Friday, October 7, 2011

It's rainy and cold outside

It was a cold rainy day and I decided this was the Day that the Lord has made for Mari to tackle the MESSY JUNKY office.  This office room is near the gate entrance of our Conjunto (gated community of townhouses).  While I am unpacking I am constantly distracted by the sounds of a baby.  I go up to check on Mateo and it's not him so I continue cleaning.  The baby noises continue but go from a content baby to a very upset baby.  So I peak out my window and notice a young lady drenched by the rain holding her baby just standing under our gate trying to keep her baby dry.
Here where we live we are surrounded by mountains so rain usually means the sun is gone and it's very cold and windy.  I continue cleaning and then begin to wonder how I can help her.  She hasn't asked for help or rang my door bell so maybe she was fine.  But she didn't have a jacket on nor did her baby.  So I couldn't stop thinking about how to help her.  I went upstairs and rummaged through our closet trying to find a rain jacket that I could give her.  I looked but we all pretty much own 1 good rain jacket.  I finally went and found some garbage bags(very common to see people wearing these when it rains) and went outside and asked her if she needed them to cover herself.  She looked surprise to see me and was hesitant but then accepted them.  I asked her if the baby was wet and she nodded. Poor little thing would have had to stay the whole night in wet clothes until her mom was done working.

I ran upstairs and found some baby clothes a friend had accidentally brought down from the states that her son definitely had outgrown that she gave to us for Mateo.  It was sitting out just waiting for this perfect opportunity to be used!

 I opened the gate and let her in  and while she walked in I thought well maybe that was a dumb idea I have no idea who she is.  It was too late so I invited her inside the house so she could change her baby inside a warm house not in the out in the cold.  I asked  her what she was waiting for and she said I collect cardboard on your street and was waiting for it to stop raining so I could keep working.  Here in this country the poor collect cardboard on trash day and go through the streets rummaging through trash cans looking for cardboard. I brought her a clean diaper, a jacket and fleece pj's that were a size 12mos but seem to swallow her 14mos old up.  She took the pj's and diaper said thank you and went on her way.

I was so thankful that I decided to clean the office that day otherwise I would not have  heard her baby outside.  I was so thankful that this friend had accidentally brought this baby clothes from the states and had given it to us. Otherwise I would of have had to go through boxes of stuff in our storage room outside to find Mateo's bigger clothes and that may have taken forever to find. Once again I was thankful that the Lord was able to use me in something as simple as me cleaning my house.

Who knew how this Apple Pumpkin bread would be used

I decided to make some Apple Pumpkin Bread w/ Caramel Icing and the batch made 2 large loaves.  That is too much sweet bread just laying around my house so I decided to freeze one loaf.  Not even thinking that God was going to use this for His purposes.

I was at school and over heard a new young teacher sharing that she was leaving home because she was sick.  I didn't think too much of it but felt sad for her because I had heard that she had been sick for several days now.  Well as I was on my way home the thought popped in my head "call her".  I got home and decided I would offer to make her a meal and that would be my call.  I soon realized my day was packed with other errands and that making an extra meal that day would probably not happen.  So I just thought I would do it tomorrow.  Well the thought was still there to call her and suddenly I remembered the loaf of Apple Pumpkin bread in the freezer.  I called her and asked her if I could stop by with some homemade bread.  We had a good time getting to know each other and later she emailed me to thank me and said "you have no idea how your visit and bread ministered to me". 

I really don't but I am so glad that the Lord used something simple that I enjoy doing at home during the day while the boys are at school and Ben is working, to minister to one of His children. 
Such a wonderful reminder to me that He can use me wherever I am at even in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove, just kidding that's not how I view it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What is a Christian Missionary?

"Many people picture a missionary as a middle-aged man who leaves his job in America to evangelize and plant churches in Africa. But that is a simplistic view. Today, African Christians reach out to Muslims in the Middle East. College students spend their summer teaching English in Asia. A family in America befriends and witnesses to international students. A truck driver responds to an international disaster, meeting both physical and spiritual needs. All these are missionaries.

Although missionaries cannot be stereotyped, they each have a call. God calls them to set aside personal ambitions in order to be witnesses of the Gospel. Like Isaiah, a missionary gladly responds, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8b). Often God sends a missionary to a particular people group as Paul was sent to the unreached Gentiles and Peter to the Jews (Galatians 2:8). Although technically a Christian missionary is one specifically called by God and sent out by the local church, every Christian has a mission to make disciples. " (from

I whole heartily believe that our Lord Jesus Christ ask all Christian believers to make Him known, in action, in words and by example.  We have all been gifted in different ways so its going to look different so don't compare the work the Lord has put before you to others work. 

