by Ralph Kurtenbach and Harold Goerzen

A crisis is to some people a stumbling block; to others it’s a building block. Stan Houghton showed himself to be of the latter group, becoming better through testing and trial. His 91 years in three different countries are highlighted by a 40-year career in evangelical missions.

He was born to a U.S. Navy sailor and a professional pianist on Aug. 7, 1926, near a shipyard in Bremerton, Wash. His happy childhood of baseball pitching, piano practice and chemistry projects took a turn for the worse when Stan’s parents said they would divorce. Upset and disheartened, Houghton took to knitting to calm himself. Soon he had made himself a sweater.

Bolstered by prayers for his adjustment, 15-year-old Stan soon forged a friendship that changed the course of his life. Hearing from a new friend about Prairie High School (now called Prairie Christian Academy), an outreach of Prairie Bible Institute (PBI) in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada, and gaining parental approval to go, Stan was soon attending classes at the school. He was studious and enterprising in the dormitory, graduating from both the three-year high school and four-year Bible school.

Stan Houghton 1926-2017

“He bought a metal washtub so he could have hot baths in the winter,” his daughters, Lois and Becky, later wrote of him. “His boarding school friends wanted hot baths too, so he let them take turns renting his wash tub.”

It was also during those years at Prairie that Houghton felt called of God to do mission work—the “need of those who have never heard of Jesus Christ” pressed upon his heart. “At a missionary conference in 1941,” Houghton recalled, “I knew I was to be a missionary.”

He also told of tight finances. Short of money for a Wycliffe Bible Translators-sponsored linguistics summer course, Stan watched a 1933 Dodge come into his hands, and he credits God’s provision of the broken-down vehicle. “With $5 in parts,” Houghton related. “I fixed the car and sold it for enough money to go. I was always good with my hands.”

Arriving in Ecuador as a single missionary in 1949, he learned Spanish, the first of two languages needed for the work. Then he learned Quichua from Julia Woodward, a missionary pioneer with Avant (formerly Gospel Missionary Union) who served in Ecuador for more than 50 years. Read More…


Carlos Scott demonstrates a Trinitarian dance with (left to right,) Carlos Sarango, Andres Staubli and Cecibell Suarez, at a missions conference in Ecuador

You might expect Carlos Scott to break a couple of rules. He did after all, have people dancing at a missions conference in Ecuador recently. “First we step to the right; then we step to the left,” he coached after gentle cajoling three conferees into joining him on the platform.

The Argentinian preacher’s illustration might have seemed edgy in evangelical circles. During the last half century, evangelicalism in Latin America has grown up with considerable influence from North American missionaries, schooled to deem dancing a distraction at best and at worst, sinful.

However, Scott—with his arms around the shoulders of Andres Stäubli, Cecibell Suarez and Carlos Sarango—pressed on and made his point: The task of world evangelism will require of Christian collaboration across denominational boundaries. Christians need to live in community, as do God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. “How interesting that the Cappadocian Fathers, to describe the Trinity, used the term perichoresis,” Scott related. “And the term describes a trinitarian dance.”

Scott fit his message—including its  concept of the Trinity considered by some as controversial—into the Unidos en la Misión (United in Mission) conference where it seemed to communicate well. The Quito event was organized this fall by HCJB Ecuador together with a dozen other mission entities.

The event’s 300 attendees came primarily from Ecuador; others came from different countries across Latin America. A parade of participants carrying in multicolored flags launched the conference.

Using biblical texts from the books of Genesis and Acts, Scott drew word pictures of two opposing spirits at work within the contemporary church. He referred to these as a self-laudatory spirit of Babel (in Genesis) that rejects those who differ, and a God-honoring spirit of Pentecost—“a celebration of diversity.”

Churches that lean toward a Babel concept would seek to grow in numbers at all cost, for example, even if such growth forced a compromise of its gospel message.

