"Peek a Week" with Erin

Hello! Last week Sandi introduced me as the summer intern for Compassion Connection and explained that I will be posting a “peek-a-week” for the next few weeks. I will be posting these weekly blogs in order to give you, our supporters and friends, a glimpse into what day-to-day life looks like here in Ecuador as well as all that is currently going on within Compassion Connection. Without further ado, I hope you enjoy following along with me this summer as I give you a little ‘peak’ into life on the mission field in Ecuador each week.

Unfortunately, my first post has not been the most enjoyable topic to write about…in the past few weeks, there has been much transition going on within the organization, and usually in times of transition, there are times when we have to say “goodbye” or “see you later” to those we love. In the past week, we have had to say goodbye to friends who have become family; the Brennan Family. The Lord has called missionaries, Noah and Cate Brennan and their family, to move back to Hawaii, which is where they were residing and serving some time prior to coming to Ecuador.

For the last eight years, Noah and Cate Brennan have served tirelessly and selflessly here in Ecuador. In the time that they have been here, they not only have been raising a family of four children, but they have also played a very pivotal role in training up pastors and leaders, as well as planting La Fuente, Compassion Connection’s church plant in Quito, Ecuador. While helping with the church plant and leading one of La Fuente’s community groups, they have been able to build relationships and create friendships that will last a lifetime. I asked a few member so fLa Fuente what the Brennan’s have meant to them and the impact they have had on their lives. I have shared those comments here.

Gaby Erazo: In the short time that I was able to meet and know the Brennans, I saw that their passion was to preach the gospel and show Christ in every area of their lives. I thank God for the blessing that they are and we will miss them very much. 

Sandi Youngren: Cate and Noah have been working side by side with us for 8 years. Three of their four kids were born here. We have walked through the trials, hardships, joys, and glories of life and we have watched them stand strong in the Lord and bring joy to many. It's a tough part of life to create such bonds and then have to say goodbye. We know that those who have them in their lives next will be blessed beyond measure.  We love you Brennans!

Nataly Velasco: For me, the Brennans are family, friends, community, and an example of love everywhere. They are a "warm welcome." They are always willing to talk and give good advice or just joke with silly things! They make me understand community and how we can encourage one another, despite age or background!

Amie Youngren: The Brennan Family became an integral part of my life eight years ago when they arrived here in Ecuador with six month old Phinehas. We have shared innumerable ministry adventures, meals, tears, laughs, game nights and more. They and their children became like family to my girls and me. We learned together what sins layed dormant prior to parenthood and we challenged one another in these things and to keep pressing toward Christ. Our friendship will no longer have daily life together as God has moved them out of the country, but I am confident that our friendship will endure because of all that God has allowed us to experience and grow in together.

Natalia Duque: The Brennans are a great example of a family in Christ.  They are an example of love.

Gaby Puente: The Brennans are special. We will never forget them. I could see in every action that they said, did, or share, the love of God and their willingness to follow the Lord everywhere they go. They are part of Ecuador, and a part of our hearts forever. 

Gaby Duque: They are a family in Christ.

Bean Family: From the moment we arrived in Ecuador, the Brennan’s played a significant role in our lives. Noah picked us, and our 12 bags, up from the airport and opened up their home for us to live for the first week. Cate was the one who spent many hours taking us to the hospital when I was going into labor with our son, Quil. We also got the privilege to live life with their kiddos and watched them many nights so Noah and Cate could get away for a date night. They have helped us grow and learn as new parents, and as children of God. We are so incredibly thankful for their friendships and can’t wait for our next game night!  We love you guys, and miss you like crazy!!!   

In August of 2014, I (Erin) came to Ecuador, for the first time, on a short-term missions trip. On that trip, I distinctly remember sitting in Cate and Noah’s house with the team and listening to Noah say the words, “Don’t go home and put this experience on a shelf.” He explained that instead of going home and saying, “Well, that was a nice experience,” that we should allow room in our hearts for God to use this trip to ignite a spark within us. That way, when we return home, we won’t just look back on this as a great experience, but as a time in our lives when we allowed God to move in our lives and a time when we drew closer to him than ever before.  The words Noah spoke that night were life changing for me because I allowed God to do exactly that in my heart. Although it has been hard for everyone here in Ecuador to say goodbye to the Brennans, Noah’s words have been my prayer since they have departed. It is my prayer that the Brennans wouldn’t look back on their time in Ecuador as a “nice experience,” or just put these past eight years on a shelf. Rather, I hope that the ways God moved in, grew, and strengthened their lives and hearts here in Ecuador would be a remembrance that continues to ignite their spirit for the rest of their lives. On behalf of Compassion Connection, we thank you, Brennan Family, for serving whole-heartedly and for allowing the Lord to use you to create non-shelf worthy experiences for those around you. All six of you will be missed greatly, you already are.