A simple way I answer this question is "we work amongst Ecuadorians and students of different nationalities our desire is to let them know that there is another way to live life and to give them the opportunity and help them see by example that Jesus Christ Listens, Jesus Christ Saves, Jesus Christ is God, Jesus forgives and His Word is real and relevant to our life."  I carefully chose the word opportunity because we don't shove His Word down people throats, we don't stand out in the street yelling "that your going to hell."
Our Missions Pastor shared his broad definition of missions "Engagement with God's mission to help all nations enjoy His glory and forgiveness through Jesus. This would make all Christ-followers missionaries... of course, some do this full-time vocationally."

I hope this gives you a basic idea of what is a Christian Missionary.
My response in a picture form below: The world, His Salvation, His people.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ben- 6th Grade

Ben ended the 2010-2011 school year with co-directing the Life School Musical for the 6th grade class, planning the 6th grade graduation, planning and taking his students on their last fun field trip and in the midst of this we were moving to another house and packing to leave to the U.S for our first furlough.  Wow! I am amazed at how well Ben handled all that pressure, tasks and people.

He will be starting the 2011-2012 school year with 18 wide eyed bushy tailed 6th graders.  He will also have a new co-teacher who has not taught at AAI before.  This will be his first year being the department chair and training teachers.  We are excited for the new opportunties for him to excel in what I (Mari) feels he is gifted in -teaching!  Pray for him as he leads his team that God would give him boldness, confidence and time management.  

Child Protection Committee at Alliance Academy

One of the things that the counseling department at Alliance Academy has been working since I have been there and I am sure before I was there was educating and empowering parents, students and teachers on Child Protection. 
The statistics on Missionary kids, Missionary schools and Missionaries encountering these abuse situations is alarming. I (Mari) for the past 2.5 years have been heading up the training in this area.  Our goal was to go into every classroom and share with each student and then to have follow up parent training in which we shared the same things with the parents.  Our goal was to have student, teacher and parents all on the same page on how to encounter situations. 
This past year a committee was formed to review and address gaps that were in our student-teacher policies.  What came about from this committee was a year of meetings, meetings and more meetings in which a plan of action on how to prevent situations, how to protect the students and teachers was proposed and approved!  This was a gargantous task and we are praising the Lord for how much support and help we received from the school leadership. 

I will start the school year off with an orientation for all staff training them on Child Saftey Procedures on campus.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mari's last 6th grade Chats

One of the things I was able to start through the counseling department was the 6th grade Chats.  I met with the 6th grade Girls and some times both boys and girls and we discussed topics like: friendship, boys, body image, self image etc....  I really enjoyed this aspect of my job because not only did I get to do what I enjoy which is doing counseling seminars but I also got a chance to connect with the kids Ben spends time with and build relationships with them.

Our last session was a fun crafty one and we made T-shirts for their moms using a DIY screen printing process. 
These shirts were left over from the 2010 Womens Team that came down.  I was glad we were able to put them to use! My in laws brought down freezer paper for us which is what you need to do the screen printing process.

Sixth Grades Video Project

Ben's 6th grade class worked really hard to put this video together.  They give you a tour of the historical city of Quito.  It's in Spanish but either way you can see the beauty if you don't understand.

Every now and then you get a peek of Ben.  These are all his students.  His class is so culturally diverse there are kids from Korea, Chinese, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Jaimaca and the U.S.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Celebrating in March

As most of you know Ethan and Aiden celebrate back to back birthdays in March.  One of our family traditions is to give the b-day boy a birthday breakfast.  We were singing to Ethan Happy Birthday in Spanish and when we got to Happy B-day to Ethan Aiden says Happy B-day to Eastons.  You may ask why well here in Ecuador this is how many people pronounce his name as Eastons.  So our clever little 3yr old soon to be 4 decides that since were singing in Spanish we have to pronounce Ethans name like they would here in Spanish.  See for yourself how all grown up they are now, bittersweet!
Our precious boy Ethan who is now 7!

Our sweet boy Aiden who is now 4!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Decision Made!

