With all of the cliches I've been using these past few months in the Heading line, I fully expected to use the phrase "hit the ground running" at some point. You all know that Aaron and I have traditionally lived life at a very fast pace, so reading that would have come as no surprise to you. So hopefully it comes as a pleasant surprise to you that since we landed last Thursday morning, we have been enjoying "walking" together as a family instead of "running."
After the Commissioning Service on Sunday, June 29 (which was AMAZING and VERY tearful), we packed up our last belongings and headed to Tijuana to spend a few days with Aaron's family before leaving from the Tijuana airport on Wednesday evening. The goodbyes were tearful, and gut-wrenching painful, but we walked away feeling SO encouraged and supported- we could not have asked for God to prepare our hearts and the hearts of our family members any more than He did- and it showed that day! The impending separation from family stung (and still does), but we feel so confident in our calling and where God has us for this next season.
The flight was really smooth (minus a 2-hour delay on the second leg of the flight), and we got off the plane in Quito with a spring in our step and a resolve to do battle to get our 19 bags out to the airport lobby. Aaron and I had rehearsed, and rehearsed again, how we were going to get 19 bags and two sleep-deprived children out to the lobby to meet our teammates. Imagine our surprise when every bag had been claimed, the carousel spun empty, and we hadn't seen a single one of our bags. All 19 bags missing! The worst part was, they couldn't tell us when our bags would arrive, so we had to leave the airport empty-handed and uncertain of when the bags would arrive. Luckily, they gave us some money to buy the essentials while we waited for our bags to arrive.
We drove to our new home, received our keys, and were able to spend the first few days unpacking and organizing the kitchen items and furniture that we had bought from other teammates. Some dear friends here blessed us beyond words by making each of the beds (a HUGE blessing since all of our bedding was in our delayed bags) and filling our fridge with enough groceries to get us through a few days. Another huge praise is that we got our car on our first day here. The car has already been an amazing blessing, and will be even more helpful once we begin working.
Because so much had been prepared for us ahead of time, and since we had no bags to unpack, our first two days here were very mellow. This allowed us to really focus on helping the kids get acclimated and comfortable in their new home and neighborhood. By the time our bags arrived on Saturday, the work of unpacking felt more spread out and manageable. We've connected with several teammates, but because so many people travel during the summer, we have been able to really enjoy being together just as a family this past week.
The reality of us hitting the ground "walking" has been such a sweet blessing. The process of unpacking and getting settled came in slow, spread out waves. We have already been able to establish some different, more intentional routines with our kids, and the four of us have been together nearly every minute of every day. Though it won't be like this forever, this is the absolute BEST way for us to begin our lives here in Quito these first few weeks. After praying about it, Aaron and I have chosen to focus on the word "intentional" as it pertains to our family. We want to make intentional choices that will benefit our family as well as those we minister to, be intentional about including our kids in ministry, and be intentional about spending time together as a family and a couple. We're excited about what God is going to do in and through our entire family here in Ecuador.
Now that I've painted a ridiculously rosy picture, I'll let you in on some "dirt": we've all been dealing with health issues since arriving, and we would love your prayers. At first, we chalked it up to altitude sickness, but as time has gone on, we think it's a flu bug of some sort. So far, everyone but me has been sick with the flu, and we've all been dealing with headaches. Please pray for a quick recovery for all of us- dehydration is a huge concern here as we are also trying desperately to acclimate to the high altitude. We get winded after the slightest activities (like climbing stairs).
For the remainder of July, we'll continue to learn the ropes of a new culture and get settled in, and also get time with the Youth World staff who stayed in Ecuador for the summer and learn more about the various ministries. I'll report to Alliance Academy on August 4, and have a month of new-teacher orientation to get prepared for the school year, which starts on September 1. That's also the day that Aaron will officially take over as Director of Youth World.
This turned into a really long update (are you surprised?), but we want you to know all about our transition here and communicate to you just how amazing and special this season has been to us. We want you all to know how very thankful we are for your prayers and support- God has used each of you to get us to this point, and we want to say THANK YOU with our whole hearts! From now on, we'll send monthly updates. In between, we'd love to receive emails and stay in more frequent contact with any of you who desire to do so. We love you beyond words, and are thankful for our friendship with each and every one of you! Many blessings to you and your families this summer!
- For improved health for our whole family and for altitude adjustment
- For the next few weeks of focused family time- that we would feel rested, that our kids would feel loved on, and that our family would be strengthened as we prepare to do ministry together
- For the "start" of our ministry roles- that God would give us direction and wisdom about our specific roles and the relationships He would have us cultivate
- For Youth World- that youth would be drawn into genuine relationships with Jesus