Guard your Heart

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Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.

A reminder for this week as I sit down and study my schedule and my to-do list.  As I continue to orientate new missionaries, evaluate and say good bye to others.  As I disciple, and plan, and teach.  As I laugh and cry and study.  All of these things important and essential and God honoring.

Proverbs 4:23 reminds me that if I lack character, filling my life with amazing, God honoring ministry will do more harm than good.

Pray that this week, I will not only be able to guard my heart but that I will be able to teach the youth that I disciple to do the same.

My co-worker Sheryl and I have chosen this verse as a key verse for the Alfa a Omega drama team and will be very seriously focusing on character throughout the coming year.  

We start tonight by memorizing this verse.  I challenge you to do the same.  Guard your heart. 

How you can pray for us this week:  
This afternoon Dustan will be traveling to Portete where the last discipleship portion of the course we developed is being taught and they will have a graduation celebration!  What a labor this process has been and I really long to part of the final day but, our local church is also celebrating their anniversary today and since I also have drama practice, Dustan will celebrate with the Portete church and I will stay in Loja to celebrate with our congregation here.  Pray for both celebrations that they would encourage these beautiful churches to continue working for our Lord!

Pray for Samantha and Ashley Postman, a mother daughter team who have arrived to give us some much needed help, especially with some admin tasks.  Pray that their orientation time will be fruitful.

Pray for M and E who will be returning to their home country in Latin America to finish their seminary studies and then prayerfully to return to Ecuador as full term missionaries.  I will really miss them both.

Pray for Impacto Mundial.  This is the mission mobilization group that I coordinate.  We have really hit both some major development growth and some crisis all at the same time.  Please pray for R.- the young man I mentor as he helps to coordinate this group.  I hope to hand him the reigns in June, but he is young and needs experience and our prayers.  

Pray for all the young people that I work with.  You will notice that I have stopped using their names. This is painful to me because I love to have you praying for them by name, but several have decided to follow Christ into some difficult un-reached places and I don't want my blog to be a danger to their future.  Oh, how I love seeing the fruits of our labor here!  Please continue to pray for them, especially as we begin to take a long hard, and close look at their character.  Pray that they would guard their heart.

Pray for V. who will be ending her internship in another week.  She leaves for Thailand in the next couple of months as a missionary and we are really excited to be able to send her.  Nothing is ever as clear cut as it seems though and I ask that you pray that God will continue to prepare her heart over these next couple of months.

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(More than a) TIST (Things I saw today)

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A couple of weeks ago we had to take Marcus for an ER visit.  Thank you all for your prayers during that time.  How wonderful it was to have you praying for us!

While there, I had to fill out an intake form and one of the questions made me laugh out loud.  

Patient's condition:
alive?
or dead less than 48 hours?

Fortunately for us, our patient was still living!



I wrote the above blog post a week ago with it scheduled to be posted later this week but I have decided to add something to this.  

This photo and emergency room intake form seems horribly real to me today and not quite as funny as it did last week when I first wrote it up.

You see, today a received a phone call from an Ecuadorian missionary co-worker who has been going through an ordeal I recently went through myself.  It isn't something I could share with anyone and the burden wore at me until I reached a severe crisis point.  By the time the whole thing was over- I was spiritually wiped out.  

The situation I faced and that my co-worker (and I in part) now face is delicate and can't be shared with the world to be prayed over.  It is one of those missionary experiences we have to hold inside and that eats away at us until one day we go the the emergency room of souls and the question, Alive?  Or dead less than 48 hours?  seems like a logical question to ask.

I have been there.  It wasn't too long ago and now a friend is there and I feel like I am there again. 

The best thing I can ask of  you is that, if you know a missionary, if you love a missionary- hit your knees for them in prayer.  They can't share everything that they are going through with you.  The nature of our job means we must keep confidences and that means we might be facing serious suffering and you won't even know it.




Here is how you can pray for us this week:

Please pray for this new crisis- unknown to you but so very well known to our Lord who loves us.  This is a very serious request and I ask that each of you consider praying for us about it each day this week.  

