An Ode to Ecuador 

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Thank you, God, for Quito.
For displaying Your glory through the mountains
For providing such a welcome home. For a fantastic New Years Eve
For introducing us to Jose Luis, our Man of Peace
And Quito’s oregano tea. The hills that leave us breathless walking up
The new believers. Your growing church. For our godchildren
For unifying the team.


Thank you, God, for Atecames.
For the beautiful ocean. The delicious seafood.
For the school that brought us so much joy and radiated Jesus
And leading us in Your direction. For the need to fight for our team.
Thank you, God, for Manta.
For the huge crashing waves and the natural flavored ice cream.
For inspiring children who want to share your love
For teaching us a million different ways to share the Gospel.
For always being there, even when we can’t see it
For challenging us to always want more of You
For teaching us patience.

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Thank you, God, for Pajan.
For the beautiful first look into the jungle.
For a welcoming community. Strangers turned family.
Sharing your love through skits, testimonies, songs.
For long hikes through the jungle to spread your love.
For a group of youths involved in Your church and so in love with You
For deep relationships even with a language barrier.
Thank you, God, for Puyo.
For it’s wonder. For the zoo and zip lining over cliffs and the jungle.
For excellent mora juice
For welcoming house parents who want to bless us
For a church community thriving, showing us it’s possible
For jungle ministry and baptisms
For spontaneous multi-language worship sessions.

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Thank you, God, for Quito.
For more (literally) breathtaking views. For a safe haven home.
For dump ministry and soup kitchens
For giving us boldness to speak
For long workdays and midnight homeless ministry
For the mountains and alpaca blankets.
For a bittersweet goodbye to our Ecuadorian family, Andrea and Jose.
Thank you, God, for Ecuador.
For it’s beauty- both land and people
For making it the perfect place to stretch us, to mold us, to grow us
For letting us show love
For it’s welcoming spirit, always asking us to return
For a phenomenal time.

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Thank you, God, for my team.
For the fantastic leaders who stretched us.
For Jose and Andrea, our joined team members. Not only translators, but family.
For our unity and love for each other
For a family I’ll never forget and never want to leave.
Thank you, God, for your faithfulness and undying love.
Maddy Ackermann

A community of love

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Here’s a week with Team Ecuador
Things we did, food we ate, and more
God’s moving a lot
Just like we thought
He’s the victor of spiritual war

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Tuesday began with a frown
The fast pace and high altitude bringing us down
We ate comfort grilled cheese
Fruit for vitamin C
Then encouraged each person to turn the mood ‘round

On Wednesday we shoveled some rocks
For the new church addition, we broke concrete wall blocks
We also served lunch
Compassion feeds kids a bunch
Then we topped it all off with Fantastic Mr. Fox

British Jack’s birthday was fun
More meal distribution, labour under the sun
Mad and Sofie, they baked
Double chocolate cake
Filled with dulche de leche! Yum.

We packed for our move the same night
Left big bags as collateral, for a change travelled light
Peaced from the hostel at dawn
Post scrambled eggs and a yawn
Journeying to Puyo jungle delight

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Upon arrival we drank mora juice, had chicken and rice
A dish that’s repeated a few times more than twice
Next came children’s ministry
With song and dance creating sweat-city
Working alongside local programs was refreshing, ’twas nice

A favorite of our team meals so far
Was dinner on Friday: taco salad bar
No morsel went to waste
Though we ate in haste
As the girls left the church with their homestays via car

The boys went for ice cream and crashed in the chapel quite late
So waking up for the 5 am prayer meeting was great
All prayed up a storm
With the atmosphere warm
Then we went on to Saint’s house, learned of missionary Nate

A somber tale of 5 men washing ashore
And wives left behind, hearts sunk to kitchen floor

It’s not just life or death, He is more

Onto the army base with wildlife sanctuary
We walked to cheetahs and pumas devouring meat
Toucans and macaws yelled
Old turtles were held
And only a handful of us were sprinkled by monkey pee


To an indigenous tribe we drove
Expected to just visit but no
Get on your feet!
Two hour children’s program, lead!
Then booked it to baptisms at the pastor’s home

Eat empanadas that make your lips smack
Exhausted from the day, hope to nap
Spontaneous worship session
Deep Bible lesson
Hangout with youth group, play hacky sack

Finish Sunday 18 hours later
With fries, burgers so still smiling at our Saviour
Chicas rise early
Swing on ropes from trees burly
Living on the edge with no fear of haters

Traverse onwards to Banos post church
Cross waterfall-ful valleys on zip lines, stomach lurch
Swan dive off of bridges
Check boxes of wishes
Successful fulfillment of adrenaline search

Today closes the week
Back in Quito with breakfast pastries
We spent hours planning
For ministry spanning
The remainder of this South America streak

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The highlight for me
Was being blessed to see
A community of love
Influenced from above
Demonstrated by immeasurable hospitality

Michelle Chan

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The Big Picture

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Since leaving Belize and arriving in Costa Rica, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the words, “so there’s been a change of plans.” Travel here was filled with many ups and downs causing us to quickly swtich from Plan A to Plan H. In preparation for this outreach, our team was greatly encouraged to “hold things with open hands,” and let me tell you, that got out into practice faster than any of us expected. The first day of ministry began with a one mile walk to a coffee tree farm. There we spend 7 hours daily, clearly the land by cutting down and digging up the tree roots. This property is owned by an organization called Strong Ministries. They are immersed and well involved in the community around it. The farm, once no longer covered in trees, will be used as extra space for Strong Ministries to host missionary groups and events.


