April 2021 Newsletter

First, many blessings to you this weekend as you celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection. He is risen!

A Wonderful Answer to Prayer

Radio HCJB Ecuador is a partner ministry, one of many ministries which used to be part of our mission and have transitioned to Ecuadorian leadership. In February they shared this wonderful news:

YAY!! Yesterday [February 11] HCJB Ecuador received official communication from the government that a concession has been granted for 15 years for the radio frequency 89.3FM Quito and its repeaters. This is an answer to our prayers of the last 10 years at least, and is the culmination of a process that has lasted the last 8.5 years and included lots of faith, working, waiting, praying, doubting and crying. Thanks for journeying with us on this adventure.”

Radio HCJB Ecuador

Partnership in Action

Since September our mission has helped provide medical care to refugees here in Quito. The story starts with Pan de Vida, a ministry we highlighted in our July 2020 newsletter. Ministering to impoverished families with food and job training, Pan de Vida had increasing numbers of refugees (mostly Venezuelan) with urgent medical needs.

(Photo from Pan de Vida’s Facebook page)

About half a block away is La Y Family Clinic, another Ecuadorian ministry started by our mission. With the help of our mission’s doctor, an agreement was reached. Pan de Vida would screen those needing medical care, La Y would provide the services, and our mission would pay 90% of the cost of each visit (capped at $3,000 per month). And when a doctor appointment is $20, $3,000 per month goes a long way. (Want to help with this partnership? Note on your gift:  “Latin America (30100) refugee ministry”.)

LA Y Family Clinic

How Are We Doing?

Our lives have settled into a manageable pandemic routine. The first three months were the worst ─ confined to our apartment (because we were over 65) and dependent on younger friends to bring groceries and supplies. Quito had a 2:00 p.m. curfew and those with cars could only drive one day per week.

Beginning in the summer, grocery store trips and outdoor exercise were permitted, the curfew was moved to 7:00 p.m., most people could drive three days per week, and some in-office work was permitted. Scott began going to the office three days a week. We’re both back in the office now, although it took Jody until her laptop died in early November to make the shift. We discovered Jody enjoys working from home while Scott definitely does not!

Summer Hopes: We’re planning a Home Ministry Assignment (HMA) July 7 through September 22. We hope to get to Colorado the last week in August for the training we tried to attend in 2019 and 2020. We’ll have time to connect with Colorado friends and we’ll have extended time in Oregon and Washington to see friends and family. Vaccinations are happening slowly in Ecuador so we are resigned to not being vaccinated until we arrive in Oregon.

If you know of a missionary apartment or short-term rental in the Eugene area, please let us know. Scott will continue working part-time and it would be great to have our own space. (UPDATE: We have a place to stay!)

How to Pray for Us

Thank God for:

  • HCJB Ecuador being granted its license for another 15 years
  • the Reach Beyond/Pan de Vida/La Y partnership*
  • continued good health and provision

Ask God:

  • for a place for us to stay in the Eugene area (prayer already answered)
  • that poorer countries get enough vaccines (and that the distribution is efficient and fair)
  • for God’s will to be done in Ecuador’s presidential election on April 11 (This February article provides a good overview: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56112385)

New Blog Posts:

Posted in Missions, Quito | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Getting Stuff to Quito

“You should blog about getting things to Ecuador,” one of our daughters said recently. “People can’t imagine not using the mail.”

The Ecuadorian mail has been notoriously unreliable in our time here, with mail taking two, three, or four months to arrive. Checks and credit cards are routinely stolen. Packages have shown up two or three years later (fi they show up at all). But since COVID-19 arrived in March 2020, the mails have almost stopped functioning.

This daughter, who receives our U.S. mail, knows what she’s talking about. Most mail she just scans to us, like our Oregon election ballots (Oregon is awesome for easy voting from overseas) or our Christmas cards and letters. But sometimes a scan isn’t sufficient and we have to get creative.

A good example is a credit card we applied for last April. It was mailed to our daughter and she gave us the number and security code over the phone so we could start using it (it was an airline credit card and we needed to charge a certain amount within three months in order to get the bonus miles).

So far so good. But we also needed the card here. So, in May she mailed it to our mission’s U.S. office in Colorado so the next person coming to Quito could bring it down. Only, because of COVID-19, no one was coming. “Hold on to it,” we told our office, “We may be in Oregon in July and you can mail it back to Oregon.” But we cancelled our trip to the U.S. and the missionary who had planned to travel from Colorado to Quito in August had to cancel his trip.