This Sunday I (Becka) will be teaching the discipleship course to a small church in Portete.  Portete is a rural area and is the church we had in mind when we wrote the course.  We are on week 4 now and as we work through it we have seen how God is moving.  We have also noted some changes that need to be made for the future.  Please pray that this congregation continues to be moved by God to make disciples and for our missions team as they put the last touches on a course we pray can be used for years to come and in many different rural churches.



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Take a walk with me...

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I thought I would take you on a walk with me.  We aren't going very far today, just to my friend Sheryl's house and back.  Sheryl and I have some work to get done for the upcoming weeks and the day is so beautiful I decided to take pictures on my way.

Tis the season for blooming flowers.  The purple flower trees are also blooming but I would have had to go out of my way to get a good picture.


Just a sidewalk.

And another sidewalk.  I was actually trying to get a picture of the traffic cop/helper.  Loja streets weren't exactly built for vehicle traffic and now that more people own more cars it can get chaotic at times. These helpers guide traffic in an effort to keep things moving more smoothly. 

One of the churches, with a glimpse of the massive overhaul our current mayor is doing to the street systems.  The entire city is under construction.

Just a street view.


More street work.


This street was finished a month ago and they replaced the concrete sidewalk with a beautiful tile one.

And now they are working on plantings along the way.  This is really a beautiful place to live.


This is the auto service chicken restaurant (Angry Chickens).  I have no idea why the chickens are angry nor why this is an "Autoservice" restaurant. 


A walking bridge across the river.  (yes, this is considered a river- it does get much wider at points)

Look- road construction.


Surveying.  For more road construction.


Many of the intersections have street performers.  Which I LOVE!  If I ever get fired from being a missionary I will become a street performer.  Need to learn how to juggle first...


Schools out.  So are the genius entrepreneurs  who use the opportunities to sell goodies to hungry school children.


Stuck behind some slow moving students.  All students in Ecuador wear uniforms.


A glimpse of the gorgeous views I get to every day.

That same river a few blocks down widens out.


This is a view of some of the market shops.  I buy my rice here.
I actually needed some today...


Bags of rice which we buy in the quantities that we need.  I only had 3.00 so I bought just under 3 pounds.


And the door behind the red car (the one with all the flowers) is mine.  Home now.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of Loja.

Here is how you can pray for us this week:

Our son Marcus suffers from type 1 diabetes and he has been having quite o time of it due to the flu causing sighing and uncontrollable blood sugars as well as bloody noses that have been keeping us all up last night.  We are grateful for good medical care but really wanting to see him completely healed. Please pray along with us.

This Thursday we will be hosting a pastor's breakfast with the purpose of encouraging them to allow the Impacto Mundial group to work along side their churches to mobilize them in participation on the great commission.  Please pray for a good turnout but especially for R- the young man who is co-coordinating alongside Becka as he take on the responsibility of preparation and speaking.  Pray for humility, boldness, and wisdom for him.

Becka's co-worker Sheryl has returned from home assignment and we could use your prayers as we plan out our next year and as we get used to be a team again.  Becka is so thankful for Sheryl's involvement in our ministries and is really biting at the bit to see how God is going to use us in the lives of young people and in the Loja church.

Category:

TIST (Things I saw today)

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Look at that gorgeous blue sky!  We really had some beautiful weather here in Loja this week and I took advantage of it by soaking up some much needed sun.

Most Lojanos are so accustomed to the extremes in weather- rainy and cold or intense high altitude sunshine, that they carry an umbrella with them no matter what the weather.

I used to do the same, but after losing over half a dozen umbrellas by leaving them in taxis, offices, or  stores, I have given up and have grown used to be wet or sun baked.  I prefer being baked :).




How you can pray this week:  The SIM Ecuador team will be taking another trip to the coastal area, hit hardest by the earthquake to continue building homes and ministries within that area.  There is no local church in the small fishing village where we have been working but the community has requested one.  Please pray for the team as they continue to build and strengthen relationships in the community in order to bring them the light of the gospel.  

