Monday, April 8, 2024

God-given Unity


We’ve been thinking about unity a lot lately, related to both ministry life as well as family activities.

In March we made a quick trip to Chicago for the wedding of our son, Luke, and Chase Trautwein. Chase is also a missionary kid from the Dominican Republic, has a heart for people and loves adventure. The wedding was beautiful and we had some great highlights: having the entire family together including several extended family members, time with our 2 granddaughters and even getting to be present when Lissie first started walking.

We had an amazing time celebrating Luke and Chase! We are thankful to God for another daughter-in-law added to our family. Luke and Chase are living in New Hampshire. Luke is working at a facility for foster children and gets to take small groups out on fun adventures. Chase is working as an ER nurse.
Please pray for them as they begin their new unified adventure together!
Scott stays busy teaching 3 classes of Hebrew a week. In one class he has students united from three separate continents! They are connecting for class from Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Italy, and Ecuador each week. Learning Hebrew seems to be the new thing to do. Unfortunately, we have seen people in Ecuador who use Hebrew to make the Bible say what they want it to say, so we believe it is important for some faithful Christians to learn Hebrew and be able to defend true doctrine. Scott’s most advanced group has been studying for around 3 years and are able to understand many things as they read in their Hebrew Bibles.
Working with the Ecuadorian Quichua church continues to be another of Scott’s responsibilities. Through the years we have often seen a lack of unity among the many groups of Quichua churches. One of these groups recently received papers from the government recognizing them as an approved organization of churches. Thankfully, they are a group which is biblically sound. Please pray with us that others will join this organization and that God would produce supernatural unity between them.
We recently met a man named David at our church. He is a Jew who is learning to know Jesus. He and Scott have begun to meet together as he wants to learn more about Jesus. They have been talking together about how the two testaments fit together with one important and unified message. Pray for Scott and David to have productive conversations.

The war in Ecuador against organized crime continues, but it doesn’t affect our daily lives very much. There are parts of the country where we should not go, so we are being a little more careful than normal in that respect. It seems like just about every day new criminals are being captured. Sadly, sometimes they are also freed later when the judicial branch of the government says there is not enough evidence to hold them. This happens even when there is general consensus that they are guilty. And yet, we recognize that is the price to be paid for living in a country that cares about protecting the innocent, which we all know is important. Please pray that law abiding citizens and honest government officials will band together in unity to defeat the rampant evil forces in this nation. Here's one brief article among many options you could read if you want more information:
Thanks for uniting with us to help make a difference in Ecuador and even beyond!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Violence in Ecuador

Over recent months, and even for the last few years, tensions in Ecuador have been rising. We keep reaching new levels of violence, and last week was another unfortunate intensification in that regard. Maybe you heard something on the news. There were prison escapees, an attack on a television station that was broadcast live, doctors held hostage in a hospital, policemen killed, and more. We are concerned of course, but we are not in any immediate danger.
Although the tensions are high all over the country, Guayaquil remains the center of the conflict. To resolve the problem the president declared an "internal armed conflict", which basically means Ecuador has declared war on the dangerous elements within its borders. He named 22 different terrorist groups (read: gangs / organized crime / mafia / drug cartels) that are enemies of the state. The military has free reign to "neutralize" them.
The root of the problem centers around the drug cartels who are competing for territory in Ecuador and seeking to maintain drug routes from Colombia and Peru through this country to the US and Europe. Instead of serving as correctional facilities, the prisons are simply the center of the cartels' activity. About a fourth of Ecuador's 36 prisons are controlled by the inmates. That means they have the keys to their own cells, organize nationwide crime, conduct businesses, pay rent for better cells, or for having a bed, etc. The government is seeking to solve these problems, and that produces a backlash on the part of the drug cartels. Because the delinquents have the full backing of the international narcotics "industry" the solutions are not quick fixes. Ecuador will be struggling with this problem for months and potentially years to come. So far it has been slowly escalating and we don't know when the tide will begin to change. Thankfully, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and the United States are all increasing their support for the situation. Please pray for wisdom for all those who are involved in working to restore Ecuador to a land of peace and justice.

