September 2018 Newsletter

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

August 15 marked four years in Ecuador. Wow! How can it be four years? We are very thankful for God’s faithfulness on this journey.

As we looked back, another “Wow” moment was, “Look how many changes we’ve had!”  Since we first visited in 2012, two-thirds of our missionary team have transferred, resigned, or retired; one hospital has closed and another is being sold; our school for missionary kids in Shell has closed; our radio station is being run by an Ecuadorian foundation; our guesthouse just closed; and part of our Community Development department is moving to another region (check our blog for more on these changes).

Why so many changes?

  • The Latin American church is maturing and starting to assume responsibility for local ministry.
  • Reach Beyond, like many international mission organizations, is shifting its resources to areas of the world with large unreached people groups and no indigenous churches. Our downsizing here makes possible increased activities in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
  • Also, we have a lot of older missionaries here, and many are retiring. Nineteen of our remaining thirty-seven missionaries are approaching, at, or beyond retirement age.

What does this mean for us?

  • Change is hard and sometimes messy. We knew before we came that these changes were coming and we agreed with them in theory. But living through huge changes and seeing the impact on missionaries who are now our friends is emotionally and logistically very challenging.
  • We see God’s hand in placing us here. Scott’s accounting expertise is especially needed in navigating the financial side of these changes; Jody has a valuable role in Missionary Personnel as an encourager and a helper. For now our place is here.
  • As always, following Jesus in times of change and uncertainty refocuses us on basic truths: God is in control, we have no guarantees for the future, and we are God’s servants to do with as He wills. The challenge and promise of Philippians 4:6-7 remains very current:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV).

Family Reunion in Ecuador

How to Pray for Us

  • Thank God for four years in Ecuador and for His faithfulness
  • Ask for protection and guidance for our family in Oregon

Recent Blog Posts (click to read)

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Changes

Did you know a huge change is happening in missions? For the last several years, many long-time international mission organizations, including Reach Beyond, have been shifting their missionaries and resources  from Latin America to other areas of the world where the gospel is largely unknown.

Missiologists speak of unreached people groups (UPGs) ― where less than two per cent of the population is Christian and the indigenous church, if it exists, is unable to spread the gospel. Over 1900 large (more than 100,000 members) UPGs have been identified, mostly in Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Reaching these large UPGs with the gospel requires cooperation between organizations, with each organization bringing their strengths to the task.

Reach Beyond’s strengths are media and health care. We’ve identified 20 large UPGs to target in the coming years. Partnering with local organizations, we are establishing community-based radio stations, providing medical care through mobile clinics or in refugee camps, and helping with clean water and improved sanitation. We’re establishing a regional hub in Europe for training and mobilizing.

This change in vision and ministries has brought about major changes in Ecuador since we first visited in 2012:

  • Hospital Vozandes Oriente (Shell, Ecuador) closed and we are in the process of selling the property to another ministry that will carry on the tradition of medical care on the border of the jungle
  • Another property in Shell (including our guesthouse and a school for missionary kids) was sold to an Ecuadorian ministry that provides job training for indigenous groups as they struggle to adapt to the 21st century
  • Radio station HCJB is now HCJB-Ecuador and is operated by an Ecuadorian foundation (with the assistance of Reach Beyond missionaries)
  • Hospital Vozandes Quito is being sold to a group of Ecuadorian Christian doctors; Reach Beyond is still a 76% owner and it may take several years for a full transition
  • Of our two remaining community medical clinics, one transitioned to an Ecuadorian foundation at the end of 2017 and the other is in the process of a similar transition
  • Our Quito guesthouse closed and the property is being donated to HCJB-Ecuador for their new headquarters
  • Part of our Community Development department will  move to the new training center in Europe in 2019

What’s left in Latin America?

We’re seeking God’s vision for how Latin America can contribute to God’s plan to reach all the nations. We plan to focus on strengthening the Latin American church and mobilizing Latin American missionaries. Our two remaining ministries are Apoyo, which trains and encourages pastors throughout Latin America, and Corrientes, which mentors and prepares Latin American missionaries for cross-cultural ministry, often in countries closed to North American missionaries.

We also have Reach Beyond missionaries serving with partner ministries: five at radio HCJB-EC, six at English Fellowship Church, two at Alliance Academy (where our missionary kids attend), one in Shell with the job training ministry mentioned above, and two in Guatemala working with Christian TV production.

