A Wonderful Retreat

Our first weekend back in Ecuador we headed to Shell (on the edge of the Amazon jungle) for an all-region missionary retreat.  Reach Beyond’s new president, Steve Harling, and his wife Becky shared wonderful Bible teachings. We had worship times, small group discussions, leisurely mealtimes, and field trips. We enjoyed meeting Reach Beyond missionaries from Guatemala and Argentina and renewing friendships with missionaries in Ecuador. We’re so honored to serve with these wonderful people.

2017-shell-retreat-croppedThe retreat meetings were held in the nearby town of Puyo.  Here are two photos and a short video of the beautiful Puyo River, just a few steps from our retreat center.

Posted in Ecuador, Missions | 1 Comment

Our First HMA

As we neared the end of our first three-year term we started planning our first HMA (Home Ministry Assignment). We hoped to get our residence visas in early August and take off for some beautiful Oregon weather. We’d be busy and have lots of meetings but the weather would be NICE.

As the visa saga continued, August-September became “maybe September-October,” then “maybe October-November.” I (Jody) remember being depressed as the first of October came and I wasn’t in Oregon for my quilt guild’s quilt show. I so wanted to be there and see so many friends at one event.

When I got my visa in November, we bought tickets that would let us have eye surgeries in December, spend Christmas with family, and then travel much of January. Eugene hit us with an ice storm which cancelled four meetings and appointments but not Scott’s cataract surgery. It was like God said, “Ok, time to slow down.” I had retinal surgery the next week, which went well but hasn’t improved my vision (yet).

We knew seven weeks wasn’t enough time to meet with all of our supporters, which is the usual goal during HMA. So we had three open houses to let people connect with us if they wanted. Between church, family gatherings, individual meetings, and the open houses we managed to see 39 of our 56 supporters.

Here are a photo and a video taken while visiting friends in California. The weather was lovely on the drive down and during our stay. However, we had rain or snow the whole drive back to Eugene, and chained up at the California-Oregon border.

scott-jody-in-ca

We had so many wonderful conversations catching up with people. We wish we could have spread them out over a year or two, but that’s not the way it works. We’re thankful for everyone we got to see and talk with.

We celebrated Christmas with our family for the first time in three years with 15 around the table and games afterwards.

We squeezed in times for games and crosswords and just hanging out with our “kids” and grandkids. It was a very blessed time.

Returning to Quito felt more like coming “home” than it ever had before. We’ve decided that switching from Ecuador to the US is much weirder than switching from the US back to Ecuador. I guess living in Ecuador is our new normal.

quito-bound-from-houston

Quito-bound from Houston

We passed a milestone on New Years Day: three years since we left the U.S.  Although we don’t know how long we’ll be here, I’m feeling like we’re starting our second term. I’m glad we get to build on what we’ve learned in the last three years, and I’m excited to see what God will do next.

Posted in Family, Missions | Tagged | 1 Comment

Our Resident Visa Saga

The Short Version

We came to Ecuador on missionary visas, which are not too hard to get but have to be renewed every year or two, depending on the government issuing policy. Each renewal costs hundreds of dollars.

When Scott realized he qualified for a professional resident visa costing about the same but never expiring, we started pursuing this option.

The paperwork requirements for a professional visa were different than a missionary visa but didn’t seem onerous: basically state and federal criminal history reports, our marriage certificate, and Scott’s Oregon State University diploma, all authenticated (or apostilled) by the appropriate government authority.

But somehow things are always more complicated than they seem. For over two years we had changing Ecuadorean regulations (or different requirements on different Ecuadorean government web pages), paperwork expiring, documents in the U.S. when we needed them in Ecuador (and vice versa), difficulties with the FBI and the U.S. State Department, and obstacles which seemed insurmountable.

We dealt with five Ecuadorean government departments, five government departments in the U.S., an FBI channeler, an official translator, and a notary. We made 12 visits to the visa office and five to the national police, enough that we were frecognized by the guards and clerks in both agencies. And everything in Ecuador was in Spanish, sometimes rapid-fire  Spanish we couldn’t understand.

