July Update – Lot’s o’ News!

We apologize for being a bit out of touch.  It’s been a busy past few months for us with a lot of ups and downs.  Additionally, the Covenant’s Blog service that this blog is hosted on has not been working properly the last couple of months and so we actually haven’t been able to do new blog posts here anyways, that is technologically speaking, so we are going to take the opportunity to catch you up on numerous fronts here in this update.

 

We a reeling this past week after learning of the resignation of our greatly loved Executive Minister of Serve Globally, Al Tizon.  He is a man who we have learned a lot from and for whom we have a lot of respect.  It was very hard for us to come to grips with his resignation, especially as everything has been met with a mix of sadness and confusion.  That said, we will be praying for him in his next steps.

 

Many of you may not be aware but we helped my (Joel’s) dad, Earl, transition into an assisted living facility in the Dallas area of Texas earlier this month, which is about 5 mins away from my older brother’s house.  We had decided a few months ago that it was probably best for him as his mobility was starting to decline and we were getting increasing concerned about his falls.  We feel that this will be a safer option for him.  We are sad to see him go but will definitely cherish the time we had this past year and a half living with us.

 

Kim took Earl up to Dallas in this transition but also spent a week with her best friend Christa in Evansville, IN.  It was a special time for them both as they were both encouraged by just being with one another for the week.  They really don’t get enough time together.

 

As we mentioned briefly in last month’s newsletter, I got a really bad case of covid and was hospitalized twice in the month of June.  I can say that I have never experienced anything like that health wise in my life previously.  It started out as not being too big of a deal with just having body aches and a loss of smell and taste.  However, I soon quickly declined with needing oxygen.  After that I got a stomach infection and pnuemonia which is what caused me to need to be hospitalized.  My three days in the hospital were some of the worst days I have ever experienced though most of it is a fog at this point as I was also experiencing “covid confusion.”  Thankfully after my three days in the hospital, I was quickly on the mend and was back to normal after about another week.  I need to wait to get my vaccination until 90 days after this hospitalization though covid vaccinations have picked up quite a bit in Ecuador and a lot more people are now getting vaccinated.

 

I think I will stop the updates at this point as there is more we can share but this has gotten long enough.  Thank you for reading and keeping up with us and especially for your prayers!

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Summer FUNd for the Santiago Partnership

Don’t let a world-wide pandemic and social distancing prevent you from serving and being a part of international missions!

During the summer months which is the high season for international mission trips, we think of all of you folks a lot and have missed you coming down to be a part of the amazing work that has been happening in Cayambe. Maybe you would be interested in this mission work directly without having to travel here? Maybe you have some extra funds that would have gone towards transportation costs to Ecuador that can be used for this kind of mission work?

Watch the video:

Introducing to you our “Summer FUNd” which we are affectionately calling a list of needs that we have over the summer months. Here are the different areas where the Summer FUNd will be used:

  1. Summer FUNd Outings – A gift of $1,000 can cover the costs of 1 to 2 Special Summer Outings for the kids in the Home for At Risk Children. It’s been a tough Covid-colored school year for the kids in the Home so giving them some special outings over the summer months will go a long way to lift their spirits and give them a break from the routine within the Home.


  2. Summer FUNd Construction — We have been working on the construction of the 2nd Floor of the Home for At Risk Children for quite some time now as this process has been delayed as a lot of the teams have not been able to make it down due to the pandemic. However, the need is great for our staff of almost 30 employees to have offices as well as storage space. We’ve been using what little extra funds we have had to continue this process; however, a gift of $750 will go a long ways to make progress on this construction. We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the construction.

  3. Summer FUNd Guinea Pigs — Our Project Director Rolando Escola has a vision for self-sustainability for the project that includes starting a Guinea Pig farm on the land that is above the Home for At Risk Children. Wouldn’t it be so cute to see the kids in the home helping take care of Guinea Pigs to sell for a profit towards the goal of self-sustainability? Give a gift of $500 to go towards the fence needed to put around the property as well as the initial purchase of Guinea Pigs.

  4. Summer FUNd Community Construction — Many of the community partners we serve through our community programs have homes that are far below the poverty level, often without windows, others having a plastic tarp for a roof, in some cases only Help the project serve its surrounding communities by providing support for homes that bring dignity and comfort. Your gift of $250 will go a long way to help build these homes with a purpose.

Maybe your church or youth group, instead of coming to Ecuador this summer, could pick one of these initiatives that you would like to take part in and help raise funds similar to how you would if you were coming down yourself. Would you be willing to consider this opportunity?

When you are ready, click the Donate button below and select the appropriate amount and put “Summer FUNd” in the section where it says, “Personal Message.” Here are the gift amounts again:

  • $1,000 for Summer FUNd Outings

  • $750 for Summer FUNd Construction

  • $500 for Summer FUNd Guinea Pigs

  • $250 for Summer FUNd Community Construction

 

Donate

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Anniversary Celebration

At the beginning of June, we had a big party in Cayambe! We had the opportunity to celebrate anniversaries of the project. We were celebrating the Medical Clinic being open for 5 years and the Home for At Risk Children for 4 years! We celebrated with over 100 invited guests from near and far, many who came down from the communities we serve up in the mountains. We also had distinguished guests from Government Entities as well as other NGO’s. The festivities began at the Home for At Risk Children where we prayed for the Home and released ballons to commemorate. Then we formed a parade and walked down to the propery of the Iglesia Emanuel and the Medical Clinic and met with all of the invited guests in the soccer coliseum where we could spread out for social distancing.  Kim shared a reflection on the role of women in the project and in the Bible. Special awards were presented and gifts were given to community members who arrived. It was a great celebration of the amazing work that has been accomplished over the past five years.

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Medical Caravan in Oyacachi

About two months ago, the Medical Clinic completed a Medical Caravan in Oyacachi seeing 102 patients which included 62 child wellness check-ups and 40 women’s heath check-ups.  Kim was able to serve.

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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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