Saturday, December 1

Fall Festival

Fall has arrived and with it so have come several important events for our family and for our ministry in Ecuador. One of such events was the Fall Festival at the Alliance Academy International.

High school students, besides the normal classes, can choose some of the classes they take. This year, Nicole chose to be a part of the AAI Choir. After auditioning, she was selected and soon practice started which resulted in the beautiful Fall Festival presentation.

Concert Band
The Festival lasted about a hour, and besides the choir, the concert band, jazz band and Ensemble (a select group of voices) also participated.

Jazz Band
The choir performances don't end here, though. In a few weeks we will have the Christmas Concert and besides the high school choir, it will also feature the participation of elementary classes. Later in the year we will also have the Spring Concert.

This made us go back in time a few years, when in the beginnings of our ministry Fernando was in the charge of conducting the church choir, and Liliana was part of the choir, and this was one of the first ministries that we developed.

Here's a short excerpt of the performance (if you can't see the video, please click here):

Tuesday, October 30

Celebrating 5 years of ministry in diversity

Two weeks ago we had the great joy of participating in the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the church that we chose to be a part of here in Ecuador. - The Comunidad Cristiana Nazarena Restauración (CCNR).

It was a full week of celebrations with activities for the youth, teens, men, ladies and children. Each group represented at the church had its special time to express its celebration for the 5 years of this church's ministry.

Children's Celebration Program
In the context of the celebrations there was a time for a short choreography presentation by a few little ones whom Nicole our daughter coached. This has always been a ministry that has been very dear to her heart and God used her to bless these little ones and also the congregation.

Pastor Jean-David
The church's pastor, Rev. Jean-David Larochelle, made of this time a very special time for the people who are members of this community. In the services on both Sundays we saw a congregation of over 200 people coming for the celebration.

One of the highlights of the celebration was the service when all the nations represented in the congregation presently were recognized. The diversity of nations has certainly been one of the sustained values of this church. We, thus, had nations represented from Europe, Caribbean  North America, Africa, and other Countries of South America.

Nations Represented at  CCNR

Liliana carrying the flag of Cape Verde
Fernando carrying the flag of Portugal
This celebration was a time to challenge the church to re-affirm its identity and to express it in the context of the community itself, but also in the context in which each member is immersed. In the opening service of the celebration, the church's pastors and some invited preachers preached about the Biblical images of the church. On the second Sunday service, pastor Jean-David focused his challenge in the text from Isaiah 6 and challenged the church to live holiness in a missional way.

Leadership Team of CCNR

These 5 years were also a celebration of God's faithfulness who, throughout the challenges lived individually and collectively by the community has always been the "ever-present help, in trouble." (Psa. 46:1)

We praise God for this Nazarene community and for its ministry and local mission of a global reach.

Wednesday, October 17

Ministering in the Costa Norte District

It has been almost two months since we got back from our home assignment in Cape Verde and Portugal. This was a wonderful time to visit the churches, share about our ministry and challenge each local church to continue to faithfully contribute for missions.
Our first visit, after arriving back in Ecuador, was to the Costa Norte District of Ecuador. It's a small district, still in the earlier stages of its development. This trip took us to the cities of Santo Domingo and Quinindé.
Rev. Jefferson Estevez and Family
We had marked on our calendar, before our departure on home assignment, a meeting with the National Coordinator for Missionary Mobilization, Rev. Jefferson Estevez, so that together we could think on strategies to develop this ministry nationwide in Ecuador. It was a wonderful time of sharing and to getting in touch with the needs of this national coordinator to move forward with this ministry.
Besides this meeting, we had the privilege of preaching at a NYI event that took place in the beautiful city of Quinindé. We had already heard of this local church of the Nazarene through the contact we have had with young members of this church who are students at the Seminário Teológico Nazareno. Young people arrived in buses from different cities. This was a special time to receive from the Lord and to consecrate to Him our lives for the ministry that He has prepared for His children.
NYI Group in the meeting

Worship Team Leading the Youth

Preaching Time

Response to the Challenge

After this energetic youth time, we were able to have some brief moments of fellowship with the local pastoral family. We received an open invitation to visit this church at another opportunity.
We spent the night in Santo Domingo and had service the next day at pastor's Jefferson church. The church is going through a remodeling process as they are building a second floor because they were running out of space for Sunday School. The church was committed in investing its resources and labor in the improvement of its space. It was great to see the commitment from the youngest to the oldest in this effort of better accommodating the spaces for continuous growth.
After a challenge from God's Word, once again the people came to Him in prayer and searching for His presence in their lives.

