Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This little piggy went to the market

This little piggy never made it home.

This is a typical Ecuadorian meal that was served for our Christmas meal

Getting ready for the big night

Here we are getting ready for our big Christmas Party at the Hospital.
As I have shared before I have the joy of visiting a government hospital here in Ecuador that is for children who are low income. Today we got to be Santa Claus. We did a very simple role play of the story of Christmas and then we would sing (we sounded horrible) and finally we passed out gifts to the children w/ homemade cookies and left tracts with them. It was so much fun to see them light up when they opened up their gifts. Some of them weren't to excited about their gifts b/c some of the gifts weren't that great but we had no say in that. Either way many kids were happy to recieve a little something.

Here's a happy camper!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How do you pack for xmas when your moving to another country you have never been to?

We had no idea what Ecuador was going to be like so when we were packing in the states to come Christmas stuff was not a priority so we packed lightly. I manage to squeeze in a small fiber optic Christmas tree b/c I thought it would be very sad if we didn't have one at all. No ornaments though I figured I could make them. I also packed 3 toys and 1 gift for Ben that we could give to each other for Christmas. That was it. We had no idea if they would have toy stores nearby. They do have toy stores but they are triple the price so I was glad I brought gifts for them. And we packed our family tradition Interactive Nativity set that we do with the boys to tell the story of Christmas. Well we were delightfully surprise to find out that they sell real Christmas trees. That was a real treat b/c our tradition is to go to a farm and cut our own tree. We didn't get to cut our own tree this year but the guy swore that he just cut it that morning. So if you remember we don't have a car but were out buying this huge tree. We got a van to go get this and it was the 2nd time I was out driving. The parking here was horrible it took me 30min to park my car not b/c I didn't have a spot but b/c they try to squeeze in 75 cars into a parking lot that was made for 25 cars. After much sweating and backing in and backing out I was ready to get our tree. This has been our prettiest fresh tree ever. Last years tree was a disaster (that story made it to our blog). If you look closely you will see that Ethan is digging into his Xmas mitten not stocking. That was interesting to discover that they do mittens here. We did our own little xmas celebration here yesterday morning, it was sweet. Notice our kids don't match thats b/c Ben dressed them!

Quito Days

I am still not totally positive on why we have Quito days but I think it has to do with the independence of Quito??? Well it's a month long celebration and there are festivities through out the city. We were able to go to a parade and they are great fun here. They have dance shows and everything. They don't just walk by and wave they stop and do performances. They last for at least 3hrs.
Our school does a little celebration where all the Ecuadorian staff run typical Ecuadorian games for the students and at the end you get to ride a Chiva (just secondary). You may be asking what is a CHIVA! Chivas are very popular here during this time of the year. They are packed with people and they ride around town dancing, singing and some drinking. Our schools chivas were the same minus the alcohol. They gave us whistles(very annoying) and flags instead of alcohol. It was a blast I got to ride with the Seniors. We had tons of fun. Here's brief video footage, its really loud.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Operation Brown Bag

Kids Helping Kids Around the World! Have you underestimated the power of the brown bag? I'll bet you didn’t know that a brown bag could help in the fight to end hunger, or that it could bring God's love in a very real way, or that it could be the first time a child gets a message of care from another child.
Just as we underestimate the power of a brown bag, we sometimes underestimate how God can move through our children. Join us and see how God uses your child's work across continents!
"Every year, thousands of children are pulled into life on the street due to financial difficulties at home, problematic relationships, commercial exploitation and poor access to schools. This group of children become unprotected working children who are extremely vulnerable to exploitation. There is a significant problem of street children in Ecuador, particularly in Quito, the capital city. Hundreds of children work daily on the streets selling cigarettes, chewing gum and sweets to passersby, or juggle in front of cars stopped at the traffic lights. Many shine shoes for 10 hours a day to buy food each day." Mashi Foundation

We are looking for adult facilitators who can help get this going in their classroom (teachers or parents), daycare, preschool, church, homeschool or school. If your establishment is not Christian they can still do this and God can still use them!
So what do you need to do to become a part of Operation Brown Bag?
- Have the children draw a picture on the bags & a message and put $1 in it. (attach a verse if applicable)
- Have one adult collect all the bags from the group and mail them to us in Ecuador.
- Contact me for specific instructions and details:
The dollar will pay for one child’s lunch, which consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, milk and yogurt.
Once the bags arrive in Ecuador they will be distributed to:
-Street kids in the city of Quito
-children in a low income children’s hospital

This project was started because, as a mother, my heart hurts for the children who are sprawled out on the concrete sidewalk everyday waiting for their parents to make some money to feed them. Kids as young as three years old are out selling fruit or candy to make ends meet. We see little ones on their mother's backs as they dig through the trash. Also, it bothered me that my children walk past these children everyday slowly becoming numb to this. So I wanted to find a way to help them be Jesus to these little ones.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oh my gosh she said YES! What do I do now?

