Sunday, March 30, 2014

Catching Up: August

We kicked off August by taking a two-night camping trip with the Marcum family to a lovely national forest about an hour south of Quito called Pasachoa. The kids enjoyed sleeping in their very own "kids tent," going on hikes, roasting marshmallows and making s'mores around the campfire, climbing trees, and building a little raft that they put in the creek near our campsite and then followed as it floated downstream.

A hike through the forest
Mmmmm, s'mores!
To roast the marshmallows, we used these awesome skewers that we purchased from the Bormans, a family in our homeschool group.
The view from near our campsite
Showing off the raft they made (with help from Josh).
Alex found lots of fun trees to climb!
We also took a trip to the zoo with the Marcums and the Brewingtons. That was a fun day, and it was our family's first time to visit the Quito Zoo, and our first zoo visit since we lived in Lisbon! The Quito Zoo is certainly not as big or as nice as the Lisbon Zoo, but it is home to several animals unique to this part of the world, like...

Galapagos turtles!
And Andean bears (also called masked bears because of the markings around their eyes).
The kids enjoyed the petting zoo...

And posing on various animal statues. Here are Michaela and Alex with the saber-tooth tiger.
Group picture in front of the entrance to the zoo.
Benjamin turned two at the end of August. We took the whole family to a free outdoor dinosaur and prehistoric animal exhibit at the Carolina Park, then followed that with lunch at Burger King and lots of time to play in the play place. That evening, we celebrated at home with strawberry shortcake in the birthday boy's honor!

I can't believe he's two!
I finished out the homeschool year with Alex at the very end of August. So, just about the time other kids were gearing up to go back to school, he was finally getting his "summer vacation!" I let him have the month of September off so I could plan and get organized for the next year, and we started back up in October. I will do a post later reviewing the curriculum we used and what I will do differently the next time around.

School around the dining room table. I wish I could say we looked like this all the time, but in all honesty, scenes like this are pretty rare!
Also in August, we started working with a group of Christians who wanted to start a new church in PisulĂ­, one of the poorer neighborhoods in north Quito. We began by meeting in one another's homes for Sunday worship and Bible study, followed by a meal. Over the course of several months, we were able to coach the church-planting team and equip them with tools to help them as they launched this new work. It was such a privilege to watch them come together as a team, articulate their dreams and visions for the work, pray over their dreams, and then work to make them a reality.

First Sunday with the church-planting team. We met in our home for worship and lunch. The Brewington family, who were still in Ecuador following the July medical campaign, were our special guests, and Jason gave the message.
About the same time that we began officially working with the PisulĂ­ team, we became aware of another ministry opportunity. The Reeger family, who had been the administrators at Camp Bellevue in Tabacundo (about an hour north of Quito) for the past seven years, were taking on the administration of the Hacienda of Hope, a children's home on the property adjacent to the camp, and they encouraged us to submit our names for consideration as their replacements. We had known they were leaving and that the Bellevue Church of Christ in WA, which overseas the camp, was looking for a new couple, but had decided against applying for the position, believing the timing was not quite right for our family. However, following several conversations with the Reegers, and in light of some of the difficulties and frustrations that Rusty especially was experiencing with the Kumanii ministry, we decided to prayerfully proceed and see what would happen. The month of August was spent in conversation with both Hillsboro (our sponsoring church) and Bellevue. Bellevue decided they wanted to fly our family up to WA in September for an interview. We worked up a formal proposal for Hillsboro and tentatively approached several of our other major sponsors to inform them of a possible shift in our ministry focus. The response from everyone was supportive and positive, so we decided that if Hillsboro gave us the green light and Bellevue offered us the position, we would move forward.

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