A Family Breather

Waaaaaay back at the beginning of September, we took a short break.

All through June and July, the kids had shells of parents because we were so tired from our Spanish classes.  And in August, we spent so many intense hours preparing for the two retreats, that by the time we were all done with the month of August, we were wiped out!

So, we packed up and headed away from the chill of the mountains to Zamora for a couple of days of fun!

Sometimes, it is hard for me to let my mind take a break and feel ok about resting or playing, I tend to have an ever-playing to-do list that sort of gets in the way.

But, thankfully for these few days, I was (mostly) able to just be with our family, to enjoy the beauty, the warmth, and a bit of rest!

Our plan had been to go and hike in the national forest that is very close to where we stayed, but there was lots to see and do right where we were, so we just stayed put to explore the grounds, visit the tilapia pools and give the waterslide some serious use!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What a special thing to be able to step away for a day or two and recharge as a family!

20150911_105359 20150911_160031 20150910_132219

Now, we’re back to full-time school for the kiddos, Spanish classes for us, as well as more ministry activities in the midst of trying to figure out where we’ll be living!  The days are full, and that is good too!!

Travels in the province

The past few weeks we’ve been trying to get out into the province for some visits.  When we first moved to Loja, our plan was to spend the first year in the city getting settled, learning culture, and brushing up on our Spanish.  Then, the plan was to move out to build a ministry in the province.

Here we are already a year later!

We’ve finally managed to start spending a little time driving around getting to know the region.  We want to be where God wants us to be…but some days we’re not quite sure how to figure that out.  So, we drive.  Our hope is to not be more than 2.5-3 hours from Loja.  That way we are not isolated from our team, we can make the trip in a day if need be…and we can access a grocery store (that sells cheese) from time to time!

Here’s a map showing the region we are looking at right now and some of the places we’ve been to visit over the last few weeks.

Province map029

What are we looking for?  Right now we are just trying to get the feel of places.  Back in January, Matt went to a funeral in Cariamanga.  As he described his trip to me, I somehow superimposed the image of a bungalow in a  rural village we’d visited in Guatemala.  Imagine my surprise arriving in Cariamanga and finding it to be a city, and the place the funeral had been an apartment sandwiched between lots of other buildings!!

We’ve been talking to other missionaries in Loja about the province and ministry work that is going on in different towns.  As we learn more about the work or lack of in the province, it is helpful in trying to discern need!

So, right now, we are working on trying to get a feel for different places more than anything.  Asking ourselves the question…is this a place we could live?  Understanding that if God calls us somewhere, we’ll be able to live there, but at the moment we don’t have a clear sense of where, so it’s a great place to start!

Here’s a few pictures from different places we’ve been…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Please pray as we try to sort through this all!

  1. For the time to get out!  Days are busy here and there are lots of exciting things that can fill the week.  A trip out generally makes for a very full and exhausting day, and everyone has to travel which makes it all the more tiring!
  2. For God to give a sense of where we should be!  We’re open.  Maybe He is calling us to stay here in Loja and build a ministry (there are several strong needs here).  Our prayer is that the Lord would make it clear!
  3. Our hearts are, and have always been, in rural towns instead of cities.  Pray that we are open and willing if He calls us to a city.
  4. For the timing of it all.  Before Christmas?  After Christmas?  We’re ready to go…we continue to be involved in several things here, but are hesitant to get involved in too much that we’d have to get un-involved in later. And, we’re super excited to get started!  Waiting is hard!!

And yet, Loja is beautiful and has become home!  Until God calls us away from here, we are excited to be a part of what He is doing in this valley!


Driving home from downtown one day we got to witness this!

Driving home from downtown one day we got to witness this!

In the meantime, we are thankful that there is no shortage of ministry opportunities!  We continue with Spanish classes 3 days a week and look forward to the day when God give us the go-ahead to get to where we’re going!

Friday was an exciting day for us here…

October 9th was our one year anniversary of being here in Ecuador!  For anyone who has been walking this path with us for the last five or six years, they can understand what an exciting milestone for our family  this is!!

One year ago when we arrived….