I walked into the hospital room and I was greeted by an older woman and her son. Her son Francisco was quite the little ham full of energy and smiles. I quickly got acquainted with this little family and they were very greatful for our visit. As I moved into reading a story of how Christ healed the Centurions servant she listened attentively for this story was very real because her son needed healing so he could walk. At the end of the story I felt like she was open to hearing the gospel and that I should share it with her. I asked her if I could pray with her and I did. Then I thanked her for her time and walked out the door. I felt terrible that I just walked out of there ignoring the Holy Spirits prompt to share the gospel with her. I continued visiting in the other rooms with the other patients but still feeling horrible about Francisco and his mother. So I went back to the room to share a tract with her but the moment was lost. The room was now full of company and she was busy. So I handed her the tract and I walked away disappointed. So I continued pressing on doing what I came to do: encourage these families and share Christ in deed and words. There was a lady standing against the door outside of a room and we began a conversation. Our conversation quickly turned into me sharing the Gospel and before I knew I was asking her if she wanted to know how to have Christ be a part of her life. Once I shared that I said "well would you like to pray with me to ask Christ into your life. You can pray this with me know or I can show you how so you can do it at another time if your not ready." She said yes, now. Than I thought oh my gosh she just said YES! So I began thinking really fast the important steps to pray for in the sinners prayer. I remembered something simple and profound I learned in school: ABC Admit, Believe, Confess. So we prayed and it was truly beautiful to see and to be reminded of how the Lord opens our eyes to the truth. The truth of our sin, His love and forgiveness. She was crying and I was getting choked up because in that little corner in the hall in that hospital the power of the Lords salvation was coming through to His child. I felt priviledged to be a vessel used by Him. It was amazing only because it was all HIM! I went back by Francisco's room and took a peek through the window and the mom was reading the tract. I was thankful that God continued to use me inspite of what I would consider disobedience to his prompting. He uses us in spite of us, Praise God for His grace!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ministry in Process

I was going to ask for your prayers as the Lord has put on my heart and mind a new ministry for our whole family to do to help the street children of Quito, Ecuador. Pray that I would think through all that it would entail, for the future school and kids partners the Lord will have us work with from the states, that many street children would be blessed. More detailed info. will come but for now please pray as we get all the logistics together.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mari is wondering if anyone reads these updates!

As I write this I wonder is my time spent updating in vain? does anyone read this? I hope and pray that people are informed, encouraged and blessed by these updates. I think I would write them anyways even if I knew that noone read them.

Spiritual Emphasis Week!

Every year the school has 2 Spiritual Emphasis weeks. Usually they have some special speaker come and share Christ to the students in a fun interactive way. They do this everyday for one week. This past week we had a couple do Power Lab which was this past summers VBS curriculum for a lot of churches in the stats. It was great b/c most of our kids never saw it before b/c they weren't in the states. The kids loved it! And over 30 kids accepted Christ! Praise God! Pray that these seeds planted this past week will be firmly planted. Alot of our students don't have Christian parents some are holiday church goers, others are buddihst, others atheist etc... So school is the only place they can get fed and encouraged in His word. Pray that the staff will make time to follow up with these little ones.
Ethan got picked to go up on stage for this also, unfortunatly, we missed seeing his response to the person behind the sheet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

learning the culture is very important when doing ministry

I have been trying to figure out ways to minister to the mothers here. So I decided it would be fun to have a party and have the kids play with Ethan and I can chat with the moms from Ethans class. Little did I know that in the culture of this group of people at the school it is customary to just drop off the kids at a party and parents don't show up. I realized this yesterday as parents called me to ask when they can pick up their kids. I was shocked because it never crossed my mind that they would not accompany their child. So today I had a group of nine 4yr olds join us for Ethans Fall dress up jungle party. Actually one mom did show up. It was great fun for the kids but I was wiped out by the end of it.
So now I know for next time that I need to specifically request for parents to come if my goal is to reach out to the moms. I am sure I have many lessons to learn about the Ecuadorian culture but also the culture within the school.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me

Give the world the best you have
And it may just not be enough;
Give the world the best you have anyway.
You see, in the final analysis,

It is all between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

As I walked up the flight of stairs of the childrens hospital I stared at the chipped, dirty walls. I had no idea what would be waiting for us when we got to our assigned floor- broken bones and trauma. We had been warned that it may wreak, that the conditions may be horrible, that kids stayed there for weeks until their parents could pay the bill, that some kids lay there all alone b/c parents had to go out and work to pay the bill, that it would break our hearts to see these little patients.