Meanwhile, co-workers from Shell were in Texas in August for three weeks. “Could you bring down a credit card for us?” we asked. “Sure,” they said. So the U.S. office mailed the card to Texas and our co-workers took it with them to their home in Shell (five hours from Quito). In September, another missionary came up from Shell to Quito and brought it to us. Success!

Not so successful was our attempt to repair Jody’s laptop, which started having problems in November. The CPU fan was not working, and a replacement couldn’t be found in Ecuador. So, Scott ordered one (yay, Amazon!) which went to Colorado. But the missionary who was coming to Quito in early December got COVID and postponed his trip.

What to do? We had missionaries in California who were returning January 3. So the package was mailed to them and they brought it to Quito. Sadly, it didn’t solve the problem. Our IT guy thought maybe a new motherboard might be the answer. Missionaries in Oregon were returning to Quito soon and were willing to bring it. So Amazon helped again and the motherboard came in early February.

When this still didn’t solve the problem, Jody’s laptop was declared officially dead. Scott brought home a loaner from the office and Jody is now set up on that laptop. Lord willing, we’ll be in the U.S. this summer and will buy and bring back a new laptop. (It’s a bit more challenging to find someone to bring back a laptop, as people can only bring one laptop into the country duty-free and most people are bringing their own.)

The bright side? Our occasional need to get something here that we can’t bring ourselves certainly builds patience, helps us not take for granted what we have, and sometimes shows us what we can do without.

Posted in Ecuador, Quito | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Choosing Joy

I (Jody) have been listening to audiobooks from Oregon’s on-line library while doing daily exercise in our apartment. Recently I somewhat randomly selected Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough by Kay Warren. I was halfway through the book before I realized Kay is married to Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, a book I really benefitted from ten or so years ago.

Warren reads her own book and is an animated and engaging reader. She’s very open about her personal weaknesses and marital challenges and offers many constructive suggestions. I appreciate her definition of joy (see below) and her emphasis that joy is a choice rather than an emotion. Happiness depends on our circumstances; joy is a choice whatever our circumstances.

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.

On her web page, kaywarren.com, she mentions the suicide of their son Matthew shortly after she wrote the first edition (which is the one I listened to). She says, “I really believe that God allowed me to write Choose Joy before Matthew died to prepare me for what was ahead, so that when he died, I would have the tools I desperately needed to survive and even thrive during one of my life’s most tragic losses.” (Read the entire blog here.) http://kaywarren.com/kays-blog/category/choose-joy/

I was encouraged and challenged by this book and would highly recommend it.

Posted in Books & Classes | Tagged | 2 Comments

Conversations Under A Tree

Our mission (Reach Beyond) is having a monthly Zoom “prayer concert” for missionaries and employees. The September meeting had about 60 attendees, with people sharing from Australia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and both Eastern and Western Europe.

My (Jody’s) heart was touched when our regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa shared a message a partner Christian radio station received from a listener. The listener’s country has faced years of extreme poverty, insecurity, and instability

“My name is Oumar. I live here with my wife and three children. These radio programs are in my language and they encourage us a lot. They speak to us of the word of God, of peace, of forgiveness, of reconciliation and of social cohesion. Through listening to these shows, I saw people who hated each other, sit under the same tree and chat about the content of the show without arguing and I said “glory to God”. I encourage you in this direction because these programs contribute a lot to the appeasement of hearts and to raising awareness towards living together in communities.”

This is why we are missionaries. And this is our desire for the U.S.: that people who hate each other can sit under the same tree and share the word of God. If it can happen in Africa, surely it can happen in the U.S., right?

Posted in Missions, Reach Beyond/HCJB | Tagged , | 2 Comments

October 2020 Newsletter

“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” Matthew 9:38

(Click here for print version.)

New Team Members

“Lord, please send more workers.” Isn’t this probably the prayer of every missionary? It has especially been our prayer as our missionary team has shrunk almost in half during our six years in Quito. (Most of these losses were through retirement, as a lot of us are in our 60’s and 70’s.)


So please rejoice with us for the new team members listed below. It’s a multi-national group; we’ll put citizenship in parentheses.

