Friday, January 27, 2012

Ten years in Ecuador!

          We arrived in Quito, Ecuador in January 2002. It was a very exciting time for us to finally arrive after several years of preparation. We appreciated faithful prayers and notes of encouragement from supporters in those days of adjustments to new surroundings, people and Ecuadorian culture. What a challenge for us moving from rural Maine into a city of 2 million people. God directed us to an apartment that was newly built and to a family that lived two floors below us, who needed the Lord. We had opportunities to witness to Guillermo and Gina and they both accepted the Lord as their Savior. Shortly after they moved away and we have not seen them since. The owner of the building added a disco on the floor above us so we only stayed there six months. 
South Quito: 2002-2005
            Our ministry team in South Quito consisted of my wife Diana and I, three other CrossWorld missionaries as well as two Ecuadorian couples and a single Ecuadorian lady. It was a time of orientation for us to ministry and life in EcuadorAfter six months our co-worker and his wife left for home assignment. One of the Ecuadorian men was put in as the pastor during his absence. This was a very good time of ministry and seeing the Ecuadorian pastor develop and take on pastoral responsibilities.  I began to preach and teach adult SS. When our co-workers returned a decision was made to split our team into two groups and work at starting a second church in an area where many of those who attended the first church lived. 

Luis, Irene and daughter, Katarine
            One of my greatest blessings in our time in South Quito was getting to know the Vargas family. Francisco came to know the Lord through the witness of his brother Luis who is now in full time ministry there. I discipled Francisco and it was a joy to see him grow. He later graduated from the Berean Bible Institute and is still involved in leadership at the church. His mother Teresa is also very dear and my wife Diana discipled her and also Luis’ wife Irene. 

Chaupimolino: 2006-2011
            In June of 2006 after one year of home assignment we returned to Ecuador really not certain where the Lord would have us be serving. We were organizing a work team scheduled to come help a small struggling work in Chaupimolino. What an awesome privilege it was to witness the love of God being shown across cultures and language barriers. Each day the team from Derry, NH worked hard alongside their Ecuadorian brothers and sisters and at lunchtime there was a time of singing praises to God in both languages. God definitely opened doors as we were seeking His direction in where to serve that term. He used the NH team as well as other people and circumstances to direct us to Chaupimolino. We were involved in a building project, but while working there on the building we sensed the Lord’s call to stay and give spiritual leadership. 


         The Coro family came to the Chaupimolino church shortly after receiving Christ. The dad  had been enslaved to alcohol for almost 30 years. He was transformed and as well  his wife and four of their adult children. We went through several months of teaching and it was a blessing to hear their testimonies of God’s grace at their baptism. Their son, Pedro, and his sister, Nelly, began serving the Lord in the church. They both saw a need for a children’s Bible Club in their immediate neighborhood so they started one. This club has continued under their direction ever since.
          After being away for 5 years, the older daughter Margarita returned to Ecuador from Spain for the holidays. She found her family transformed by the Lord. She discovered her once alcoholic father dependent on the Lord instead. Her mom and 3 siblings testified of God’s goodness to them as a family during her 5 week stay. She learned of her need for a Savior, to be forgiven for her sins and asked for God’s forgiveness and received Christ. The younger brother Pedro led her to the Lord. Since she returned to Spain her husband also came to know Jesus as his Savior.

          Darwin and Nelly (Coro) Punguil have been a blessing to the work as they have committed  their lives to serving God.  In August 2010 they married and together they are pouring themselves into ministry. Darwin came to know the Lord through a tragic accident ten years ago. Darwin has been through many trials and the Lord has been preparing him for full-time christian service. He left his secular job  and is living by faith to serve in the role of spiritual leadership for the church in Chaupimolino. 

          Gods work is evident in the lives of the Rosado/Bravo family. Roberto and Sandra have worked hard to prepare themselves for ministry and are faithfully serving in the local church. Their sons, John and Gabriel, also have goals of being obedient to God's call in their lives. John is serving the Lord in the area of Milagro de Dios, found in the coastal area of Ecuador. He has been faithfully traveling to this area providing discipleships for adults and ministry to children and youth. Gabriel is planning to graduate with a degree in education.