The looming feeling that hangs over you when you have an important decision to make has left me!  The Lord has given me peace about not working at Alliance Academy.  It was a hard decision because I enjoyed my work but I think this is the best thing for my kids, husband and me.  This coming week I will be cleaning out my office, ughhhh not looking forward to that :).

Thank you so much for lifting this up to the Lord on our behalf. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sharing Gods Love with Happy Meals on V-day

 On February 13th our family prepared some v-day hearts with a verse and put them on Happy Meals for the street kids.


She could barely reach my car window but I heard a little voice saying "compre vamos compre" (buy something come on buy something).  Our boys are in the back seat waiting with excitement for me to roll down the window so they can give her a Happy Meal.  The little girl (not bigger than 3yrs old) smiles big and says "Dios te pague" (may God repay you).  She runs back to her little dirt mound where her bags and babysister are at and she quickly begins to eat.  My heart stirs with gladness to see her little face light up as she receives her Happy Meal. 

I can't even begin to put into words the joy it brings me to see our boys get so excited to give some food to the street children.  I don't really know how much they grasp on what is going on in the lives of these street children but I do know and see the enjoyment they get from giving!  Praise the Lord for using our little ones!

Here in this picture we got out of the car because we knew that at this artisan market there are a lot of indigenous kids walking around begging the tourist for money.  As soon as we got out of the car they came swarming around us (this is why we did our happy meal deliveries from the car).  Thankfully, Ethan and Aiden weren't scared by the group that gathered around us.  They just started passing out the meals that they each had in their hand.


I walked into this building with huge stone walls, gates and more gates having absolutely no idea how the Lord was going to stir my heart.  It was a rescue shelter for girls who were in the sex trade industry. Against the wall are the girls standing there ready to greet us.  I had to compose myself because my heart was shocked.  I was taken aback by those eyes staring back at me because they were the eyes of little girls.  Yes, little girls whose innocence had been taken from them.  Little girls who should still be playing hide and seek but ,unfortunately, life had taught them a new game.
Some were born into this lifestyle because mom leads that life, others were kidnapped and forced into that life, some "chose" that because of their life circumstances (poverty) and the stories continue as how they all came to this place. 
The next 3 hours flew by. Listening to their laughter and giggles echo in that cold social hall almost made me forget that I was in a rescue shelter for girls who used to lead a life of prostitution.
I had a little girl grab me by the arm to partner up with me to decorate heart shaped cookies.  She began to share a little of her story with teary eyes she said "I was kidnapped" and that was all that she was willing to share.  I wanted to respect her privacy so I didn't ask more.  She had been in this shelter for 9 months for her safety and protection.
We gathered again in the cold social hall and played more games.  It was so great to see them be little girls. We were getting ready to wrap up our time with a devotional and sharing time.  During that sharing time one of the girls that was pregnant probably 13 said she had a song to sing for the group and it was her life story.  Tears rolled down her cheek as she attempted to get the words out and finish the song.  She couldn't and as I looked around she wasn't alone in her sorrow there were 2 other girls crying as well.  I was surprised that another young girl wanted to sing a song to us.  Hers was a song of hope it spoke about how God sees us as His precious girls.  By the time she was done singing we were all filled with tears.   I was suprised at how vulnerable they were with their emotions. 

Before we gathered for our sharing time we were informed that we couldn't share any scripture our devo leader did great sharing Him w/o using any scripture passages.  But I was bummed because the night before as I prepared myself for this day I had on my heart and mind to give them this butterfly painting with a scripture verse. In my office hangs this painting I made of a butterfly with scripture all over its body.  I took a picture of it and made a bookmark out of it.  I showed the lady what I had made and she said I couldn't pass those out.  I told her I would take off the scripture reference and she still said no.  She then shocked me with this, she said "but can I have one?" As I handed her one I told her why I painted this drawing and no matter whether were believers or not He is our hope there is hope and that there is freedom in Him from our situation.  I later thought maybe I was supposed to make those just so that I could give her one.  I pray that she finds the Lord.  I can't imagine having to run a rescue shelter of this sort without having HOPE from our Lord. 
The woman who brought us to this shelter shared that 2 girls had escaped from the shelter.  It boggles my mind why they would want to go back to that life but unfortunately, it is a sad truth for many of them. He is our DELIVERER and I pray that these young girls find deliverance in everyway.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Ft. Worth Home: OVERWHELMING