Vinicio and Dawn Salazar (Ecuador/U.S.) officially joined our Community Ministries team in Shell last year after three years in a temporary status. Vinicio spearheaded the food ministry in Shell highlighted in our last newsletter. Vinicio grew up in Shell and has many connections in the community. 

David and Anita Luzuriaga (Ecuador/Chile) joined our Apoyo team this August, training pastors and  strengthening the Latin American church.

Javier and Dora Cuchipe (Ecuador/Austria) will also work with Apoyo. They are currently in Austria waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to abate before coming to Quito.

Each of these couples have one Ecuadorian; this gives them a head start in their ministry as they already know the language and the culture. We’re so thankful for these new workers; please pray for solid financial support for them and God’s grace as they navigate ministry in the midst of a pandemic.

How Are We?

We’re doing fine, staying safe and healthy. Despite the pandemic, work has been very busy, especially for Scott. Jody’s boss suggested yesterday that Scott train Jody on budget preparation; it’s budget time and Scott has too many other pressing duties. Budgeting involves multiple Excel files and relies on programming in a computer language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)., along with uploading everything to the accounting system. But Jody is willing to tackle it and we’ll start next week.

We’re thankful for the technology that lets us work from home when necessary and also lets us connect with far away family and friends. COVID-19 is still very much a problem in Quito, but not so much in our neighborhood. Like the rest of the world, we’ll be very glad when this pandemic is in the past.

One plus of the pandemic, though, is beginning a weekly Zoom crossword with most of our kids. Scott has always enjoyed doing crossword puzzles which are now a family tradition. With Zoom, he can share the crossword on his iPad with the various households involved and all can work together. Our record so far is five households; three in Oregon, one in Washington, and one in Ecuador.

Prayers

Thank God for new workers, for continued good health, for modern technology, and for interesting work.

Please pray for God’s mercy on Ecuador, the U.S., and the world as COVID-19 continues to rage. Pray also for Oregon, our home state, as thousands recover from devasting loss from recent wildfires.

New Blog Posts at AdventuresInMiddleEarth.com

The Trip That Wasn’t

Glimpses of Heaven

I Married an Investigator

A Different Kind of Vacation

Scott & Jody Arnold

Want to donate to Reach Beyond on our behalf? You can mail a check to the address below with a note that it’s for account # 110563 or you can click on this link to donate on-line.

Reach Beyond
PO Box 39800
Colorado Springs, CO 80949-9800


Posted in Ecuador, Missions | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Different Kind of Vacation

We’ve enjoyed exploring Ecuador on our vacations. Since we don’t have a car, we typically pack light, take a bus (twice we flew) to some interesting place, and stay in a low-cost hostel or AirBnB. We usually have lots of conversations with Ecuadorians as we see the sights.

When we cancelled our U.S. trip (see The Trip That Wasn’t), we looked at each other and said, “We need to take some vacation.” The need was two-fold: 1) it’s good to get away from work periodically and have a complete change of scenery and 2) we had vacation days we were going to lose if we didn’t take them before the end of the year.

Our next thought was, “But where can we go? We sure don’t want a stay-cation.” Because of COVID-19, we were avoiding public transportation, restaurants, and conversations with strangers.

“Maybe,” we thought, “we can find a cabin or cottage in the country, hire a taxi, and take all our own food. We can walk (or ride) on country roads and not see too many people.”

We ended up staying in this cute cottage, Casa Verde, for a week in August. It was one of three or four residences on a small organic farm. It was close (10-minute walk) to Quiroga, a small Quichua town and about a 40-minute walk from Cotacachi, a town which specializes in leather products. It was such a treat to have private transportation, and Scott even squeezed in his mountain unicycle.

We very much enjoyed the different scenery and setting. Most of the tourist sites close by were closed because of the pandemic, but Jody walked and Scott unicycled on the quiet country roads. We read a lot, relaxed, and were almost bored. It was a good, refreshing time.

During that week we reserved another AirBnb, the Hummingbird House, the second week of November. It’s close to Otavalo and probably within ten miles of Casa Verde. We’re looking forward to another restful week.

One of the fun things about traveling in Ecuador is how little it can cost. Our taxi was $50 each way and the weekly rate of Casa Verde was $155. The Hummingbird House will be $162 for the week. It’s  hard to beat that!