When the visas finally came through—Scott’s August 5, 2016 and mine October 28, 2016—we were very happy that, as far as we can tell, we won’t ever have to do this again.

Lessons Learned (or things we should have remembered)

Remember the big picture.  Scott and I are here to serve by God’s grace and the Ecuadorean government’s permission.  It’s not about us. God is working out His purposes, shaping our character, using us to touch lives with His love. Keep the eternal perspective. (Scott is much better at this than I am.)

Persistence. Keep showing up, keep trying everything you can, keep a humble attitude with no hint of entitlement or disdain for the procedures. Write down the names of people you talk with and what advice they give you. Expect the best of people. Take every piece of paperwork you can possibly need; they often asked for something that wasn’t on the official list.

Kudos to Ecuador:  They found a way to make it happen; the FBI and State Department did not.

It’s an adventure.  It will make a great story some day.  Keep your sense of humor.

 The Long Version

September 2014

We start thinking about getting a professional residency visa. While in Oregon for two weeks for a wedding, we get fingerprints taken at the Lane County Sheriff’s office and submit them to the FBI for a criminal background report. Scott finds his OSU diploma, we request our marriage certificate, and we get both authenticated at the Oregon Secretary of State’s office. (We don’t realize at this point that most of these documents will expire from Ecuador’s point of view in six months.)

January 2015

Scott receives a “clean” FBI criminal history report; I get a rejection letter that my fingerprint card isn’t readable. We also learn that Reach Beyond wants us to stay on the missionary visa longer, thus putting the professional visa on hold.

July 2015

Reach Beyond approves our applying for residency visas. I start wearing rubber gloves while doing dishes and housework to try to improve my fingerprints. I use lots of lotion. Nothing helps; my fingerprints are too worn to be read.

October 2015

Jaime, a wonderful Ecuadorean friend and fellow accountant at Reach Beyond, and Scott get the OSU diploma registered at SENESCYT (Secretaria Nacional de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Technología, e Innovación), the first step to a professional visa.

November 2015

While on vacation in Oregon, we start re-gathering the necessary documents: another authenticated marriage certificate, along with fingerprints cards for the state police and the FBI.

The state police technician tells me, “You will never get a readable fingerprint card. On a scale of 1-100, your fingerprints are an 8.” (Scott was an 85.) “We’ll do a background search on your name, date of birth, and social security number.”

December 2015

The credit card Scott thinks he used for the FBI background report fee has fraud activity and is cancelled. Scott calls the FBI with the new credit card; the FBI doesn’t want the information until they have started to process his fingerprints.

March 2016

The FBI criminal background office is so backlogged they haven’t even OPENED our request. We realize our state police reports and marriage certificate are going to expire before the FBI background check can be submitted with our visa application. I’m going to Oregon on a grandma trip (new granddaughter!), so we get our fingerprints taken at La Criminalística, the Ecuadorean national police fingerprint processing office, and I take these to the state police in Oregon. When the report is mailed to me, I get the reports authenticated in Salem.  I stall on the marriage certificate, since that requires a trip to Portland.

After I return from the U.S., my fingerprints are rejected again by the FBI. We try to figure out what to do.

I make two fruitless calls to the FBI. They seem to have no alternative process for people like me. I’m told, “Sometimes people have to submit 10 or 15 times before we can read their fingerprints.”

We contact an FBI channeller, a business which promises to get results from the FBI within 1-1/2 weeks, much better than four or five months!  The channeler tells us that the FBI will do a name and date of birth match; this turns out to be false. He then says he’s heard that Ecuador will accept two authenticated FBI rejection letters.

We decide to submit my fingerprints through a channeller and, if that fails, submit the two rejection letters to the U.S. Secretary of State for authentication. I get fingerprints taken at La Criminalística again. Someone is traveling to the U.S. so we shuttle two fingerprint cards and the channeller paperwork to the US. If one set of fingerprints is rejected, the channeler will submit the second set immediately.

We shuttle my first rejection letter to our daughter Vjera in Oregon; she receives our U.S. mail and has the second letter.  If my fingerprints are rejected again, she’ll send the two letters to the U.S. Secretary of State for authentication when she sends in Scott’s report, which is expected any day.

April 2016

Scott’s FBI application is finally opened. After three calls to the FBI, Scott is able to get the credit card number changed so his fingerprints can be processed. The FBI person says, “Ok, your new credit card is registered. I’ll put you back in the queue and you’ll hear from us in 12 to 16 weeks.” I hear this big, “Oh, no!” from Scott’s office. The FBI person takes pity on Scott and keeps his application at the front of the queue where it should be.

I order another marriage certificate which Vjera will get authenticated. We hear from the channeller that the FBI has rejected both sets of my fingerprints.

Vjera receives Scott’s FBI letter (yay!) and submits my rejection letters and Scott’s FBI report to the U.S. Secretary of State, writing one check for both fees.

May 2016

The U.S. State Department calls, leaving a voice mail that they can’t authenticate my FBI letters because they are not official documents. I’m to call and leave payment information for just Scott’s authentication (since they have one check for both fees). I call,  talk to an unhelpful person, and try to convince her that the letters are official documents: they have my name and a case number on them. I leave a message for the person who called but don’t leave the payment information because I want to wait until he calls back and I can plead my case with him.

Without returning my call, the State Department returns all our letters unauthenticated to Vjera. Vjera mails Scott’s back with the correct payment.

June 2016

Our son Simon comes to visit and brings my two (unauthenticated) rejection letters. We’ll try to get Ecuador to accept them. If not, I’ll get another missionary visa.

I decide to try another set of fingerprints through the channeler. But at La Criminalística, everything goes wrong. One technician gives me a blue pen to fill out the fingerprint cards, then another says it has to be in black ink. I am almost in tears. I have no more cards to fill out. I explain my situation to them and they try to help, saying that I should be able to get a letter from an Ecuadorean lawyer saying I don’t have any fingerprints. It is yet another possibility; will anything work?

We apply for new US passports. We still have seven years left on our current ones, but we decide we want ten years before the visa had to be changed to a new passport. This takes two trips to the U.S. embassy but goes very smoothly.

July 2016

Vjera receives Scott’s authenticated FBI background check, 5-1/2 weeks after she sent it in the second time. We thought it was lost and Scott spent a lot of time trying to reach someone at the State Department and confirm it was there. He is almost ready to submit another set of fingerprints via the channeller when Vjera emails that she’s received it. She FedEx-es it to someone in California who is coming to Ecuador.

We realize that I can’t apply for my visa until Scott is granted his. Mine is an amparo visa, a spousal visa connected to his. Both of our missionary visas expire August 14; the timing is going to be really tight for mine.

We visit la Dirección Nacional de Migración (Policía Nacional) and each get a Certificado de Movimiento, a record of our movements in and out of Ecuador, one of the visa requirements. This is a great government department, with short lines and no paperwork.

Scott returns to SENESCYT to get his OSU diploma registered under his new passport number rather than his old one.

On July 17 Scott gets his documents translated by an certified translator and the translations notarized. This involves two trips to south Quito, two hours each. (Later he does two more trips for my documents.)

The translator doesn’t want to translate my FBI rejection letters, and recommends we take them to the visa office to see if they will accept them and, if not, what they suggest.

On July 18 we talk with a supervisor at the visa office (actually called El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana). We explain my lack of adequate fingerprints, and show him my FBI rejection letters. He disappears for about 1-1/2 hours (!). When he comes back he has found a successful visa application by a U.S. citizen who had his two rejection letters notarized in California and then had the notary’s signature authenticated by the California Secretary of State. He says something like, “I think this will work.”