It’s been quite a year.  Lots of ups, lots of down and lots of trying to figure out what life looks like now!  But, God is good.  He has provided for all our needs.  He has been helping us to build relationships.  He has been preparing work for us and giving us ways to serve.  He has been growing us and challenging us to seek Him more.

We’re thankful to be here.  Very, very thankful.  And excited. Excited to see what ministry we will take on, excited for where He’s calling us to plant ourselves, excited to see people growing in their faith, and excited to be a part of what the Lord is doing here in Loja.

We’re also very thankful for those of you who support us in prayer and financially.  It’s been a good year, but certainly not easy!  And, there are days that have been especially tough and we’ve just felt a overwhelming peace, probably when someone was praying for us!!

To celebrate our anniversary (at the end of a very busy week and looking ahead to another busy one), we had a ‘commemorative breakfast’ including all the things we’d eaten our very first breakfast in country.  And we talked.  About the year, about the fun, the funny, the different and remembered stories.  That’s probably all the celebrating that will happen.  But, it was important to celebrate the milestone and see how God has carried us through.


So, we give thanks for our first year in Ecuador and are excited to see what the next years hold for us as we continue to serve here!


Even more exciting (for Matt and I at least), today is our 13th Wedding Anniversary!  YAHOO!!!  Isn’t it fun to remember your wedding??

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m still totally smitten with this guy of mine and am so thankful that I am not on this path alone.  With a serious lack of baby sitters here, we probably won’t be doing much to celebrate (‘cept maybe some huggin’ and smoochin’ to the groans of our kiddos), but that’s ok.  We will someday!

Still praising God for putting this man in my life…I couldn’t have picked a better husband and father for us if I’d tried!

20150910_131209 20150620_152107 P1020911

Yep, right about how I feel (and hope to always feel!)…..


Ewwwww, I know! Well…. don’t look then!


Anniversaries are GREAT!  Celebrating, remembering and praising God for His faithfulness!

Campamento de Jovenes








Two weeks after the Church Planter/Pastor Retreat, we were the “conference speakers” for the highschool youth camp!  This time we were responsible for THREE 90 minute teaching sessions about the gospel!!  YIKES!


We spent a couple weeks preparing….


Brainstorming what we wanted to share

Brainstorming all the lessons and activities…


Writing “scripts” and then translating it all!!  (It seemed easier to write it all in English first…but translating was a huge job!).  We even wrote a puppet play to share in parts, opening each session with the kids.

Writing and translating talks, plays, games, activities…

Making props like puzzles and oven mitts for games, the puppet show, and for our talks…

Matt built an incredible hands-on Tetris game for the youth to work on…


Oven mitts aren’t an easy thing to find here….so I pulled out the sewing machine, old pairs of jeans and got to work…(They won’t win me any awards at all, but they got the job done!)



A neighbourhood of puppets came to life…


…The thing at the bottom is the Bonella (a local brand of margerine like stuff) sports stadium….a key piece in the puppet play!


There were about 50 of us at the camp for the weekend.  We were in the same hostel, same room as the first retreat two weeks before, so the kids felt quite at home.  The “big kids” welcomed our crew with open arms and included our kiddos in all the events, games, activities and fun!  This was a huge blessing for us to see our kids interacting so comfortably with the youth in Spanish and just having a blast! (though it made us miss our big kids from Victory Valley Camp lots!)


The teaching times went spectacularly…it was incredible to share powerful truths from the Bible and realize God was allowing us to share in a way that the kids were understanding things that they’d never understood before!!

We began each teaching time with a game or activity

Putting together the (amazing!!!) Tetris puzzle….





“Working” to receive a gift…

Then an episode of the puppet show…




We’d only written two episodes of the play though (insert sinister giggle here as the second day finished with a cliffhanger)…we let the youth finish the story off the third day to see what sort of an ending they’d give it!



And then we shared the main lesson each day (with more activities and dynamics)…








And gave the youth a chance to reflect each day on what they had been learning…



(“you only have to believe in God to have eternal life”, “the only requirement for salvation is to accept Christ”, “Doing good works is never sufficient to earn the love of God”, “we are nothing without God”, “we need to put our confidence in Christ to be free from bad”)

There were lots of laughs and LOTS of team work…




Lots of running and noise during the game times…









And, lots of cuddling and hanging out with our kiddos!




