Excited About God’s Work in the New Year!

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

 

20191229_162125

Looking Forward to the New Year!
No, you didn’t miss the January newsletter – I’m a bit behind in sending this update! I have so much to share with you. God has been doing so much in my heart these past couple of months, and I’m so excited to see what this year holds for this ministry!

Before I catch you up, I have a very exciting announcement! I will be returning to the U.S. for a visit from July 14 to August 19!!! I will be visiting my home church and other supporting churches to give an update on my journey so far.

My Spanish is coming along well! It’s harder to measure my progress now, but both my instructor and I have noticed that I have a broader vocabulary and some of the concepts that were a challenge for a long time are no longer difficult for me. A couple weeks ago, I learned the last two verb tenses, so now I can theoretically express any idea I want. I just need to keep practicing!!

Visit to Misahualli!
I took a short break from Spanish classes in early February to visit Misahualli for a few days! I spent the time getting to know the students, teachers, and missionary staff at the school, shadowing the other two counselors, and getting an inside view of life in the jungle. It was amazing to return almost two years after I first visited the school in 2018. I had a feeling of coming home, even though I don’t really know this place yet. It just felt so comfortable. I didn’t want to leave, but this time it was a little easier knowing that I will be back very soon.

I’ve included a couple photos of the school grounds. The photo of the jungle is the view from the counseling office! The first photo is in the town center; the official name of the town is Puerto Misahualli.

Christmas Celebrations!
Christmas in Ecuador is a month-long celebration! I started seeing Christmas decorations the week after Halloween.

The week before Christmas, the staff and students at the Spanish school helped throw a Christmas party for some of the children at a local hospital. We had a blast singing and dancing with the kids – and serving a TON of cake!

I spent Christmas Eve with my host mom and her family. At my host mom’s request, I made another sweet potato casserole, since it was such a hit at Thanksgiving! We stayed up very late eating, exchanging gifts, and singing Christmas carols (both in Spanish and English). I had a wonderful time and felt very welcomed and loved even so far from home.

Food Adventures!
I’m thinking this section might need to become a regular part of my monthly newsletters. There are so many delicious (and sometimes odd!) dishes here and I love sharing this part of my adventure. The first few photos show the process of making empanadas de pollo y queso – empanadas with chicken and cheese! We make these for dinner every few weeks in my host family. We buy the empanada “wrappers” from the store, then stuff them with the chicken and cheese. Then they’re fried in oil, and we eat them hot with aji, a spicy sauce that we make at home with tree tomatoes, onions, and aji peppers. We put it on everything!

The school has cooking classes almost weekly, which are a great way to meet other students and practice Spanish together. A couple months ago, we learned how to make empanadas verde, which involves steaming and mashing green plantains, rolling balls of the mashed plantain into an empanada shape, then stuffing them with cheese. Again, they are fried in oil and eaten hot. The taste and texture are incredible, but it’s a very messy process to make them. Sadly, I do not have photos of these ones!

A few weeks ago I attended another lesson to make llapingachos, fried potato pancakes that are stuffed with cheese and served with a peanut sauce. We also made fried eggs and sausage to accompany them. They were delicious!!

Last but not least, I’ve also been trying my hand at making baked goods to share with my host family. It’s no small feat to bake at 10,000 feet above sea level! Because of the lower air pressure, foods take longer to bake and liquids evaporate faster. Each recipe typically requires several adjustments to make the final product turn out properly – or at least edible! I’ve tried a few different cakes, orange yeast rolls for New Year’s Day, and chocolate chip cookies. I think the cookies turned out pretty well, and my housemates seemed to agree. The cookies disappeared in two days.  🙂

20200118_140624

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 continued perseverance in learning and practicing Spanish.
  • For renewed strength and energy as I continue to adjust to this new culture and my life here in Ecuador.

Praise God with Me!

  • I enjoyed a productive and re-energizing visit to Antioch earlier this month!
  • I have a plane ticket for a visit to the states this summer!

 

Thankful

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.
Isaiah 26:3

cropped-43103021_155663045369929_2325253126065487872_n.jpg

Sustained in Perfect Peace
You may have noticed that this month’s verse is the same as last month – that was deliberate! These past few weeks have been a bit busy and stressful, but I’m constantly reminded of God’s care and provision for me.

