Friday, December 16, 2011

suficiente..

Have you noticed, striking a balance in life is not easy.  Either we are too full to too empty.  All too often we fall short in maintaining a level that sustains, motivates, encourages and moves us forward.  As our lives here in Ecuador progress, our hope and prayer is that our actions and words be enough (suficiente) to impact those to come to Christ whom the Lord has placed in our lives.  We are doing our best to release those things that are unnecessarily holding us back and embracing that which propels us ahead.  That word suficiente alone can't change our circumstances but can change how we live through them if we stay focused on that which is behind it.....

As the result of prayer, the Lord provided three different people to provide suficiente funds to keep the electricity projects going through January.  In addition this shelter, thanks to input from my friend Ron Woody, will provide a much needed break area for our teams that come, workers in the fields in the foreground, orphan's using the facility and for our families to host kids/adults from the surrounding barrio's and from AAI.  I had just the right suficiente recycled items and materials on hand (frame cut from tree's on the property).
   Although resourceful, our southern culture doesn't hold all the cards when it comes to BBQ.  Ingenuity comes in many forms but when I saw this on the bus line, I've never seen a more practical way to feed a fire.  Simplicity is the mother of all invention and HIS knowledge is suficiente when resources are scant.
Our new church vision is suficiente: "One family of God united to build a new society to impact the gospel for the Los Chillos Valle, the country, Latin America and the World" 
Pastor Miguel's (Ecuadorian look-alike to Cosmo Teresi) new mode of transportation.  HE has provided suficiente experiences to keep us laughing and the orphans talking!
The rest of this Jamingo (minus the head and feet in the bag) will be suficiente to feed all the orphan's for Navidad!


HIS plan to plant our lives in Ecuador has been suficiente to simultaneously reach the abandoned and apathethic........Ann's Christmas program is found at the following links (if interested):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuXyhHdig7Q,   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ff9Sl2aHjs  .  Go to the beginning and end of part 2 for a personal message from Ann. 

HE has given suficiente people, experiences, resources, grace, mercy and skills to all of us to reach the world for the spread of the Gospel................. 

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"       2 Corinthians 12:9 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lost and Found

We lost one set of challenges with people, my kids and our marriage in the US .....and found a whole new set of others (physical security, accepting cultural differences and pulling together).

We lost a dog that quickly became part of our family.....and found he lost his life doing what he enjoyed the most - chasing Jamingo's (in the Llama family).

We lost daily contact with a Faith Family who we love, knows and pleases God and has reached out and supported us......and found one with the exact same vision, has embraced our shortcomings and rivals the former's impact.

We lost a ministry to the poor in the US where they run not to God but all other refuges first.....and found a culture that is either stuck in the cycle of real poverty or in love with a new found materialism embraced, learned and exported by us.

We lost neighbors, friends and people of God.....and found the same in Marco, Marcelo and Sylvania in one culture and Brent, Lois and Sara in another!

We lost daily images of our life that were predictable, made sense and practical......and found pictures burned into our memories that are both funny, profound and sometimes hard to reckon with......  See for yourself.......

This guy to the right regularly rides our bus line and 'performs' for money.  I was caught off guard when he took some down time to catch a butt and a beer at our bus stop while reflecting on the days challenges.......

 Your guess is as good as mine......
Kids at Artesan's market playing with paint chips from the wall behind them!  Proves that we generally make the best of any/all situations we are in!  FYI.  There is no equivalent ministero for OSHA in Ecuador.....
Here's what you get from 80 years of hard work, good genes and clean living.....I'm having a hard time just playing 1 hour of soccer a week!
video
At 46 and after 15 years absent from the classroom, I was reminded why I fell in love with this woman so quickly 18 years ago.........


Thank you Brock Family for inviting us to join you on this journey and adventure!  We are eagerly awaiting your arrival, praying for each of you and asking God to make His presence know in your transition!  Your place is ready and we can't wait to see you here!  We are honored, thankful and humbled you chose us to experience it with Y'all! 