We also all headed down to the river one morning, divided into groups of guys and girls and had some really great times talking about the deeper issues teens face.  The time was WAY too short to be able to talk about all the things the kids wanted to talk about, but what a gift to be able to share as men and women further down the path of life about some of ‘those themes’.





The youth workers who organized and ran the retreat did an AMAZING job!  We were just excited to be one small part of the weekend!!





It’s hard to begin to describe the honor it was in August to be part of these two retreats and to be able to share with these different groups.  These presentations challenged us as we prepared and shared in Spanish, but it was so amazing to see the fun ways God allowed us to share!!  Especially, that He gave us the opportunity to dig into some of the skills and talents we haven’t been able to use in a while (woodworking, creative writing, fun games) in order to refresh and encourage His people!  Even as we think back on them now two months later, honored still describes the feeling of standing in front of so many young people helping them to understand the simple gift of salvation and untangle the gospel away from all the ‘extras’ that seem to try to crowd it out in this culture.




We never imagined that ministry for us would involve working with teenagers.  But, through working with the staff at Victory Valley for two years, and working with the Semilla kids at the youth camp this year, we’ve realized the joy it is for us working with teens and walking with them through life.  We don’t know if God is calling us to work with teens as a more permanent ministry, but we’ve sure enjoyed every time we’ve been able to pour a little bit into their lives!






The second weekend of August, we were invited to help serve at the Church Planter/Pastors Retreat for families working with Semilla De Mostaza in Ecuador.


campamento pastores

About 50 of spent a fantastic weekend at a hostel in Gonzanama, about two hours from the city.  The weather was warm and we all enjoyed the pool, the scenery, the trampoline, and the fellowship!

20150811_152912 20150810_164117


Matt and I were asked to lead two sessions each with our respective gender on topics that might encourage, challenge,  or bring up things that just don’t get talked about and need to be.  It was a challenge preparing everything in Spanish, but it was such a wonderful opportunity to try and encourage the pastors and church planters and their wives in the work they are doing here in Ecuador!

It was fun getting to put some creative juices to work getting something ready for one of my talks with the women…


Teams cooked dinner each night….



The women worked on a fun Christmas craft and just had girl-time!

20150811_162450 20150811_162414


The main study was on a book called Replenish.  The group times were encouraging, uplifting and replenishing as we were able to hear more about the ministry challenges of the church planters and pastors.  We were so thankful to be a part of this!

20150812_105240 20150812_105201


This weekend was a huge ‘test’ for us as we wondered how we’d manage with our ‘improved but not perfect’ Spanish.  We made lots of mistakes and still got some blank looks when we mixed up what we were trying to say, but hopefully God used us in spite of that to have a small part in refreshing the hearts of His saints at the retreat!

We’re already looking forward to next year!










There are moments  I just want to sit and have a good little pity party for myself,  crying about about all the things that need to get done and the things I am not doing well…Falling behind is truly an understatement at this point…..

~This house!  We are a cluttered, cluttered lot!

~I’m almost officially two months behind on newsletters…probably two of the most exciting months we’ve had here yet and we haven’t shared!

~Budget…smudget…that one keeps piling up which makes it all the less appealing!

~The pile of letters we need to write to the amazing people who support us each month so we can be here

~The 6 years of unsorted, unedited pictures on the computer that are overcrowding my harddrive but I can’t seem to sit and sort them out.

~School planning…four students, four different levels.  So many ideas, so little time!

~emails….oh the emails! Such a gift to receive, but writing back seems to get lost in the shuffle!

~the dish pile never seems to let up…what is it with those dishes?

~the LAUNDRY. ’nuff said.

~the dust! I could almost ignore it…but it is a no-no here.  Even down to needing to clean the outside stairs when we know someone is coming!

~The writing I so long to do to share our lives here….that I miss doing.  Do I even have a blog anymore??

blah blah blah blah blah…..

