Sunday, November 5, 2017

Campamento Juvenil Menonita 2017

On Thursday morning we set out with this great group to the semi-annual Campamento Juvenil Menonita in Santo Domingo. Thankfully it was only about a 4 hour drive and we made it there and back and didn't lose any of our luggage that we had to pack up on the roof!

Our mornings and nights were filled with amazing times of worship and challenging teaching from three different conferencistas. Altogether there were 160 young people who attended to camp!

During the day Friday the youth were divided into 5 different teams for some extreme games. They had to hold hands any time they went to the games or they would lose points for their team.

Some of the games were a bit gross, like having 20+ people take a bite out of the same watermelon...

Others were downright messy, like doing and Army crawl through a mud pit!

Everyone seemed to have a great time though!

A highlight for me was having some amazing times of worship together. It's been a long time since I've seen a group of young people so passionate to praise God!

Another amazing part of the camp was that it was all organized by the youth too! This is the group of leaders for the camp and I'm sure these guys are going to go VERY far in life. They did an amazing job making it a great weekend for everyone.

I had the chance to share about missions with the group and we had response cards from 55 of the youth saying that they want to PRAY, MOBILIZE, SUPPORT or GO in missions!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Helping Refugees

Our friend Cristal from Colombia sharing about how to connect with refugees. This one is in Spanish...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

SEW 2017

This past week was our fall Spiritual Emphasis Week for elementary. It was by far the highlight of my time at Alliance Academy so far. SEW is a time when we have chapel and activities every day of the week instead of just on Tuesdays. I was part of the planning committee this year and in spite of many extra hours of work and less hours of sleep, it was an awesome week!

Our theme this year was CAMP AAI and we set up the chapel to look like a forest with several campsites. We had short plays everyday where I acted as Counselor Kazoo with some crazy campers (faculty members) named Poppy, Roxie and Allie. Each day had a different theme with guest speakers who taught about community, courage, perseverance, rest and eternity.

On Wednesday we had a Family Night for students and parents. We packed out the chapel with about 300 people! I had the opportunity to lead worship with another teacher and the singing was amazing! I also got to interpret as another teacher shared about how God able to do the impossible.

Friday and Saturday we were Gaby's biggest fans as her team competed in the AASSA volleyball tournament.

Her team didn't win as many matches as we had hoped, but with no seniors on the squad, they'll all be back next year and should be much better.

Back at home, Naty is very excited to have flowers and ferns planted in these cute flower boxes out front.

I'm stoked to finally have a grill! We had our new school director and his family over for dinner last night and thanks to some tips from another friend, I grilled some of the best meat I've ever made over wood and charcoal.

This morning at church we said goodbye to a Venezuelan couple who only spent a short time with us here in Quito. They need to go back to Venezuela to care for the wife's mom who is sick. The family had planned to stay in Ecuador much longer, escape the economic, social and political disaster zone that is Venezuela these days, but plans changed. They are very grateful for the time they had here and said that their biggest purpose for coming here was to connect with God, something they had never experienced in Venezuela. They are going home with new faith. Naty bought each of them a Bible and we are doing what we can to try to connect them with a church in Valencia so they can grow in their faith and share with others.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

We're Never Bored!

The beginning of school year 2017-18 has been very busy for our whole family but it has also meant more stability and picking up where we left off with many relationships and projects that we keep working to develop.

Naty is working with this group of women to lead the Entre Nosotras women's group at our school. They are studying Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk. This has already been life changing for several ladies in the group.

We keep going to Nono once a month to lead others in connecting with God, but also to connect with Him more ourselves in such a beautiful place. We pray that God would draw more people in this town to Himself. There is not a Jesus centered church in Nono yet and we pray that God will call out the people there who will plant a church.

I hurt my knee back in September and couldn't run for about a month. It was good on this day though because I got to take my beautiful wife out for lunch after on of my doctor's appointments!

Every other Friday night I make lots of pizza for this youth group that we are leading with another couple. The group is mostly made up of AAI students as well as some others from the community. We are studying the scriptures to find Jesus in the Old Testament.

Our family took an overnight get-away to Cuicocha lake at the beginning of October. This lake was formed by a massive volcanic eruption about 3,000 years ago. The volcano has been dormant ever since, but you can still see bubbles of gas coming up from the volcano in the middle of the lake. 