A Partnering Church Perspective

One passion we have had is to connect stateside churches with church planters here. Many of the church planting pastors we work with are walking in obedience to their call without much, or any, fellowship and support with like minded pastors and churches. The theological and leadership training that we provide brings these men together to encourage and pray for one another. Beyond that, we hope to link them with a stateside church that will visit, encourage, pray for, and walk beside them. 

The Vine Church in Madison, Wisconsin recently sent their two lead pastors, one with his wife, to Ecuador for our Pastor's Training Seminary. They taught on Biblical Marriage and Hermeneutics, served, loved, and encouraged church planting pastors from various areas in Ecuador. They were also an amazing encouragement to us personally in so many ways. Thank you so very much Scott, Zach and Kim! Here's the report they gave to their church and allowed us to share with you. We hope it gives you a greater understanding of the work of mentoring and training up pastors in Ecuador, and how joyful and God glorifying this task is.

What a Week!

We had an amazing week of celebrating God's mercy and faithfulness in our personal lives as well as with Compassion Connection. We have walked through a lot of trials lately - which bring about their own work of glory and humility, but it makes the works of His marvelous hands even more humbling when He chooses to let us participate in the work of glory that also comes with joyful celebration. 

We started off with a surprise celebration for Steve and his (this month) 60 years of life...40 of that spent serving God and His people in ministry. People from literally all over the world sent notes and letters thanking him for the parts he has played in leading them to Christ and to the gospel. We spent time in worship, thanking God for His divine appointments and for His absolute faithfulness. If you have the time you can watch the video that Sandi put together for him at the end of this post.

The next day, we celebrated God's merciful intervention in calming down Cotopaxi volcano and allowing thousands to live and keep their livelihood. With this, we had an Inauguration Celebration of Cotopaxi Training Center (Centro de Capacitación Cotopaxi). We are now in full gear to move ahead with training up pastors on our property in Lasso! It was a wonderful time of giving thanks to God for all He's done.

The next day, we drove into Quito for the installation of two Ecuadorian young men as Pastors/Elders at our church plant La Fuente. Juan Moncayo is now the new lead pastor and Pablo Tamayo and Ruben Cadena are the new lay Pastors/Elders.

All of this was crowned with a trip with our stateside partnering church, Matthias' Lot, to the jungle church plant in Santa Ana. Huge inroads have been made here as far as sharing the gospel and encouraging the lead pastor, Dario. Boys and Girls Bible Clubs have been started in order to reach children with the gospel before they hit their teen years. 

How we thank God and thank all of you who have supported CC long term and have made all of these incredible happenings possible! To God be the glory forever and ever, amen! Watch a quick wrap up of our week here:
 

Year End Report from Quito Church Plant

It's in Spanish, but you will praise God with us as you see His faithfulness in a healthy church plant! A few months ago, Steve "passed the baton" of Lead Pastor to the Ecuadorian young man that has been trained up into that position, Juan Fernando Moncayo. God continues to give what we do not deserve and we are constantly humbled by that. Rejoice with us as you meet the church of "La Fuente" here:

Thanks be to God

This has been a week to glorify God and His good work!
Almost six years ago, God led us to sacrificially rechart our "course" in missions. We transitioned from focussing completely on training church planters and pastors to focussing mainly on planting a church as our hub. This meant huge adjustments for where we live (we moved from a beloved rural area to the not-so-pleasant city) to how we operate (Steve would focus on training up church leadership, which meant a change in the way we partnered as a couple to do ministry). "La Fuente" church was launched soon after and for the past five years Steve has poured the majority of his leadership training into the formation of leaders in La Fuente.

La Fuente church plant, Quito, Ecuador

La Fuente church plant, Quito, Ecuador

Thanks be to God! This past Sunday Steve passed the responsibility of Lead Pastor to Juan Moncayo.

Juan, Marissa, and baby Willow at Juan's installation

Juan, Marissa, and baby Willow at Juan's installation


God has given us a new zeal and new energy to go forward with the pastoral training of Ecuadorian pastors, church planters, and leaders as our main focus. God has graciously opened doors and we are ready to walk through them.

At the same time, the volcano Cotopaxi has calmed down and we are able to move back out to our property, Cotopaxi Training Center, and begin hosting the training there.

What a time to celebrate! Thank you for continuing this precious journey with us - please keep praying for God to be glorified in all ways as we follow His lead.