We hold this District and these two churches very dear to our hearts and hope we can be a blessing to them again some time in the future.

Sunday, August 19

Promoting and Doing Missions in Cape Verde

In our last post we shared about our experience in promoting missions in Portugal, as part of our home assignment in our Home Country.

But we couldn't leave untold the story of our amazing experience in Cape Verde. As you may know, Liliana is originally from Cape Verde, thus this time it was in our hearts the desire to share about our missionary ministry with the district that saw her grow up.
Missionary Services in Mindelo
We had a wonderful time in the Cape Verde islands, where we could share about our ministry in the following churches: Mindelo (3 days), Palamarejo (1 week), Monte Sossego (1 Sunday), Ribeira Bote (1 Sunday). We felt very welcomed and were blessed by the pastors and members of these churches. We had great opportunities to share about the ministry we are developing as missionaries in Ecuador. We were so sorry that we could not stay, due to other agenda commitments, for the big celebration of the District Assembly which started just one day before our departure to return to Ecuador.
Besides these missionary services at these churches, we would also highlight the wonderful time we had in Santiago Island at the Palmarejo Church. We had a mix of services: Holiness, Youth, and Evangelism. We had the opportunity to preach evangelistically at 3 preaching points that are being opened by this church, in open-air services, in which we saw God's moving through the many decisions made for Christ in these evenings.
Evangelistic Team: Porto Mosquito

Decisions in Salineiro
It was also contagious the enthusiasm we saw in the leaders and youth that accompanied us for these three evangelistic services, as well as at services we held at the mother church.
Opening Service: District Assembly
We are thankful to the district and to the pastores and missions leaders of these church who received us with great love for this home assignment. We felt very blessed with your support to our ministry and your love and care demonstrated towards us, and we hope we were also able to be of blessing to you.

See more pictures of our home assignment in Portugal and Cape Verde here.

Wednesday, June 27

Promoting our Missionary Work

Last June 15 we arrived in Portugal for our Home Assignment time. This is a time when we are informing the local churches of our district about the ministries that we are developing in South America - our current field of missionary service.

Costa do Sol Church

This time we will take 3 out of the 6 weeks to visit the churches in our sending District, and the other 3 weeks we will visit the churches in the District of Cape Verde, the District of origen of Liliana.

On our first Sunday in Portugal we visited our local church - Costa do Sol. This is the church that sent us to the Mission field 8 years ago. It was great to greet the people there and share a time of fellowship with the youth group after the service.

On our second Sunday we visited the Central Church in Lisboa. We were able to visit with old friends and also saw many new faces in this church which in a very practical and close way supported us as we started in our ministry career, and is still partnering with our missionary service in Ecuador and South America. Sunday afternoon, we visited the church in Alcoitão. A church with which we got involved in supplying its pulpit during a time of pastoral transition while we were the pastors of the Mercês church. We have these brothers in our hearts and continue to pray in a very special way for our colleague Quim Lima and family who is going through a very difficult time with his health.

We still have services in three more churches. Next Sunday we will be at the church that literally saw Fernando growing up, then we will be at its daughter-church, and lastly we will return to the Lisbon Metropolitan Area for our last service.

Besides speaking at these services we will also be ministering two training workshops for NMI ministry and in this way also give our share part of support to the development of the ministry of the church of the Nazarene in Portugal.

During this period of intense travel and ministry we would appreciate your prayers for the whole family.

Sunday, May 27

Honoring our Host Country

This weekend we had an extended weekend due to the national holiday of the Pichincha Battle, which was decisive for the formation and establishment of Ecuador as a sovereign Nation.

As part of the official celebrations, the President of the Republic decreed that on this date, schools would hold the public acts of pledge of allegiance to the flag of Ecuador for the students in their last year of high school.