This trip will have a crisis counseling team to help the community recover from the tragedy that they experienced and continue to experience.  Please pray that this team will be able to effectively communicate with a hurting people.

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This week in Photos

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Every Saturday the youth from our church meet at our house for games and a devotional.

Sunday morning I teach the same youth in Sunday School.  This week we studied the beatitudes and looked at the difference between how Jesus taught us to live and how the world tells us to live.


Sunday night is Alfa a Omega night and this Sunday was a special one as we welcomed back Sheryl Greenwood, the group's founder.  

We did continue to practice the presentation for December but we also had time to play a couple of rounds of mafia.

We also dealt with a flooded office/laundry room again this week.


Tuesday nights are Impacto nights.  In this picture we are studying the importance of living in community.

Weston is part of a team that works on promotion for Impacto Mundial.  Here he is with M, goofing off instead of working hard.  Just kidding.  He is working hard WHILE goofing off.

This weeks activities so that you can pray along with us:

Monday:  Prep day as well as girl's basketball.  Becka teaches a VAMOS course. Weston goes to the park for evangelism.
Pray:  That the girl's basketball program will continue to grow and that the people would be receptive to the gospel.  Pray for Spiritual protection for our family.

Tuesday: Dustan teaches a future missionary the SIM finance system.  Weston has an orphanage ministry.  Becka travels to Zamora for ministry.  Impacto Mundial meetings are in the evening.
Pray: for safety as Becka travels to and from Zamora and that she will not suffer to badly from motion sickness.  Pray that the doors at the orphanage would remain open.  For V. as she continues to prepare for service as a missionary in Asia and for Dustan who is teaching her.  that as we prepare for the many classes and bible studies that we teach each week that God would be honored with our efforts and that we would see fruit.

Wednesday:   Becka does a discipleship course via Skype. Weston has orphanage ministry.  Becka and Dustan have meetings as well as continuing their regular daily work.  Marcus has a course called Equipping Servants International (ESI).
Pray: That discipleship would multiply, not only in Ecuador but in the USA as well.  For our SIM team as we continue to work towards our goal of taking the gospel to unreached communities.  For Marcus as he prepares for a future in ministry.  For the ESI program that the young men involved would stay committed and grow faithfully in the Lord.  For spiritual protection and wisdom for Weston.  For wisdom and endurance for Dustan as he continues his work as team bookkeeper.  For C. whom Dustan has been discipling and who needs our prayers desperately.

Thursday: Becka has discipleship with G.  Dustan continues his work with SIM finances.  We have a host of young people over for lunch and basketball in the afternoon.
Pray:That G. would be able to complete her studies this year and that she would continue body proclaiming the message of God's salvation.  For wisdom for Becka as she continues the work of discipleship. For K., that God would continue to pull her heart towards full-time ministry.

Friday:  Esther teaches kid's club in a rural sector of Loja and the boys have youth group.  This is Dustan and Becka's day off.
Pray: That Becka and Dustan would have a day of relaxation and rest.  For Esther's safety both physically and spiritually and that she would see the fruits of her labor.  For the youth group at Cordero de Dios- that God would continue to call them closely to him and that this group of dedicated youth would finish their race as strongly as they have started.

Saturday: Work in the morning preparing for the weekend activities.  Youth group, women's group, and men's group are all on Saturday afternoon and evening.
Pray:  For our church as they continue to try to follow God.  pray that they would have a deepening passion for God's Word and for the gospel.  Pray for unity and love among the members. pray for gospel growth.

Sunday:  Church and Alfa a Omega.  This week Becka will be directing the worship service and in Alfa a Omega we will continue to work on the panorama presentation for December.
Pray:  Pray for each of the young people who are involved in Alfa a Omega that they would grow in their faith.  Pray for Sheryl as she prays about her future involvement with the group- that God would guide her and give her wisdom so that she can confidently make decisions about this new term of missionary service.  