“What interests those of Babel [spirit] is the growth of their church—nothing but the growth of their church,” said Scott. “What interests us in the spirit of Pentecost is the extension of the kingdom of God to include every tongue, every people worshiping the Lamb [Jesus].” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | November 16, 2017

Ecuadorian Agronomist Sees in Seeds the Hope of a Better Life

Ovidio Gomez

Ovidio Gomez came up the hard way in Ecuador, and he readily admits it. In spite of a tough start, however, he is now an accomplished agronomist.

“At the age of 14 it occurred to me that my daddy was living on the land, and yet here we were poor and hungry,” he says. “Meanwhile, those who knew something of agronomy were eating better. So I ran away from home. I left and started studying agronomy at a high school in [nearby] Patate, working every afternoon and going to school in the morning.”

With college out of reach, Gomez began working as an agricultural technician. It was during those early years that he also married Fanny Sanchez who had studied agronomy with him. They now have three children living at home who are learning the profession as well. “I have spent 25 years getting my ‘degree,’” he relates. “I’ve asked that life itself grant my title in this field.”

Fanny Sanchez

Speaking in Shell, Ecuador at the September inauguration of Reach Beyond’s first greenhouse, Gomez told of facing challenges as an agronomist. He recounted how a person had once told him he was “preparing garbage that wasn’t going to produce … but that’s OK because sometimes people’s ignorance offers guidelines with which we [agronomy] technicians can move forward.” Then explaining the soil of the nearby rainforest, he said it is commonly excessive in moisture and high in alkaline (they dried it for use in the greenhouse).

Passionate about plants, he eschews public speaking and found himself in need of a whiteboard to better express himself in front of 180 people gathered for the Shell event. Rising to the occasion, nonetheless, he boldly proclaimed what must happen for jungle dwellers to have more varied gardens and a cash crop. Gomez, since moving to Pastaza [province], has realized that people from remote areas—even the poorest—possess land, but its ideal use is often neglected.

“People’s greatest poverty is ignorance,” he said. “We want to enter in with opportunity for creating wealth by living with them, sharing day by day and doing the work because significant results only come about by getting plants in the ground early and working throughout the day.”

Heaped up rainforest soil. It must be dried and PH-balanced for use in growing the plants used in the greenhouse.

Read More…

Jacobo Muñoz (played by Marco de la Torre) has a lot of thinking to do after leaving prison. The movie, Tal Vez Mañana, reveals how his faith is tested in new ways as he reintegrates into society.

The point at which numerous Christian movies conclude—a scene in which the main character who reaches the end of himself, surrenders to God and prays for forgiveness—is where a new Spanish-language Christian movie takes up the story. Walking to the altar is one thing; walking in faith day by day is another.

Shot entirely in Ecuador, “Tal Vez Mañana” (Maybe Tomorrow) begins with a church service ending and the character, Jade Muñoz, leaving alone. In a nearby street she encounters her husband who has been away for some time. With the release of Jacobo “Jac” Muñoz from prison, he re-enters society as a different man. During his lock-up for car theft, he has experienced a jailhouse conversion.

Jacobo attempts to walk a narrow path. He exercises a newfound faith in God but still keeps occasional company with a former crime buddy. The plot turns on a key question of whether or not his decision for Christ will stick. The theme is pressed relentlessly by Director Dwight Gregorich, who with his wife and co-producer, Tamara Torres, operates Tamto Producciones.

“I loved it,” a woman said after viewing the movie. She called it “moving—a movie you can bring your family to, and with a message that God does not abandon us.” Interviewed at a Quito theater, a man commented favorably on interspersed scenes showing fast-paced drama and shots showing earnest prayer for Jacobo. Another woman appreciated a scene in which the Muñozes’ young son, Felipe, assures his father that “you’re a good person.”

Marco de la Torre and Jashua Fiallos play father and son in the Spanish-language movie, Tal Vez Mañana.

The viewer follows Jacobo Muñoz’s disheartening search for work as he reintegrates into society. Support from Jade is steady, even amid her own anxieties over the couple’s tight finances. Other scenes have young Felipe responding to schoolyard taunts from classmates who know of his father’s past.