Yes, sometimes I DO want to have a pity party.  One with lots of streamers and noisemakers because I am human, and I don’t like feeling like I am  ‘failing’ ‘not performing well’, not ‘doing my job’.   Because I don’t like the guilty feelings that come with the idea that ‘everything-should-be-nice-and-neat-and-organized-and-wonderful-and-perfect-even-in-a-house-of-7-imperfect- human-beings’ that society, that facebook, that pinterest and that my own overactive imagination seems to feed on (who’s ridiculous idea is that anyways???).   I am pretty sure most of my mama friends in the States and Canada (and all the other countries) are struggling with the same things.  There is always more to do than there are hours in a day. We WANT to do so much, it just never seems to happen.

And yet…my pity party wouldn’t take into account the joy of the things that DO happen in a day…

The morning that school gets started late because on the way home from the market, walking by a couple, a man winds up and smacks the woman in the face, hard.  Stopping to intervene.  Talking with her.  Praying with her.  Walking with her.  So we didn’t get started on time, so what.


The dishes that are still waiting to get done because of potty training…and the special time spent reading stories while waiting….waiting….waiting….It’s a season.


The lunch we finally eat at 3 (and probably just sandwiches that they will probably have to make themselves) because as we were reading together someone had a great question and we got off on a rabbit trail all morning not doing anything on the school list but lots of incredible learning.  What’s most important? Joyful interest-led learning or checking off a list?


The mess in the house because I got home late from Bible study…because of the questions…the questions that say “I don’t understand the gospel, but I want to know what this means, and how it can impact my life”.  Coming home late to tidy up the junk on the floor doesn’t matter so much those nights.


The day that gets behind or totally unraveled because someone comes to sit and talk and learn and study the Bible.  Someone comes and sits in our living room and says “What do I need to do to be saved?”.  The newsletter can wait.


The pile of emails that keeps growing but doesn’t get answered because someone sends a message by facebook or whatsapp needing at that moment to be heard, to be loved, to be encouraged.  Use me Lord, never let me say I am too busy to serve when you call!

So yes, I am behind.  In many many things.  And it is frustrating and overwhelming to be sure.  I don’t like the feeling of ‘too much to do’.  In fact I really really dislike it…But, just like in the homes of my girlfriends who are struggling with getting everything done as well, life is happening here.    Little people are being raised here. Memories are being made here.  Family is being nurtured here.  Relationships are being built here. The Gospel is being shared here. God is working here.

And, there are always choices that have to be made.  Some easy, some hard.  Some will please many, some will please few.  Some will involve doing, some will involve being.  The only certainly is everything can’t and won’t get done.  And, that has to be OK.


Let me make the most of the days you give me.  Let me be burdened by the things that burden you and not the burdens that society tries to place on me.  Let the things I do glorify you whether they were on my to-do list or whether they were surprise opportunities to serve.  Let me always put your children before the things of this world. Let me rejoice in the joy of the unexpected and hold lightly to my to-do list.  And, Lord today give me that burst of whatever its going to take for me to tackle some of these mountains one step at a time!


Just a Bit of Fun…

No blogs since April??  I could have sworn that I had written a couple early in May, but I can’t find them for trying.  So either I wrote them in my dreams, they disappeared into never never land or…I just haven’t written.  I guess that speaks to what our days are like lately…a whole lot fuller and a whole lot less time to write.

Sometimes there’s a view that ministry is all work and no play.  From time to time I am puzzled as I see things posted that reflect  ‘oh those poor poor missionaries, what a hard life’. Yes, there are hard things in every life, and as we step a little more into ministry, we’re finding there IS lots of work to be done, and there ARE some very difficult things.  But, believe it or not, there is also lots of fun to be had!

In March (yes waaaaaaaay back in March), we took part in Semilla de Mostaza’s talent show.  And, to break the silence (and hopefully the sad lack of blogs), here’s a little replay of the Messick Crew and their ‘talents’.


The Messick Brothers tackle the Rubik’s Cube!

A “happy” day at the park….Hopefully Matt and I some years from now, just havin’ fun!

So, there’s some fun in ministry….ok, at times there’s LOTS of fun in ministry!  And we’re thankful that God made laughter, and music and fun!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36 other followers