Many of you read about our horrible situation with our past tenants in our Ft. Worth home. Here is the link Horrible Home Situation. And many of you read about our situation with our house back in 2008 when we were trying to leave the country to come to Ecuador and our property manager majorily dropped the ball but God provided in ways beyond our imagination. Here is the link Property Manager drops the ball.
All of those experiences mentioned above were overwhelming to say the least but God constantly showed us that He is in control. 
Since our last tenants, Ms. Barbara Terry,  we have not been able to rent our home.  She made it impossible to rent because she would not sign a release of agreement on our home.  The renters help pay for our mortgage so this was getting even more overwhelming. Finally, at the end of October she did sign.  In November, we decided to go with another property manager other than Bridge Lease because we felt like they did not represent us well in the midst of all of the problems we had with the previous tenants.  Our new property manager went into our home and shared with us all of the minor/ major work our house needed.  It was a long list so once again we were overwhelmed wondering how could our house have gotten in such horrible shape when we had so many contracted people "overseeing" our home. We were later told that we possibly had a leak in the foundation.  Those of you who have never had that done lets just say its thousands of dollars to repair and our home warranty company would not cover it.  So a 2nd opinion was done on our home and they reported that there wasn't a leak (praise the Lord) we just needed  more work done on the foundation.  This was still a lot of money but not even close to what we were looking at if it were a leak.

In the midst of what seemed like a bleak and yes once again overwhelming situation the Lord brought some wonderful people into our lives to remind us of His goodness, provision, love and care for us.  My eyes are filled with tears as I write this because HE overwhelms us with His goodness!  Our friends/neighbors had at some point mentioned that if we needed anything like help in getting the house cleaned up etc.. to call on them and they could gather a group of friends from church to help out.  We didn't take them up on this offer right away because it just seemed like a lot of work.  Finally, after looking at our budget and the cost of all these things we thought lets just give them a call because at this point any kind of help would mean one less person to hire. 
Our neighbor, Carrie, got on it right away and started to organize a group of church friends to help out.  At some point she was talking with her boss (one of our supporters) about our home situation and that she was in the middle of organizing a group to come out and work on it.  Her boss mentioned that he would share this with his Christian Business Mens group and see what would come about.  These men whom we have never met took on our home as a project and they each pitched in to contract someone to paint, put new carpet, fix tile, cabinets etc... in our home.  Isn't that AMAZING!  God uses complete strangers to be vessels of His love and answers to prayer!!  Once again the Lord shows us that He is the I AM, the Provider, the Sovereign Lord and that he LOVES us, and once again we are overwhelmed in a beautiful way.  Thank you business men, friends and family for being vessels of His Love in despondent times.

The adventures of having a baby in another country

He was so tiny he fit in our stocking!  
It has definitely been an adventure to have had a baby in another country.  Some adventures we loved some made us wish he was born on US soil.

When your pregnant or have a baby in your hand in this country:
  • you get bumped up in lines (awesome b/c sometimes you have to wait for hrs.)
  • people are very helpful (normally everyone minds their own business and does their own thing) 
  •  people move out of the way in the side walk (usually they just bump into you not thinking twice about it, it's not meant to be rude).
  • your rude apt manager forgets they hate you (Yes!)
  • everyone including little kids feel the need to give you advice & comment on your body
-We had our baby at a birthing ctr. it was a great experience
- Gave birth on a birthing stool
- To get his birth cert. was a huge headache:
  • hours (not exaggerating) of waiting in line to then be told we needed another document that's not on the requirements list they gave us hours ago.
  • it took 3 wks w/the same thing mentioned above happening every time
  • insisted on putting me down as a single mother. Their arguement was your not considered married when your in another country.
  • advised to get married in this country
Diapers, wipes, formula all cost about the same as it does in he US w/ the exception that there are no coupons or discounts.

It's been fabulous to receive baby packages from so many friends & family!