“It should be noted that we made every effort to ensure that the film has the highest quality standards,” said Gregorich, who wrote the screenplay and plays a supporting character. “It is high definition digital cinema with surround sound. This will allow the public to enjoy a project with a great message, a clear image and an impeccable sound.”

He also pointed out that the movie’s musical score originated in Ecuador, including “Un Segundo Sin Ti” (One Second Without You) by Vaes, an Ambato musical group whose acronym announces three messages: vida, amor and esperanza (life, love and hope).

When Radio HCJB contacted Gregorich in late 2016, he put together in a matter of weeks an acceptable script for the 92-minute movie. “Dwight writes movies all the time,” observed Paul Childs, the movie’s photography director and a collaborator on other projects—primarily public relations work—with Gregorich and Torres. “It’s really quite incredible how quickly he can put them out.”

Janine Childs

Childs’ sister, Janine, said the movie is “about waiting for God’s timing [and] not taking things into your own hands.” Patience is required in life and “it has a social message as well about how we treat people who come out of prison, and not judging them.”

Reimprisonment (called recidivism) rates in Latin America vary widely, ranging from about 60 percent in Brazil to as low as 2.6 percent in the Dominican Republic where prisoners are taught to read and write if they are illiterate, according to The Economist magazine. (The recidivism rate in parts of the U.S. is reported to be 70 percent.) Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | October 11, 2017

Greenhouse in Ecuador Growing Plants for Use in Jungle Gardens

Townsfolk and dignitaries gathered recently on a one-time rocky patch of weeds for an event to mark a mission agency’s newest endeavor—a greenhouse.

The ceremony in Shell, Ecuador, marked for Reach Beyond which began in the country nearly 86 years ago, its first greenhouse. Agriculture has not been a major thrust for the agency that has focused on such things as radio and television broadcasting and operating two hospitals, medical clinics and accredited schools in nursing and communications (some of these outreaches have since closed).

However, 180 people came to the celebration on Friday, Sept. 8, listening to speeches, sampling roasted cacao (cocoa) beans and touring rows of small trees. Later they all enjoyed a noon meal together in the shade.

Addressing the crowd, Reach Beyond Community Development Director Wim de Groen did the unthinkable, holding up a potted cacao plant and then taking a scissors and cutting its stem. To set the scene for this shock, he had described how the harvest from certain plants would be predictable—avocados from an avocado tree and not from strawberry plants, for example. Then with a snip of the scissors as people laughed nervously, de Groen explained the science and beauty of grafting. This illustration led smoothly to a spiritual parallel.

Wim de Groen

“I have to cut that and put a new plant onto it so that it can produce a different product,” de Groen explained. “So too it is with our lives. By the fall in Adam we are born in sin, and our fruits are never perfect. Even though we try to produce good fruits, we have that evil inside of us. But we have hope because Christ died on the cross for our sins.”

De Groen and Reach Beyond Director of Water Projects Eric Fogg view the greenhouse as a means of reaching people with the gospel. In the Amazon rain forest east of Shell, Reach Beyond has helped with various clean water projects while opening evangelism opportunities.

The two men hope to see the mission’s conversation with these communities extended by introducing the greenhouse ministry. Fogg said that “plants offer an amazing opportunity to link spiritual principles—of adoption [for example] with grafting.” Another example is the need for water and the grower’s dependence upon God for water.

Eric Fogg (on ladder) and co-worker put up a sign inaugurating a ministry greenhouse.

“The lessons in the Bible are very, very numerous,” Fogg said. Additionally, it is hoped that current garden practices (slash-and-burn methods with little variance of crops) will be improved with better systems.

“Our desire is that we can see changes in people’s hearts—changes on the inside,” added de Groen. “Although we hope we help a number of communities with planting projects, we want to see the fruits of a change from within.”

Even with spiritual instruction leading the project’s stated goals, other benefits are anticipated, according to Fogg. “It’s going to take about two years for the long-term plants [cacao and orange plants] to produce fruit, but the short-term plants [potatoes and yucca] cycle every three or four months.” He foresees that jungle residents will enjoy a broader diet of foods, and in the long term participating communities will profit from more cash crops such as oranges and cacao.

