JOSH & MICHELLE VOGEL (Diaconal Missionary) If you know a little Spanish, you may be wondering what in the world these words are, and what they mean. Welcome to coast- al Ecuador. These are just a few of the many slangs, or “modis- mos” that we have slowly learned, and we asked ourselves the same thing when we moved to Quinindé 2.5 months ago. After learning the language for a year in Quito, we were not surprised to discover that in Quinindé our language skills were not quite as good anymore as they were in Quito. A lot of adjustment has been, and is being made learning new “modismos”, under- standing a much faster rate of speech, and a very strong coastal accent; but after 2 months, some of the things that used to be foreign to us are now a regular part of the vocabulary, especially for our children. That being said, “Greetings from Quinindé”! Truthfully, the move to Quinindé felt like one of the biggest hurdles that we have had to take to date. After a few years of preparations and back and forth to different countries, there were many built up anxieties, emotions and expectations that again came to the surface. Once again, we thank our good Heavenly Father as He has proved faithful – time and time again. When we thought, “we can’t” our Lord has always said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28-29) On May 2nd we made the move to Quinindé. At 7am we began loading trucks in Quito, and nearing 10pm, we finished unloading at our new home in Quinindé. Since the move, we thank the Lord that we have always felt His kindness, grace, patience, steadfast love and watchfulness over our family. In just this short time, we have realized that this feels like home. If we travel now, when we get back to Quinindé we say, “It feels good to be home”, and we mean it. What a blessing that is for us. The family has very quickly become accustomed to living 90% out- doors, loving having more space to play, making new friends, and living in a different culture, and it brings us great joy to work together with the people here for the kingdom and glory of Christ.
For about three weeks in June, a national strike led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador began. Tensions between them and the current government reached a boiling point over rising prices, and for more than two weeks the situation – especially in the Capital – was very violent. Thankfully Quinindé was much less affected by violence, and there were only a few protest demonstrations, but food became scarce due to all the roadblocks and prices skyrocketed, causing many to fear for their already-hard-to-afford daily bread. Thankfully an agreement was finally reached, and food again began to arrive. We were very thankful that we had already moved to Quinindé during that time. Life is different than when we were in Quito, but different in many good ways. During our year in daily intensive language classes, it could often feel as though we weren’t being ‘useful’, though it was a very important time of preparation. Now that we are on the ground in Quinindé, there is no shortage of work to do, and we find ourselves having to be careful not to become too busy. Krystal and Jackson attend one of the children’s projects 3 days per week, and Michelle and I have been teaching music to the children two days per week, alternating between the three projects. The children all love to sing and are always excited for our visits. In between, I have been keeping quite a full schedule with various maintenance items between the three projects and the medical clinic. The culture here is not one of maintenance, so I often find unmentioned surprise repairs that are needed. Each project has an evening of Bible Study each week, directed towards the parent(s) or primary caregivers of the children. The weekly study is the same topic or Bible lesson that the children are learning that week in the project. It is the desire of the Mission to establish a connection between what the children hear in the projects and what they talk about in their homes. It is often difficult to connect with the parent(s), but we know that through Christ all things are possible, and His word will never return void (Isaiah 55). We are attending at least 1 of these Bible Studies as a family each week, and in time I will be helping with the teaching as well. Construction of a new pavilion (with kitchen) and bathrooms is ongoing on the medical clinic property, and it is nearing completion. Excitement is beginning to grow for the ministry opportunities, such as events, studies and classes that will be held there. I’ve already had opportunity to teach some mechanical skills by repairing an old Toyota pickup truck engine for one of the tutors of the mission, and we are excited to put the new pavilion to good use in those kinds of ways. We are also very excited and thankful that the fund-raising threshold for breaking ground on the Mission House has been met! We hope to begin the first stages of this construction within a few weeks’ time. We appreciate your prayers and financial contributions to this project; we pray it will be a blessing to many.
We’ve also begun men’s and women’s groups with the staff at the projects as well as some of their friends. In July we held both a woman’s breakfast get-together, as well as a men’s, as an informal way to get to know each-other better and enjoy one-another’s company outside of their work. We hope to continue that practice with regularity. We’ve also had the entire team at our home at different times to have a time of singing and encouragement. In mid-July we were pleased to welcome Pastor Rich Bout (URCNA Missions Coordinator) for a three-day visit. Our time together was filled with visits, Bible studies, and encouraging conversation.
Though at times it is difficult to see the poverty and hear of the many horrific situations that go on daily in this city, we are very thankful. Thankful that God has heard so many prayers, opened so many doors, provided for us in abundance, and most of all, that His plan is perfect, and that His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5). Please continue in prayer for this city, and for our family as we continue to adjust to the differences in culture and learn how to integrate into the mission here. May our light never be extinguished nor hidden; may it be set on its lampstand for the glory of the one true God, who sent His Son for our ransom, and who’s Spirit will never depart.
In Christ, and for HIS glory,
Josh & Michelle & Family