As we describe in our September 2018 newsletter (read it here), we’ve known since our initial training that these changes were coming and we agree with them in theory. We underestimated, though, their personal impact, especially on missionaries who have served here for decades. Translating the vision to reality is painful and challenging.

At some point Reach Beyond may ask us to transfer from Latin America to a different location. Thankfully, that won’t be right away as we love living and serving here.  And there’s still lots to do, both in accounting and missionary personnel. But we’re learning that change is a constant in missionary life, and missionaries need to be flexible. In fact, change might even be a constant in following Jesus and, thus, all of us need to be flexible.

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Family Reunion in Ecuador

Early last year we started thinking about having a special celebration this summer for our 40th wedding anniversary, bringing as many as possible of our offspring to Ecuador for a week. (We blogged about our 40 years of marriage here.)

So in July and August, stretching over parts of four weeks, we had three sons, two daughters, two daughters-in-law, and two grandsons here. We were only missing the two sons-in-law and one son and his family. We managed to find beds, pads, and pillows enough to squeeze everyone in our apartment, and we did a bit of traveling too.

1 Family

The first week we had three early arrivals. One son and daughter-in-law hiked the four-day Quilotoa Trek and spent a night close to Cotapaxi. (We’ve blogged twice about Quilotoa, here and here.) Our middle daughter, who stayed for three and a half weeks, hung out with us. She and I (Jody) visited an art museum of Ecuador’s most famous painter, Oswaldo Guayasamin. We all did a guided walking tour of Quito and spent a great morning in Nayón, a nearby village with dozens of plant nurseries.

We were all together for only the second week, spending four nights in Quito and three nights in an AirBnB in Turucu, an indigenous village about two hours away from Quito. Our hosts welcomed all eleven of us into their home, fed us wonderful food, and suggested great places to visit. They had ducks, chickens, cows, and an orchard with exotic fruits. Some of us hiked around Laguna Cuicochi (a crater lake) while others took a boat ride on the lake. We enjoyed bathing in some hot springs, visited the Otavalo artisan market and the Peguche waterfall, and even saw an impromptu night soccer game across the street.

(For any of these photo mosaics, if you click on one  you can scroll through the photos one by one. That’s on a computer, at least; I’m not sure what happens on a cell phone.)

Our days in Quito we did a bit of sightseeing, some rode Ciclo Paseo with Scott, some climbed Ruku Pichincha, and we played a lot of games. Every night for three and a half weeks Scott did a crossword with whomever would join him.

During the third week our numbers were down to eight and we spent three nights in the cloud forest village of Mindo. We had wonderful views, a chocolate factory tour (yum!), birding, butterflies, great food, and ziplining. On our way there we visited Tulipe, pre-Colombian ruins of the Yumbo people. On our way back to Quito we stopped at the Equator. And to end the week we visited Quito’s Botanical Gardens.

Here’s a short video of me ziplining. Our guide was bouncing the cables (and me), which made for a wild but fun ride.

Five more left us and we were down to one daughter. Scott and I went back to work while she relaxed one day, came to work with me one day, and did some more touristing with me on my day off. Then she left and the house was way too quiet, echoing with memories of games, good food, great sights, and blessed family times.

 

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April 2018 Newsletter

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

Happy Easter (two weeks late)! We hope your Easter was a time of celebration with fellow believers and family.

We’re both in the midst of a busy season at work. Scott is working on audit preparation, the financial statements, and the implementation of a new accounting system.   Until mid-May Jody will be the only one in the Missionary Personnel Office; her co-worker, Pat, retired in mid-February.  Her boss, DeNise, is recovering from hip replacement surgery in the U.S.; thankfully she can help some by email.

We continue to see increasing friendliness from our neighbors, which is an encouragement.  Everyone knows us, of course, because we’re so different (riding a unicycle to work, for example).  But generally people have been very cautious, averting their eyes when we meet on the street.  But after three years of us always greeting them, some people are actually greeting us first.

We’re also seeing improvement in our Spanish; Scott led a Bible study on finances this week (in Spanish) and received applause at the end.

Thank you for helping us spread the good news that Jesus has conquered death and opened the way to the Father. He is risen!

