I’ve come to the end of my term teaching in Ecuador and now I’m home for a couple of months. I’m quite enjoying catching up with friends and family. I’ve met my new niece. My nephew is now a toddler and has titled me “Tea Urn”, as Tía (or Auntie) Erin is still a bit of a mouthful.
Come May, I’ll be headed back to Samborondon, Ecuador for a couple more years. Let me sum up a bit how that came about. I’m really excited to share with you the work that God is doing in Ecuador!
A year ago, I went to Ecuador to fulfill a call laid on my heart: to teach English at Centinela School run by a church in Samborondon. I planned to work exclusively as an English teacher at the school and do a couple weekly English classes for the community. But when they found out I knit, I started a weekly knitting class, as well.
As the year went on the community service activities fizzled part-way through the year. However, other opportunities popped up in their place. The school principal heard I’m a bit musical and she asked me to form a school choir. Then, U.S. missions teams came and they needed a translator. The youth group at the Samborondon church was floundering, so the pastor asked me to help with the leadership. One of the young men in the church approached me about starting a worship band, so they could quit relying on worship cds.
When I visited the sister churches, they’d usually ask if I would sing. One time three church ladies that lead the singing insisted I join them up front, though I confessed that I didn’t know many of the songs. Three songs into the service, they stopped the music and graciously said, “You don’t know them, do you? That’s ok. You can sit down now.” Relieved, I took my seat. At another church, it was karaoke-style and much easier to follow along.
As I look back over this past year, I’m reminded of the lines of a Rich Mullins song, “There was so much work left to do, but so much You’d already done. Oh God, you are my God and I will ever praise You.”
The small group of 25 Christians I met last April at Iglesia de Cristo Iberoamericana Samborondon has grown to about 40. My last week there, the youth meeting had 20 in attendance and I got to teach them a simple way to understand and apply their Bible reading. Seven people were baptized in January (see header photo). The other youth leaders and I have begun one-on-one discipleship with the newly baptized youth. And we no longer sing along with worship cds, but instead have the beginnings of a proper worship band. We even went on “tour” with the team from CIY and had a bilingual worship band for the nightly evangelistic campaigns. God is gracious.
Samuel and Paola Lefimil are Chilean missionaries with IberoAmerican Ministries. They oversee the work of 5 churches in Ecuador and have invited me to come back, not just as a teacher, but as a full-fledged missionary.
When they first mentioned the idea to me, my answer was a resounding “No!” Living in Ecuador is not comfortable with the heat, humidity and bugs. However, I’m learning to jump at the opportunities that open up, especially if they seem scary and out of my comfort zone. I’m learning that God really does call us to do impossible things, so I have to rely on him and not on my own limited abilities.
These are the things I’ll be focusing on over the next two years:
• I’ve got my first year as a teacher out of the way, so now I can focus on improving instead of surviving. (Teachers, you know what I’m talking about.)
• I get to work with prospective Ecuadorian missionaries preparing to go to Sierra Leone.
• Paola and I are going tackle the mission’s corporate administration, mostly establishing and documenting national and missionary processes and procedures. Here, my HR work experience will finally come in handy on the mission field.
• Oh, and I’ll still be working with youth and musicians at the church.
So, my “no” has turned to “yes”. And there is such Joy and Peace knowing I am exactly where God wants me.
“Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” –John H. Sammis
As you can imagine, I require financial and spiritual support for this two-year commitment. There are many costs involved in the tickets and documentation to return to Ecuador for two years, not to mention the monthly cost of living and working in Ecuador. If you would commit to pray for me weekly or monthly, contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you feel led by the Lord to help me financially, email me as well.
Checks can be made out to: IberoAmerican Ministries
PO Box 1493
Monroe, WA 98272
(Please designate “Erin Shead – Ecuador” in memo line)
Or you can contribute online: iamweb.org Select field worker > E. Shead – Ecuador (Names are listed in alphabetical order of last name.)
As I have been doing this past year, I’ll continue to keep you updated via this blog.
If your church is interested in the mission work we’re doing in Ecuador, let me know! You can call (562-454-6326) or email (email@example.com). I’ll be in the States till the first week of May and would love to share more in person or via Skype!
Thank you for your love and prayer and encouragement! I would not have made it through the last year without it.