Language Progress!
I have been taking language classes for seven weeks now, and I am still making steady progress! My Spanish is not perfect yet by any means, and there are still days when I go home from my lessons exhausted and frustrated. There are even times when I don’t know a word in Spanish and I can’t remember it in English, either! But those days are fewer and further between than they were for my first few weeks. I have reached the point where I can often recognize when I have made a mistake in speaking or writing, and correct my mistakes much of the time! Sometimes I can even understand a joke in Spanish, or figure out a new word in a conversation by context alone. These seemingly little milestones have been encouraging, especially since I know I still have such a long way to go!

Food Adventures!
I finally had the opportunity to try roasted Guinea pig, a traditional dish in the Andean regions of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru. Here it is known as cuy, a word from the Kichwa language that describes the high-pitched sound the animal makes. I did not care for the taste or the texture, but I’m happy to have tried it! The other photo is tigrillo, a fried mash of green plantains, cheese, and peanut butter! Served with a fried egg, it makes a delicious, hearty breakfast. By far one of my favorite meals so far!

More Hellos and Goodbyes
One of the Yay Duck/Yuck Duck experiences of doing a homestay with other language students – the constant cycle of hellos and goodbyes. The photo on the left is me with my classmate from Germany. The other is me with my most recent roommate – from Arizona! It’s always fun to meet another American!


The photos below were taken at the stunning Iglesia de la Basilica, a large neo-Gothic church in Quito’s historic center. Although the first stone was laid in 1892, the building technically remains unfinished. Local legend claims that when the Basilica is completed, the end of world will come.


The Simon Bolivar Spanish School! The facility has several classrooms, a sitting room, and a kitchen (which is always stocked with fresh tea and coffee!). In addition to Spanish classes, the school also offers cooking lessons, dance classes, and other opportunities for students to learn and practice Spanish.

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!
The holiday is not typically celebrated here in Ecuador, but I wanted to share some of my family’s recipes with my host family and the other students staying in the house. I spent the day cooking several of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes – a roasted turkey, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. It was a monumental task, made possible only with the help of the housekeeper, who lovingly laughed at my terrible Spanish as I tried to explain the recipes. After dinner I was able to see some of my famiy and friends back home through a video call.

I am thankful for my family and friends all over the world, as well as my new friends here in Ecuador. And I am grateful beyond words for a God who is always present with me.

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 God’s continued peace and comfort as I face homesickness.
  • For continued diligence and perseverance in learning and practicing Spanish.
  • For more opportunities to share the Gospel!

Praise God with Me!

  • My comprehension of Spanish is growing, and my host mom has commented on my progress!
  • I feel more settled into this new routine and life.
  • I have had several opportunities to share the Gospel!

 

Because I Love Jesus

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.
Isaiah 26:3
20191026_120723.jpg

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!

 

Amazed by God’s Work

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21

Almost FULLY Funded!
Because who doesn’t like good news?

As of today, my funding stands at 75%! That leaves just $625 to raise in recurring monthly donations!

The verse from Ephesians that I chose for this month’s update is one of my favorites. It’s a distinct reminder that God is the source of all our blessings and the cause of our accomplishments. This verse also reminds me that God is capable of far more than I can even imagine or think to ask of Him. I have a tendency to limit my prayers based on my human understanding of a situation, but God repeatedly shows me how much more He can do. I have been continually amazed by God’s power and provision throughout this process. He has raised up many supporters who are generous and excited to partner with my ministry, some of whom were complete strangers!

Although I don’t have an exact departure date yet, I am anticipating leaving in early October! The missionary care coordinator in Ecuador is making the final arrangements for my language training and homestay placement. As soon as I have a final date, I will share that with you!

If you’ve felt God’s leading to partner with this ministry to support me financially or through prayer, now is the time to do it! I would love to tell you all about Jungle Kids for Christ and my role with them.

THANK YOU!!
To everyone who has supported me so far, whether financially, emotionally, or through prayer, THANK YOU. I am so grateful that you’ve chosen to partner with me in this ministry to empower children in the jungles of Ecuador through a personal relationship with Jesus. You make this work possible and I am blessed to have you alongside me in this journey.

Learn more about Jungle Kids for Christ at
junglekidsforchrist.org

Prayer Requests for September

  • For diligence and energy to continue raising the last of the support I need!
  • For God’s blessing and peace on all the details of packing, buying plane tickets, and other arrangements for my departure.
  • For good “goodbyes” with family members and friends.
  • For God to prepare my heart and mind for all of the changes He has in store for me in the coming weeks and months.

Celebrating and Enjoying Community

Thankful for the Blessing of Family and Friends!
While trying to choose a Scripture verse to include with this month’s newsletter, it struck me that every update I’ve included here relates to community in some way. God has richly blessed me with many loving family members and friends who have participated in my life in myriad ways over the years. This past month has been full of celebrating and enjoying these relationships.