Category:

A week in Photos

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I am really terrible about taking photos since becoming a missionary.  Mostly because I want to live inside every moment and I found it difficult to do that behind a camera.  However, I am beginning to recognize that the members of our team who do not live here can't "live in every moment" the same way I can, and that those people (you) deserve to see what God is doing here in Ecuador.

So this week I made it a point to take a snapshot as I went about my week so you could get a feeling of what God, and you, and I have been up to here in Loja.

Last Saturday I took a bus out to Zamora where I left an intern missionary from Guatemala.  M is a lovely girl and the church in Zamora is one of the most beautiful congregations I have ever met.  They took us on a tour of the town where we passed a lovely park and an impromptu ball game broke out.  It was such a joy filled game that the community began to join in.  I came home with sore ribs from laughing so much!  (I was also grateful to get home after the bus broke down and I had to hitchhike back to Loja- It was a crazy day!)


Hours were spent on blocking a script that will be presented twice at the end of the year.  It follows the promise of Christ through all the Old Testament stories, ending with His glorious birth and the fulfillment of every promise made.  It's a complicated script but really fun to direct.  Eventually I had to cut out little squares of paper to represent each of my nine kids just so I could keep track of where they all were during the presentation.


I was invited to play tennis.  I don't play well and all my balls went into the bush where I had to search for them.  I was attacked by a thorn bush.  Incentive to learn to play better.


Spent an hour unjamming my stapler.  This item is essential to my life and when it doesn't work well... let's just say that it was a test of patience I almost did not pass :)


Our SIM Ecuador team is broken into small groups so that we can care for each other and more efficiently accomplish our goals.  My team is focused on church edification and this week we had to say goodbye to two of our members as they return back to their respective countries.  Will is returning to South Korea and Mark to Australia.  They were an essential part of our team and we already miss them.



This is the first Iguana I have seen in Loja.  I saw it in the park at Catamayo where I also enjoyed the scorching sun of that city.  One of the street vendors tried to sell this little guy some water and caramel popcorn.  Haha!

While in Catamayo we welcomed some team members home from the USA.  It has been over a year since they left for their home assignment and 3 of the youth we work with were anxious to see them again, so we hauled ourselves out to the airport for an impromptu greeting complete with silly hats and a confeti cannon.

We finished our discipleship manual but the formatting is taking FOREVER.  Thanks to Weston who is learning how to use Adobe indesign it is over halfway formatted.  Meanwhile, we have already started to teach the course so I met one of our missionaries at a local park to drop of this week's lesson.


I decided that this week would be a fabulous week to inventory, wash, and organize all the drama costumes and supplies.  Two of my members came to help but wow, was that a task.  Hours of hand washing, line drying, and ironing but the end result was super encouraging.

Here it is!  We have some damaged supplies that need to be taken care of still and all the scripts are still being formatted and organized but at least half of the job was completed.

Oh, and King Nabu finally got a much needed bath and haircut.  Whew.  He was smelling pretty bad.

This coming week is wonderfully full of God's work and I will try to get some pictures to share with you.  But, meanwhile, here is what next week looks like so you can better pray for our ministries.

Today (Sunday)- I will be teaching the youth Sunday School class as well as directing the Alfa a Omega rehearsal which will double as a welcome back party for Sheryl.

Monday- Prayer time with my prayer partner , tennis, mentoring a missionary intern, helping a missionary find an apartment, getting planning done for the week's ministries, and girl's basketball where I give the devotion.

Tuesday- I will be teaching through a missions manual and an evangelism course to two interns who will be staying with us overnight before returning to their fields.  The Impacto Mundial meeting takes place in the evening.

Wednesday- Discipleship in the morning and then meetings.

Thursday- Discipleship in the morning, lunch at our home with half of Loja (a lot of our youth come and hang out on Thursdays), and basketball in the afternoon.

Friday- This is my day off- pray I guard it well.

Saturday- Planning for the weekend ministries, youth group, and women's group.



Category:

Fishing. It's not just for my Grandpa!

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I have never been a fisherman.  Never.  I am the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of fishermen and yet the genes of fishing must have passed me up because I have never been able to sit still long enough to catch a fish.