Ministry Focus: Misión Abordo (Mission Aboard)

Misión Abordo is a twelve-year-old annual event combining missionary training with medical outreach in remote Peruvian communities. Four from our office participated in March as ministry and training facilitators. The medical team had members from Peru, Cuba, Ecuador, Great Britain, and the United States.

Both teams boarded the riverboat Evangelista along with 38 others, including the boat crew, other national missionaries, and conference participants from Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and Romania. Mornings involved training in the biblical basis for missions and cross-cultural missions while the afternoons were spent putting the training to good use in five river communities.

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How to pray for us:

  • That we would be a light in our neighborhood
  • That we would be a help and an encouragement at work
  • Thank God for those partnering with us in prayer and finances
  • Thank God for our good health

Recent Blog Posts (click to read)

 

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Shoulder Surgery – One Year Later

One year ago on April 4, I (Jody) had rotator cuff surgery in our mission’s hospital here in Quito. I’m still improving in my range of motion and freedom from pain and I’m happy I had the surgery.

I blogged quite a bit about the surgery. You can find those blogs by choosing the tag “surgery” if you’re interested in reviewing my adventure.

In my last surgery blog three months after the surgery, I mentioned I was thinking about returning to the surgeon and asking for more physical therapy. I did have that appointment and he recommended I do less exercises and give myself more time to heal. That’s what I did, and it seems to have turned out fine.

Shortly after my surgery, our hospital changed from a non-profit hospital to a for-profit hospital. It still has strong ties with Reach Beyond, our mission organization, and still continues the same Christian mission it has for the last 60-plus years.

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Sunrise, Sunset in Quito (Revisited)

When we were in Costa Rica at language school, we blogged about the different times of sunrises and sunsets throughout the year in Costa Rica, Eugene (where most of our family lives), and Quito. You can read that post here.

We knew when we moved to Quito there would be little change in day length throughout the year. What we didn’t realize was that sunrises and sunsets would shift earlier and later throughout the year, seemingly unrelated to the solstices and equinoxes.

So, for those of you who enjoy random trivia, here’s what happens. Data once again is from timeanddate.com. You can find their cool, clickable graph for Quito here.

Quito Sunrise & Sunset at the Solstice and Equinox

Date Sunrise Sunset Day Length
Dec 21 6:08 a.m. 6:16 p.m. 12 hrs, 8 min.
Mar 21 6:18 a.m. 6:24 p.m. 12 hrs, 6 min.
June 21 6:13 a.m. 6:19 p.m. 12 hrs, 6 min.
Sept 21 6:04 a.m. 6:10 p.m. 12 hrs, 6 min.

Quito Earliest & Latest Sunrises & Sunsets

Date Sunrise Sunset Day Length
Feb 4-21 6:24 a.m. 6:31 p.m. 12 hrs, 7 min.
May 4-22 6:07 a.m. 6:13 p.m. 12 hrs, 6 min.
Jul 17-Aug 3 6:17 a.m. 6:23 p.m. 12 hrs, 6 min.
Nov 1-7 5:53 a.m. 6:01 p.m. 12 hrs, 8 min.

So, roughly every three months the sunrise/sunset shifts earlier or later:

  • 17 or 18 minutes earlier between February and May
  • 10 minutes later between May and July
  • about 23 minutes earlier between August and November
  • 30 or 31 minutes later between November and February

It’s not a big change, but is very noticeable if you usually ride your unicycle home from work about 6:30 p.m.  What’s in the daylight in February is pitch black in November. And when you’re not expecting the changes (because you live on the Equator), it’s kind of weird.

We don’t know why the pattern is so variable. Maybe the bulge in the earth at the Equator is a factor? If  you figure it out, let us know.

Just for fun, here’s the sun rising behind Cayambe one morning. It’s one of our snow-capped volcanoes.

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40 Years Married

1978

March 18, 2018 marked our 40th wedding anniversary. We had a busy weekend, offering hospitality to a family of five, including a fun and energetic seven-year-old. While it wasn’t a romantic weekend get-away, it was somehow oddly appropriate since hospitality has been a continuing theme throughout our marriage. (We do plan a weekend away in a week or two.)

Since it was a Sunday, we also went to church, reflecting another significant theme in our lives.

That we still are enjoying adventures together after 40 years is a testament to God’s faithfulness and grace. We are very blessed and thankful.

Here are some photos of us and our family through the years.

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