Posted in Ecuador, Travel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I Married An Investigator

I (Jody) first heard of the Enneagram late last year when a fellow missionary offered to teach an Enneagram class. He used as his main text, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-discovery, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile.

Scott and I took the class and gained from it. We learned the Enneagram describes nine personality types: their strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and connections to each other. Although we didn’t agree with everything, we found a lot that rang true and was helpful. (If you want to know more, just search “Enneagram” for lots of information.)

I decided that I identify as type 2, the Helper or Giver, although I lean a bit toward type 1, the Reformer or Perfectionist. It took a few weeks to reach type 5, the Investigator or Observer. It’s described as intense, cerebral, perceptive, innovative, private, and able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Scott identifies as this type (and I can see our family and friends nodding heads in agreement).

Last Saturday morning illustrated what it’s like being married to an Investigator: it’s a bit of an adventure! I learned about ultra-black fish, VantaBlack, carbon nanotubes, the VantaBlack Hyundai Pavilion in Korea, Anish Kapoor (the only artist who can use VantaBlack paint), Black 3.0 (what all the other artists can use), an even blacker black developed by MIT, color absorption, what colors our eyes can see (basically the spectrum in the rainbow plus purple), and how hummingbirds can see colors we can’t (according to a three-year study by the Rocky Mountain Research Institute).

Like I said, it’s an adventure, and one I thoroughly enjoy. Scott introduces me to topics I would never explore on my own and broadens my world.

Posted in Books & Classes | Tagged | 2 Comments

Glimpses of Heaven

It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed; and then cried:

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!” (The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis)

At times here in Ecuador I (Jody) look at the Andes and my heart aches both for their beauty and with the knowledge that someday I won’t be here to see them.

While I know that Heaven is going to be so different that no one can imagine it accurately—as different as the seed is from the plant—the Bible promises a new heaven and a new earth. I like Lewis’ idea that our love for this earth springs from its resemblance to our real home. It eases the ache of the transitory nature of this life.

“You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.”

Posted in Books & Classes, Travel | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Trip That Wasn’t

Today was supposed to be a special day. We were going to leave for our eighth trip to the U.S. Besides time with family and supporters in Oregon and Colorado, we would attend that debriefing session in Colorado which we couldn’t get into last summer.

In late May we bought tickets, July 18-September 22 on American Airlines, telling ourselves we needed to hold very lightly to our plans, as no one knew what the COVID-19 situation would be here and in the U.S. this summer. At that point COVID-19 seemed to be calming down here and in the U.S. and we were hopeful things would continue to improve.

Our plan was to voluntarily quarantine for two weeks in Oregon (doing our Ecuador work remotely), then see family and supporters in outside settings in early August. I (Jody) would go to my 50-year high school reunion. We’d go to Colorado for the debriefing, see friends and supporters there, and maybe even go to Texas to see a long-time friend. Then back to Oregon, probably working remotely during the week but connecting with people evenings and weekends. And—if the Ride the Rim around Crater Lake happened—Scott would get to ride it again on his big-wheel unicycle.

For me, there’s a certain rhythm in preparing for a trip to the U.S. I have an on-going list of things I want to bring back, and I start ordering things on Amazon. I plan my groceries here so that my fresh stuff runs out right when we leave. I make a packing list and a to-do list. What gifts do we want to take? Do we need to make doctor appointments in the U.S.? Who will to water the plants and check on our apartment here?

A big question this trip was, “Where will we self-quarantine?” “We’ll put the need in our June newsletter,” we said. So we got the newsletter done in mid-June and sent it off to our wonderful family member who formats our newsletters. He emailed saying he’d do it that weekend. But then he got a stomach flu and spent his weekend very sick. The thought crossed my mind, “Maybe something is going to change this week and we’ll need to change the newsletter.”

So we’re into the last week of June and it was full of hard news. COVID-19 cases were increasing in the U.S. We were going through Customs in Miami, a current COVID-19 hot spot. Our debriefing session was still on, but did we want to travel by plane in the U.S. in August? Also, cases were rising in Quito after three weeks of relaxed restrictions. Our neighborhood has good compliance with mask wearing and social distancing, but a lot of the rest of Quito does not have good compliance, mostly due to poverty and extreme crowding. The case numbers were soaring and hospitals were maxing out.