Going-Away Party
On June 29th, my family and friends threw a going-away party for me. I enjoyed a day of relaxing and laughing with friends both old and new, playing a friendly but competitive game of Scattegories, and eating entirely too much food – including one of my favorite desserts ever, the colossal pink champagne cake from the Madonna Inn! Although I’m not leaving quite yet, it was still good for my soul to spend time with these people who love me so much.

Meet My Care Team!
It is often said that no one accomplishes anything alone, and Scripture reflects God’s design for human relationships to help us through the joys and sorrows of life. With this in mind, I would like to introduce you to my personal accountability and care team. As the name suggests, the purpose of this team is to support me both before and after my departure through accountability and care. In reality, this means gathering to pray for me, keeping me accountable in various areas, providing encouragement, and offering their help with anything from packing to facilitating communication with my supporters to helping manage my affairs in California while I am in Ecuador.

My team consists of three couples, all of whom know me very well and have stuck with me through the ups and downs of life. Jake and Haley led the young adult Bible study that I joined after college. Our study through the book of Romans had a profound impact on my understanding of who God is and my relationship with Him. Wayne and Kathy recently retired from directing the Christian summer camp that I attended for four years in high school and later volunteered at for seven consecutive summers. Wayne taught me to love and revere Scripture, and both of them have spoken encouragement into my life and given me solid advice. Their longstanding devotion and service to Christ set a wonderful example for me to follow even as a teenager. Jacob and Sam are some of my dearest friends. I have known Sam since I was in 8th grade and have shared almost half my life with her now. We have encouraged and challenged each other in our faith since the very beginning of our friendship and continue to do so.

These people already pray for me, offer godly advice and encouragement, and admonish me in love, so it was only natural to include them in this pursuit of God’s call on my life. I am incredibly grateful to know these people and call them friends.

20190629_143102
From left to right: Jake and Haley (and their precious girls!), Wayne and Kathy, Jacob and Sam (and me!)

Family Camping Trip!
This past weekend, I traveled with my family to Camp Nelson in the Sequoia National Forest, the same small mountain town where so many of my summers were spent camping and fishing as a kid. Growing up we camped in tents and later in an RV, but this time we rented a nice little cabin. There’s something to be said about the luxury of hot running water and indoor plumbing after a day of handling fish bait, wrestling trout, and falling in the creek.

After a disappointing morning of fishing, we decided to check out some of the wilderness around us. We hiked the Trail of 100 Giants, an easy mile-long trail that meanders through a grove of stunning mature sequoias. In the photo below on the right, I’m standing in front of three sequoias that naturally grew together, creating a hollow chamber between their trunks. The chamber is large enough to comfortably fit several grown adults! (In spite of what it appears in the photo, I was not actually attempting the Vulcan salute.)

Next we drove to Dome Rock Trail, another quick hike that leads to the top of a 400-foot rock dome with incredible 360˚ views of the forest. On our way back to the cabin, we made a slight detour to see Stagg Tree, the 5th largest giant sequoia in the world by volume. We managed to pack a lot into our short trip and made some great memories along the way!

One Last Camp Season!
If this newsletter were written on paper, you might see some splotches where my tears fell on the page as I wrote this section. Perhaps one benefit of the digital age is that you have no evidence of how emotional I am.

For the past seven years, my summers revolved around the one or two weeks in July that I served at Camp Challenge, a Christian summer camp at Lake Lopez in California. As a school cabin leader, I was given precious charge of the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of 6-8 middle school or high school girls as we played crazy games, worshiped and studied the Bible in chapel, splashed in the pool, and enjoyed the splendor of God’s creation around us in the mountains. I attended the camp for four years in high school and was so excited to return as a staff member. Some of the most meaningful and important relationships in my life were developed at this camp. I’ve seen the successful changing of camp directors and watched with effusive joy as kids who grew up at the camp returned as staff members. Perhaps you can grasp the impact it had on me when I realized that God’s call to Ecuador meant that my time serving with Camp Challenge was finished.

Or so I thought. God, in His great love and grace, has allowed me one more season to serve at camp this summer. A week ago I had the great joy – yes, joy – of helping with the Herculean task of completing the grocery shopping for the first week of camp, which includes stops at multiple stores to find everything we need. It’s a challenge that requires both mental and physical organization, which is right up my alley. Later this week, I will also fill in for a cabin leader the last day of junior high camp.