Mari gets 3 months of maternity leave and returning only 80% of her scheduled hours.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

10 Best Family Moments in 2010

1. Mateo Asher joining our family.
2. Mari becoming an American Citizen.
3. Mari's sister and mom coming to visit.
4. Our Valentines date was great fun!
5. Making Operation Brown Bag lunches with 2 other missionary families.
6. Ben's sister visiting us.
7. Thankful that we only lost 4 supporters!
8. Mari's surprise skype baby shower from friends in Ft. Worth.
9. Watching the boys enjoy our Christmas advent calendar activities.
10. While walking I hurt my leg. Ethan says "mommy lets stop and pray b/c God can heal it".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


BORN ON NOV. 27TH, 2010
Mateo means gift of God
Asher means happy, blessed in abundance
When Mateo was in the womb our last ultrasound picture showed him with a huge smile! He truly is our Gift from God.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Top 10 Ministry Blessing of 2010

1. An entire family coming to Christ b/c their son heard the gospel at school!
2. Sharing Gods hope with a mom whose family was in crisis during a counseling session.
3. 2010 Womens Summer Missions Team from MMBC ministering alongside of  us.
4. Discovering that Mckinney Church moms were getting together with their kiddos to decorate over a 100 Operation Brown Bags to send to us for lunches for the street children.
5. Having some parents of students at our school share "To see  how your family works together to serve is a blessing".
6. Singing at the top of our lungs praise songs in the inner city with 65 poverty stricken children.
7. Having a student I mentored 2 yrs ago write me and share with me how she was blessed by our time together and it has helped her now that she is in college.
8. Started and co-lead a bible study with some of the missionary women in our community has been a blessing!
9.  To discover that one of the Asian students in our bible study 2yrs ago had now come to Christ. We just planted the seed!
10. The joy and desire in our boys faces as they passed out flowers & chocolate to mothers on Mothers day!

Modern Day Knight- Father/Son 6th grade campout

One of the many things future 6th grade boys look foward to is the Father/Son Camp out Ben has put together for them.  For some of these familes camping is a foreign concept and even worse they have never tasted a Smore :).  Ben uses the book Raising a Modern Day Knight as a guide when he meets with the fathers before the camp out.  Then our hope is that the fathers take these principles to connect at a deeper level with their boys and for them to challenge them to be men of virtue.
This year all of the fathers participated! One father in particular travels a lot and at the beginning of the school year when he heard of this outing asked Ben if he could plan it when he was in town so he could be with his son on this special outing.

Virtual Baby Shower

The Lord blessed us with some great friends in Fort Worth who blessed us with a virtual baby shower.  You may ask how does that work?  Well these friends from FW prior to the shower sent me a package with the baby shower themed decorations, napkins, plates, cookies and some candy.  The package also had some beautiful baby clothes for Mateo.  They set this up through Ben (because it was a surprise for me) a date and time for us to Skype and they had invited our friends to come to the Vozeh's house.  Once on Skype ( a computer program) we could see our friends in FW and they could see us here in Ecuador and the shower began!  It was a very special time for me and I felt so blessed!

The school here also planned a shower for us.  Baby items here are very, very expensive so some co -workers contributed in a money gift we were given $175 total to use for all those odds and ends we need.  To give you an idea of the cost of things: 1 onesie $9 (not any particular name brand), 4pk flannel receiving blankets( those thin small ones)- $45 yup i said $45, a car seat about $300 for an average one nothing fancy.

Bens students and their moms threw a shower for him.  We received lots of diapers! Ben and I were touched by their desire to love on us.
We were showered with love!!!

those little feet that wander the street

We had a neat opportunity to join a ministry that has a school on wheels for street children in the historical area of Quito. They meet out there 3 times a week and randomly the children come to get a "break" from their work ridden day. 

As we walked up to the plaza where the tent was set up I saw 2-7 yr olds holding their little wooden case in their hands where they carry their shoe shining equipment.  I saw little ones (still too little to put them to work) just wandering the plaza "playing" while their guardian/parent worked selling candy or other knick knacs, I saw little faces that didn't know how to smile, blood shot eyes that hadn't slept well in days, little bodies that probably haven't eaten a full meal in months. 

Our goal was to be instruments of our Lord by helping put a smile on their face by giving them at least 5 minutes to be a child by coloring, singing and making a craft that would be useful to them.  Many of them rushed as they colored because they would get in trouble if they were caught not selling.  My friend Beth, brought her guitar and she filled the plaza with her melodious voice putting smiles on those little faces (it took a couple of songs before the kids allowed themselves to smile at the silly songs) and drawing a crowd of children and adults to our little huttle. The rest of the time we decorated tote bags that the MMBC Summer Ladies team left this past summer. I left the plaza feeling excited having had a chance to be Jesus to these little ones but I also left feeling overwhelmed by the extreme poverty and horrible experiences many of these children have had in their short little life.  I pray for those little feet that wander the streets on a daily basis early in the morning to late, late nights, may the Lord protect their bodies, hearts and minds.