Besides the issue of health risks, a caution we had about traveling was getting stuck in the U.S. In March, Ecuador closed its borders very abruptly, giving tourists one day to leave and out-of-country residents two days to come back. We had missionaries stuck in the U.S. and Cuba for months. If things continued to get worse here, Ecuador might abruptly close its borders again. Or if things continued to get worse in the U.S., Ecuador might refuse flights from the U.S.

Then on Friday American Airlines announced they were going to start filling up their flights; no more leaving the middle seat vacant. This was the deal breaker for me. While the air filters in planes are very effective, if someone is sitting next to me for four to six hours and removes his or her mask to eat, his or her breath is going to reach me before it reaches the filters.

So we talked over dinner and decided to cancel the trip. Scott promised that we’d take at least a vacation trip to see family as soon as we felt it was safe. And we’ll try to attend a debriefing session in 2021. We edited the now-July newsletter and sent it off to our formatter. And the rhythm of preparing to go came to an abrupt halt.

I am disappointed but at peace about the decision. In the last three weeks COVID-19 has surged both here and in the U.S. For us, 2020 is not a good summer to be traveling internationally. We’d prayed for wisdom and God gave us enough reasons to stay put. We have worthwhile work we can do here, and there’s always Zoom and Skype to connect with people.

And my Amazon purchases are waiting for me in Eugene; it will be like Christmas when we go, since I’ll probably forget what I’ve ordered!

(Disclaimer: please don’t think that we are ranking canceling a trip right up there with losing your job,  your health, or a loved one. We know this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things; we’re just sharing our experience.)

Posted in Quito, Travel | Tagged , | 5 Comments

July 2020 Newsletter

COVID-19 Lockdown
After three months of lockdown, Quito is cautiously opening up. Most businesses are reopening but working from home is still encouraged and social distancing and other protocols are in place for those that go to their workplace. Scott is transitioning to two days per week in the office, while Jody is continuing to work from home. COVID-19 cases are still increasing in Quito and ICU beds are currently full; if the pandemic worsens, Quito could be locked down again.

Our best news this week was that outdoor individual physical activity is now allowed for those under 70. Both cycling and mountaineering were specifically mentioned and Scott is delighted. He climbed our 16,000’ mountain last weekend.

Food Ministries

Although we’ve been confined to home, some of our missionaries are helping with food ministries in Shell and Quito. An estimated 40% to 50% of Ecuadorians live day-to-day and the three-month quarantine has put many families in desperate need of help.

In Shell our Community Ministries department has helped at least seven local churches provide food kits to vulnerable families. Each church develops a list of the families they would like to help and decides what portion of the food list they can supply. Our mission provides coordination, purchasing, vehicles, necessary legal permission, and the funding for the remainder of the shopping list.

The Shell shopping list includes 4 kg rice, 2 kg sugar, 2 lb soup noodles, 1 L palm oil, 1 kg lentils, 6 cans tuna, 2 kg salt, 1 lb oats, 1 pkg powdered milk, 1 pkg pasta, 1 pkg tapioca, $1.00 of plantain, $1.00 of yucca, 30 eggs, and a live chicken. The cost is about $25.00.

Pan de Vida (Bread of Life) is a Quito ministry close to where we work. In normal times they provide about 500 families with food, clothing, and job training. About half are immigrants, mostly from Venezuela. During the quarantine they have distributed food kits to 50-100 people, three times a week, more than 6,000 kits in all. The kits cost about $20 and supply a family of four for two weeks. The contents are similar to the Shell shopping list except there’s a frozen chicken instead of a live one. Because of the demand, most recipients have received one-time help.

The International Bible Society donates Bibles which are given to anyone who wants one. Volunteers pray with those who want prayer and encourage however they can. Two of our co-workers have helped in preparing and distributing food kits. In the photo below they’re the tall ones toward the front.

Pan de Vida has a website, pandevida.org.ec, and accepts donations in Ecuador and in the U.S. They also have a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/fundacionpandevida, with videos of people receiving help.

How to Pray

Thank God for the ways He is working through this pandemic and for opportunities to share His love and hope.

  • For Ecuador and the world, ask that God would work out His purposes, granting leaders wisdom in this challenging time.

New Blog Posts at AdventuresInMiddleEarth.com

Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

Scott & Jody

(Want to read the print version? Click here.)

Posted in Ecuador, Missions, Quito | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments