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
Posted in Ecuador, Family, Quito | 1 Comment

June 2019 Newsletter

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

One of the odd things about missionary life is that someone is always absent. Because part of the job is to return periodically to our passport country for a few months or so, we never have a full crew. Sometimes this traveling is called furlough and other times it’s called home ministry assignment or HMA. HMA encompasses the idea that a missionary’s ministry goes at least two directions: toward the mission field and toward supporters in our home country.

On the mission field, leaving for HMA can wreak havoc with programs and activities. With a relatively small team, Scott has no one able to cover all his duties. A few things can be delegated, a lot just won’t get done for the four months we are gone, and some tasks will require distance work from the U.S.

Besides connecting with supporters, HMA also involves refreshment, restoration, and reevaluating our service. How has the last term gone? What adjustments does God want to make in our plans and vision for the future?

Finding the balance between travel, meeting with people, and being renewed is always challenging. Friends just returned from a five-month HMA which took them (husband, wife, and six-year-old son) across the U.S. in a rental car. When I asked how it went, the wife said, “It was crazy. In the first four months we were never anywhere longer than three days.”

We’ll have it much easier than that. We plan to spend most of our time in Oregon, with short trips to Washington and Colorado. Eugene friends have offered us a room in their home, so we’ll have a home base as we come and go. Almost all of our kids and grandkids are in Eugene. We have no young children to parent while we travel and we have no supporting churches requiring mandatory presentations. And we don’t need to raise new support, which is sometimes the most stressful part of HMA. If a missionary’s account is in deficit, he or she can’t return to the field until adequate support is raised.

Our challenge is to be diligent in connecting with supporters while remaining flexible and sensitive to God’s leading for each day. It ought to be an adventure; prayers are appreciated!

Ministry Focus: Cleft Lip Program

For many years Reach Beyond has helped children with cleft lip or cleft palate deformities have the needed corrective surgeries. The program is based in Shell, which is on the edge of the jungle. Some of the patients come from the jungle and others from Shell and surrounding communities. Financing comes from donations from around the world.

Recently we were twice blessed to host families who came to Quito for surgery. Our apartment is fairly close to Hospital Metropolitano, where the surgeries are performed, so we have a convenient place to stay. In May, a 17-year-old came for her eighth surgery, accompanied by her mother, baby sister, and the Reach Beyond missionary who is coordinating the program. Unfortunately the patient got sick the night before the operation and the surgery was postponed.

And in early June a 17-year-old came with her mother and the missionary (all pictured below) to have two surgeries to correct deformities in her ear canal and her nose. These deformities are in addition to her cleft lip. Her surgeries went well and she is now back in Shell. It has been a privilege to have these “angels unaware” in our home.


  • For our home base in Eugene
  • For what God has planned
  • For the chance to be grandparents in person


  • That we’ll get into a week long Debrief and Renewal session in Colorado; we’re waitlisted on four sessions
  • For diligence, sensitivity to God’s leading, and obedience to His direction
  • For protection for our Quito apartment while we’re gone

Eugene Open Houses

We have three drop-in-and-visit open houses scheduled this summer. For dates, times, and places, please message me on Facebook or comment below with your email address.

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March 2019 Newsletter

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

Last weekend we heard a great story of God’s faithfulness. We were invited to Sunday dinner by a couple who served as missionaries here between 1978 and 2001. After 15 years in the U.S., they retired and have returned to Quito as long-term volunteers.

One of the major events in their 20+ years here was launching the ambitious, $3.1 million remodeling of our VozAndes Quito Hospital in 1984. Built in the mid-1950’s, the hospital was serving well but becoming increasingly outdated. Project Life increased the number of beds from 54 to 74, expanded the emergency room, laboratories, waiting room, and other areas of the hospital, all while keeping the hospital functioning. Project Life stretched out over ten years rather than the four or five years originally planned.

At one point during the first third of the project, donations ran low and construction was going to have to stop until more funds came in. In those years people came from the U.S. on tours to visit all of our ministries in Ecuador. Our friend (the then-administrator of the hospital) was showing a group of visitors through the construction site. It was lunch time and the Ecuadorian construction workers were sitting together off to one side. They were praying and one of the visitors asked him what they were praying about.

Our friend assumed that they were praying for money to be donated so they could keep their jobs. But, as he went closer and listened, he heard them pray for the people coming into the emergency room, the families of the patients, the doctors and nurses helping the patients, and that people would hear the good news of Jesus. The construction workers had caught the vision of the hospital, to facilitate not just physical healing but spiritual healing as well.

Our friend said he was so choked up he could hardly share with the visitors what he had heard. (And he still gets choked up telling the story today.)

When the visitors returned to the U.S., one of them made a substantial donation which allowed the construction to continue. “From that point we never looked back,” our friend said. Small but consistent donations came in until Project Life was finished.

Hospital VozAndes Quito still operates today. It’s now partly owned by a group of  Ecuadorian Christian doctors, although our mission is still the majority owner. We are still seeking to combine physical care with spiritual care – to be a place of ministry and prayer.

Want to read more about Project Life? Here’s an article about Carl Ewing, an architect who was key in the expansion. 

Winter News

We spent Christmas day with friends and then took four days of vacation at the coast. It was hot, about what you’d expect at sea level on the equator. The new year has continued to be very busy at work. Scott is overseeing implementing a new accounting system, two year-end audits, and the beginning of a new Ecuadorian organization. Jody’s boss is in the U.S. recovering from a knee replacement so things are busy in missionary personnel too.

We’re preparing for our first long home ministry assignment (HMA or furlough) this summer and fall, four months spent mostly in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. We are looking forward to what God has planned for that time and hope to see many of you.

How to Pray for Us

  • Praise: for our good health and the faithfulness of our support team
  • Pray: for the upcoming HMA, the preparation, planning, lodging, and scheduling

Thank you for your interest, prayers, and financial support. We are very thankful for the opportunity to serve here.

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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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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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