Gary & Christina offered this update originally on their blog, The Tennants Down South. To stay up to date with all that’s going on in Ecuador, check it out!
Wow, was May a busy month!
Hello again from down south! The weeks since out last update have been VERY full! Not all of that fullness was good, but things are getting better…
To start with, Marc and Heather were able to travel home to attend some important events with their older children, and see their grand child for the first time! It was good that they were able to do that, and the Lord provided for the means for them to be able to do so. It was a good time for them! Heather had left a few weeks earlier, and Marc followed after and was gone for almost three weeks. My wife and I had the opportunity to watch three of their boys as well as the two foster children that are in their care. We were looking forward to spending time with the boys and working together to care for Josue and Thalia- our first opportunity to be alone caring for foster children here.
All was looking great until the day that Marc left. That day was when Christina came down sick with what turned out to be hepatitis A! She ended up being down for the entire time that we were supposed to be watching the kiddos! Thankfully she is doing well now and getting better, but hepatitis is something that stays in your system for a while, and the after effects take weeks to get over completely.
As for me and our children? I was busy juggling two households and a very sick wife. It was a tough few weeks keeping two homes clean, getting the Morris kids off to school each day, trying to get some homeschooling done with our children, and making sure Christina was cared for, but we made it. We had to suspend the evening bible study for the majority of that time, but we did have the neighborhood kids over a few nights. Kathleen and Nathaneil stepped up and were also a big help in a number of ways while their mom was sick and their dad was crazy busy. We are very proud of them for that! All in all it went relatively well, and everyone survived… Thank you to all of you who were praying for us during that time, and praying for Christina in particular! She was very sick!
So, there are three of the last four weeks accounted for!! It was a good learning experience for all of us though, so no complaints.
In addition to all of that business, we have been prepping for the arrival of the first short term mission team from our sending church!
We say they are a “short term” team, but they will be staying for the summer! We are very excited to have Tiffany, Becca and Kayla coming to stay in Archidona for the next six weeks, and we are praying it is a good experience for them as they work with us and get to see what life as a missionary looks like over the long haul! Pray that they will be sensitive to what the Lord is saying to them as they spend their summer serving Him here in Ecuador. Pray also for their good health during that time. They will be an encouragement to our family as it will be good to see familiar faces from home! They will also have the opportunity to get to know the local culture, work with the kiddos that come for praise and Bible study on weeknights and Sundays, minister in a nearby community on Saturdays working alongside other missionary families that live here, and they will have the opportunity to help conduct a VBS here in Archidona in early July before heading back to the states. It will be a busy summer, and lots of fun!!
In addition to all of THAT, we had a brief visit from a friend of ours that was in country with a few colleagues and relatives checking out some service opportunities that he is trying to plug into. I and our eldest two spent a day with them introducing them to some local sites and discussing some upcoming business with our ministry. Part of that discussion had to do with our search for the location where we will purchase land, build a home and base our ministry.
If you follow our Facebook page then you have a heads up on what I am sharing next. For those of you who do not use Facebook this is new news, and so I’ll recap from the beginning.
As we mentioned in the last update we have been praying and searching with regards to the location where the Lord would have us settle down and base our ministry. We have been visiting villages in the local area, and we have also been visiting some villages that are as much as two hours away from here. It was while we were visiting a village two hours away that we came into contact with a few individuals picking coffee on the side of the road.
We were leaving a village we had visited that has a total of about 300 people living in it. There is a school there, as well as a second school a few miles down the road in another, smaller community. The road we were on dead ends at the second community. Beyond that there is nothing but jungle all the way to Peru. Oh, and tribes still living in the Amazon jungle, several of which are considered uncontacted people groups! On the way to this road we were on, we had traveled a main road that took us by what had to be thousands of people spread out over miles along the Napo River corridor. Lots of people, and no church anywhere that we could find… The area had caught our attention! We had asked around about land for sale, but no one knew of any.
That brings me back to the two guys picking coffee. I had been keeping my eyes open for a few raw beans from which I could grow some coffee plants of my own. I asked Marc to stop and see if I could buy a few from the guys. We stopped, and one of the men was the owner of the small farm where the coffee was being grwon. He was generous enough to give us a few beans as a gift, and while he had his man pick a few ripe ones for me, Marc explained why a couple of gringos where in his community out in the middle of nowhere!
It is always interesting to see how the Lord works these things out. It turns out that his hired man had some land in the area that he was interested in selling us. We had him climb in the vehicle, and we turned around and headed back into the village we had just left! Turns out that the gentleman was also a farmer of sorts, and he had a large piece of land from which he was willing to cut off a portion for us to purchase. We spent the next hour or two walking what turned out to be a peninsula around which a river wrapped. It almost looks like a triangular island set off to the side from the main village, but within a few minutes walk of the village center. Large enough for our needs, with room for several houses and small cabins for visiting teams as well as play areas for the children and room for some gardening/farming of our own. Given its orientation to the village it also has a surprising amount of privacy for being so close to the center of town. It was a good looking piece of property in many ways!
Our visit also included meeting several village elders and one of the head teachers of the local school. They were all very welcoming and excited about our ministry and the foundation, so much so that they basically invited us to move there into the heart of their little farming community! THAT is a big deal here in this culture, and especially out on the remote edge of the jungle! It was a good meeting, and we left feeling encouraged about the location and our chances of building meaningful relationships with the village and its people.
When Marc and Heather returned from the states we made another visit with our wives (Christina was beginning to feel better at this point) and they also were excited about what they saw. We met again with a few of the villagers and elders, and introduced our wives to them. It was another good meeting, and the landowner held to his original offer when we discussed terms. The next step is to return sometime after the 15th of this month to meet with the owner and have a survey done, as well as validate the paperwork. If all of that goes well, we may have some very big news to share in our next update!
Please be in prayer on the land issue as this process unfolds! The area we are looking at has an abundant population and no church presence! Also it is very well located on the boarder of two provinces, meaning we would have the opportunity to take in children from two different regions easily. It looks like an ideal place for us to settle into, and so far all of our conversations with the local people have gone very well! Pray it will become clear if this is not the location where the Lord wants us to set up our home permanently. Pray things will continue to go well if it IS where the Lord wants us to live and minister!
In closing I would again ask you to be in continued prayer for Christina. Hepatitis takes a long time to get out of your system, and then your body takes a long time to heal. Pray she continues to gain strength and that she does not relapse. We are thanking God that she was over the worst of it so quickly! Some people have the worst symptoms of the disease for months rather than weeks!
Also remember to keep the three interns that will be visiting for the summer in your prayers! Becca, Kayla and Tiffany will be arriving on Thursday, June 11th. We have a fourth intern here already that we want to mention; a family friend of Marc and Heather’s who’s name is Mattie. Be lifting all four girls up as they experience life and ministry here this summer!
As you pray for the future of the ministry here pray that God will continue to bless us with good relationships, and especially as we move forward with finding and purchasing property. Pray that the Lord will bring along side the ministry the businesses, churches and individuals that will be needed to fund the work going on here now and into the future. Pray also for continued progress with the language learning as it is an important part of building good relationships and being able to share the gospel with the children we minister to and the communities in which we serve!
The Tennant Family!