When Preston and I got married in 2001, we knew God was calling us to mission work. We took our first short-term trip to Ecuador in 2003 and returned again in 2004. Over the next several years God took us on many more trips: Dominican Republic, Honduras, Germany, and two trips and one move to China. One evening when Nathan and Owen were young, Preston received an e-mail asking him to go to Liberia to design a hospital with EMI. He went on that trip in February and that fall I went on a trip to Cambodia to work with some of our friends from China who moved there as missionaries. While in Cambodia I felt the Lord telling me that the next mission trip needed to be our entire family. He was going to do a great work through all of us together.
Since that time our children have traveled to Lebanon, Ukraine and Ecuador. Each time, God uses them, especially Nathan and Owen, in a mighty way to share His message of love and salvation to all who believe, regardless of our own abilities. Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." He knew in advance the way the boys would most effectively reach people was through their special needs, and that is how He prepared them. He also prepared the trips, relationships, etc in advance, so when we follow obediently He is glorified.
This years trip was amazing! A few things that really struck me were God's provision and how much we can accomplish when the body of Christ work together. People are often amazed that we take all our children with us on a mission trip. All I can say is when God calls and we follow obediently, He will provide. When we arrived at the Jungle Camp, the staff had rearranged a dorm room and made an apartment for our family with two big bedrooms and a living room. They also reconfigured the bathrooms and provided a shower for us. Not only that, they also poured a concrete ramp down to our room, so we could easily roll the boys wheelchairs to our room. The church where we did our work every day, also had a heart for individuals with physical disabilities and had already made a ramp to the second story of their church, while building it years ago. If there was ever a place that was difficult to push the boys through, immediately the Ecuadorian staff were there to help carry the boys in their chairs. We would joke saying the boys just needed grapes and palm branches, as they were being carried around like kings. In Romans 2:4, "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." It was so neat to see individuals with different skills, from different places all working together to accomplish the construction of the renovated church facility. We all needed each other to do the job!
This church we worked with was amazing. They had about 250 members. They are about to finish 10 church plants and serve over 1000 children awake through Compassion International. They are one of Compassion's biggest care points. They provide the children with a hot lunch, tutoring, discipleship and medical care. They also provide medical care for the mothers of these children. Since there are a lot of abandoned women in this town, the provide sewing classes to teach them to be seamstresses, giving them a sewing machine upon completion of the class and for those who do not have the ability to take the class, they make ice cream so ladies can go in to town and sell it to make their living. Everyone was very loving, focused on the Lord and hard working.
Here are a few photos from our trip!
By the time we landed in Ecuador it was around 2:00 a.m. Nathan was a little exhausted!
Every morning we would take pick-up trucks to the footbridge. On the other side of the footbridge we would get on our bus. The bridge for cars/busses had washed away, so we using the temporary fix of the footbridge.
Here we are sightseeing in Tena.
This is the house where Nate Saint lived. If you have seen the movie, The End of the Spear, or have heard the Jim Elliot story, this is place where they would fly from into the jungle.
Hike to a beautiful waterfall.
On the swinging basket, going over a huge gorge to a waterfall. Nathan is a huge daredevil.
View of the valley at the mountain camp, Camp Chacauco. We were able to spend a weekend here relaxing. This is Logan's favorite place of all the places he has ever been. At the end of the valley is a volcano. In our previous trips in 2003 and 2004 it was active. Now it is covered with snow and should be dormant for the next 95 years. I am thankful we were able to see it when it was active.
We drove to the top of the mountain in Banos, a tourist town near Camp Chacauco. We had some outdoor fun.
Preston received an award from the church we were working with. They were very thankful to Preston and his students for all of their work in the design and construction of the project.
Logan was a huge help. He did a lot of construction work in the morning and played with the children in the afternoon.
In the area of the old worship center we built a medical room, a dental room, two pastor offices, the church office, a youth area, a sewing room and ice cream room.
The jungle was amazingly beautiful. The plants and bugs were huge!
Nathan helped Preston with construction.
The boys are so good at making new friends every where they go. The kids loved being with them.
We enjoyed going down river to a village in the jungle to learn how they live.
Logan and a boa constrictor.
Monkeys roam freely in this park. They climbed all over us. It was a really fun experience.
Nathan was not really sure how he felt about the monkeys and Karis liked to watch them from afar.
Owen thought the monkeys were pretty funny.
Logan, our little monkey, climbed up a tree to be with the monkeys up high.