I am again reminded of the Yay Duck and Yuck Duck from the missionary training in Colorado. If you missed that newsletter, a quick explanation – Yay Duck focuses on the positive in life, while Yuck Duck focuses on the negative. Just as the good and the bad often coexist in real life, these two ducks exist together in paradox. Healthy coping and adjustment to life changes comes when we readily acknowledge and validate both the positive and negative in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones.

This last camp season for me is a prime example of this paradox. I am grieved to leave a place, a community, and a ministry that have meant so much to me since I was a teenager. Words cannot begin to express how much I will miss the campers and staff members. Perhaps equally important to acknowledge, I will also miss the comfort and safety of knowing my ministry role and what to expect as I serve. Ecuador represents a lot – I mean, A LOT – of unknowns, something that can be very scary for a type-A personality like me who prefers to plan for every contingency. Following God’s call into the jungle means learning more than ever before how to release my own expectations and desires to trust that God is good and in control.

On the other hand, I am so excited to return to Ecuador and use my social work training to serve Christ and share the Gospel with people who desperately need the hope and freedom only Christ offers. It fills me with joy and thankfulness to know that the camp I so dearly love is thriving even with the numerous changes it has undergone in the last few years, because all of the staff members are focused on glorifying and sharing Christ before anything else. I am at peace knowing that God has declared my work with camp done for the time being and has graciously showed me the next few steps in His plan for me.

20190707_185639

20190708_115517

20190706_191107.jpg
2019 Camp Challenge Grocery Run Team!

Learn more about Jungle Kids for Christ at
junglekidsforchrist.org

Prayer Requests for July

  • For continued boldness and courage in reaching out to potential supporters.
  • For faith and reliance on God to provide funding through those He has already chosen to partner with me.
  • For diligence and faithfulness in tackling and completing all the tasks that lay before me as I prepare for departure.

The Goodbyes Begin

God is at Work!
It’s only been a few weeks since the last newsletter, but there is already so much to share with you! My visa came through on May 21st, which was a HUGE relief (more on that below). I am continuing to meet with people to raise support, and God has been orchestrating that far beyond my efforts! Several people have approached me to ask about supporting me or to tell me that they set up a donation online before I even contacted them. It has been so exciting to see how God works through this whole process.

I have also been hard at work sorting through my belongings and deciding what to take with me to Ecuador, what to pack in storage, and what to let go of. To that end, a few friends helped me organize a yard sale on June 15th. Thanks to their efforts, we were able to sort, price, and sell a TON of items. The proceeds will be used to cover expenses associated with my move to Ecuador. The clothing leftover from the sale will be donated to Atascadero First Assembly church for their recurring clothing drive, and the books we did not sell will be donated to the local public library.

The Goodbyes Begin
It has been difficult for me to wrap my mind around needing to say goodbye to people when I don’t have an exact departure date. I’m not leaving yet, so why say goodbye? But the unfortunate reality is that there are many people I have been blessed to spend time with recently without knowing whether I will see them again before make the move to Ecuador – and so saying good goodbyes has already become a necessity.

My roommate from grad school – who was also my classmate and fellow intern – came to visit over Memorial Day Weekend, which was a wonderful blessing. We have all heard (and maybe lived) horror stories about roommates, but living with this amazing woman was nothing like that. She is an incredibly supportive and thoughtful person, and I was so lucky to have her for a roommate. We had so much fun catching up with each other before saying goodbye.

At the end of May, I flew to visit my sister and brother-in-law at their new home in Omaha, Nebraska. For the first time in our lives, my sister and I suddenly find ourselves living hundreds of miles from each other, and it’s been strange for us to be so far apart. I arrived in time to help celebrate her birthday, and our time together culminated in a trip to the Omaha Zoo! The photos below are from my visit. The goodbyes were hard, but I’m grateful that we made wonderful memories in the process!

Visa Update!
On May 20, I dragged myself out of bed at 5am and drove to LA (yes, with coffee!) for my visa appointment at the Ecuadorian consulate. I arrived with an hour to spare (although it took me 15 minutes of driving around to find parking) and located the consulate office with no problem. I even recognized enough of the Spanish on the signs in the office to know that I needed to sign in with my name on the clipboard at the front counter! After about 20 minutes, one of the consulate employees called my name… and informed me that my appointment had actually been the previous Monday!