That is exactly what happened it broke my heart to see this little girl lying in bed in a cast from her waist down b/c she was just operated in hopes that she would finally be able sit up. She had been living her whole little life on her back unable to sit up. As I walked over with a balloon in my hand she gave me a croocked smile. I tried to be cheery for her though it hurt to see her like that. She was also mentally challenged so she couldn't talk she just grunted with her little lopsided smile. I was glad that a balloon would bring such joy to her. I walked away holding back the tears and reminding myself what Mother Teresa said trying to be content with having given her the best I had and that was a green balloon with red ribbon.

We have a team about 30 kids. We split up onto different floors and go share the gospel, pray, listen, color and bring balloons and cookies to the kids. It's neat to watch our high schoolers in action! I pray that God would use us in a big way to be love, light and hope to these hurting families. We will do this once a week.

Here is a large room with 8 kids and their families. As you can see the beds are very old though I was glad to see an old chipped cheery murals on the wall.

The Game of Love!

That was the name of our marriage seminar that Mari's counseling dept. put on this past weekend for parents of students at our school. We had a wonderful turnout and great interaction during the 6hr seminar. At one point in the seminar parents went around and shared a little bit about their children. It was really interesting for me to hear almost every couple share that their children were teaching them good values, prayer and about the Bible as a result of attending this school. I was fascinated to see how touching the lives of these little ones is an awesome opportunity for us to reach the whole family. It was also neat to hear what great a reputation this school has in the community. It made me glad to be a part of such a neat movement that God is orchestrating here in Quito through Alliance.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Learning about shipping things to Ecuador

So we are learning as we go. We had to pay $60 to get a small size box. The reason b/c the sender put a large amount for the value of the items in the box. Mark it as a gift and for a $1 value (since its a gift) b/c they charge us a % of the amount of the value that you write on it. Another suggestion is to use those flat rate boxes. Those are cheap and you can fill them up as much as you want and the price doesn't change for shipping. More tips below in a previous blog. Thanks so much to you all for going out of your way to send us some loving via mail!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Lord Establishing the Work of our hands

We have been praying that the Lord guide us to specific ministries outside of our daily school ministry to be involved in. This is where we feel the Lord has opened doors for us. This is where the Lord is using you from the states and us here in Ecuador:

Ben will be leading a discipleship group of 7th grade boys and Mari will be leading a discipleship group of 10th grade girls. Mari is also a sponsor for a group of High School students who want to learn to help others called Peer Helpers.
Community Service-
Mari will be visiting weekly a childrens hospital here in Quito that serves the lower income families. We will have opportunities to share the gospel with the kids and families, to be Jesus to these families who have little ones there by praying, listening or just being a peaceful presence and to give the kids at the hospital a sweet treat, balloons or color with them.
As a family we love to host. It really is a family thing. Ethan loves to have company and to entertain as much as we do. So we try to have someone new over every week.
We have found a church that is predominatly Ecuadorian and is only Spanish speaking. Pray that we would be able to settle in and be a part of the church even though there is a language barrier for the boys and Ben.

The question that always comes with this is "How are you all being fed?" Mari prays with another wife on a regular basis, Ben & another guy keep each other accountable, Ben is also involved in a guys bible study and we have family devotions everyday(or we try) outside of our own personal devos. Ben has enjoyed listening to Mens Fraternity that is now avail. on the web great idea MMBC!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Time was not on our side, but God was!