"God resist's the proud, but gives grace to the humble."     -James 4:6


Thursday, December 1, 2011

...to the Glory of God

Yesterday, I was reading some commentary on Daniel.  The lessons were so clear, plain to see just in the first half of the first chapter!   Some quick background, these 'selected' young men in whom there was no blemish, good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.  They were to have the same food and wine prepared for the king, intended as a special honor.  The king changed his name Daniel (meaning God is my judge) to Belteshazzar (meaning Bel’s prince).  In addition, they were to have three years of training for them.   The purpose of the food, names and education was simple. This was an effort at total indoctrination, working to make these young Jewish men leave behind their Hebrew God and culture. Undoubtedly, Nebuchadnezzar wanted to communicate to these young men, “look to me for everything".

But, Daniel "purposed in his heart he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies" - he went on to explain the spiritual basis for his stand.  He made up his mind beforehand that he would not compromise.  His protest was courteous and courageous.   He made a polite request, showing discretion while making a stand for God.  Self-denial must be sought.  Daniel and his friends knew this would cost them something, yet they were willing to do it anyway.  The test must be boldly put.  Its important that people know what you believe by what you say and do so there is no confusion to who God is!  Why bring all this up.......
 
The king Nebucadnezzer used the same strategy as satan uses on both believers and non-believers today, enticing us into the world system:

*Feed on what the world offers
*Identify (“name”) ourselves in reference to the world
*Educate ourselves in the ways of the world

Without going into detail, I willingly participated in all three above.  It left me empty, without purpose and a separation from the living God the size of the Grand Canyon!  In the eyes of the world, I seemingly 'had it going on.'  That's until the gospel traveled to me as intended by God from the beginning of time...through His people.  Filled up, with a different purpose and with Him and His people walking alongside me, the path and environment looks different.  See, we tend to focus on the practical, reasonable and temporal things in life using words like religious, spiritual.  This world blinds us to the distinction between the difference of being a 'new creation in Christ' and the natural state we were we were born into and inheirited thanks to Adam.  So, plainly, coming to Christ is the result of the work of God for the individual, not the individual for God or himself!  It's easy to get sucked in on both sides of God's Kingdom!  His power is available. 

This weekend, the PE teacher on the foundation will be using our facilities, minus power and water, for a retreat.  He asked me to speak to the kids on friday night about my relationship with Christ (in spanish).  Sure, I will give them some details but I will do my best to encourage them that:

- This world no longer defines me by my abilities, weaknesses , successes, failures nor by any name
- No king, president, political party or movement will garner my worship or affection
- Whether in the valley or on the mountaintop, I will 'look to Him for everything': from humility to strength
- Our address posted on the outside wall of the Campamento is both temporal and temporary
- I will choose to live this life not for me, but 'to the Glory of God'.  I am grateful He gives me that freedom, without compulsion!  That alone demonstrates the stark contrast with His plan and the world system.

"even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many"
-Matthew 20:28

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

....Closer....

After speaking with 'El Presidente' last night regarding the transformers, the word from Pastor Miguel was positive.  Looks like will have to do some 'back scratching' to proceed, but electricity for the camp will happen (a Chevy Chase - Christmas Vacation 'plugging in christmas lights' scene comes to mind).  In addition, our neighbors on the other side of the camp  (who sold us the motorcycle, gave us our dog with it, stole the dog, we asked for him back and I eventually had to pay $20 to the son for peace of mind) have recently been turning our power off up the hill.  Our meter sits in the middle of 5 houses on the other side of the wall and we have no control over who tampers with it (Go figure!).  We leave the lights on at the Casa and Multi Purpose Building at the top of the hill for security reasons or they would cart off every last brick, cinder block and piece of metal to recycle. After several days of back and forth, (me turning it on, them turning it off) I grabbed Raphael (who lives on the same street) and headed over there. Simply, we are a month behind in paying the light bill.  It just so happens that our bill goes to them because we pay for their electricity as well!  Relationships are complex enough but when you throw in culture, perceptions and expectations, they become nearly impossible to sort out! Lastly, the Lord has provided great provision for both DMP and our personal ministries in lieu of little or no money, transportation and/or language.  But, I am overwhelmed by His provision of much needed companionship two separate ways in the last week.  Sunday, I finally found a group of guys to play basketball with at a local park.  Doesn't sound like much but this has been a prayer of mine for 5 mos.- as an outlet and outreach.  Also,  He has placed a guy in my path (fellow believer and PE teacher from the foundation) who has a presence and countenance that I admire and trust.   Which leads me to this:

I trust the Lord with it all!  I'm grateful for His grace in our assimilation, failings, successes, struggles, revelations, difficulties, confusion, opportunities and frustrations!   He is worthy of our worship! 
Last weekend, 56 people trusted in Christ and were baptised in the river at Santo Domingo from the four church plants here in the Valle.  Man, what a joy to watch people standing in line to be buried with Christ in death, and raised to walk in new life!  Not sure which one was more encouraging to our family, the 70 year old woman or the blind man (but now he can see!)




Psalm 67:1-3 says; "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.  Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the peoples praise you!"

PS   Please pray, our dog has been missing for two days.  Not sure if he wandered away, was stolen again, shot, run over or eaten! Hoping he turns up......

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Drawing.......

James 4:1 says, "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?  Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you?"  But scripture repeatedly says shouldn't we just trust God to give us what we need!  Being exposed in a different culture, I am beginning to see this more clearly both in the overall population ("I want mine!") and especially in my own life! 

One example, we are finally spending our last funds (significant sum) to put transformers in for the camp.  In preparation, I have been cutting down trees to clear a path and because the local 'Barrio Presidente' (mayor, elderman, ect) asked me to because they are hanging over the wall.  As providence goes, the tree's and post for the transformer happen to sit directly in front of the Presidente's house.  As I was cutting, a rather large limb fell into the road on the other side.  Three of the local ladies proceeded to scold me to be careful as I scurried over the wall to recover it.  Then, yesterday while showing the location to the electrical engineer assigned to the project, I was accosted again by the same group insisting on us providing rock for their road in front of their houses.  You can see the picture unfolding, especially those who've experienced any cross-cultural interaction.  I found myself gravitating toward irritation, "What do I need to do for these people?"  I called on Pastor Miguel to speak with him to 'smooth over' the situation.  After discussion, we found out that they want 10K (on top of the cost of installation) from us since they recently spent money upgrading. Pastor knows him well and has paid for previous projects through the foundation. El Presidente has asked for two weeks to speak with his 'barrio'. Growing up in Philadelphia, I know a good old shakedown when I see one! This reminds me once again that clearly I'm not in control of anything!  Please pray for the Lords will.  Its a good old, fashioned standoff.....

The question shouldn't be "What can I do for them, or them for me?" but "How can and do I continue to love them as Christ loves me despite the circumstance or others choices?"  The only way I know how is drawing closer to GOD.....

Sunday, October 30, 2011

His power, His creation, His character - terremoto

Yesterday morning we were awakened by an earthquake. Small in nature (reports vary from 4.0-5.3 on the Richter scale) but enough to shake the ground, our house and everything in it. It was 8:55am and we happened to be on a skype call with Ronnie Brock, when suddenly Bob looked at me and yelled for all of us - including the sleeping kids - to "get out of the house!" I, of course, thought nothing of it and and exclaimed "Relax, I just have an uneven load in the washing machine." Duh. I can't tell an earthquake from a lopsided lavadora (washer). Ronnie of course was live through all this and laughed his head off at my naivety. 

I hope on the day of the Lord's coming that I am more aware. (Mt24:7, Rev 6, 8. 11, 16)

God is making me more aware of His power, His creation and His character every day. 