Borja: 2010-present
 Beginning January 2010, God lead us to part-time ministry in Borja and we faithfully made weekly trips being available for what ever God would have us to do in a very needy area of Ecuador. Borja has a 400 year history of traditions that don’t include salvation by faith in Jesus. In September of 2011 we became full-time in Borja and during this time we have made many friends and some have approached us looking for spiritual help. We have been in many homes to share the Gospel with families and have attended many public events. Please check older blog posts for stories of opportunities we had to share the Gospel in Borja.

            We stopped at a garage in Borja to add air to a slack tire one day. We learned Percy, the owner, has a brother in another part of Ecuador who is working with a missionary. Percy expressed interest in studying the Bible. He came to our door asking for Dan to come to his home saying they really needed help. Spending time with Percy and Mercedes and their family we learned of their needs. We had not ever been with two people more ready to receive the Lord. They both expressed repentance for sin and their need for a Savior to save and change them. We left the home in awe at what God had done in their hearts and their eagerness to  grow in the Lord. They have had their struggles but we have continued to come along side of them giving God's Word and encouragement. They have moved to El Chaco where we continue to have Bible study in their home. 

The past ten years has been filled with many challenges and many blessings. Perhaps the greatest blessing is to see God changing people from within, to see them maturing and bringing others to saving knowledge of the Lord and in some cases they began discipleships with those they had won to the Lord. Others have followed God's call into full-time ministry. God's faithfulness has been clearly evident through each circumstance. We have many partners in the pursuit of God's call to missions and we are very thankful for their faithfulness in praying and in sacrificial giving to God's ministry to Ecuador through CrossWorld and us. Thank you!


            

Friday, January 20, 2012

Churrona

     

Churrona means long curls in Spanish and that is what everyone calls Elsira in Borja. We sat in a very humble wooden dwelling as Elsira told us of her childhood. It was amazing to think at the age of eight she took charge of herself and three siblings in the absence of her mother for six months. She washed clothes by hand to earn money for her family of four at that time. She told of crying out to God to help her. She said he answered her in many ways and was certain of his presence during those months of hardship. Her mother returned and did not abandon the family again. It was fun to learn Elsira has been reading her Bible faithfully and is on the second time through the entire book. She has lots of questions like; “The Bible says we are not to worship idols, is that true? Is confirmation biblical or is that a man made tradition? What does the Bible say about baptism? Is first communion biblical?”  Dan opened the Word and showed Elsira some things the Bible does say. She is thinking and God appears to be directing her. Please pray with us she will soon realize her salvation is found by faith in Jesus by God’s grace alone.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rodeo Quijos

Our friend, Manolo invited us to attend the rodeo held in Baeza where the county of Quijos is celebrating more than 450 years of history.
Band of Quijos

Recently, we asked for prayer for Luis, one of the trumpet players above. We met Luis one year ago when we thought we had to change housing. We had put a deposit on his house expecting to move there when we learned we did not need to leave the current house we are in. Luis had already invested the money to put the doors in his house so we made arrangements for him to pay us back on a monthly basis. Those monthly visits have given opportunity to talk about the Gospel with Luis and his family. Next week we are beginning a weekly study with the family. Please pray they trust Christ as Savior during the weeks to come.
Talented Horse and rider

Saludos (Greetings)

Playing Opossum 

Our friend, Sara

Nice Chaps
Vaqueros (Cowboys)

Friday, January 13, 2012

A New Year with New Challenges: Praise and Prayer Requests

We have a lot on our minds these days. Wednesday, the 11th Dan had an episode of not being able to talk correctly and difficulty swallowing. After meeting with a neurologist and some exams, we learned this could be caused by a form of atypical migraine without pain. He is trying a medication to prevent the reoccurrence of these symptoms. Thanks for praying for Dan to have a speedy recovery. As you can imagine, many thoughts were going through our minds during the days of exams. We found Psalms 46 especially helpful during that time.