October 9 was Guayaquil Day holiday so I had the chance to go for a 20 km 7 hour hike with some friends. Our goal was to go from my house to the top of Rucu Pichincha, (the mountain peak behind me in the picture) but major lightning and a hail storm made us turn around.

We have had several opportunities to keep mobilizing mission workers here in Quito. We led a missions sending service at this church in southern Quito. I preached about being witnesses in Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND to the ends of the earth. So many churches here focus on growing their on congregations and reaching their neighborhood and going "to the ends of Quito" but to obey Jesus' commission we must go much farther.

We prayed to commission the brother in the red shirt as he goes to Spain to study as serve as a witness to Muslim immigrants in Barcelona.

November 13 and 14 we hosted four people at our house and Naty helped organize to host 400 people at HCJB for the "United in the Mission" conference. It was a great time to connect with other churches and agencies in Ecuador who are working to send missionaries to unreached areas around the world.

We keep meeting monthly with Rosedale Mennonite Missions' LAMP (Latin American Missions Partnership) team via video conference. We are very excited about a couple in Costa Rica who is taking solid steps to move to Spain.

We keep gathering with the Quito Mennonite Church on Sunday mornings. Our church works a lot with immigrants and refugees. There seem to be more refugees arriving in Ecuador now that their were a year ago. It has bee great to gather to worship with people from so many countries. We have even had people from Iraq and Afghanistan join us for our worship services. Here I am helping to facilitate a meeting to start a men's group for the church.

This past Sunday we had a family night at the movies to watch this Christian film that was produced by HCJB. Some of the scenes in the movie were recorded just a few blocks from our house!

This week is Spiritual Emphasis Week for the entire elementary school at AAI. I'm helping to present some skits and tomorrow another teacher and I will lead worship for our Family Night with parents and other family members. Many families who send their children to our school are not yet followers of Jesus, so I am very thankful for this opportunity to share with them.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Starting School Year 2017-18

The night the Naty and I got back to Quito, I ran the 10k Ruta de las Iglesias race with some friends from AAI.

And the next day, I led a group of friends to the top of Rucu Pichincha. The last day of my summer vacation was the same as my first, the summit of Rucu!

I decided to make some Pan de Jamón (Venezuelan ham bread) to welcome Gaby and Marcus back the next day.

On August 29, Gaby, Marcus and Thea all made it back to Quito. Boy were we happy to see them again!

With some help from all of our family, room E101 was once again ready for new second graders.

The weekend before the kids came back to school our family traveled to the coast again for Impacto Mundial's Mobilizers Seminar. It was a great time of training and connecting with about 150 other Ecuadorian preparing for global outreach.

September 4 was the first day of school for our family. Marcus is now in 8th grade and Gaby is a sophmore!

And I'm the proud leader of 18 wonderful second graders!


On Saturday September 9 we celebrated Naty's birthday by going with several friends to Nono.

We facilitated a discovery Bible study centered on hope.

Marcus and Gaby were glad to get back on the horses again, even in the rain!

At our first staff meeting of the year, my new colleague Miss Oliver and I each received awards. She was given the spiritual formation award and I was granted the leadership award. What a great way to start the year!

This past week Naty hosted and facilitated two different missions workshops led by a missions mobilizer from Costa Rica. We are hoping these gatherings can lead to getting more mobilizers together for Impacto Mundial Quito.

It's been a crazy ride for the past few months. Even with all the extra hours at work, it feels good to be back in a routine again.

COMIBAM in Bogotá

Naty and I got back to Quito where I worked in my classroom for two days and then we caught a one hour flight to Bogotá, Colombia.

We spent the extended weekend with our friends Valdemar, Sobeida and their kids. They hosted us for the week along with our friend Flor from Mexico. 

We took a short trip to Chía to visit Andres Carne de Res the most amazing restaurant I've ever seen in my life.

Bogotá is a great city, but I still think Quito is more beautiful.

COMIBAM is an international missions conference bring together international workers from all over Latin America. It was very motivating to join 1,800 Latinos all focused on taking the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth. 

It was good to visit with people we know and also meet more people from Ecuador and all around Latin America who are working to mobilize global workers, just like us.

This was a gathering of COMEC, Ecuadorian believers working to promote and send workers to the world.

One highlight of the conference was meeting this Cuban pastor who lives in Miami and is sending workers to the jungle of Ecuador. We are hoping that some day we can go into the jungle with his team.

After COMIBAM it felt so go to be back in Quito to stay.