The ceremony at the Alliance Academy International, the school that André and Nicole attend to, was made with great solemnity. Besides the presence of the school's authorities, we also had the official representation of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces, through the branches of the Air Force and National Police.

The ceremony started with the entrance of all the flags representing all the Nations that are represented in the school's community. Nicole proudly took the flag of Portugal. We became aware that there 34 Nations represented at the school.

The ceremony continued with the students in their last year of high school pledging allegiance to the flag of Ecuador. They first did this collectively and than individually. For those students with a different nationality, they would simply bow before the flag in respect for the Nation of Ecuador instead of pledging their allegiance.

It was a beautiful ceremony in which, once again, we felt a high sense of patriotism in the South American nations. This same feeling we felt also previously in Argentina in the public acts celebrated in the schools.

Wednesday, April 18

Celebrating the 40th Church Anniversary in Ecuador

In March we celebrated the entrance of the Church of the Nazarene to minister in Ecuador, with all of the Ecuadorian Church. Representatives from all six districts got together in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador for this great celebration.

We were honored with the presence of the international leaders of the denomination and with the presence of the pioneer missionary couple of the Nazarene work in Ecuador - the Swain family.

It was a memorable and emotional time. We heard a little of the history of the moments of the opening of the work in Ecuador when the Swain family would go out to the streets with the accordion and would start playing and soon they would have children around them, soon after they would start a Bible study with their parents, and later on an organized church was born. This made me go back to my childhood and teenage years when we would do evangelistic gatherings in the city park and my pastor would also start playing the accordion and we would end up with a wonderful open-air service.

This was also a time to recognize the work of the Bustle family leading the development of Global Mission for the past years. We also had a special moment of seeing the first generation of pastors and church planters in Ecuador to pass on the baton to the new generations so that they continue the work of expanding the ministry of the church in this Country.

What a greater way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the church, than with an ordination service with the presence of Dr. David Graves our Jurisdictional General Superintendent.

On sunday, several of the church of the Costa District joined the celebration at a gymnasium to celebrate a great closing service of all the celebrations. It was a time to celebrate, challenges, and fellowship at the Lord's Table.

We left the event blessed and challenged to keep on moving forward with the conviction that much more and greater years are ahead of God's Church in Ecuador.

Tuesday, April 17

Ministering in our Ecuadorian local church

After visiting several churches in the city, we have almost for sure defined that we will be congregating at the Comunidad Cristiana Nazarena Restauración. This is a church very close to the center of the city, and that its membership is composed of people from different nationalities and the pastor Jean David Larochelle is a very good personal friend and an outstanding preacher.

In the beginning of March we had the privilege of opening a new series of sermons about the 7 churches of Asia Minor in the book of Revelation, in this service Nicole had the opportunity to participate with a special music along with our "adopted son" from Argentina, Samuel, who for about a month was visiting us in Ecuador. Here's a short video of this special participation in the service.

Monday, April 16

Celebrating in Otavalo

Two months have gone by since our last post. It's time to bring you up to date.. In February we decided to take advantage of the Carnaval Holiday (not to enjoy Carnaval, as you might have thought :-) ), but to have a couple of wonderful days of celebration of some important events for the family in the city of Otavalo.
We took advantage and with one stroke we celebrated Liliana's and Fernando's birthdays, and our wedding anniversary (this year we reached 20 years of marriage, in five years more we will celebrate our silver wedding anniversary).
This was a time to enjoy as family in this beautiful city, very rural and well-known for its crafts and indigenous culture.
We were able to walk through the city center and its famous flea-market (it kind of made me remember of the flea-market in Praça de Espanha in Lisbon, Portugal in the 80s and 90s) and we also enjoyed the time by the lake San Pablo which is very close to the city.
Here I leave you with some pictures of the place.