We had so many amazing answers to prayer over the summer that I have not been able to post all of the, but I will because He deserves the Glory. We own a house and we were trying to sell it. As you know the market is horrible - so it wasn't selling. We decided 1 1/2 mos. before our departure date to contract a property management company to rent our home. We were very nervous because we had never done this before and also because time was not on our side. So to make a long story short, our property management company was lacking in many ways. We were out of town for a month of prime renting time and when we got back there wasn't even a sign out in our yard and many more things were lacking. At this point we now had 2 1/2 weeks left before we were to leave and we were getting nowhere with the renting of our home. After much frustration, a week later we begin looking for another company. So here we were with one week left to leave - we still have a home to rent, we aren't at 100% of our support yet, my (Mari's) parents are in the middle of some major issues and we are trying to pack and move to another country. Our prayer all summer was, "Lord I believe, but help my unbelief." Well, the Lord answered our prayers in his own creative way beyond our imagination. We got a call that week from the property manager apologizing for his lack of follow through with us and he said, "We would like to make it up to you all by renting your house from you until we can rent it out ourselves." Wow, I was blown away! I was humbled to see how soveriegn and in control our God is of all things. He had a plan all along. It looked nothing like our plan, but let me tell you, this was far better than what we were praying for. Isn't He such an awesome Father! All of our support came in that last weekend! I had peace about leaving the states in the midst of my parent's situation and so many more details, small and big, all came together! He is Amazing and full of Grace to give to us!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We Got Our First Care Package!

Yea, it was soooo much fun to anticipate the arrival of a package! Thanks Dons family for thinking of us and blessing us with such fun things. Ethan was so cute - we rec'd the package right before a staff cook out so Ethan & Aiden were showing every single person their toy. FYI: It got here in approx. 2 wks from TX with no problems and we didn't have to pay to receive the med. size envelope.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Care Package Tips

A Plethora of you have inquired about sending us care packages. Here are some answers to your questions:

Does it cost to receive a package? Yes and no. Yes if it's a box and depending on the size. No, if its in package envelopes sm-lg size. Also, it doesn't cost to receive letters. Always put a $1 value and that it's a gift.

Where should you send it to? Alliance Academy International, Attn: Ben/Mari Tuten
Casilla 171106186, Quito, Ecuador Please make sure to write it to our attention since we live at the school they will assume its school stuff if it's not in our name

How should we package it? Please send it in a package envelope not a box. A med-lg size envelope is fine. After you have addressed it cover it in clear packaging tape if your using the paper envelopes just to make sure the envelope endures the trip.

What can we send you? All of these things are treats. Nothing is a must have. We really could manage to live with out them: If the item is not listed anymore that means someone has already decided to send it to us. yea!

  • fun scrapbooking paper,

  • worship cds, -hot wheel cars,
  • paper craft magazines(Paper Crafts, Creative Cards, Card Creations you can get any of these at Hobby Lobby or Michaels use their 40% for a good deal)
  • a little sweet note especially addressed to Ethan(that will make his day)
  • Action figures for Ethan he doesn't have a preference as long as they are not scary

  • your sweet notes/letters
  • Any fun games we can play. I am terribly bored every night.
    • Be creative we will love whatever you send us. WE DONT mind if you take things out of the original packaging to save on space. (sending baked goods or perishable items are not recommended)

      Thanks so much for wanting to bless us with a small package of love!

      Thursday, August 28, 2008

      School and stuff

      We started school today! Working here in this Christian international school has been very different from both of our secular and Christian school experiences in the past. So far all different in a good way. We started our day with chapel and worship - that was awesome. It was also fun to watch all the different types of kids attending this school - it truly is an international school. We are glad to get our ministry started with the students. We have enjoyed the time we had before school to get to know the staff and our team a little bit better before we start working together. So for now no major reports on school ministry.

      Here are some pictures of Ben making our bedroom furniture. I mean Ben and Ethan. Ethan always comes home telling me that he was working with daddy making a bed for me.
      This is one of Ben's friends Dan making a coffee table.

      They are using the school wood shop to do this. They pay them for the wood and they let them use the tools for free.
      Just in case you're wondering why Ben is making furniture, it's not because there is no furniture here - it's just that it will be more cost effective and he enjoys it. His father would be proud. I am!

      Sunday, August 24, 2008

      What's up?

      What is up with us?

      We start school on Thurs.

      We found a sitter for Aiden while I am at school!

      We are headed out on our 1st date since we got here!praise God!

      Ethan starts school on Thurs (pre-school).

      Our boxes are still in customs, boo hoo.

      We are looking for a church, pray that we find one as awesome as Mckinney & WHCC.

      I will address the school on Biblical Conflict Resolution Monday.

      We are doing a 10k next weekend.

      Ben has started a Spanish class that the school offers for gringo teachers.

      We are trying to get Ethan to stop peeing in the bed at night. Any suggestions???

      We are shopping for living room furniture.

      Ben is building our bedroom furniture.

