Because I Love Jesus

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.
Isaiah 26:3
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Finally Back in Ecuador!
Words cannot explain how excited I am to be back in this beautiful country, this time knowing that God has a specific calling for me here.

Thank you all for your faithful prayers, encouragement, help, advice, and love as I’ve spent just over the past year preparing for my return to Ecuador. I could not have done this without you!

Journey to Ecuador
The trip to Ecuador was quite possibly the smoothest and most uneventful journey I have ever experienced. We encountered very little traffic on the way to LAX, and I made it easily through security before arriving at my gate in plenty of time. After landing in Quito just before midnight, I passed through immigration, collected my luggage – all of which arrived intact – and went through customs all without an issue. God certainly blessed my travels, just as He’s blessed every other part of this process.

I’ve resolved to be more intentional about seeing God’s blessings, large or small, and thanking Him for them. At LAX, the gate agent asked if I would be willing to check my carry-on for free. I quickly agreed, which meant I didn’t have to haul that thing around the Houston airport!

How to Stay in Touch!
Since I arrived in Ecuador, a few friends and family have asked about the best way to contact me. I will continue to send out a monthly newsletter with updates, and next week I will resume posting on my Facebook and Instagram pages so you can follow along on this journey with me.

Please contact me directly if you would like my mailing address or my new phone number. My old phone number is no longer in use, so I will not be able to receive messages at that number.

The Pululahua Volcano Crater; on the equator line at El Museo de Sitio Intiñan (top) and at Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (bottom).

Situation in Ecuador
In early October, the Ecuadorian government implemented several changes intended to stimulate the economy, including ending a gasoline subsidy that had been in place since the 1970s. Gas prices and transportation costs greatly increased, and the country’s transportation unions went on strike. The strike ended quickly, but other groups comprised mostly of indigenous communities and students continued to protest, blocking highways and roads. Many of these protests turned violent, and there were several confirmed deaths.

As you may know, my organization initially asked me to postpone my departure due to safety concerns. Only a couple days later, Ecuador’s president struck a deal with the indigenous leaders that included reinstating the gas subsidy, signing a peace agreement, and working together on future economic policies. As Ecuador returned to normal, my organization allowed me to continue with my plans. All has been calm here since my arrival.

Please be in prayer for the people and leaders in Ecuador, and for peace and safety throughout the country.

Homestay and Host Family
My homestay is less than a minute’s walk from the language school, and about a five-minute walk from La Plaza Foch, a popular tourist center due to its concentration of restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and hostels, and stores. The bank, grocery store, and laundry place are also within walking distance. I’ve been doing A LOT of walking, which will keep me healthy and help me acclimate to the elevation! I’ve also had a few opportunities to explore the city and many of its popular attractions (a few of which are pictured below!).

My host family consists of my host mom, her elderly mother and two adult children, the housekeeper, and a few other students who are also studying Spanish at the language school. The house is always busy, which means plenty of opportunity for me to hear and practice Spanish! My host mom speaks both Spanish and English, and will often chat at me in Spanish to let me hear the language. She uses English only if she is explaining something complicated or when I do not understand her in Spanish. She is also teaching me how to cook like an Ecuadorian, particularly with the ingredients that will be available in the jungle. Last week we made a delicious soup with yuca, green plantains, and corn, and this week I learned to make two different types of empanadas!

Stunning views from the top of Cruz Loma after taking the TelefériQo sky tram up the side of the Pichincha Volcano. The sky tram ascends from just over 10,000 feet above sea level to nearly 13,000!

Language School
I started Spanish classes a couple of weeks ago and have already noticed some progress! My instructor is a funny and effective teacher. He facilitates a safe classroom environment where I feel free to make mistakes and ask questions when I don’t understand, something I had specifically been praying for!

For the next few weeks, I have lessons in the afternoon with one other student, a sweet young girl from Germany who is also volunteering in a hospital here. At the end of November, I will switch to individual Spanish lessons and will hopefully be able to utilize some of the activities that I learned at the missionary training program in Colorado.

Last week I was able to take a taxi, get change from the bank, buy a few groceries, and take my clothes to be washed – all with my limited Spanish! Little victories like that help to offset the days where I can’t seem to get anything right in class and go home feeling discouraged only to feel more lost during the conversation over dinner!

As a friend wisely observed, “It starts with taxis and leads to therapy.” One day at a time!

Because I Love Jesus
One of the first questions I learned in Spanish was posed to me countless times in my first few days here.

Que vas hacer en Ecuador?” What are you going to do in Ecuador?

My preparation to move overseas has been anything but simple. First there was an application process and a psychological evaluation, then the visa application process and raising support, then a month of missionary training, then the absolute chaos of packing up or getting rid of all my belongings, and finally making the trip to Ecuador. Phew! In the midst of these details and the inevitable hiccups and stress, it was sometimes terribly easy to forget just why I was doing all of this.

The reminder came in a funny but poignant way last week in Spanish class. The instructor asked me, as I’m sure many others have wanted to, why I would move to Ecuador and go live in the jungle. It’s a beautiful place to visit, but not to live in, they tell me.

I explained that I am a missionary, which is a person who goes to another place to tell people about Jesus (remember, I have the language ability of a child right now!). My classmate asked me why I would do that.

I turned to our instructor and asked how to say “I love.” I thought I knew, but wanted to make sure.

“The word ‘love’ is very profound, no?” he answered. “You could also say you ‘like’ or you ‘want’ something.”

Porque amo a Jesús,” I started to explain, amazed that I already had such a clear opportunity to share Christ. I stopped, searching for the words to continue my answer. The instructor, with his back to me, interpreted my silence as the completion of my sentence.

Porque amo a Jesús.”

Because I love Jesus.

That’s really a complete answer in itself, isn’t it?

The  Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco; Virgen de El Panecillo, a stunning statue that tops El Panecillo, a loaf-shaped hill visible throughout the city; Basílica del Voto Nacional in the historic city center. 

Thanking God for You!
If you’ve read this far, thank you! I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my new life with you and show you a little bit of this beautiful country whose people I love so dearly. Thank you for your prayers and support as I follow God’s calling to share Christ with the Ecuadorians and others I meet along the way. This work would not be possible without you! I love you all and pray for you continually.

Learn more about Jungle Kids for Christ at
junglekidsforchrist.org

Prayer Requests for November

  • For persistence, courage, and energy as I learn and practice Spanish.
  • For humility as I learn about the culture here and assimilate into it.
  • For opportunities for me to share my testimony and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • For the people and leaders in Ecuador, and for peace and safety throughout the country.
  • For the Gospel to spread like wildfire through this beautiful country and for its people to be saved!

Praise God with Me!

  • I MADE IT TO ECUADOR!
  • All of my luggage arrived intact!
  • My host family is wonderful and so kind about helping me learn the language, explore the city, and assimilate to the culture here.
  • My language instructor is funny, warm, and a very effective teacher.
  • No illness so far!

 

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