I had a startling realization on Sunday. Pastor José preached on the healing of the leper. He highlighted the humility of the leper evident in his need to be healed. And yet he was bold to approach Jesus and say, “If you want to heal me, I know you can”. That broke my mental definition of humility. I always considered humility to be making yourself small and holding yourself back. Yet, in the leper his humility was evidenced in recognizing his true condition of need. He recognized he had nothing to lose and that gave him boldness to seek help.
Oh, I want to learn to be like that! To discern my true need and in humility and boldness ask God to fulfill that need or needs. I think it happens with the daily practice of recognizing the fact that apart from God I can do nothing (John 15). I am wholly dependent on him and he wants to work in and through me. So, I must surrender each day, each moment to his lordship and sovereignty. I believe that exercise of faith produces boldness.
Sometimes, I find it hard to write a newsletter because I feel like I don’t have anything new to share. That is silly because God is always at work. My silly feeling is half temporary forgetfulness and half false humility. I’m learning to move past that false humility and to be more mindful of God’s hand at work in and around me. It’s always exciting to share what God is doing!
ICI Ecuador Mission Office
Our mission office is in transition this week. We are moving to a bigger place. We need the space now that our staff has grown. Our original team of 1 missionary couple (Samuel and Paola from Chile) + 1 intern (me) used to work two afternoons a week at a couple desks we set up in open space on the second floor of Sam and Pao’s house. Over a year ago, our four-person team (Sam, Pao, Jeremy and I – all full-time missionaries) moved into actual office space across the river from the Guayaquil airport in the commercial hub of La Puntilla, strategically located right between Samborondon and El Recreo churches, which are the closest.
Last June, Briana joined our team as an intern. She worked as a social worker in the Seattle area. She is such a great blessing to have as a guest in my home! She is the contact for our short-term teams and is learning the ropes to help with our children’s center in partnership with Compassion International – yes, we now have two centers and are looking to open more! We’re praying the Lord opens the doors to bring her to Ecuador full-time!
Edward is Lupe’s (Pastor José’s wife) nephew. He studies International Business at the university in Guayaquil. A couple afternoons a week, he helps us in the office running errands, putting things in order and helping on projects. He is also the newest member of our youth leadership team at the church in Samborondon. He is a dedicated, responsible young man and it is awesome to watch him grow in maturity and grace before the Lord.
Stalin is finishing up his Accounting degree at the university in Guayaquil. He works at the Centinela school during the week and takes classes on Saturdays. He is joining our office as an internal accountant. He and I have led the youth ministry at the church in Samborondon since I arrived as an intern 4 years ago. He is quick with numbers and has a heart for serving the Lord wherever he can.
The school year has ended and the 7th graders have graduated. In years past, the graduation was held in the school patio. As you can imagine, it was a wild crush every year. This time the class parents took the graduation upon themselves and rented the town “coliseum” (a multi-purpose community building) to hold the event. It was very nice and even included a catered lunch!
The last semester, Bri and I helped with the English classes for 2nd and 3rd grades. As director, Lupe invited us to be special guests at the graduation even though the graduating class weren’t our students. I didn’t teach them this year, but I was their English teacher when they were in 4th and 5th grade. Back then, they were 30 boys and 10 girls, a challenge for any teacher! A few of them now come to our Saturday youth meetings. One of the boys is Zinedine (like the French former soccer player). His family started coming to church after a marriage seminar held for the school parents. A few months ago his parents were baptized.
A year ago, our youth worship band started up, playing for youth meetings. A couple of the guys are in the Sunday worship band on rotation and help the newbies. Practice times were limited, and we learned about a new song a month, so our repertoire isn’t very extensive. Then, in August, they got to lead Sunday worship three weeks in a row. They were so nervous because I was traveling with mission teams and wouldn’t be there. I encouraged them and helped them prep in the few days I had between the teams. From what I heard, they did great. They played the same songs all three weeks. Some of the brethren told me they liked it because they finally heard the songs enough to learn them and now, they are favorites. The kids are out for vacation, so we changed our practice time to accommodate some of the university students’ schedules. They are still in the middle of their term. Our new practice time is Monday mornings from 8 am to 10 am. I must really love these kids… 😉
This is Karolina. She is 20 years old. She had a baby last year. When she found out she was pregnant, she and her boyfriend decided to stay together to provide a stable environment for their child. They came to church for the first time on Easter Sunday and they brought their beautiful baby boy, Malik. We sat and chatted for a while about their desire to draw near to God because they need his help to keep their family together. I set a time to visit Karolina during the week. She told me her story. It was heartbreaking. Family she should have been able to trust and rely on, were absent or abusive. Once we dried our tears, I told her, “I can’t help you be a good wife or mother. I can’t heal all your hurts, but Jesus can. I can help you to know him. Would you like that?” She said, “Yes.” We’ve been meeting on a weekly basis since.
One Sunday Pastor José mentioned in a sermon that everything becomes possible with God. On Wednesday Karolina was waiting for me with a question at the ready: “If everything is possible with God, why did my mom die of cancer when I was 13?”
I didn’t have an answer, so I was honest. “I don’t know. Just because everything is possible doesn’t mean everything happens how we want. But the Bible says that God works through all things for the best of those who love him. I trust that is true. So, let’s pray and ask God to answer your question.” A few weeks later she was waiting for me expectantly again, this time with excitement. Her eyes were bright and shining. She said, “God answered me! I understand why my mom had to die. Otherwise, I never would have ended up in Samborondon. I wouldn’t have my baby boy and I never would have stepped into the church where I’ve found Jesus. Now, I have hope and he’s given me a support system. I think my mom would have willingly given her life for that.” We hugged and rejoiced together in God’s answer.
That is God at work.
I love this quote from Adrian Plass in Jesus: Safe, Tender, Extreme: “We pray, we work, we leave the miracles to God.”
I believe God is big enough. He’s got it covered.