Dear friends and family,
One of the most exciting parts of our ministry in Ecuador is pouring into the lives of the students and teachers at Alliance Academy International. This week provides a great opportunity in that regard as for the last couple months we have been preparing the yearly “Spiritual Emphasis Week”.
Spiritual Emphasis Week is a unique week of school in which the students have a modified schedule that includes a built-in hour of chapel in which we intentionally try to engage the school community with the gospel. As I mentioned previously, we plan for this event for a long time. We had games, videos, skits and most importantly people that bring God’s word daily.
The theme for this year is “Question Authority” We want our community to look into things that have authority in our lives (hobbies, relationships, jobs, school, etc) The gospel brings us true freedom as we allow Christ to be the only authority of our lifes! This is a key topic for our students.
This year, we had the opportunity to bring some really special guests. We had ⅔ of Lampmode recordings’ The Collective (Stephen the Levite and Zae da Blacksmith). If you know me (Juan), you probably know how excited I would be for having those guys here. It’s not often that my two worlds (Ecuador and my life in the U.S.) collide. God used the folks from Lampmode to really challenge my faith. I pray that the same could happen with many people here in Ecuador.
- Pray that the Lord would be glorified and that many people would fall in love with Him and be saved. Pray that those that know him, would be encouraged to live in a way that is worthy of our calling.
-Please pray for the follow up after Spiritual Emphasis Week. For opportunities and wisdom for the teachers and staff to speak into the students lives as well as help them connect with a local church.
-Also, please pray for us as we both ended the week feeling pretty sick.
P.S. We quickly wanted to share that we are under our level of support. Please read our previous email and consider partnering with us!
Sound check late Sunday night
Stephen the Levite sharing through music
Poster for Concert
We are excited to share with you that after a process that started last Summer we have been approved as missionaries with Reaching and Teaching. This is a new mission agency started by veteran missionary and Associate Dean of International Missions at SBTS, Dr. David Sills. We are so excited for this opportunity as Dr. Sills book “Reaching and Teaching” has been foundational in our ministry in Ecuador and the agency lines up perfectly with the vision that God has given us for the ministry in Ecuador and Latin America that He has allowed us to be part of. Dr. Sills has been a great encouragement to us and we are excited for what the Lord will do!
Dr. Sills has been a speaker at various conferences (Cross Conference, Desiring God Conference) and you can know more about him and reaching and teaching here.
With the Lord answering to our 3 year prayer request, we are moving by faith and making some necessary changes.
1. Maris has self taught herself Spanish. She can get by in most day to day situations, yet her growing ministry outside the international school and in the church requires her to get formal language training. We have been pushing back from starting this key training for the last two years as we need the stipend from the school in order to meet our needs in Ecuador. At this point we have saved a bit of money for Maris to move to part-time and use that extra time to take Spanish classes. She started two weeks ago and it has been such a blessing and encouragement for her…challenging as well!
2. We have verbally committed with R&T (you can find us in their website); however, and as you see in the previous point. We have been serving in Ecuador for the last 3 years under our level of support and supplementing it with the stipend that we receive from the school. Our goal for 2014 is to raise enough support to be independent and focus specifically on areas of ministry that the Lord is blessing and that we feel called to pursue in the future. We are praying for the Lord to provide the necessary support.
If you are reading this, we ask you to please prayerfully consider partnering with us. Please pray that we can find like minded people and churches that would want to come alongside us. We are pursuing these two goals wholeheartedly and trusting for the Lord’s provision. Please let us know if you have any questions. We also want to share that faithful friends and partners have provided the means for us to attend a few conferences in 2014. Please pray that these conferences would not only be a great time to be refreshed, but opportunities to connect and share our vision with like minded believers and churches as we pursue this goal. If you are planning on attending T4G and Shepherds Conference, we would love to meet you!
We have updated our website as well! Take a moment to browse around when you can!
For Christ’s sake in Ecuador!
J & M
Starting a new year…
Dear friends and family, 2014 has started with some exciting and important developments. Before we share those in the following weeks, we wanted to share with you parts of what the Lord did in our lives on 2013… What a testimony of his grace and love.