April 26th is our planned departure date for home-assignment, HMA. Our tickets are purchased and we are looking forward to 9 months of home ministry. However, there are preparations to be done here in Ecuador before that day comes, including physical exams, paperwork, packing our belongings for storage and preparing Home ministry media and verbal presentations. We appreciate your prayers for this transition time and please contact us if you would like us to share CrossWorld’s ministry to Ecuador through the McKeen Family. We need to raise additional support during HMA to cover changes in health care coverage through CrossWorld.

Praise for:
Opportunity to share the Gospel with Luis and Maria
Milton shared the Gospel with Dorea’s husband Luis.
Dan’s recent health issue was not more serious.
House help for Diana’s parents has been a blessing.

Prayer for:
A speedy recovery for Dan
Spiritual growth of believers here in Borja
Salvation of Luis and Maria and other whom we have contact in Borja.
Children to understand their need for Salvation in Borja and Sumaco
God meeting our needs for HMA

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Unbroken Chain

Dan had finished the weekly Bible reading and was closing the time in prayer when we heard a thump. I opened my eyes quickly to see one of the seniors lying on the floor unresponsive.  We quickly ran to her side and positioned her while shouting, “Teresa, Teresa, Can you hear me?” She had a pulse and was breathing but was unresponsive. I was hoping she would come to but it was evident we needed to get help for her. “Call an ambulance!” I shouted. “There is none,” the people replied. Unfortunately, our truck was in the garage that morning. Dan and another man ran up the street looking for a truck or car to transport Teresa to the hospital in Baeza. They returned with a pick-up truck and we loaded Teresa into the front seat. I sat behind her maintaining her head and continuing to talk to her, hoping for a response and silently praying, “Lord, don’t let her die, she isn’t ready.” It was a ten minute drive to the hospital in Baeza where upon arriving we transferred the patient to a stretcher and brought her inside. Teresa responded three hours later at the hospital and later tests revealed a blood vessel had burst in her head.  She recovered. We had a good reason to visit Teresa in her home following the incident. Dan asked her if she had died would she be certain she would have gone to heaven. Teresa said, “No, I would have gone to the fiery furnace for a while until I was purified.” We shared the Gospel message with her that day and she listened intently, but she did not respond as we would have wanted. Our friendship with her has grown and we continue to show Christ’s love to her desiring for her to be certain of her salvation. Tradition has such a hold on the people in Borja. Won’t you pray with us that this chain of bondage can be broken in the lives of many?  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve 2011

New Year's Eve in Borja was filled with activities.

Diana had neighbors over in the morning to make cut out cookies and have a Bible study on Romans 12: 1 and 2. These girls face a lot of pressure at a young age to conform to the world's thinking. 

The  formal festivities began in the afternoon when there was a costume contest for the children. Dan was asked to be a judge.

Gemma came later in the afternoon looking for help making a dummy to represent the old year, which would be  later burned at mid-night. She attends the weekly Bible study in our home. She brought her friend William to our home this day.

These three boys came to our door early evening dressed as widows. When the old year is burned there  are widows  left behind. The boys were looking for money or candy "to sustain them in the new year". It is sort of a Halloween tradition. These boys are or have attended Bible club at one time.

Our friend, Jazm√≠n, was chosen queen of the neighborhood  last night.  She and her mom, Ginela attend the weekly Biblestudy in our home. As a youth, she too faces a lot of peer pressure. Please pray for the youth of Borja.
The first day of 2012 we were reminded there are a lot of needy people in Borja.   Three intoxicated  people staggered by our home early this the morning. This pair when to the corner store to buy more alcohol, which they easily purchased. Diana tried unsuccessfully to stop another man, obviously in a stupor,  from returning to the driver's seat of his car.
 Many families are affected by this vice here in Borja and all over Ecuador. We desire to see all changed by the power of the Gospel. Please join us in praying for the salvation of men, women and children here in Borja.