The new greenhouse outreach came in response to a failed Ecuadorian agricultural program, which flew in thousands of cacao trees to remote jungle villages in the hopes of helping residents boost their income. Although well-intentioned, the effort was not accompanied by the training  on keeping the young plants alive amid the region’s drenching rains, according to Fogg. Read More…

by Ralph Kurtenbach*

God Knows What I’m Doing Here by Sheila Leech carries in its title just the right words to attract readers interested in spirituality. But the author’s lively autobiography is also piquing the interest of others.

A one-time rebellious British teenager who surrendered her life to Jesus Christ, Leech has discovered in the last few decades that obedience to God can put one on a path to many adventures. A life of service through missionary work is not only worthwhile; it can also be exhilarating, according to the first-time author.

Sheila Leech

With each chapter, the “Here” mentioned in her title changes—from her parents’ place outside Solihull near Birmingham in the 1970s to several years later, living in a rustic dwelling with split bamboo walls in Ecuador.

Introducing her readers to the traveling Bedouin people of Lebanon, Leech tells of ministry work in a warzone. She also turns her pen to firsthand descriptions of chaotic circumstances or harrowing dangers following natural disasters in places such as Indonesia and Pakistan.

She offers a detailed account of embracing Christianity after life wasn’t working out well in a rough crowd of down-and-outers who gathered in the pubs of her hometown when they weren’t out riding their motorcycles. The chapter of finding forgiveness and love in Christ when feeling unworthy undergirds the story, explaining subsequent decisions on leaving the comforts around her to share with others the message of Christ and His love.

A missionary nurse, Leech has grown accustomed to—or at least being functional and effective in—areas devastated by natural disasters. Compelling accounts capture the shock and grief of victims even as she probes inside and recalls how she took in the jarring stimuli around her. A reader may begin to grasp what goes into debriefing and then appropriating enough grace to face forward, stepping into future humanitarian crises.

An early chapter has Leech driving a pickup truck in the several-hour drive from northwestern Ecuador to the capital, Quito. When a man standing on the highway beckons to her, she is lost in thought and nonchalantly downshifts to roll to a stop. Read More…

Interviewed by Reach Beyond in San Lorenzo, Ecuador, Pastor Germán Campos spoke of his ministry that began 16 years ago, when he met with missionary engineer César Cortez, visiting Esmeraldas province to train church leaders and build water projects. This interview followed a talk by Campos who arrived for a weekly gathering of a network of churches, Comunidad Cristiana Roca de Eternidad (Eternal Rock Christian Community). After the meeting, the pastors traveled by boat to their remote villages on the Verde, Borbón and Onzole rivers and other communities in the province of Esmeraldas.

Your church is really a group of churches—a family of churches—is that right, pastor?

Yes. Today there are 14 churches from the different communities where God has allowed us as Comunidad Cristiana Roca de Eternidad to serve Him. We meet once a week to fellowship together, but also to share with each other the concerns we have. The idea is to encourage them, hear of their needs and see how we can help them. It all began as one small church of eight people. But God helped—and continues helping us—so we’re thankful to the Lord for the life of brother César Cortez who helped us with the basic library and training. From that, I wanted to start planting a small church in each community. And thank God, they have grown. Now we have 14 churches with 14 pastors who have been trained, received [thelogical] libraries and attended different seminaries here in the country.

German Campos

So that is to say, you offered the pastors a workshop and invited them to it here in the city?

Of course, we did it here so that we could have more coverage. Because of the distances, we needed to, and so by having them come here to a central point, it works. So everyone came and received the training, and that was very motivating.

We also to listen to their needs. We have some capabilities to help [and] there are plenty of needs.

Why is it called a “community” of churches?

It’s called “community” for this reason: community is a union of two words. First, it refers to people who have something in common [which could be physical proximity or being from the same province or state]. But the second part [of the word community] is that these people are living together in unity.

Could you talk about the needs that you and your fellow pastors see?