Last week our family took a vacation on the coast of Ecuador and I had an opportunity to watch a group of fishermen bringing in their catch of fish.  It was unlike any process I had ever witnessed.

First, several of them rode out into the ocean on a wooden raft, dropping a net as they went.  At some point most of them jumped off and swam to shore.  Then the hard work began.

Men would tie themselves to a rope, at least six to each side of the net and begin to p u l l.

Slowly, over the next hour, they pulled and pulled.  Every once in a while, one man would rush to the water's edge and retie himself to the rope and then as he held the line stable, his team mates would rush further down and re-tie themselves.  Then the pulling began again.

As more and more rope was pulled out of the water, a young woman would coil this extra rope, keeping the men from getting tangled up in the excess.

After an hour of pulling the net became visible and a horde of birds flew over the heads of the fishermen trying to steal as many fish as possible.  Sometimes it was difficult to see the fishermen because of the birds!

Finally the catch was grounded and large trucks pulled up to the shore to receive their share of the catch.  Out of the truck rushed the drivers and their helpers and an assembly line was quickly made with fish being shoveled into buckets which were then carried to the trucks and dumped out.  The buckets traveled back down the line where they were re-filled and red umped, several times over.

Whew.  What work!  And in coastal heat.  I couldn't believe the number of people it took to bring in the catch- at least 30!

And the work was not done!  Several men had to stay behind to take care of the net, bring in the wooden raft, and load everything into yet another truck!

So.  Maybe I am a fisherman after all--- because this reminds me a lot of what I do as a missionary.

Gaby and Weston interrupted as I was helping Ricky record a drama presentation at the radio.  They were too excited to wait.  The two of them have been witnessing to a woman at a local park and each time they talk to this woman, they return ever so excited to share what God has been doing.  Just two weeks ago this woman declared, "Are you evangelists?  Because I don't want to talk to evangelists.  I love the virgin of Cisne and worship her and want to honor her with my life."

And yet she continued, miraculously to listen as Weston and Gaby explained that they would not speak anything outside of the woman's own Bible.  And so, for the first time in her life this woman began to read her Bible.  They started with the book of John and when she finished chapter 1 she asked to keep reading.

Now, two weeks later this woman is curious.  She wants to know if her own baptism was real.  "Do I need to be re-baptised?" she asked Weston.  "And what about these idols.  I am confused.  There is the Virgin of Cisne.  The virgen of Guadalupe.  So many.  Which one is God?"  "Is Jesus God?"

And I watch and listen as these two fishermen of men tell me about their work.

And then I thought of the team of people they had working with them.  Me, holding the ropes and talking them through the process.  Oswaldo who talked to Gaby about how to share her faith with an Ecuadorian catholic and shared resources.  Sheryl who taught both Gaby and Weston to give their testimonies.  My church back in the states and every single one of our prayer supporters who faithfully give of their resources and time to make it possible for me to pull in that rope!  Irma who prays each day for the young people I disciple.  My SIM Ecuador teammates who pour into my life and the lives of those I am working with.

We all have our place.  It's hard work.  It's uncomfortable work, what we do; you and I.  And yet as we see that net coming in closer and closer to shore and we know that God is bringing in a catch so big our nets can hardly contain it- that work seems like nothing at all.

And suddenly I understand why my grandpa loved sitting all afternoon waiting for "just one bite".  It's because he knew of the excitement of pulling in a catch.

So, my fellow fishers of men.  Pray for a woman at the park.  Her name, in English means- "The Light".  Pray that Gaby and Weston will hold the front of that rope while the rest of us guide them back to shore.

I am glad I am a fisherman.  It's in my genes after all.

Matthew 4:19

Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Comment on your thoughts on how you are participating in the working of "fishing for men".  Are you coiling the rope?  Sending out the boat?  Are you putting down the net?  Are you tied to the rope?  Are you a truck driver waiting for the catch to come in?  Are you the boys who run the fish from the net to the trucks?  Where are you in this work?

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