We hiked a mountain last weekend that culminated at the peak with a 80ft cross overlooking the valle. Although the hike was difficult (maybe not for some of you, but definitely for my 46 year old knees!) it was the satisfaction of reaching the top - reaching the cross - that made it all worth it. I looked over what the Lord has made below me and stood in awe of the precision, grandeur and beauty that I am blessed to see every morning. The people that farm the terraced hills are one of the reasons we are here. God has the power to shake these hills whenever He desires, but it is up to us to "go and tell" them the Good News before the final earthquake occurs. 

Speaking of "go and tell", I am preparing my students for the big Christmas program...a highlight of my job:-) I have decided to let the Pre-K and Kindergartener's sing "Go, Tell it on the Mountain". For those non-Brook Hills readers,  this has been a BH favorite for years, thanks to a fun, funky instrumental background track that the kids absolutely LOVE! I am not so much interested in perfect pitch or crisp choreography, but more on the message. I am blessed to be able to explain to them what we are telling and why we need to tell it. The kids identify with the mountains (as we are surrounded by them here), but I am encouraged by their knowledge of who made the mountains and how we will we will "go and tell". I am beyond blessed to see His character in these little ones every day.Yet there is still so much to do...

Lastly, a little known fact: you can find pumpkins in Ecuador...it's just that they are green and obviously make a great snack for hungry puppies. Happy autumn everyone!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nuestra Basura


I finally did something today that I have been putting off for a very long time.....

I picked up trash on the 1/4 mile stretch of road that runs between the Foundation and Campamento!   

It has been here since we moved in and the piles continued to grow.  We see it daily as we go to the bus, store and anywhere outside our gates.  People, as they pass by and go about their busy lives, use this stretch of road to throw away the things in their lives that they no longer care for, need, want nor know where or how to deal with it.  I ignored it as long as I could until I had to tackle the problem.  The main reasons I put it off for so long were:
a)   Its just plain nasty!  What a dirty job.  Think of it, old shoes/clothes, construction debris, mucho plastico, every kind of bag you can imagine, old tv parts and many, many items which will remain unmentionable!
b)   It was someone else's responsibility, ie. people on down the road, my ministry partner who was closer to it, the city of Conocoto (yeah right like that's going to happen) and how about the people who put it there!  "Hey man, that's your job, not mine!"
There is a sign clearly stating not to dump trash there.  We even said, Please!  You would think people would listen.......then as I returned feeling good about myself I noticed in our yard that several pieces of trash were blown about everywhere from the dog, kids and my weekend projects!
 
Doing the right thing is much different than having the right servant heart/spirit.  How can I deal with others 'trash' unless I face my own.  I think that's what the Lord was trying to tell us in Matthew 7:3-5.  Simply,  Deal with the trash in your own yard first.  Ann and I just had our 18th Wedding Anniversary this weekend.  Fresh from the celebration, last night we had an disagreement/argument (and those of you who have been married about the same amount of time know all about how the play unfolds:  I know where this is going, I'm going to jump to conclusions, I'm going to stop listening and make sure I get my points in, ect.....)  The particulars are not important other than we both had valid points and most of our facts right.  I messed up.  Instead of leaning on my own pattern of behavior and response, I should have heeded the same advice that Paul gave Timothy in a time of transition in 2 Timothy 1:13 (by holding on tightly to the Lord's resources, not our own)  "a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus." 

Whatever life presents, whatever we are doing, regardless of what continent we are on, culture that surrounds us or whose trash is laying on the ground:  Deal with it, Pick it up, Get rid of it - Burn it completely, don't just move it to another place!  People are watching us.  Lets deal with Our Trash (Nuestra Basura).  There's too much at stake - our families, marriages, kids and peoples eternity. Don't settle for a band-aid, a temporary or temporal fix when we can have a permanent one that lasts forever.

I'm grateful today He reminds me that He always picks up after me and gives me another pattern to follow...... 



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What I am learning.....

Random thoughts on my run this am of what the Lord is teaching me....

No matter how much help I have, gravity always wins when several inches of rain fall on 25 acres (thanks alot Adam, you really are to blame)...

For his walk, for his plainness of thought, for his humble discipleship of multiple generations, for his service to our country and telling Harry Truman exactly how he felt face to face, for his multiple successful businesses and careers, for how he thinks younger than me, for how he is spending his life, resources, money and time spreading the gospel, for how he loves, Tio Bill is the best man I've ever known (here on the foundation-orphanage)...........

Hearts right with God can be completely wrong politically, environment influences people (my buddy Milton regularly paints pictures of Che Guevara).......

Loyalty runs deep in the animal kingdom......

Tight clothing reveal more of whats on the inside than out......

700 square feet exposes  hidden talents, character flaws and hygienic deficiencies....

Gospel clarity does or does not play out in our lives, words mean little....

My family is amazingly strong, resilient, brave, honest and learning God's deep capacity for Grace!


God provides what we need, not always what we want.  Why can't we learn that!  As I was writing this, not only did our morning driver tell us to call him to work out continued service but we had an individual come forward who offered to pick up my family from school (currently they are taking the bus home.)  Both us and others have prayed hard to resolve our lack of transportation and He answered within 24 hours.  Caveat.......continue to pray, the man driving home has only one eye which explains his poor driving!  Leaning on Him and focusing on needs, not wants.....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Into the Swing of Things

By now all of us have gotten into the swing of things. For example, school, dinner, bus schedules, and many others. It was a big transition for us kids going to a new school, even though it is an international private school! We have made many new friends and like the school. The bus is well... a different thing... Every day after school we take a old, VERY full bus full of Ecuadorians that have their babies or big bags from market or are sleeping (unless they are standing up). Then we take a comfortable bus home from Quito to Conocoto. We also try to make more friends as we live here. Many people have been nice to us and respectful knowing that we are Americans. We hope to stay in touch with everybody and we are praying for everyone back in Birmingham! Love Ya'll!
Posted by Bobby - 7th grade

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Faces: Two Jesus'

They say time flies, but days here are spent on a bus!  Ann, kids and the Nichols spend at least 2-3 hours a day riding on at least three buses.  They all are different.  Just like the people.  The first: private, quiet, comfortable, sitting down with time to put on makeup, makeup homework or just plain makeup stories (usually the boys).  The second, piggyback bus holding at least 150 business, university and city folk usually has barely enough room to stand.  The third, local bus carries both drunks and hardworking country/suburbanite ecuadorians on their way home to family or friends.  Their faces are just as diverse: african blacks from the coast, kichwa indians in traditional clothing from the mountains and oriental( a region) areas and lighter latino's of spanish decent.


My friend, ministry partner and spiritual amigo Chris Nichols preached this weekend at the Alliance Academy staff retreat on Hebrews 12-13 in Quito.  We all joked that it was nice to have a 'real shower' and challenged the group comfortably living within a 10 block radius of the school to do 'out of the box hygiene' and join us out in the country (Conocoto).  My girls, Ann and Maggie still looked like a million bucks!  What troopers....how do they do that....a couple minutes behind closed doors.....Hebrews 13:6 says " We can say with confidence 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me'"  The first Jesus we say we all know about.  He hung and maintains the heavens but we still insist on a weather report....what's ahead, what can I expect.  We look in the mirror for answers but His face reflects the faith, hope and love found in his name alone.  Its hard to get out of in front of the mirror either asking questions or looking for answers.  I admit I'm guilty of the latter, just ask my family.