The now calm Cotopaxi

The now calm Cotopaxi

All Photos thanks to Justin K Bean

This Is What It's All About

In the midst of our trials, God is faithfully on mission.
We hosted the first seminary module by Reaching and Teaching to train up pastors and leaders in the Quito area. God supplied a place, a team to run logistics, amazing teachers (who flew here on their own expense), and those with hungry hearts for gospel truth.
Thanking God for His reminder that He is on mission.

Ecuador Update

We have thanked God throughout these past months for those of you who have been praying for us. It is humbling to realize that God knits our hearts and how the body of Christ shares both joys and sorrows together.

Our apartment/office is a safe distance from Cotopaxi (taken from Quito).

Our apartment/office is a safe distance from Cotopaxi (taken from Quito).

It has been a rough few months. We have left our Lasso property because of the pending volcano eruption and now temporarily reside full time in Quito. This has meant a lot of adjusting emotionally and physically. We are continuing with His plan and pouring ourselves into the work in Quito as well as the work of holding training conferences for pastors and leaders - now it just means the inconvenience of finding locations for this (since the Center in Lasso is unusable right now). We now watch the Cotopaxi ash plumes from an apartment window in Quito, a safe distance away, which is both comforting and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Our precious friends, Juan and Maria, who watch over our property with diligence and love.

Our precious friends, Juan and Maria, who watch over our property with diligence and love.

Cotopaxi continues to churn and boil inside, although there are conflicting reports coming from government and volcanologists as to the outcome. We are choosing to err on the safe side and only make short visits to Lasso during the day about once a week. Our precious caretakers, Juan and Maria, are (like most indigenous farmers there) staying with their property and trusting God that they will have time to get out should there be an eruption. Please pray for the thousands that see this as their only choice.

Our youngest daughter, Charin, with husband David, Lily (4 yrs) and Micah (6 months)

Our youngest daughter, Charin, with husband David, Lily (4 yrs) and Micah (6 months)



There have been many more difficult trials in these past months...the most recent being that our youngest daughter was just diagnosed with cancer and will most likely undergo treatment in the next weeks. We will head up to Chicago to help them once a scan is scheduled. Please pray with us for sweet Charin and her family.

"Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell." Ps 43:3

He has faithfully brought us to His holy mountain, to the place where He dwells, as we have walked through these hardships. We continue to share the good news of the gospel with all who will listen. We are constantly reminded, as we share this good news, that God has already done the greatest work that we could ask for here on earth - forgiven and removed our sin that would keep us from communion with Him. Because of that alone we can rejoice in His goodness.

We ask for your continued prayer as we keep our feet rooted in Him and our hearts anchored in His faithfulness. 
Steve and Sandi

Time Ticks On

Smoke and ash as seen from our front yard

Smoke and ash as seen from our front yard

Emotions are still high as the more than 300,000 people who may be affected by an eruption of Cotopaxi watch and wait. It is impossible to correctly predict the timing of such an eruption, so we, along with our friends in Lasso, wait and pray Psalm 91:2, I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 

We appreciate your prayers so very much as we place our trust in God and reorder our daily lives in the midst of the moment.

Wikipedia updates their information on Cotopaxi with thisIn 2015, a steam eruption marked a new phase of volcanic activity. [11] The volcano "remains in a very abnormal situation. In August, 2,100 earthquakes were recorded and emission rates of sulfur dioxide reach approximately 20,000 tonnes per day". That the Government estimates some 300,000 people are at risk from the volcano in the provinces of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Napo and Pichincha, where already 225,000 received information. At the moment, there are presences of side lahars with a lower volume and reduced scope. 

News.com.au says:  To prepare for such an event, the government has created over 140 safe houses and set out on a mass education program to teach the public how to respond. Neighbourhoods in the danger zone are staging mock evacuations. School kids are learning how to put on face masks. Bus drivers are practising driving through ash. But there is still confusion and fear.“We’ve never had a situation like this, we are really terrified,” says mother-of-two Patricia Cavalero.“We want to know what we should do, how can we prepare ourselves. We don’t know how big the eruption will be or how devastating its effects will be.”

Please continue with us as we continue to "pray for the best and prepare for the worst." 
Subscribe to our journal to keep updated.

Go to our "Cotopaxi Relief Fund" here If you would like to give toward helping those who may be displaced during this crisis.

Just $45 will purchase bedding, food, water, and emergency supplies for 1 person for 2 weeks.

