Wednesday today and Lent begins, I welcome it. I welcome the beauty and the mystery. I feel God drawing all of us in, coming as we are, carrying burdens. Life is heavy right now and we can all bear witness to that. But in the beauty of the Ashes today, remembering that they represent mourning, grief and heaviness like many carry today. But in the midst of all that we carry, we can empty ourselves of that and be filled with Jesus. This is a beautiful time to do that. Some may feel so heavy that prayer and even breath seems difficult. But as this video below says, if you can breathe, you can pray. So as we carry so much, I encourage us to remember we are not alone:
As we enter this season, I want to draw close and the way I do that is through journaling, prayer, music, reflection. It can be different for everyone. But my goal is to try to post something most days, a reflection, a song a prayer; a way to draw us closer when all we feel is weighted down. So, today I open with a beautiful explanation of Ash Wednesday from Matt Maher, a worship leader, followed by a song. Usually scripture that I have experienced and read during Ash Wednesday services are from Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
So draw close, lean in, be broken, be contrite and allow God to move in you. We can carry the ashes together.
This year for the Santiago Partnership we are continuing from what was started last year, we are returning to you the vision of Forever Flowers as we strive for self-sustainability, and we are adding in an extension into the community. We need your support one more time in providing ONE-TIME DONATIONS between now and December 31st, 2021, to help us build off of what we have already established through Forever Flowers 1 and further EXTEND INTO THE COMMUNITY through Forever Flowers 2.
As we are missionaries with the Evangelical Covenant Church, there are three options to support the Delps and Ecuador this year:
1. We are hoping and praying to be able to go on sabbatical over the Summer, June – August 2022. However, we do not currently have funding to be able to do that. If you would like to help in this way, we would so appreciate it. You can send financial gifts to:
Evangelical Covenant Church
P.O. Box 773420
Chicago, IL 60677
Please label it with our name and say “Personal Gift for Sabbatical.” Being that these are “personal gifts,” no tax-deductible receipt can be given.