In the next few days, we shuttle my rejection letters to our ministry service center in Colorado to be notarized and submitted them to the Colorado Secretary of State for authenticated.

On July 19 Scott submits his paperwork to the visa office. He is told he will get an email in two to four weeks.

August 2016

On August 2, Scott finds an email in his spam filter saying his visa has been approved and giving him a date and time to bring in his passport, which he does.

On August 10 Scott retrieves his passport (with his visa in it) and gets his cédula (national identity card) at Registro Civil the same day. This all took five hours. One of our Ecuadorean co-workers jokes that Scott’s visa is a baby because it took nine months to arrive (November to August)!

On August 11, the last business day before my missionary visa expires, we submit my application with everything but my FBI report. I’m told I will receive an email in two to four weeks telling me what documents I’m missing. I’ll then have 60 days to bring in the email and the documents to the visa office.

Because my visa application is in process, I’m in compliance with the visa laws. I just can’t leave the country until I have my new visa. I start checking my spam filter every day for an email from the visa office.

On August 22 my FBI letters arrive back in Quito. We get them translated and notarized.

September 2016

On September 17 after five weeks with no email, we go in to the visa office to check. They say they emailed me four days before! A helpful person prints out the email (which I never received), gives me a copy, and accepts my FBI letters to attach to my application. If we don’t hear anything in two weeks we should come back to check.

On September 30 we return to the visa office and are told my visa should be ready in another week.

October 2016

On October 7 the person helping us speaks really fast and we’re not sure we understand everything. Scott asks him to slow down and he does for about ten seconds and then he speeds up again. We think he says that my visa has been approved, which is very good news if that’s really what he said. It only lacks the signature of his supervisor, but she hasn’t signed anything this week. He tells us to come back in ten days.

On October 14 we return to the visa office. After waiting a couple of hours, we are told that the visa was approved September 28 or 29 and has been waiting for a signature since then. Maybe it will be ready next week.

On October 20 we make our weekly trek to the visa office. The young lady who helps us takes more initiative than the young man of the last two weeks. She finds my application and figures out why it isn’t being signed. The top boss isn’t happy with my rejection letters being notarized and authenticated in Colorado. She (the boss) says the FBI rejection letters have to have an official signature on them and be authenticated in Washington, D.C. by the U.S. State Department. The young clerk is very nice but very firm that this is an Ecuadorean requirement..

This is a major blow. I have been through all this before, calling the State Department and then the FBI, trying to figure out some way to get an official, signed letter that could be authenticated. I couldn’t see how it could be done. Plus the supervisor (13 weeks before) had told us to do what we did with the notarizing and authenticating in Colorado.

The clerk asks us to wait for a few minutes, sending us out into the waiting room. We pray that God will somehow open a door to work out His will. Things look very hopeless. I am trying not to cry and Scott is trying to calm me down.

When she calls us back, she has a copy of a normal, authenticated FBI letter, just like Scott received. That was very thoughtful of her, but it still isn’t something I can do without fingerprints.

But Scott remembers the name of the supervisor we talked to in July, and we ask if we can talk with him now. She calls him, he is busy, but suggests we come back the next day. I am leaving for a retreat before the office opens the next morning, so we ask if we can see him Monday.

She asks a guard to take us upstairs to make an appointment. After about ten minutes, the supervisor comes out and meets with us himself! He takes us into an enclosed office and says, “I have a problem with my supervisor.” The problem is that she doesn’t agree with what he told us to do.

But while we were waiting, he was explaining our situation to her, advocating for us, and asking her to make an exception. So she agrees that she will accept a letter from a doctor saying I don’t have any fingerprints.

How amazing! We swing quickly from hopeless to, “This is really possible.”  We are so grateful that God answered our prayer so quickly and opened a way.

The supervisor tells us to bring the letter directly to him and that it shouldn’t take long to get the visa approved.

The next week I go back to La Criminalistica for a set of fingerprints to show a doctor.  We try unsuccessfully to find a doctor who will write a letter for me. Reach Beyond has clinics and a hospital, but nobody feels qualified to write the letter. They talk about lawyers and police doctors.  Jenny, our department secretary, makes many calls trying to find some options for us.

Thursday afternoon Scott and I go to La Criminalística, hoping they can point us toward a police doctor. They remember me, of course, and we talk with them about our need for some kind of certificate or letter saying my fingerprints aren’t legible. Scott shows them my fingerprint card (from the day before) and asks, “Could you do a search with these fingerprints?” They say, “No, only one of the ten digits is readable.” Scott asks, “Would you write us a letter saying that?” They answer, “We’ve never done anything like that before.”

But they take pity on me and try to figure out how to help me. One of the technicians takes us downstairs to talk to the (female) Capitán, a take-charge, think-outside-the-box person. She tells him to take photos of me having my fingerprints taken, write a letter explaining that I don’t have legible fingerprints, provide a technical explanation, and attach my fingerprints.

(We don’t understand everything that is said, but I hear, “This is her fifth trip here” more than once. They are very generous in trying to figure out some way to help.)

We go back upstairs and he takes photos and then spends 1-1/2 hours writing his letter! We just sit and wait, thinking, “He can take as long as he wants; we will be very happy to have a letter.” He asks a variety of questions (Did I do a lot of cleaning? Did I use bleach?), and writes a great letter. He uses WhatsApp to send it to his Capitán for her approval (I guess WhatsApp is preferable to email). Then we go back downstairs where he prints and signs it, the Capitán initials it, and I sign a copy that I have received the original. Then we walk home, very, very grateful. When we show the letter to Jenny Friday morning, she says it is amazing to get such a wonderful letter from a government agency. She says, “God really blessed you.” And He did.

Friday morning October 28 I turn in my letter to the supervisor at the visa office and he checks with his boss and then says, “Yes, it is acceptable.” BIG sigh of relief because of course it isn’t what they had asked for, although we think it’s better. I tell him if there is any chance my visa can be approved that day I will wait. So I do. I have my Kindle and sit and read. After five hours he waves at me and tells me to pay my $200 fee and turn in my passport! I almost can’t believe it.

On October 31 I take a big batch of homemade sweet rolls to La Criminilística as a thank you.

November 2016

November 6-8: Sunday I make a huge batch of oatmeal cookies, enough for the entire visa office. Monday I pick up my passport and visa and give the clerk the cookies, with a special thanks to the supervisor who was so helpful. We get my certificado de empadronamiento which I need to get my cédula. But when we get to Registro Civil, we are told I have to wait 24 hours to get my cédula.

The interesting thing is that Scott was able to get his cédula the same day he got his visa. That was three months before, so maybe the procedures changed.  Or God could have opened the way for him to get it in one day since I needed to put his cédula number on my application the next morning (before my missionary visa expired). We’ll probably never know why, but it’s an interesting theory.

Tuesday I go back to Registro Civil and get my cédula, managing not to do a happy dance right there in front of everyone. Success!

Advice

If you are still reading this, you might be in the same situation I was, with your fingerprints too worn to be read.  Here’s what I suggest:

  • Have your fingerprints scanned digitally (both the county sheriff and the state police used this method). If you have worn fingerprints, an alarm will sound that the fingerprints are not readable. Make two separate submissions of fingerprint cards to the FBI so you can get your rejection letters as quickly as possible. (Don’t do this through a channeller; you need actual rejection letters from the FBI. The channeller will only send an email when you are rejcted, although if your fingerprints are readable they do send an official letter which can be authenticated.)
  • After your two FBI rejection letters, ask your congressman if he or she can get an official rejection letter from the FBI. It needs a signature and the FBI seal for the State Department to authenticate it.
  • If that fails, talk to the Ecuadorean visa office. Will they accept a letter from a lawyer? From a doctor? Do they suggest something else? Proceed from there.
  • If that fails, go to La Criminalística and ask for help. Tell them the situation and that they are your last hope.  We have the copy of the letter the nice young man wrote us and will share it; just remember it was a HUGE favor to us that they wrote it.
  • Let us know how it turns out!

 

 

 

Posted in Ecuador | Tagged | 6 Comments

Waiting

I (Jody) roughed out this blog last October. I’ll continue the story in later blogs.

Although it’s hard to believe, we finished our first three-year term with Reach Beyond September 23.  Thus it’s time for our first Home Ministry Assignment (HMA), when we return to the U.S. to connect with our supporters and share how God is using us here.  (HMA used to be called furlough.)

Since Oregon’s weather is so beautiful in August and September, we tentatively scheduled a six-week HMA to begin in late August or early September.  Our two-year missionary visas were expiring August 14 and we were applying for residency visas, which would be valid indefinitely.  We aren’t sure how long God will have us here, but if it’s more than two more years we will come out ahead.

Thus we couldn’t buy plane tickets until our visas came through.  Scott needed to get his visa first, since my visa would be as his spouse.  His came through Wednesday, August 10, but alas we were missing one of my documents, still in the U.S. being notarized and authenticated. (This is a long story, centering on my not having sufficient fingerprints to get the FBI criminal history report required for the visa.) So, since Friday was a holiday and my visa expired on Sunday, we took what we had of my application to the visa office on Thursday and asked what we should do.  “Turn in the incomplete application,” they told us.  “Within a month you’ll get an email telling you what you are missing and giving you two months to complete your application.  Print that email and bring it in when you have your missing document.”

O.k., that’s good—I’m not going to be put in prison or expelled from the country.  My missing document arrived, but the email didn’t.  I checked my spam filter and my junk mailbox (Scott’s email from the visa office had gone to his spam filter).

After five weeks we went back to the visa office; they had sent the email four days before!  They had my email address right, but I never received the email.  But we were able to submit the final document.  They said they would send another email, and if we didn’t hear anything within ten working days, we should come back.

That was four weeks ago.  Today was our seventh return to the visa office.  Last Friday and today we were told my visa has been approved since September 29 and only needs a signature from the supervisor.  Evidently she’s tired of signing visas, as it’s been sitting on her desk for more than two weeks.

So we are waiting.  I had my heart set on being in Oregon in September, and now I’m thinking, “Maybe November?” This limbo of not being in control and not being able to finalize plans is paralyzing and de-motivating. (Hence this blog being posted four months later.)

In the grand scheme of things, this is NOT a big deal.  I have friends fighting big battles with cancer, dementia, grief, and loss.

And yet this is my fight right now, to be content when God says, “Not now.”  To not be anxious or grumble.  To be faithful in what God has for me to do each day.  To wait patiently for His time.

Posted in Ecuador | Tagged | 1 Comment

Earthquake Followup #4: Mompiche

I (Scott) recently had the opportunity to visit the April 2016 earthquake zone at the invitation of German Rhon, a new friend and long-time missionary (he is 68).  German is a native Ecuadorian, but is married to an American missionary named Becky.

German Rhon

A consortium of Quito evangelical churches had gathered food and supplies.  German and I loaded his van on Sunday afternoon.

Loaded van

We met at 6:00 a.m. Monday morning for the drive to Mompiche, a small fishing village near the epicenter of the quake.  We traveled with two other Ecuadorians, who have a relationship with the community of Mompiche and we arrived there at about 2:00 p.m.

MompicheFishing fleet

The trip was in conjunction with a special church service at Iglesia Asamblea de Dios Ecuatoriana en Mompiche

Mompiche church

to formally donate replacement housing to some local families.

New house

After a service of worship and celebration,

Celebration

there was a bountiful church meal.

Feast

Although poor in material possessions, the people of Mompiche are rich in community and natural beauty.

Community

Mompiche beach

We drove back on Tuesday, going through Pedernales (the center of the quake).

Pedernales #2

Almost all of the destroyed buildings have been demolished and the rubble hauled away.

Perernales #1

Lots of tents were visible, as well as this tent city.