The second Jesus (Hey-zus) is one you probably don't know.   The Lord in his wisdom, chooses to work through His people in our lives.  We look for miracles, signs and positive things and He gives us Himself in the flesh.  Jesus (above on a rock) is a believer who works at the foundation.  He has been with them a little over a year.  He is a 38 year old hard worker, on his second family (believing wife and 4 year old daughter) and is a man of action.  He speaks no english and speaks little of his kids 'on the coast' who he misses terribly.  He drives too fast (his job-driver), brushes/flosses too little (has two gold teeth) but is just right in the indispensible friend/accountability partner department.   His family lives in Yurac, a small peasant, agricultural Kichwa (indian) community across the valley about 45 minutes away.  Pastor Miguel, (foundation director) birthed one of four churches there through Jesus and his family.  People living there are only one generation away from being enslaved by wealthy spainards or their very own people!  Evangelical Christianity found its way there about the same time.  It is the closest community to Anti Sana, an active volcano about 5-6 miles away.  I came to be used to change and transform hearts/lives but the Lord is changing mine.


                                                                                                                                                           

Thank you Lord for my Family who came willingly and is learning to love our new home.  Thank you Lord for my friend who started our ministry and found this place on the web: Vickie Nichols.  Thank you Lord for my dark-faced, Kichwan friend who bears your name and countenance.  Thank you Lord for my friend who preached the freedom of the Word to former slaves in their language: Ronnie Brock (above).  Thank you Lord for holding us captive to Your Grace!   

Monday, September 5, 2011

Contextual Learning...

Don't you love different perspectives!  Ann's last blog inspired me to share my thoughts from another angle...

Everything is temporal...


water - It's been intermittently on and off for two weeks due to a water main issue which affects everything from showers, cleaning dishes, going number two (digging a ditch in the woods suffices-we now keep a 5 gallon bucket of water for the bowl in case of emergencies) and doing the wash.  That covers the majority of domestic tasks. 
security - It's possible to make a ladder in a cinder block wall.  Running interference with drunks while waiting or riding buses is a learned or acquired skill.  Squatter's laws build walls, not people. 
internet -  Works when it feels like it.  We really do over rely on it!  Should be renamed, "When helping Hurts..."
ownership - Our sole party use agreement of the 25 acres doesn't cover others able to use the soccer field, woods and road as a bathroom, cemetery or parts of our houses as seed/crop storage.  Pets - JJ (our dog) was taken by the kids of the family who gave him to us, $20 changes things.  Unsecured items - Vickie's cell phone stolen on the bus (passed on the $15 negotiated return fee by pick pocket), $300 worth of tools and materials stolen from a shed attached to the house (the thief arrived/left in a taxi).  Believe it or not, he was initially looking for paint to paint graves in the cemetery, some local custom which we were neither aware of nor home.
Time -  You can't do once-a-month shopping with no car - the best you can do is twice a week with a bus, taxi and your own two feet.  Motorcycles only hold a few bags with a bungie cord.  In the words of a friend, pick one big thing to do per day and you may have time for another little one.   Money - $5 ATM fees add up.  Everything is negotiable....

You can believe Genesis 11, People are all the same

People need the Lord!  Being saved is just the beginning, not the end.  Sanctification is directly proportional to our reliance on Him.  Both humble generosity and extreme depravity abounds here, found both on the Foundation and on the buses!  God's grace can be seen in the eyes of child and through the simple actions of a few adults!  Study peoples habits, it gives you clues.

You can miss God aiming at Him (Blind Guide) if He's not the goal!