      We need to decide on how we are going to be involved in the lives of our students outside of school. Plz pray for that there are so many opportunities.

      Monday, August 18, 2008

      I love how recreational family time is such a priority in Latin countries!

      Every morning that I have gone running it amazes me to see how full the park is. I wonder don't these people have jobs to go to(grin). They do but they have a way of making time for family and fun. As I run around the park my tummy is awakened with the aromas of the little restaurant huts in the park who have their grills fired up ready for the morning traffic. The park is packed with men in their suits out playing with their kids before their day gets started, with 50yr old men playing basketball, with young and old zealous soccer players moms and kiddos going on their morning stroll. On weekends it really is packed every inch of grass is covered. They have little carnvial rides, horse rides, boat rides, cotton candy, this is a new one -bebe gun shooting, stunt bike riders etc...

      Saturday, August 16, 2008

      What have we been up to?

      We have been here in Quito, Ecuador for a little under a month now! So some of you have been wondering what have we been doing?
      -First couple of weeks it was just catching up on our sleep, getting unpacked, going to the airport everyday to identify our lost luggage and settling into our new home.
      -Now that we're past that we have been venturing out into the city on our own. We still haven't ventured out too far - no more than 10 miles from our home. We're baby stepping. Walking everywhere with 2 kids keeps us close to home.
      -We took a trip with our school to a nearby village. (see pictures below in the other post)
      -Ben started Spanish classes
      -Going grocery shopping at least 3 times a week because, as I am cooking, I realize I don't have what I need. Starting your pantry and kitchen from scratch again is quite the task.
      -I visited the local City Dump where there are families that live on the property and go to work there. We did a bible study, craft and songs with the kids.
      -I hosted our first girls nite out with our new friends and neighbors while Ben went out with the men.
      -Ben has been getting ready for class: preparing his room and lessons
      -I am preparing for my first staff session on Biblical Conflict Resolution.

      We have been enjoying our time here. And we feel blessed to have the Lord lead us here and use you all to get us here in so many ways! Gracias!

      Sunday, August 10, 2008

      Beyond the Cement Walls of the Big City of Quito

      For all of you who live in big cities, you know how it is to live in the hustle and bustle of smog, traffic and cement buildings, loud music, constant honking of cars etc... If you go out far enough, though, eventually you can see behind the cement walls. Every country has its roots- here in Ecuador they date back to the Pre-Inca times. Our school took a group of us to a small town just outside of the city so we can breathe some fresh air and get some traditional sights and sounds of Andean music.
      The Northern Andes is breathtaking! Look at how clear the water is. We got out at this lake surrounded by mountains. We hiked up to that little house you see on the trail and then we kept hiking up because Ethan was doing so well, although we didn't do the 5 hour hike around the mountain!
      After this we headed to the little villages. As soon as we stepped out of our big 15 passenger van that is screaming "tourists!" this sweet little old indigenous lady came up to us with a big toothless smile. She didn't seem to speak Spanish so we just smiled back. Ethan quickly became her little buddy. Every time we saw her, Ethan would come up to her and give her his hand so she could kiss it and he would give her a big smile and say "hello" (in English).
      This picture below is our team having breakfast at a cute little hotel we stayed in.
      Looked at Aidens hair it was pretty windy up there. Here we are going back in time to some of the customs and traditions of the indigenous people at the market. This craft market is one of the most spectacular in South America. Yes, this is a pig on a large hot pan that is being served on plates for hungry shoppers at the market. I think I lost my appetite.
      He loves music!

      Thursday, August 7, 2008

      A Tour of our Home in Ecuador

      We wanted to share with you our home here in Quito! We are the only family that lives on campus besides the dorm parents. There will be 9 students that will live in the dorms, just above us. We live in the basement of the dorm. We have a nice 3 bedroom, 2bath apartment with a good-sized kitchen and living area. We pay a reasonable amount for rent, which I guess it would be equivalent to the States, around $700 utilities included.

      We live in the capital city of Ecuador, right in the smack dab of the city. So, as in most big cities, it's really hard and expensive to own a house - so everyone pretty much lives in an apartment building. Similar to NYC, there's one big tall building after another with lots of apartments on each floor. Another thing about living in a big city is that you always need a guard outside your home. So whether you live in a house or apartment, you have a guard. Because we live on the school property we have 2 guards since the school has 2 entrances. So we feel pretty safe in our new home!

