December 2019 Newsletter

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

The most notable event of 2019 in Ecuador was one that we missed. As we were wrapping up our four-month Home Ministry Assignment in the U.S., Ecuador’s government discontinued 40-year-old fuel subsidies. The price of diesel doubled and the price of regular gas increased 24%. From October 3 through 13, Ecuador was rocked by strikes, road blockages, protests, sabotage of oil pipelines, and violence.

About a week before our scheduled return on October 16, our mission emailed suggesting we consider delaying our return a week or two. Two other couples were returning the same week, and the mission didn’t want any of us to return if things got worse and all of the missionaries had to leave the country.

We put off changing our flights until the 14th, since the situation was changing every day. But we packed up, put our pickup in storage in Eugene, and caught a ride to the Portland area on Saturday the 12th (we were flying out of Portland). Things were worsening in Quito that day, with the airport closed, more protesters arriving from the jungle and the mountains, a curfew imposed, and violence spreading into our neighborhood.

That evening we learned a new word, cacerolazo (banging on pans for peace), to go along with paro (the general term for the protests and strike) and toque de queda (curfew). All over the country people stood outside their homes and banged on pans for hours. A friend who has served in Ecuador for 39 years says this was the third cacerolazo she experienced, but the most widespread. It was a peaceful protest, the people saying, “We’ve had enough. Fix this.”

On Sunday the airport was still closed and the curfew still in effect. Food was becoming scarce since people had been stocking up and the protesters had successfully blocked all access to the city. That afternoon the government met with the protesters in a televised discussion. Scott listened via the internet and a resolution seemed hopeless. After several hours the two sides took a break and, when talks resumed, the government announced it was reinstating the fuel subsidies! Both sides agreed to cooperatively work out austerity measures which would protect the poor.

We returned as planned without problems and were very thankful. As we have talked with friends here, our general impression is that people are bruised, shocked and traumatized. A very common comment from both missionaries and Ecuadorians was, “This was the worst than it has ever been.” Civil unrest is not new to Ecuador, but this paro was more widespread and better coordinated than anyone could remember, probably because of social media.

Another new word for us was minga, a Quichua word meaning a community project or work party. As the protesters left, people turned out to clean up parks and repair damage to buildings. Companies donated materials, delivered them to waiting volunteers and much was accomplished in a few days.

The economic recovery will take longer. Much economic activity stopped for eleven days. In addition, tourism is very important here and Ecuador’s reputation as a destination has been damaged.

Another challenge is psychological recovery. Our mission has coordinated debriefings for our missionaries and staff, along with individual and group counseling.

We’re praying for all those affected and for the government and citizen groups as they try to chart a way out of crippling national debt. And we’re praying for all of South America, as violence has erupted in Chile (and is still continuing), Bolivia’s government was overthrown, and citizens are protesting in Colombia. Plus Venezuela continues to have extreme turmoil, resulting in 4 million Venezuelans fleeing in the last four years, about 260,000 of them to Ecuador.

Is there an upside to this? Certainly there was more fervent prayer in October than usual! People realized their need for God to intervene. We are confident God is working out his plan for the region and we want to join Him in what He’s doing. He has always been faithful and someday we will look back and see His hand in these events.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us. May your Christmas and New Year be blessed as you celebrate the Word becoming flesh and moving into our neighborhood.


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

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October 2019 Newsletter

(NEWSFLASH: From October 3 through October 13 Ecuador experienced widespread strikes and civil unrest after the government discontinued long-standing fuel subsidies. We did not know until today (October 14) if we would be returning October 16 or rescheduling our flight. But late last night the government reached agreement with the protesters. Quito is returning to normal and we get to return. Please pray for Ecuador’s recovery from this difficult time.)

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


Our four-month Home Ministry Assignment (HMA) has flown by and our October 16 return to Ecuador is quickly approaching. Here’s a partial list of our happenings:

    • Time with family
    • Connecting with fifty supporters (so far)
    • Speaking to four small groups about our life in Ecuador
    • Enjoying Oregon’s gentle summer sunshine, abundant fresh fruits and vegetables, and Eugene’s wonderful riverside bike paths
    • Visiting the Oregon coast and riding around Crater Lake (Scott made the circuit by unicycle for the fifth time)

Our hoped-for week of debriefing in Colorado didn’t happen but we’re planning to register for a July 2020 session. We hope to spend two weeks in Colorado and two weeks in Oregon.

Thank you for praying for us during this time and as we head back to Quito. We’re enjoying our last days here AND will enjoy being back in Ecuador for our normal lives.

HMA Photos

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How To Pray For Us

Thank God for:

    • A great place to stay in Oregon
    • Good times with family and supporters
    • Time for reflection and rest
    • General good health

Ask God for:

    • Adjustment back to Quito life
    • Wisdom about upcoming changes with our organization in Ecuador

New Blog Posts

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Eugene’s Riverside Paths

I (Jody) have been walking almost every morning on Eugene’s lovely Ruth Bascom Riverside Path System. The system covers both sides of the Willamette River with 14 miles of bike and pedestrian paths. Five bike-pedestrian bridges cross the river (Owosso, Valley River Center, Peter DeFazio, Autzen Stadium, and Willie Knickerbocker). Hundreds use the paths to bike to work each day, including two of our sons.