Tent city

I was thankful for the chance to visit the area and I was encouraged by the resilience of the people.

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June 2016 Newsletter

Want the print version?  Click here.

2016-06 Header

 

What did Ecuador’s 7.8 earthquake on April 16 feel like from 100 miles away? Long! It just kept going and going for around a minute and it shook the whole country (Ecuador is the same size as Oregon). Near the epicenter on the coast, a wide swath of villages and cities were devastated. Between 20,000 and 30,000 people are living in temporary shelters.

Teams 1 & 2

The photo above is of the first two disaster relief teams Reach Beyond sent to the earthquake zone. These teams (and a subsequent team) have included doctors, counselors, engineers, and pastors who provided immediate help. We are also planning for long-term help in partnership with churches and communities.

Please pray for the thousands of people affected by the quake; pray for comfort, help, courage, and faith. Pray also for wisdom for Reach Beyond and other organizations, that our help will promote restoration, recovery, and self-sufficiency. A missionary who led two of the relief teams commented:

“The challenge between giving enough help, food, water and clothing in a disaster relief and the moment to reduce and draw back such support is not easy. Where is this point to stop or continue for the military to drive to remote villages several times a week and hand out supplies for free? People will continue to sit at the street to open their hands for free food as long as it comes. How to encourage them to start taking on a job, taking care for their crops, the livestock, continuing to produce…”

Thank you for your prayers for Ecuador and for us, and for helping us serve here.

Scott & Jody

Ministry Focus:  Disaster Relief Teams

Team #2

Team #2

Team #3

Team #3

Steve #5

Outdoor Clinic

Steve #1Steve #2

Hermann & kids

Hermann & Kids

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Earthquake: Followup #3

Reach Beyond’s disaster relief teams listened to many survivors tell their stories, but a very special story was told by Marianita in Canoa.  She and her husband, Melecio, were long-time friends of several Reach Beyond missionaries who asked Team #2 to search for the family while the team was in Canoa.

The second day of searching, April 27, Hermann Schirmacher, a Reach Beyond missionary, was able to find Marianita.  In his words:

“A man standing next to us, who listened to our conversation said, ‘I know the lady, Marianita; she lives just here around the corner.’  We both jumped into the car and it was just two blocks from our hotel.  There she was at the house of her daughter Rocio and rested in a plastic chair. Her left arm was covered with ace wrap.

“I presented myself and did talk to her. She had never seen me before, but once I said that I was from HCJB and was sent by Chuck and Anita Howard to look after her and I told her that they have been praying for her, she stared at me with big eyes and tears ran down her cheek.

“I grabbed her swollen hand and prayed for her and her family. 13102649_614443608707590_6535031468361797992_nIt was heartbreaking to listen to her story and how things happened. She was buried for a day under the building they rented for the church to worship. Her husband, her three sons, a son-in-law and her granddaughter were killed.

“Her granddaughter was asking for help and she only could encourage her and she both talked and prayed to the Lord for help. Many hours later she could not hear her voice anymore. The cell phone under the gravel started ringing and she asked her to answer the phone. But nobody answered the phone at all.

“‘I don’t know why this happened to me and why I am still alive,’ Marianita said. ‘Maybe the Lord wants me to be a testimony to the world. I don’t know. ‘

“I encouraged her and said that we would come back and I would bring our doctors over to look at her. She was very thankful and appreciated the visit.”

Later that day the team provided medical care and took her to the nearby Samaritan’s Purse hospital.  Marianita was very worried about surgery, but once she learned she wouldn’t need surgery she was off the exam table and witnessing to other patients.

Thank you for praying for the earthquake survivors and for the long process of rebuilding and restoration.  Thank you for helping us be here, helping however we can.

Want to read more?  An excellent recent blog post on CalloftheAndes Weblog explores how to promote healing and help the 20,000-30,000 displaced Ecuadoreans return home.

 

Posted in Ecuador | Tagged | 1 Comment