All schools have been closed due to the violence, so Kristi has been teaching online for over a week. This will continue at least until the end of this week. Beyond that, everything is uncertain. Please pray for Kristi and her students to adjust to the realities they are faced with. It’s kind of like living through Pandemic 2.0 and not too many of them are excited about it. As you know, online education sometimes decreases the posibility for truly positive learning opportunities. Pray for a soon return to the classroom. Also, pray for creativity and providential resourcefulness for Kristi with the challenging learning environment.
Scott’s dad is adjusting well to his new living arrangements. He really enjoys his assisted living apartment and is glad for having made the change. He is also making good progress with his health. Please pray for continued adjustment in these areas.
We had a great time with family over Christmas vacation. We gathered for a week in Arkansas with all our kids and grandkids!
We are now full of anticipation for Luke and Chase’s wedding coming up in March. Our next trip will be to celebrate their marriage in Chicago!

Friday, December 8, 2023

Caring for Dad and Caring for Kids


All of a sudden it seems like the weather has gotten a bit nippy—at least for me (Scott). Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m no longer on the equator. I took an unexpected trip to Omaha this week to help care for my dad. He has been facing some health challenges, and it became clear that it was important to work as a family to help with his care.

Thankfully, we are seeing improvements in his health, but we are also faced with the need to make longer term planning. Dad believes it is time for him to move to an assisted care facility, and we, his children, agree. Today we chose a location, and this weekend we’ll be moving many of his belongings. On Monday we plan to transition him from hospital care to his new residence. We expect him to continue to gain strength and health in his new environment. These have been difficult days, but God has proved very faithful, and we are full of hope for a successful adjustment for Dad in the coming weeks. Please pray for the challenges our family is walking through.

I (Kristi) am still in Quito finishing classes before Christmas vacation. Then I will join Scott and we’ll get to celebrate Christmas with our kids and grandchildren.

It took most of the first quarter of the school year to get back into the routine of being back in the classroom but I’m so thankful for my 22 6th graders who keep life anything but boring. We just finished spiritual emphasis week in elementary where we looked at the life of Joseph and how God was a game changer in his life and how he also wants to do the same for us. We are getting ready for our Christmas program next week. As always, our schedules are changed upside down these days before Christmas but we still try to find time to continue with our regular classes. Please pray especially that my kids show kindness and respect to their classmates and please pray for me as I continue to challenge them in this area.

Quito Day games
Proudly wearing their new 6th grade hoodies and caps
Reading to 2nd grade
Spiritual Emphasis Week
Experimenting to learn about the different properties of water
Decorating the classroom for Christmas

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Boring or Stable?

Sometimes it's fun to have new experiences, a change in routine, or exciting things to do. Sometimes it feels much better to return to one's familiar, day to day life. That which we might one day call "boring," can feel refreshingly stable on another.

Life has been a little more "stable" for us this month, but certainly not boring. We're starting to figure out our new routine and settle in to common tasks. Right now this feels much better than all the "excitement" of transition we had last month!

I (Scott) traveled to Guaranda last weekend and taught a workshop on Hebrew. The students were well-engaged and want to study more. I'm starting a new online course with them this evening. There are additional students who will join us from other areas as well, even one in Argentina and one in Italy. It looks like I'll have 25 to 30 new students for this course. Pray for God to bring those who could benefit from this study and to keep them faithful to do their work over the long term. I'm sure the next few days will involve several challenges as I seek to patiently lead students to use our online educational platforms. Pray for efficient learning not just with the language, but with technology too.

Quito has bookstores with Christian materials readily available, but places like Guaranda not so much. Lately I've been taking books along with me on trips to sell at cost. It's a joy to see believers invest in high quality materials that can make an enduring impact beyond my presence in any specific place.

My students in Guaranda recently completed another course covering the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Last weekend three of my students completed one of their course requirements by giving a live presentation on their local radio station. I thought they did a great job!

I continue to teach classes on Monday and Thursday as well. You can also pray for our meetings on those days at 7:00 Central Time.

Kristi has a note to include about her new routine:
It has been stretching for me to be back in the classroom. I have 22 6th-graders and I come home exhausted most days. My class loves to talk and they love to learn, so it is a daily challenge keeping them on task. Please pray that I can develop good relationships with them and that they know how much Jesus loves them! And pray for daily strength for me.