The system includes several city parks, some ponds, an extensive running trail system (which used to be the city dump), and habitat for wildlife. It is a wonderful asset to the community. Here’s a map of the whole system.

Because we’ve been living about 3/4 mile from the path, I cover only about 1 mile of path in my hour-long walk. But even this short stretch is diverse and beautiful. Last week, on a chilly, 40 degree F. (4 degree C.) morning, I tried to capture some of the beauty I see each morning.

The Walk

The Signs Along the Way

The Solar System Path (more info here)





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Oregon Coast

We made it to the Oregon coast twice during our time in the USA. In August we made a day trip with our friend Tyler Burgess, walking on Hobbit Beach, hiking up to Heceta Head lighthouse, and even slipping and sliding our way up and down some sand dunes.

Heceta Head

In September we took three days of vacation at a beachfront cottage. Besides enjoying the view, we drove north and climbed Cascade Head, one of the ocean capes. The six-mile hike took three hours and gained about 1,300 feet in elevation. It was a clear, sunny day with wonderful views of the coast.

The Cottage and Beach

Cascade Head

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Sunrise, Sunset in Eugene

It’s been six years since we were in Oregon long enough to see the seasons change. We arrived this year just before the June solstice and we’ll leave a bit after the September equinox. In June it was strange how long the days were and now it’s strange how short the days are.

In Ecuador we have a rainy season (October-June) and a dry season (July-September), but the length of the day never changes. We’ve blogged before about this, here (when we were in Costa Rica) and here (when we got to Quito).

We were warned in our pre-departure training that some people are negatively affected physically and emotionally by the lack of seasons. But we seem to have adjusted, as Oregon now seems weird and Quito seems normal. (Although we do love Oregon in the summer!)

Just for fun, here’s how our mornings and evenings have changed since we’ve been here. As before, our source is

  • June 21: sunrise 5:29 a.m., sunset 8:58 p.m. (almost 15-1/2 hours)
  • October 16: sunrise 7:26 a.m., sunset 6:28 p.m. (just over 11 hours)

Right now we’re losing almost 3 minutes of daylight each day, and it’s making us eager to get back to Ecuador!

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Unicycling Crater Lake

Ready to start the ride

September 7 (2019) we took a day trip to Crater Lake, Oregon’s only national park. Scott (on his unicycle) and two bicycling friends rode the 32-mile Rim Drive. It’s a challenging ride, taking Scott seven hours and about 3,000 feet of up and down. This was Scott’s fifth rim ride; the others were 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012. It’s hard to know, but he may have ridden around Crater Lake more times than any other unicyclist.

While he was riding, I (Jody) was enjoying a very leisurely drive with our oldest daughter. We stopped at each viewpoint and waited for the riders to catch up in case they needed some food and drink. We had no need to hurry and plenty of time to enjoy the view.

Scott says he could tell it had been seven years since the last ride. The hills were longer and steeper and the camber (slope) of the road was worse than he remembered. Here are a few photos of this year’s ride, a Google-stitched panorama of him finishing the ride, and a few photos from previous years.

And here are some photos from previous rides:

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Our Favorite Things

“What do you miss most when you’re in Ecuador?”

This recent question was a bit difficult to answer, as we try to focus on what we have rather than on what we’re missing. But the question got us thinking about what we enjoy in each country. So, with a bow to The Sound of Music and in no particular order, these are a few of our favorite things.

In the U.S.:

  • Grandkids (and their parents, of course); family time is very precious
  • Oregon summer fruits and vegetables: peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, Hermiston melons, sweet corn on the cob, and tomatoes just picked from the vine
  • Oregon summer weather: sun which gently warms you, sixteen-hour days without a cloud in the sky, and long shadows before dusk (we have a mountain to the west in Quito so we don’t have long shadows and slow sunsets like Oregon in summer)
  • Seeing old friends
  • Bike and walking paths, whether Eugene’s wonderful riverbank system or Rails-to-Trails nearby
  • Crater Lake (we hope to get there)
  • Medical appointments in English (although we do most of our doctoring in Quito at much lower cost)
  • Costco, Amazon, and thrift stores
  • Jerry’s (where you can find almost anything hardware related)
  • Root beer and Dr. Pepper (Jody), dill pickles and good ice cream (Scott, although not together!)

In Ecuador:

  • Flavorful tropical fruits: white pineapples, oritos (stubby golden bananas), papayas, mangoes, and babaco, along with fresh juices (maracuyá, guanábana, naranjilla, and mora)
  • Flowers blooming year round
  • The incredible Andes: Quito is in a high Andean valley and from our dining room we see steep mountain slopes just three or four miles away (great hiking for Scott, great views for Jody)
  • Working with an international group of Christians to further God’s kingdom
  • The fun and challenge of speaking Spanish and learning about Ecuadorian culture
  • New places to go and explore and adventures to be had
  • Presidential elections which last one month, with no campaigning the last two days
  • Our daily commute providing exercise: walking for Jody and unicycling for Scott
  • Twelve-hour days year round (a treat in December and January)
  • Good, low-cost medical care, albeit in Spanish
  • A slower-paced life: not feeling like you need to rush around doing a lot of things
  • Seeing the U.S. from a different perspective as is only possible when you don’t live there
  • Not having a car: lots of buses and taxis, and a city with all our necessities within two miles of home
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