2013 marked a year of transitions in the school. We served our second and last year as dorm parents. I also transitioned away from special education to be the head chaplain of the school. Marissa too, transitioned from her position as a secretary in the Elementary to the secretary for Spiritual Life. The lessons learned are too many to share. God is sovereign and God is the only one that can bring hope. Transitioning into the newly formed chaplaincy program and working together is a huge blessing. By God’s grace we have had many of meetings with students, spoken chapels, lead dating seminars, organized and executed the first ever Welcome Week, retreats, conferences, and the launching of the new DNA (discipleship-nurturing-accountability) groups program at the school, as a way to engage our student body.
Jota had an opportunity to share in a Q & A with the Middle Schoolers on theology, living out the Christian life and other great topics!
If you have ever seen the movie “Elf” you will understand this little eating contest that consists of pasts, syrup and various candy …yum! The Seniors won! A team consisting of three girls!
Preparing for chapel and DNA groups
DNA filed trip to the gym
Spiritual Emphasis Week
Practicing a little kickboxing at Man-Up Retreat
Man-Up Retreat 2013
This was a year of experiencing tough and difficult growing pains. Moving from the dorm opened a great opportunity to spend more time with our dear family at La Fuente. The church has grown a lot, from 40ish people to about 100 people attending our weekly Sunday Celebration. The community group that we get the privilege of leading now fills our apartment weekly. We are learning how to love Jesus and live as a community with Gospel intentionality. We have beloved friends that we get to meet weekly and talk about life and how the gospel informs everything we do. We had the opportunity to equip the body from one on one conversations to Jota’s busy preaching schedule.
Weekly Community Group
Community Group Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving fun at Steve and Sandi’s house
Celebrating our dear friend Mariqui’s birthday. Mariqui is part of the leadership team at LF
Staying after community group to fellowship and play some music together.
Breaking into small groups to pray during community group.
Praising God for our new locale!
Jota sharing the Word on our first Sunday in our new locale.
In other news…
By God’s grace our house was the home for many this last year. We had people stay that were transitioning out, people moving to Ecuador, people thinking about moving to Ecuador, short term missions trips and many others. It was especially a blessing to receive our friends from one of our sending churches and work in a sports camp for kids that come from a tough background. By God’s grace, Jota finished a year and a half of Seminary and somehow finished with As and Bs. On the other hand, ministry this year left us with scars, yet those scars help us remember that our identity and comfort needs to be found in Christ. That sin is deadly and that we can’t wait for Christ to return.
These are some of Jota’s books for seminary. They were part of the family this last semester
We hope that you all had a blessed Christmas and New Year! Here are a few pictures from the holidays. The first few pictures are of us celebrating a traditional Ecuadorian holiday by making bread with Jota’s mom’s side of the family. We were able to have a precious Christmas at Steve and Sandi’s house along with Amie and her two little ones, Yvette and Carin. Then, we were able to ring in the new year with Jota’s dear family.
making guaguas de pan with the family
Jota with his grandma Ita
Amie with Yvette (right) and Carin (left)
Sandi and Steve (precious) We love them!
Jota’s dad’s side of the family at New Years, reflecting over the past year and looking towards the next.
View of some of Quito from our apartment window. Please continue to pray for this city and for opportunities to be a light in the midst of it.
Please pray for us every Tuesday as we host and lead community group in our home.
Please pray for us every Wednesday as we lead DNA groups and Chapels.
Jan 20th: Spring Semester class starts for Jota
Jan 21st-24th: Jota needs to take a Child Safety Training class at AAI
Jan 25th: First Biblical Counseling/Discipleship training at LF
February: Baptisms and new member reception
Feb 3rd: First Day of 2nd Semester/ Maris starts formal Spanish training
Feb 6th: Second Biblical Counseling/Discipleship training at LF
Feb 20th: Third Biblical Counseling/Discipleship training at LF
March: Launch of Accountability groups/ Discipleship series
March 5th-9th: Possible trip to CA for Shepherds Conference
March 24th-28th: AAI-Secondary Spiritual Emphasis Week
As mentioned previously, please keep an eye out as we will be sending several emails within the upcoming weeks about the exciting things coming in 2014! We are so thankful for the continued love and support from all of you as we are serving God here in Ecuador. We love you all!
J & M