      Our apartment is provided by the school and is temporary. We can only live in it for one year. So by next summer, we will be transitioning into an apartment near our school. I have gone out to price furniture and it seems pretty equivalent to the States, but without the sales :( But, there are so many other inexpensive things - like flowers, fruit and bread, which are some of my favorite things!

      Wednesday, July 30, 2008

      An eventful beginning

      Our 5hr trip slowly turned into a 7hr, 10hr and then 33hr trip. We were flying the day the hurricane was going through Houston so we couldn't fly out of DFW to catch our flight into Houston to Quito. So we waited around at DFW for a couple of hours and then waited a couple of more hours on the plane that was not allowed to fly out. All of this w/ a baby and 4yr old who hasn't had their naps. We finally got into Houston and by this time had missed our flight so at midnight we were checking into a hotel. The next day we had to start the whole process again out of the Houston airport at 6a.m. Thanks to God we arrived safely into our apartment in Quito at midnight.

      Really it wasn't as bad as I make it sound. The worst part of it was uncontrollable crying from our baby. And at times I wanted to join him. Under the circumstances they really did great! God was good in answering our prayers for us not to get stuck in a foreign country w/ all our luggage and kids. I really think this was His way of answering it. I would rather get layed over in the middle of the night in the U.S. than in a foreign country any time.

      Our second day in Quito I was stopped by some tv reporters for an interview. I told them I had just arrived and had no idea what they were asking and declined the interview. They persisted so I gave in. The question was a political question about the president. I had no idea what they were talking about but I said " no I didn't agree" As soon as I said that they looked at each other in shock that I said no. As I walked away I began to wonder if I made a dumb mistake by answering. Images of the president hunting me down for answering against him began to take over. Next time I will keep my ignorance to myself instead of broadcasting it to the world.

      Wednesday, July 23, 2008

      Adios, Amigos!

      We are heading out tomorrow, July 24th!
      This bittersweet day is finally upon us. We walk forth in the grace, strength and guidance of our Lord but we do not walk alone we walk surrounded by friends and family as they shower us with their prayers and blessings. I can't even begin to explain how great it feels to not go alone as a family. Thank you for walking with us!

      Big prayer request for tomorrow-
      Quito is surrounded by mountains and at night it gets very cloudy and windy therefore making our landing conditions hard. We are landing at midnight and there is a big possibility that they won't land our plane in the Quito airport but in another city which means we will need to spend a night there and catch a plane the next day. So please pray that we are able to land in Quito. It will be chaotic to land in another city that we don't know with 6 very large pieces of luggage, a stroller, 2 kids, and 3 carry ons trying to find a hotel in the middle of the night and a taxi that will have room for all of our stuff.

      How to contact us:
      Our cell # is no longer any good.

      Also, please don't send any support checks to our Ft. worth address send them directly to RCE, PO Box 4528, Wheaton, IL 60189 made out to RCE with only our account #3928 on it not our names. Thanks so0000 much!
      Keep in touch!

      Sunday, July 20, 2008

      Come Let us rejoice in who He is Ps. 66:6

      I want to share the following so that you can rejoice and give Him the glory with us. This is the first topic of many to come:
      Support Raising
      The "S" word we didn't want anything to do with this word when we were looking into going as missionaries. We thought this was not for us. Well, God had other plans.
      God put on our hearts Alliance Academy Int'l. A perfect fit for our family but guess what? We had to raise support, $2,500 a mth. Read on as we share His provisions for us:
      -We began by sending out over 100 letters to friends and family. After a month into it we still had not heard from anyone. Though it was a slow start the Lord knew what He was doing and 2.5 months later we are at full support!
      -After our estate sale was over this couple comes the next day and said "God had put us on their mind and they felt like they needed to come back and pray for us." Here's God bringing people along to encourage us.
      -Our church was one of the first to come along our side and decide to support us not just finacially but also with moral support. The Body of Christ unites with us.
      -This lady who has no idea who we are randomly comes across that we still needed support and she felt like the Lord was leading her to give. God working in the hearts of total strangers.
      -We presented at a church of about 50 people we felt bad asking them to support us since they were so small and probably didn't have the budget to. Well to this day they are our highest supporters. God works in the unexpected!
      -So many of our wonderful friends and family have given sacrificially of their time and money to help us get to Ecuador so we could spread the Gospel to students! This has been humbling and amazing to see His people at different stages of life: young, single, old, married, divorced, poor, rich, christian and non-christian (yes he even uses the non-christian to answer our prayers).... The body of Christ coming together is an amazing thing to see in action.

