At the beginning of January we traveled to Manta and Pacoche for the annual business meeting of the IEME - Ecuador Evangelical Mennonite Church. It was pretty cool to have a visit from Darren Peachey at the gathering. Who would of thought we'd have two Peacheys from Belleville at the same meeting in a small town in Ecuador?
We were blessed to have Naty's PA mom Phyllis Yoder visit us for a week and go to the coast with us. Naty and the kids had fun with her at the beach while I went to the meetings.
In mid January we met with Julieta Murillo and Maria Lola Moreno, the leaders of Impacto Mundial, an Ecuadorian mission agency dedicated to sending workers to unreached people around the world. We began planning with them and two other potential missions candidates to re-start an Impacto Mundial branch here in Quito. We are going to partner with this organization to learn more about preparing Latino workers to go overseas and help to spread global vision in the churches here in Quito.
The last weekend of January I (Dion) helped to lead the "Man Up!" retreat for high school boys from Alliance Academy International. We camped for the weekend in Calacalí a small town about an hour north of Quito. We had a great time teaching about the great outdoors and also about having a mentor, mentoring others and being a best friend. I'm really glad I had this experience even though I bruised a rib in one of the night games we played!
On January 31 we started leading "Vamos" (Let's Go!) course with a 14 person cohort online. We study the lessons each week then do a group video Skype call every Monday night. So far it has been a great learning experience and an incredible challenge to prepare all the material each week. We are praying that God uses this course to call more workers to long-term overseas service.
The second weekend of February I had an amazing camping and hiking trip with three friends from our church. We camped right by Cotopaxi (in the background) then woke up at 4:00 AM to hike to almost the top of Sincholagua a 16,073 ft. inactive vocano just east of Cotopaxi. We didn't make it to the summit because there was some snow and we didn't have the proper climbing gear but we were less than 50 feet from the top.
In mid February we hosted "An Afternoon in Thailand" at our house. It was a sending off celebration for Verónica Gordón young women from here in Quito who is going to serve for two years with SIM missions in Chang Mai, Thailand. We even served an authentic Thai soup made with a recipe from our friends Tom and Candice who live in Bangkok
Naty had the chance to go and serve with the refugee ministry that is run by our church and MCC. She had to interpret for these two ladies from Afghanistan who moved to Ecuador to escape the Taliban. We are so glad that our church hosts this ministry and hope to do more in the future to serve refugees and political asylum seekers that are coming to Ecuador.
This past weekend we traveled for 15 hours by bus to the city of Loja in southern Ecuador for an Impacto Mundial seminar. We went with seven other young people who will be working with us to begin an Impacto Mundial group in Quito.
We were officially commissioned to lead the Impacto Mundial Quito group during the seminar. Connecting with group of co-laborers for the Kingdom is helping us see more of God's reasons for calling us to Quito.
After the seminar we were grateful for a few hours to explore Loja with two young ladies that live there. What a beautiful city! Unfortunately, it is also one of the least evangelized cities in Ecuador. There are many, many adherents to Catholicism, but few true followers of Jesus. After our tourist time we were back on a bus again for 15 more hours of traveling back home to Quito.