It’s been almost two months since we’ve arrived back in Ecuador. Although cliché, the time really does fly. The past few months have definitely been a time of transition and settling into new routines. It’s been kind of crazy as we’ve tried to make decisions about where to live, what we really are doing, how God wants to use us. He doesn’t always provide the “ah-ha” light bulb moments, but we are learning that if we continue to seek his guidance and stay in the Word, we can walk WITH HIM in his will, rather than continually trying to “find” it. So, as we walk, we learn. Here’s a glimpse of our journey –
Brad is adjusting to his new role as Director of Spiritual Life at the Alliance Academy International School. More on that in a future post, but, in a nutshell, he is charged with “keeping the main thing the main thing” at the school. This is a challenging and exciting role for him, and he is working hard to get up to speed and help set direction to support the faculty and staff as they work within the school to reach the future generation. His white board is out and full of ideas and goals…managing the brainstorm is a work in progress.
We moved to Quito. With Brad’s new role and the unpredictability of living outside the city, we found a reasonable, furnished apartment about 15 minutes walking distance from the school. Being close allows us to pretty much park the truck for the week when we are in town and then walk to most of our destinations. It’s often times easier to take a bus or taxi to get groceries rather than negotiating traffic, so this has been a blessing for us. There’s plenty of busy streets to cross as we walk back and forth to school, but so far it has seemed very safe as we vary our routes and don’t walk much after dark. We’re adjusting to the noise of the city (hello, we live next to a bus station!) and finding our new favorite places in the area. Being in Quito also allows us the opportunity to strengthen and deepen relationships through playing sports at the school gym for fun (Jacob is helping coach a local baseball team and Brad will be helping with the JV basketball team), lead and participate in bible studies to further delve into God’s word, and have people over to support and encourage the people we are surrounded by.
We commute to Calacali for the weekends. Guess you can say we have a country house and a city house…our plan is to be out at Calacali two weekends a month, but so far the schedule has dictated us to be there more often. We are trying to focus our efforts on having two times a month be “Spiritual Life weekends” – intentionally seeking out and inviting faculty and staff to stay at the retreat center, supporting them in prayer and encouragement, and providing a weekend of respite and recharge that can only be found in the Spirit.
Calacali worship – the second weekend of the month, we have started to hold either Saturday night or Sunday morning worship services out at Calacali. While casual in setting, we are able to join together for worship and fellowship, often coupled with a meal of some sort. Whether it be around the bonfire or in the conference room, we are focusing on the bonds that tie us all together as believers…the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
School – the kids are continuing their online schooling this year and we have been blessed to be able to use the Black Hills Online Learning Community to support our efforts. Homeschooling has provided us the flexibility to be able to work out at Calacali when needed, and be flexible with travel and people visiting.
AWANA – The school has set aside Wednesdays after school for Christian Service Outreach programs (CSO). One of the programs that was on Brad’s heart was the AWANA outreach. He grew up with AWANA as a child, and had great memories of deepening his faith through that program. So, Brad, along with several other faculty and close to twenty high school student leaders, will start a pre-K through 6th grade AWANA program at the school in October. The boys are both going to be leaders and Tessa will be a participant. We’re excited about how the high school students are embracing this opportunity and look forward to seeing them develop as young leaders.
DNA (Discipleship, Nurturing, Accountability) group – The last period of the school day on Wednesdays is set aside for DNA groups. These groups, which meet three times a month, are small cells of kids who come together with a common interest which is used as a launching pad to develop relationships and deepen their walk with Christ. Many of the high schoolers are non-Christian, so the traditional chapel (which is still held once a month) was not meeting the needs of the majority of students. Knowing that relationships are often the key to going deeper and being transparent, the DNA groups are a bridge to fill this need and focus on small groups of kids with the intention of developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My friend Ashley and I have developed a “Diner’s Club Challenge” cooking group in which we collect funds from faculty and staff and use the funds to bless others. The past two weeks, our group has received funds to bake dozens of cookies which were used to share with faculty at a professional development meeting along with sharing baked goods with the maintenance staff as a thank you for all their hard work. We have a group of nine students and we are trusting God to do a mighty work in these kids as we prepare to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Just a glimpse, but we ask that you would continue to keep us in your prayers as we seek to serve God first and foremost in these areas. May we continue to serve him faithfully no matter our location or vocation as we plant the seeds that only the Spirit can bring to fruit.
Blessed to be held in his hands,