Volcano Cotacaxi

Lake San Pablo (Volcano Ibambura)

Tuesday, February 14

Disciples in Ministry arrives in East Ecuador

About a month ago we had the opportunity to travel to the East of Ecuador, to the city of Macas, to present the regional vision for an integrated discipleship system (link to page in Spanish).
It was an amazingly beautiful trip winding down the road through the mountains until we reached the Ecuadorian region of the Amazon.
The purpose of the trip was to share with the leaders and the lay people of the Austro district the vision of every church member becoming a minister (servant) in the ministry that God has conferred upon him/her to serve the body of Christ. More than 50 people came for the event, we shared with them God's desire for every active member of the body of Christ, and gave them the opportunity to offer themselves to God for the ministry He has given them.
Following a general presentation of the various ministry for which discipleship and equipping materials were developed, we had a presentation of 6 introductory workshops in the following ministries: NYI, NMI, SDMI, Compassion, Communications, Ladies.
Our brothers and sisters were very encouraged with the possibilities of involving themselves in a ministry according to the gifts received from God, and were already willing to schedule a second training event which would be more focused in the ministry they were willing to commit to.
The previous day, despite the long 8 hour journey, we arrived for a special meeting with the pastors to get to know them and challenge them to capture this vision of involving every member in their local church in active ministry. It was a blessed time to share about the ministries and challenges of this particular region of Ecuador.
This was another initiative to challenge all of the South American Nazarene constituency to "Live out the Great Commission"

Friday, February 3

A challenge for Missions

Last December we travelled to Guayaquil in response to an invitation from the Ecuadorian National NMI Coordinator to visit her church and a church-type mission in another town.

This sister invited us to take a Missions' challenge, and what a blessing it was to arrive at a church with very limited financial resources, that is just starting its services to the local community, but that from the very beginning is concerned in teaching and challenging its members to think beyond the local needs.

The trip was longer than expected thus we did not arrive in time for the worship. But the brothers of the church had a presentation about the topic of compassion, taken from the life of Jesus. We were blessed by remembering that our Lord had as part of His mission on earth to respond to the spiritual, social and physician needs of human beings.

At the end we gave them a challenge based in Acts 1:8 having them remember that our mission is not limited to our Jerusalem, but that God has sent us to the whole world. During the sermon Liliana shared the story of her church and how it is living the great commission with a global vision and a local action.

We ended our visit with a time for social sharing with the brothers and sisters of the church and we were able to tell them of some of our experiences. When we returned to Guayaquil it was really late, but we felt that it was well worth it our time investment and presence with these brothers and sisters in the church.

Friday, January 27

Starting up a New Year

It has been a while that we have not updated our news, but I think it's still in good order to wish everyone of our followers a much blessed year of 2012.

January started full steam ahead, full of activities. Since the 16th our clases started at the Seminário Teológico Nazareno Sudamericano (STNS). God has blessed us in an incredible way by sending us a group of 26 students in residence, and the great majority of these are starting their first year of studies. We have students from Ecuador and Colombia. Unfortunately we have no one from Venezuela in residence this time.

The range of services of STNS is not limited to residential students though. The majority of our students are spread out through the 17 district decentralized education centers, and we also have students participating in virtual education classes through the internet.

The start up of this new year brought some news to everyone:
  • Greater intentionality in character formation. Character development is one of the fundamental points of the educational philosophy of the Church of the Nazarene for its ministers. We are implementing some new systems that will allow us to be more intentional in this area. Some of these include: Mentoring groups, times for the development of spiritual formation habits (namely we designated a date for an institutional time of prayer and fasting, we are closely following up on the development of personal devotional habits of each student, etc.).
  • Improvements in the services offered to the students. We have as a goal for this year to complete the replacement of floors in the dorm rooms. We also received some help for a project to replace some of the kitchen elements that have already completed their due time of service.
  • Two new teachers teaching. Both Liliana and I are teaching our first courses at STNS. Liliana is teaching "Introduction to Sociology" and I teaching "Church Leadership and Administration", both these courses are being taught in this first teaching block.
  • Greater intentionality and focus in equipping students for church planting. All of our students need to be involved in new church planting projects under the direction and pedagogical supervision of STNS. This will help them to develop practical skills not only to pastor an existing church on the district they are from, but also to have a vision to plant new churches.

We ask for your prayers for this new group of students that has arrived to STNS. That God may use well this time to work in their individual lives, and that He may use every member of the faculty of the institution as a tool to develop the leaders that He needs for His Church.

Please see more pictures here.