Matthew 23: 17-19 says: "Which is more important - the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred?" or "For which is more important - the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred?" I can spend so much time making His work the goal and not Him that people miss Him, with eternal consequences.  In the words of another friend, showing the Hand of God is less important than revealing the Heart of God.  I recently ran it in the ditch on this one.  This week my head was full of starting, prioritizing and finishing tasks.  Fresh from the sting of our taxi robber experience, I came home after a day of moving donated furniture from Quito to Conocoto for the foundation. As we pulled up, both the outer and animal gates were wide open  (an invitation for more temporal living).  After asking and getting no response from the orphans guarding it, I witnessed hoards of people and cars walking/parking on the property.  Jumping to conclusions and incensed that no one informed me of yet another 'cemetery-painting' day, I proceeded to walk up the hill.  I noticed that my wheel-barrow, pick, shovel and other tools left earlier on the side of the road were missing along with my dog again.  I fumed as I passed yet another orphan sitting on our porch and others milling outside the cemetery on the road.    As I crested the gate to the cemetery it dawned on me.  At all times, two graves had to be dug for occasions such as these.  Ecuadorian 'Christiano's generally have but a day to bury their loved ones who pass since many cannot afford the privilege of embalming.  As I glimpsed at the wheel barrow in the back of the tractor, I realized my faulty viewpoint.  A young, 7 year old little girl was hit by a car and killed the day prior.  The throng of hundreds of family, friends and fellow believers had been waiting for hours in the sun for our 'three amingos' (older boys from the orphanage who do most of the physical work here) to finish covering the grave with dirt using some of my tools.  I found myself immediately and completely humbled by my misconceptions, misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of the people I came to serve.   I quickly grabbed a shovel to help finish the task so these people could pray over their loved one and attempt to move on with their lives without her.  I'm only thankful that I didn't impart my ignorance on any other during the event. 

He must see us contextualized to our world. Fumbling around, always seeing everything through the narrow prisms of our small orbits.   God grant me the courage, desire and ability to see others from your perspective.....

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ready...set...PUSH!

I know it has been quite a while since one of us a posted, and this is not meant to be an excuse, but let me just give you a quick snapshot of the past few weeks: our last summer teams leave, we say goodbye to the Brock family (sniff, sniff, tear), we throw ourselves (Ok, mainly Bob) headfirst into trying to finish our little pink 'casa' (which, I believe, should kick off a new show: International Extreme Home Make-Over), I enjoy 8 days of new teacher training:-), by God's grace we move INTO the awesome little house, we find a driver to take us 1-way to school and finally, start school this past Thursday. Throw in Maggie's Sweet 16th birthday (complete with a set of braces:-), a 'free' dog that came with Bob's used motorcycle, and by golly we've got ourselves a good old fashioned Ecuadorian lifestyle: crazy, unpredictable, and totally on God's schedule. 

We have learned alot of things our first few months here. We have learned to wait on buses. We have learned not to eat the lettuce and tomato in restaurants. We have learned that our new friends and neighbors love to chat, kiss you on the cheek when they greet you, and help you with your Spanish. Our new friends have smiles like none other. The youngest child can melt your heart while the oldest woman has a certain beauty in her smile that shows both outward and inner strength.

To see our kids assimilate to this culture is a measure of amazing grace. This does not go without it's down days, I assure you. Public breastfeeding is something Tim is going to have to get used to and I believe Bobby is now aware that 150 people on a public bus is just a fact of daily life for us. Our new motto coming home from school is " You take the right side...I'll flank left...ready...set...PUSH!"  Victory is sweet when we all make the 4:00pm bus. That's when I buy them a 15cent BonIce at the half-way bus stop and thank God for another great day.

God is truly at work here in Ecuador. It is evident in the lives of the kids and staff at Alliance Academy. It is evident in the lives of the Pastor, house mothers and orphans at the Davis Fundacion. Our prayer is that it is becoming evident to our new neighbors up here on the 'big hill' (Matt 5:14-16). And by God's grace, it is evident in the lives of our family. We never would have guessed at this time a year ago we would be at this place, for this purpose.
It's great to be a part of His plan.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Alabama has been our Sweet Home home for over 11 years now. We chose to plant ourselves here after bouncing from Germany to Missouri to North Carolina only to finally land in the deep south. We have loved it here. Alabamians even embraced these two displaced Yankees, and that's one reason why we chose to raise our kids here. The importance of God, family, community (and let's face it - S.E.C football and BBQ) is something we wanted our kids to be apart of. 
In the past, we have been offered relocation packages from Bob's former jobs. Each time we have declined. Our answer was always,  "Nope, we like it here." Our answer was due in part to a corporation directing the move. Now, this relocation to Ecuador is an outright "Yes!" due wholly to God directing the move. 
As we finalize our last 3 days in Alabama, I am struggling with emotions like: bitter sweet vs. nervous excitement.  I look back on our 11 years of raising our kids at 2007 Eagle Hollow Circle and the many memories in that sweet house.  On the flip side, I look forward with anticipation to what God has in store for us in the next chapter of our lives in Ecuador. 
Bring it on.
Sweet Home Ecuador!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Less Hair, Less Teeth, Less Oxygen