Urgent Prayer Needed

Friends and Fellow Laborers,

We here in Ecuador need your prayers. As you have undoubtedly heard by now, Mt. Cotopaxi is re-activating and shows every sign of building to a major eruption that could affect many lives and much property, including:

 

  • Our Church Planting Training Center: According to maps, Cotopaxi Training Center (CTC) is directly in the path of the deadly mud flows predicted to take place following an eruption of major proportion. CTC represents about $250,000 of donations, years of planning and labor, and was scheduled to launch into its "training mode" this November.  In a personal way it represents a vision and investment of everything we have been about for nearly 17 years in Mexico and Ecuador with the view to have "fruit that remains.”

 

  • Our Church Plant in Quito: While most of our church members live in areas safely removed from the mud flows, all of Quito will be affected. If Cotopaxi erupts, there will be an immediate shortage of drinking water, possible toxic ash filling the air, and up to 325,000 displaced persons pouring in from the surrounding country.

 

I want to ask for two things:

Will you commit to pray with us over the next weeks?

  • That God would mercifully calm the mountain and save thousands of people from disaster.

  • That, if a major eruption does occur, we will be prepared to demonstrate God’s love and mercy to those in need of assistance in their trauma.

  • That God prepares our hearts to accept the possibility of losing all physical evidence of our labors in Ecuador: the Training Center, our land, and the first personal home we have had in 17 years. In one sense, these are only “treasures on earth,” yet they represent a broader vision of eternal value as well.

  • We’ll continue to keep you informed on our mailing list.

 

If God leads you, would you give to the aid efforts our church in Quito is preparing? We believe that God has called us for such a time as this. We would love for you to help us bring hope, love, and truth in a dark time.

  • Donate toward the relief efforts we are organizing (Click the "Cotopaxi Relief Fund" button). Our church is preparing packages of food, water, face masks, bedding, and shelter for the possible refugees from the danger zone. 1 package (for one person) including all of this costs only $45, and could mean a huge difference for a displaced family.

Note: If time proves that there is no eventual large-scale eruption, all items will be donated to and immediately used by a local charity for the homeless that our church works with in Quito.

 

Finally, here are some key links to help you stay updated:

We met up with this young man in Houston. Daniel plans to move to Ecuador in the next couple of months on business, but we see him as an answer to our prayers for more Latino young men to stand up for truth and teach that truth in their own Spanish language in Ecuador. 

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Southwest+Amazing People+God's Faithfulness = Huge Encouragement

Traveling through the Southwest, we discovered what the term "Southern Hospitality" is all about! We have been so very encouraged as we have visited long time friends that we haven't seen in years, as well as made new friends that we hope to build relationships with for years to come. Everyone has been enthusiastic as we have shared all that is going on in Ecuador, and many have committed to join us in prayer and support as we continue the work there.

Keep praying for us as we head West!

We have arrived stateside where our first stop was Matthias' Lot church in St. Charles, Missouri. Over 160 people from this church have visited us in Ecuador and have been a part of building and planting churches with us. Our partnership together has been a gift from God. A humbling and God glorifying event that took place while here was when their Elders prayed for us and washed our feet during their weekly service as a sign of the depth of relationship and sense of family that exists between us. We left Missouri with everything we need to start this U.S. Tour with enthusiasm and trust in our great God.
THANK YOU, MATTHIAS' LOT!

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U.S. TOUR

After ten years in Ecuador, we are going to take some much needed time in the states to connect face to face with our faithful supporters. We are so humbled at how God has provided the resources in order to plant churches, train pastors and spread the gospel in Ecuador. We are so very grateful for those who have partnered with us, prayed us through, and provided the means to fulfill this vision. We can’t wait to share in person with everyone that we can, just what God has done and is doing here!

As we travel, we are also praying that God continues to provide for the growth that we are experiencing. We hope to make new contacts, new friends and new supporters to jump on board with us and see the gospel flourish as we continue to expand the opportunities that God has laid out before us.

Please pray for us as we take “the ultimate road trip” across the U.S., and please let us know if we can connect with YOU while in your area!

April
11 - 13 Sterling, VA
18 - 20 Atlanta, GA
21 - 22 Madison, AL
23 - 27 Birmingham, AL
28 - May 5 Santa Rosa Beach, FL

May
9 - 11 Traveling the I-10 across the southern states
12 Green Valley, AZ
13 - 16 Scottsdale, AZ
17 - 22 Indio, CA
23 - 24 San Diego, CA
25 - 28 Drive up the west coast
29 - June 8 Everett, WA

June
9 - 10 Boise, ID
11 - 13 Travel to midwest
13 - 14 Madison, WI
15 - July 2 Midwest area