In all fairness, her daily routine might be a little less stable than mine, and even a bit further from anything that could be called "boring." At any rate, we both need your prayers. We can't do this without God's help, and by his design, it's impossible without you lifting our needs before him.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Family, back to Ecuador, and a big election


Whew, it's time to catch our breath after about 3 months of intense effort to transition back to Ecuador! Now we are settling in and getting things back in order after being gone from our adopted country.

Last weekend we successfully helped Lindsey move in to the dorm at John Brown University, in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. So far she loves college life! Of course, reality will be much different when new student orientation ends and classes start! Nevertheless, we are confident she will do well then too, when her studious side engages with the classwork. Joel and Jaden live just 10 minutes from campus which gives us even greater confidence.

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for Joel and Jaden. Jaden is doing much better with her health because of the medications she is on. She is able to work online from home but often doesn’t have much more energy after that. This past week, her sodium level went dangerously high because of the medication she is on, so please pray that they can find the right adjustment for her.

Scott is continuing to teach online Hebrew classes in Ecuador. Opportunities will certainly increase being in country, both for Hebrew and for other subjects. Pray for wisdom for Scott as he decides which things he should do and which things the national church is capable of doing themselves. A new group for Hebrew is already beginning to form for September, and others have expressed interest.

Kristi has been working with a homeschool group online the past 3 years but is going back to work at Alliance Academy International. She will begin teaching 6th grade on Thursday and is expecting about 21 students. The school is growing again after losing 1/3 of their students during the pandemic. Lower elementary is back to having two classes for each grade as it used to be but upper elementary still just has one class in each grade level. That means that Kristi will be teaching everything for 6th grade. Please pray for her as she teaches some new subjects this year. A few weeks ago we were concerned about the arthritis in her knee. Thankfully, she has seen a lot of improvement with that. Although it is going to be a continuing issue, she feels mobile enough to at least fulfill her teaching responsibilities for now.

Of course, this also means that after having children at home for 31 years, we are empty nesters. It is rather difficult to leave behind all of our children and return to Ecuador. David, Shelby, Evelyn and Elisabeth continue living in San Luis Obispo, California. We loved spending a week with them in California this summer and getting to love on our grandaughters!

We are also excited to announce that Luke is engaged to Chase Trautwein, a missionary kid from the Dominican Republic. A good friend of Luke from his high school days in Quito ended up being room mates and best friends with Chase. She introduced them. They have both been working at the same camp for foster kids in Missouri. Pray for them as they prepare for marriage.
Tomorrow is election day in Ecuador. A new president will be chosen, as well as an entirely new group of legislators. There are other issues on the ballot as well. This election is extremely important and tensions are very high. In fact three weeks ago, one of the presidential candidates was assassinated. Fernando Villavicencio was especially outspoken against corruption, organized crime and the growing problem with drug cartels. Unfortunately he paid a price for that with his life. Here is an excellent article from the BBC that summarizes the current situation and how it feels for those who are living it. Please pray that God would have his hand in the choices made tomorrow so that Ecuador can battle its recently growing problem of crime. Pray also that the church will thrive in this country no matter what the outcomes of the election are.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Graduation and health issues


We’re celebrating! Lindsey has now graduated from high school! We’re proud of her academic and athletic accomplishments, but most of all we are thrilled to see the godly and caring young woman she is becoming. It was extra special to be able to celebrate this milestone together with family and friends who helped make the weekend memorable.

Lindsey is gearing up to work a couple of jobs this summer in preparation for heading to college. She will attend John Brown University and begin a major in Kinesiology. Please pray for her transition as she prepares to leave home at the same time that we prepare to return to Ecuador.

In June the three of us will take a trip back to Ecuador. Lindsey will join her classmates at Alliance Academy as an honorary graduate in their ceremony. She is looking forward to celebrating with her friends in the southern hemisphere as well. Scott and Kristi will both have opportunities to connect with their online students during our time there too. Please pray for efficient travel and a productive time in Ecuador.