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During the past couple weeks, it’s been difficult to see the big picture in clearing that tree farm. Being there in the moment I was struggling with God. Telling Him that I was wanting to be touching people’s lives first hand, sharing with them the love He has shown me and not digging up stumps. As I was chopping down a rotten tree with Shahnee, God responded to me by telling me that if I was off somewhere else sharing with people, than the people that are going to find God through the development of that land would not find Him. I am apart of the stepping stones for God’s kingdom to come in Costa Rica. If I decide I don’t want to develop that land, than how will those coming here, ever come. My expectations were different than what God had planned for our ministry, but that’s the beauty of Plan H. God’s kingdom will come to Costa Rica and if I want to be apart of that than all I have to do is say “okay God, use me.” Even if God using me means spending 3 hours hitting one tree with a machete. The irony in all of this is that Audrey (a.k.a. Mom) was wearing a t-shirt that reads, “The Big Picture.” God sees the big picture and I get to be in it, all I have to say is “okay God.”


Stephanie Braaksma

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Jesus Be The Center

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“Jesus, be the center” has been the plea of my heart. Things feel off, ministries are exhausting, and people get snappy really quickly when He is not the center. That was the theme of the team as a whole and me as an individual. Jesus wasn’t the strength. He wasn’t the core. He took second place to ministry and then food and then sleep. And it showed- in my heart, in my actions, in my ministry. And the team’s as well.


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After a team meeting the other night, all the girls felt off, and we went in the room and starting fighting a major spiritual battle. We all knew something in the team was weird, and after prayer and talking, we realized it was the team unity, which was affecting ministry and free time.  And the team unity was off because we, as a group, had been so busy and exhausted after a full day’s work, that we didn’t make time for God-both as a group and by ourselves.
Picture a cup. You want it 100% full of Jesus so that it can be poured out in all of it’s glory onto others. Our cup wasn’t full of Him. It was only about 30%. Which was not good.
And the enemy wants to smash that cup into smithereens, making us think all is hopeless and broken and done. He wanted us to believe that’s how we were. We weren’t.

God doesn’t just fix things.  He doesn’t just glue it back together so the cracks show, He makes them completely new and restored. And then you’re wonderful and whole and new again. 1 Peter 4:11 says, “…if anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Christ Jesus” I need to rely on HIS strength for HIS work, not my own.

image2It was a lesson worth being up until 1:30 AM learning. Because if Jesus isn’t at the center, then nothing functions right.
And since  the revelation? Things have been great. Morning quiet times have been more frequent. Unity has been improved. Ministry has gone more smooth. It’s amazing how Christ will work in us when we fix our eyes on Him above all else.


Maddy Ackermann


The Feet of Good News

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How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Isaiah 52:7

No matter who you are a cool drink of water in the hot sun refreshes the body; similarly, no matter who you are the Gospel of Jesus Christ refreshes the spirit.

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For the non-believer the Gospel revives the dead spirit. This past week we had the privilege of ministering to the neighborhood of Santos Pamba located within the city of Quito. Throughout the course of two days we were able to pray for many families who may not know where their next meal is coming from and do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. People are ready to hear the Gospel here, and it was a blessing for our team to witness over 10 individuals come to know Jesus. One family that we were able to pray for had just recently lost their mother and they were really hurting. We spent time praying and sharing Jesus with them, and then we spent the rest of the day hanging out with them. We ate an American lunch of chili dogs, played soccer and played an Ecuadorian game called Ecua-volley. They were so blessed to be a part of a genuine community during a hard time for them.
Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetFor the believer the Gospel restores the weary spirit. In one of our house visits we stopped at a home that doubled as a barber shop. As we introduced ourselves and started to ask questions, we learned that the man and woman were missionaries as well. They typically do ministry on the coast of Ecuador but were in Santos Pamba living with their daughter for a short time. It was so mutually encouraging to hear their love for Christ. I am reminded every time I meet another believer of the power of the Holy Spirit to unifying the church. There is an instant connection and mutual love even if you don’t have the same culture or speak the same language. Being together is good enough. We were able to pray for their ministry on the coast, and they prayed for us as well. It was so refreshing to be with other believers and so encouraging to be reminded that when we work for the Lord, we are always successful even if it doesn’t seem like it in the moment.

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The Gospel is amazing. It is for everyone no matter what the do, who they know and even whether they have a relationship with Jesus or not. It never loses its power; it is strong enough to save us from the penalty of sin the day we are saved; it is strong enough to to save us from the power of sin that tempts us everyday, and it is strong enough to one day save us from the presence of sin when we will finally meet our Savior Jesus Christ face-to-face.


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