      This journey has been hard as He has had to strip us of our illusion of control, our pride in our independence, our illusion that we have it all together and the hardest our illusion that we totally trust in Him. But He has been so merciful, compassionate as He works in us- a work in progress molding us as people after His own heart not our own desires. Though it has been hard I wouldn't trade it for the sweet times we have had with the Lord individually and as a family!

      Saturday, July 12, 2008

      A miracle waiting to happen!

      Moses has been our companion throughout this journey of becoming missionaries. Recently, I was reminded of how the Lord guided Moses through the desert as they were exiting Egypt. Now picture this with me: You're heading out with thousands of people into the desert, your goal: the promised land. He leads you towards a massive body of water and there is no bridge, no boat waiting to help you get over it. As you approach it you begin to hear in the background horses, chariots and masses of soldiers coming towards you. You're thinking - we're going to die. We are cornered. Moses looks in front of him and he sees the massive sea and then he looks behind him and he sees the soldeirs coming at them, but when he looks up he hears the Lord. The Lord tells him to "go forth". Can you imagine what it took to take the first step into that parted sea? But can you imagine how tragic it would have been if they would not have taken that first step. They would have missed seeing God's amazing power!

      We are taking a step of faith by heading over to Ecuador with our house still on the market. We believe that God will open doors and right now we just need to be obedient and "go forth," even though things are not lining up as we wished. To be honest, it's a bit nerve racking, but we believe. Many of you may be thinking we're crazy, this is foolish, you still have to use your brains even though you have faith, young people just don't think things through. Well, you may be right about some of those things, but you know, as I think back to the miracles the Lord has performed in my life there is always a pattern: it was the impossible, He made it possible, He got the glory and I needed to take that step of faith to discover it. So we go forth! So go forth with us as you pray for us because we need it - we leave JULY 24th!

      Please pray for a miracle for our house to be sold/rented. A miracle of reconciliation for Mari's family. Please pray that we would not rely on our own understanding but that we trust in Him for all that we do.

      clarification about our newsletter

      For those of you have had a chance to read our recent newsletter, we wanted to let you know that it is Mari's family that we mentioned needing special prayer.

      Saturday, July 5, 2008

      Meet our Team!

      This is part of our team that we will be working with in Ecuador. The directors of the school, David and Lois Wells, are the first couple on the left. Then in between Ben and me is the elementary school principal Mr. Driscoll and his family (their boys are Indonesian) and the rest are couples and some lovely single girls.

      Part of our Pre-Field Orientation Training fun was visiting with our future co-workers. We were in classes all day and then would meet at our house for games in the evening.
      The people there were just like us, getting ready to embark a whole new world as missionaries. We were a smorgasbord of ages, cultures, languages and lifestyles. It was fun to interact with everyone and hear how the Lord brought them to this point in their life.

      This is our small group. We split up into small groups throughout the week and had a bible study time. Everyone here is going to either Ecuador or Morocco.

      Here is Ethan with his new little friends from class: Tavin and John who will be serving in China.
      Everyday our meals were in the cafeteria with about 150 people. We realized that Ethan is definetly an extravert. He would go around to different tables asking people their names and conversing with them. He would leave our table and say, "I'll be back. I need to go say hi to my new friends." This sweet couple, Cameron and Elisa, are going to serve in Tawain and are one of the couples Ethan befriended. We got to know them as a result of our child's extraversion. We were known as Ethan's parents by many for the past two weeks.

      Friday, June 27, 2008

      Pre-Field Orientation

      I shared in our newsletter how this whole transitioning time has seemed surreal. Well being here in traning has made it a lot more tangible and more real. Alliance Academy International sent us to a pre-field orientation for missionaries in Houghton, NY. If you're thinking I never heard of Houghton neither did we and there is a reason b/c there is not even one stop light in this little small town. It's very beautiful though and we have enjoyed the tranquilty that it brings into our busy life.
      So we have spent the last week here and have one more week to go. We are learning a lot about how to transition into another culture, how to work with other cultures and how to be flexible. Our classes are from 8-5p.m. everyday except Sunday. Ethan has some culture transitioning classes also and Aiden is in childcare. The schedule is strenuous on our family but the information has been great. We have had the pleasure of meeting part of our mission team and that has been great fun. We are excited that we will get to minister beside these people who also have a heart for God's kindgom.