The employee kindly informed me that the next available visa appointment was the following morning at 10:30. A quick phone call to a couple friends in nearby Camarillo confirmed that I would have a place to stay the night – and a silver lining from the whole debacle was the opportunity to spend more time with these friends! The next morning I ventured back into downtown LA for my rescheduled appointment, and finally left at 3pm with my visa in-hand! Well, technically not in-hand, since Ecuador now uses an electronic visa. But close enough.  🙂

Going-Away Party!
My friends and family are throwing a going-away party for me on Saturday, June 29th! We are doing a sort of open house event where people can stop in to say goodbye and stay however long they like. All the details can be found in the flyer below. Everyone is welcome! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Party flyer (2)

Learn more about Jungle Kids for Christ at
junglekidsforchrist.org

Prayer Requests for June

  • For peace and confidence as I continue making preparations to leave for Ecuador.
  • For continued good “goodbyes” with family members and friends.

As Iron Sharpens Iron

20190503_101141One of countless stunning views from the training center.

Training Recap!
I’m finally back in California after spending the past four weeks at language and cross-cultural training in Colorado! I can hardly believe how quickly the time seemed to fly by. It would be impossible to relay the entire experience in this newsletter, but I’ve included the highlights.

Living in Paradox
The program was trying, encouraging, exhausting, and refreshing all at once. A confusing way to describe the experience, perhaps, but the contrast is fitting. One of our very first lessons was about two ducks, Yay Duck and Yuck Duck. Yay Duck focuses on the positive and exciting, while Yuck Duck sees the negative and difficult. Just like the good and the bad nearly always exist together, so does this pair of ducks – paradox!  😉  We are often uncomfortable with Yuck Duck’s presence, so we may ignore or downplay the “yuck” in our lives or someone else’s. But both represent valid feelings and reactions to what is happening in our lives. Healthy coping requires that we learn to let both “ducks” swim side by side together. In the past I’ve often been hesitant to acknowledge the negative to myself, much less out loud. I’m making an effort to be more honest about my own perspectives and accepting the negative along with the positive. I can be grieved to leave behind my home, family, and friends, while at the same time I am out-of-my-mind excited to return to Ecuador and do the work God has laid before me.

It snowed several times during the program!

Linguistics Training
The first two weeks of the program focused on principles and methods for language acquisition. The English languages utilizes about 44 unique sounds, but there are so many more sounds in other languages across the globe! During phonetics drills, we learned to identify where various sounds are made in the mouth and how to form unfamiliar sounds from other languages. After practicing about two dozen different vowel sounds, I am profoundly grateful that Spanish has only five!

My greatest linguistics challenge was learning to trill my “r.” For years I’ve been getting away with using a “d” sound instead of trilling, but after a coaching session I can actually do it properly! We were assigned to various language groups to help us practice different activities for language learning. I had a ton of fun learning some Bulgarian with my group, and came away with a brand-new excitement for learning Spanish.

VideoCapture_20190423-172743

Practicing Bulgarian!

Good “Goodbyes”
The second half of the program dealt with deeply emotional and spiritual topics. We talked about managing conflict and stress, maintaining spiritual vitality, and the realities of moving into a new culture. Some of that reality includes grief, loss, and the necessity of saying good “goodbyes.” I’ve never thought of most goodbyes as being good. As a relationship-oriented person, even some temporary goodbyes are hard for me. A good “goodbye,” though, means that those involved are able to find satisfaction and peace – even if nobody is happy about the process. Another paradox. A healthy goodbye seeks to celebrate the relationship and allow each person to express their feelings.

That lesson was incredibly poignant. The very next day, we all had an opportunity to practice saying healthy goodbyes to each other. Several people have asked me about my favorite part of the training – without a doubt, it was the relationships I formed with the other missionaries and our trainers. I was surprised to find that I bonded with these strangers so quickly! Our shared faith and similar experiences of giving up everything familiar to say yes to God’s calling gave us common ground that needed no explanation. I felt safe enough to be open and vulnerable in our conversations, something that rarely comes easily for me. That risk was richly rewarded with love and support. I was challenged and encouraged in ways that I know will help better prepare me for Ecuador. If painful goodbyes truly are evidence of having loved and been loved well, then I am deeply grateful for them.

Visa Update!
I received some very exciting news this month – my visa application was accepted! Thank you to everyone who prayed over this process. The last step is an in-person appointment at the Ecuadorian Consulate in Los Angeles on May 20 where I will (hopefully) be granted the actual visa. Please continue to pray that God will bless this process and ensure that the rest of it goes smoothly!

If you haven’t already, check out my Instagram and Facebook pages using the links below! Follow the pages to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Learn more about Jungle Kids for Christ at
junglekidsforchrist.org

Prayer Requests for May

  • That God would continue to bless and guide my support raising journey!
  • For safety as I travel to meet with potential supporters.
  • For good “goodbyes” with family members and friends.