For July we will be back in the US taking advantage of a summer schedule. We’ll be visiting some of our supporters, taking a family vacation and working to transition back to Ecuador.

August means taking Lindsey to JBU and then traveling from there back to Quito. July and August are going to be busy and stressful in many ways. We need your prayers to support us in the next few weeks.

Jaden (Joel’s wife) has developed Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. The pressure in her skull is too high and it is giving her severe, debilitating headaches as well as blurred vision. Doctors have also expressed concern about the potential of blindness due to injury to the optic nerves. They have drained fluid and are giving medication to try to control the pressure. She is finding a little relief, but the side effects of the medication are also undesirable. Joel and Jaden are investigating options for the best care for her. They are also concerned about paying medical costs that won’t be fully covered by insurance. If you’re interested you can follow this link to learn more and consider whether you would like to help financially.

Kristi is also facing health challenges with her arthritis. She already has 4 joint replacements and recently her knee is showing signs of eventually needing the same thing. She has a torn meniscus as well as a joint worn by arthritis. Some days are better than others; she always limps, and sometimes she feels like getting from one end of the house to another is about all she can do. Pray for relief from pain to be able to carry out our plans for the coming weeks. Pray as well regarding the timing of a potential knee replacement.

How would you feel if our president suddenly dissolved Congress and began a 6-month period of rule by decree? Although that’s not going to happen in the United States, apparently that is a constitutional move in Ecuador. It happened last week. Ecuador is facing increasingly serious social and political tension. Please pray for Ecuador and its people. You can read more here:

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Why teach Hebrew?

Scott continues to teach Hebrew online to several students in Ecuador. You might ask whether it’s worth the investment. Not every Christian needs to know the biblical languages, right? Yes, that’s true both in our own culture as well as in Ecuador. Nevertheless, we think there are some good reasons to teach Hebrew in Ecuador right now.

  • Thankfully we have the scriptures in both English and Spanish, and we can study it well in these languages. However, there should be some people who can study it to a deeper level. Not everyone should be an expert, but some should be.
  • Ecuador needs its own theologians. Imagine if the only experts on the Bible were people outside of our culture. Imagine if there were almost no theologians in the United States, or if the only really trustworthy Christian academics were German speakers. Would you have confidence that we had a good handle on the truth? Might you want a greater voice for biblical interpretation from those who spoke your language and understand your situation?
  • There are several Spanish versions of the Bible. Spanish speakers sometimes have the same question that you and I have: How do I know which one is right? Why can we sometimes say that two different expressions are both good translations of the same original text. Even if we can’t read the original, we have greater confidence if we know an expert can do a thorough job of comparing the differences. Ecuador needs to have a handful of people who can build the confidence of others, and in some cases argue for the preference of a certain frase over another in particular verses.
  • Sometimes commentaries “prove” their interpretations based on the original language, and yet one commentary still arrives at a different conclusion than another. Someone needs to be available who can help churches evaluate the relative strength of opposing arguments.
  • Currently there are false teachers in Ecuador who are spreading their doctrine with support from fallacious arguments from Hebrew. If nobody knows Hebrew, it’s hard to prove that these supposed experts are wrong. Ecuador needs mature followers of Christ who can defend true doctrine with the legitimate use of the biblical languages.
  • Ecuador is beginning to send missionaries to other parts of the world. There are still many languages that do not have their own translation of the Scriptures. Some Ecuadorian missionaries can become Bible translators if they learn Greek and Hebrew. Two of Scott’s students have aspirations along this line.

These are a few of the reasons Scott is heavily investing his time in the teaching of Hebrew. We believe Ecuador has a need, and God has equipped Scott to help for such a time as this.

Recently, two of Scott’s students sent him an encouraging audio message. You can enjoy this one-minute video with subtitles in English to see how excited they are:

One of Scott’s newest students is a Venezuelan pastor who connects to his class online along with another man in his church. Sometimes technology is effective at breaking down barriers in interesting ways. At this point we aren’t necessarily targeting people in other Latin American countries, but we are open to allowing God to use this ministry in any way he sees fit. Pray that Scott’s Hebrew classes will be an effective tool to strengthen churches in Ecuador and beyond.