Hey its been an interesting and exciting 18 hours prior to our first teams arrival.  Bob gave Tim and Brandon haircuts while Chris gave Cole and Kory the same.  The boys are looking sharp, you could take them for new recruits!  Last night Kendall came to the door with Cole who had lost half his tooth to a break dance session at the big house.  Although shaken up he rebounded after a movie and reassurance that it could be fixed.  Today he saw a dentist and it looks good as new!  Lastly, Tio Bill took several of us to the top of a 10,000ft mountain, hiking about 1500 ft from our dropoff point.  Had to be the hardest thing Ive done in a long while.  From our location, we see 3 volcano's no more than 50 miles away.  Tonight celebrating the creator who made this creation....

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dos Semanas

It is hard to believe its only been two weeks here in Ecuador!  It seems so much longer... Not sure if its the altitude, cultural adjustment, language and life assimilation or the simple fact that Ann isn't here to pick up after us?  All three families are adjusting well while trying to navigate a technological tightrope with WiFi to stay in touch with home. Today, the orphanage had its annual reunion in which several hundred people showed to celebrate their time here.  God is still in the business of changing lives and it was evident on the faces of the parents, grandparents and children.  There was prayer, traditional Ecuadoran dancing and a contemporary dance performance in which Maggie, Kayla, Katelyn and Lydia participated with other E -kids their age.   They did well with less than a weeks practice!  The last two weeks have been filled with getting adjusted and this week we're gearing up for our first teams this upcoming weekend.  In addition, our niece Kirby will be joining us thursday coming fresh from Peru serving at another orphanage.  Please pray that we are properly prepared and that the Lord determines the appointments and outcomes for the week!

Que Dios le bendiga!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Step 2- Saying Goodbye

It's very hard to let go of something. For example, our friends, family, our house, and Sadie, our dog. We have had that experience. For our family it is very hard to say goodbye. Us kids have grown up in such a good christian community. We are thankful for an amazing pastor, friends, church, and most of all, our GREAT GOD! For Bobby (little Bob) and Ann, we will be staying back until July 17, due to Bobby's drama camp. We said goodbye yesterday to Big Bob, Maggie, and Tim. They are getting things ready in Ecuador. Just as we said before  it's very hard to let go of family. But we know God's purpose in our lives and we are setting out to do it. As it says " For greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city"... and every single state, country, continent, and in every corner of the Earth.
Posted by Bobby (little Bob)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Step 1: Packing

They say the first step in making any big decision is making the step itself. I disagree. For us, the decision to move forward in faith and trust that the next chapter for our family would include a new global address was an easy one. We had been preparing for this for over three years. No, for us the big decisions these days are: "storage or Ecuador?" We are currently living among boxes. Lots and lots of boxes (and paper and bubble wrap - just ask a teenager how fun our house is right now!). But to be quite honest, I don't function well in chaos. I like to know where things are - not OCD about it, just in the general area. Packing for me is a lesson in humility. Not in, "I need my stuff"...we have rid ourselves of most of our  'stuff'  and what remains is going to storage. No, the humility comes in that fact of seeing my children pour through 11 years of being in this house and humbly pack things away with a smile and a memory. They are my biggest source of humility when it comes to why we are doing what we are doing. My husband, who is uber organized, has a list of what is to go where and on what week of our 'countdown to Ecuador' grid. God has blessed me with a team of packers that keep this journey humorous, humble and hopeful.