      Pray for us: Ethan and Aiden are totally out of their element, schedule, environment, food etc... and I know it's been hard on them physically and emotionally. Ethan has forgotten that he's potty trained, he is constantly having tantrums and Aiden cries about everything.
      It may get worse from this point on because our whole life will be in transition until we get to Ecuador. So pray for wisdom, patience and lots of love for our boys.

      Friday, May 16, 2008

      Goal: $2,500/mo. to get us to campus by July 24th

      Friends and Family we created this so you can have a visual of where we are in our support raising so you can continue to pray for us and consider joining our financial support team.
      We are at 100% of our budget!
      Praise God! Thanks to all of you who have sacrificially given and prayed!


      1 person…………..…………………………. $200 per month

      O O .............…………………………………$175 per month
      2 people

      O O O O................…………………………..$150 per month
      4 people

      O O O O O O....................................……$100 per month
      6 people

      O O O O O O...................................…….$75 per month
      6 people

      O O O O O O .......................... ....………$50 per month
      6 people

      A total of 25 people to help us reach.... $2,500 a month

      If the O is red that means a person has pledged for that amount a month!

      Wednesday, May 7, 2008

      9,000 Feet Closer to Heaven!

      That's a good reason to go to Ecuador we will be 9,000 ft. closer to Heaven (grin)! As of today we have 2 months and 14 days left before our departure. Here are some updates since our last update 2 months ago. Since that time our belongings have decreased substantially between an estate sale, craiglist and garage sale we will be down to very little soon.

      We believe wholeheartedly that the Lord will provide. It may not look exactly like we had envisioned but I know that he will open doors if He wants us in Ecuador this Fall. So pray my friends and family that we will have wisdom as we make decisions and that we would clearly see His leading and have His blessings from the smallest of decisions to the big ones.

      Saturday, May 3, 2008

      Join us on the Battlefield!

      One of the biggest turn offs for me towards missions for years was that I felt missionaries wanted me to have a passion for the people that they were ministering to. Every time a missionary presented I felt this guilt because I didn't love the Africans, the Asians, the Indians the tribal people that they were ministering to as they did. I don't think that was the missionaries intentions and part of that guilt was self inflicted.
      Now that we are in the same place as those missionaries. I want you to know that we understand if you don't feel this deep connection toward the Youth in Ecuador, or for that matter a deep connection with us but we do hope that you have a deep connection for Gods heart and that is, His lost sheep. So connect with us because we are going to feed His lost sheep. Pray for us because the enemy wants to destroy all those who are going to thwart his plans. Join us on the battlefield because simply put we can't do it alone. We may be physically going but you go with us through your prayers and your financial support. For His kingdom and for His glory!

      Tuesday, April 22, 2008

      What will we be doing?

      We will be working at Alliance Academy International in Quito, Ecuador. It's an independent Christian International school that offers k-4-12th grade education. It was started in 1929 by the Christian Missionary Alliance for their missionaries. The leadership has now changed and so has it's constituents. Now it reaches out to the nationals, international businessmen, missionaries, diplomats, embassy staff and immigrants from many different countries. Wow! the opportunities for ministry abound!
      The more I think about this opportunity the Lord has provided for us I am amazed at how this is such a great fit for our family, how we are all so perfectly plugged in. God took our hearts passions, skills and giftedness and sent us to a place where we can use them for His glory!
      Our Job: Ben:6th grade math, science and Bible teacher, Mari: counselor(part-time)
      Our Heart and our Responsibilities: teaching, discipling, counseling and evangelizing
      Our Children: The school has a 4yr old program so Ethan will start school this fall. This school is one of the top English Schools in Quito so Ethan will be in an awesome learning environment. Aiden will have a sitter on campus the days I work.
      Housing:We will live on campus in the dorms. Ha, who would of thought I would end up back in the dorm life.
      Transportation: Public transportation or walking will be our means of getting around.
      Economy: Ecuadors currency is the U.S. dollar. The cost of living is very high. Here in the U.S. $35-40,000 yr you can own a home and a car. In Ecuador for that kind of yearly salary you can rent a 2/3 bedroom apartment and not own a car.
      Stuff: We will try to cram as much of our stuff into our allowed 6pc of luggage. We will pretty much be starting from scratch again. Ecuador unlike other foreign countries doesn't have the big stores like Walmart, home depot, etc.... Therefore, everything imported cost about 3x as much. So arriving in the dorms is good because it will give us time to buy everything we didn't fit into our 6 pc of luggage.
      Religion: Catholicism is the dominant religion.