In greater darkness, with denser darkness, what we have seen is that the light of Jesus Christ is blazing. San Lorenzo was formerly a city that nobody wanted to come to. For example, when we first arrived there were only eight policemen who went into hiding every evening due to the city’s proximity to Colombia where there are guerrillas and paramilitaries. The delinquency rate was tremendous. However, we have seen how, little by little, the churches have been growing. After only four [evangelical] churches in the beginning, we are already 17 churches alone here in the county seat [including Comunidad Cristiana Roca de Eternidad and others.]

Additionally, around all the cantones, there are already about 250 churches that have been established. So we’re seeing things develop in comparison with 16 years ago when the northern area [of Esmeraldas province] was abandoned and neglected. Today we see highways, bridges, hospitals—and that is no accident. It is due to light shining into darkness when the gospel reaches a community. That is because the gospel transforms the ideology, the thought and the life of the whole community. That’s what happened in the whole northern area [of Esmeraldas province].

What else would you like to add?

Just ask for more folks to help us. We want to continue preparing leaders and helping with the children here in the north [of Esmeraldas province]. The need remains large just as the Lord Jesus Christ said, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” So we are very focused on preparing workers, and that means investing in their lives. We have to move them to the cities because we do not have a seminary here. So they need to move to Esmeraldas [the city] or Quito. At times this is a big issue [helping develop people into Christian leaders] for us because the need—poverty among children—is growing every day. These days through Compassion International we have 4,700 children who are receiving help. One might say enough is being done. But realize this: thousands and thousands more are still in need. So we want to seize the opportunity before us, and we’d like people to join in, to help. We’d like for people to join us in this plan of God … because it is of God.

Reach Beyond pastor’s training takes place through the mission’s APOYO department. (Apoyo is a Spanish language word for ‘support’.) At this four-day workshop, 24 pastors and leaders representing 13 different churches learned how to better lead their congregations. Each church was given a basic library including a Bible commentary, Bible dictionary, Thompson chain reference Bible, Quichua language Bible, Billy Graham Association counseling reference guide and a book on God’s covenants. (Reach Beyond archive photo)

It’s mid-morning and missionary engineer César Cortez arrives to evaluate the progress of water system technician Edison Caiza. After months of work with the community, Caiza is now putting the final touches on a clean water system in Yalare (pronounced yah-lah-REH) in northwestern Ecuador.

Edison Caiza (left) with Cesar Cortez, at the control panel of a clean water system in Yalare, Ecuador.

Caiza tells of receiving a jolt of electrical current “that left my legs tingling afterwards” when his finger strayed a bit too close to a live wire. Cortez casually responds, “Yes, it goes all the way to the legs with 220 volts. If it’s 110, it only leaves tingling in the arms.”

Not much more is said as the two Ecuadorians settle in to working together as they have done on many such projects across Ecuador. Their relationship, enduring and long lasting, began when Caiza was a youngster.

“I remember when ‘Eddie’ was a little boy following his father,” Cortez said, recalling how in 1999 Reach Beyond helped Caiza’s mountain community with a project similar to that of Yalare in Ecuador’s coastal lowlands.

Edison’s father, Francisco Caiza, asked for and received training from former Reach Beyond engineer Bruce Rydbeck to become a water technician. Eventually these were footsteps for Edison to follow as well, learning from Cortez the hands-on work and how to direct community volunteers while installing a clean water system.

The scenario came full circle in 2013 when the Caizas embraced an opportunity to accompany Cortez to La Bruyère in northern Haiti and facilitate the work on establishing a system to distribute clean spring water to community members. The Ecuadorian father-son team of Francisco and Edison crossed geographic, language and cultural barriers to help Haitians learn about work, water and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Of the Caizas’ work in Haiti, Cortez said at the time, “I’m amazed at how Edison and Francisco pray and give testimony of God’s help to the people.” Amazed perhaps, but satisfied to see his investments of time and teaching result in physical as well as spiritual benefits. Arriving at Yalare for the water system’s inauguration, Cortez had already met with a San Lorenzo pastor, German Campos, who himself disciples and mentors other pastors. (Also see Pastor says, ‘With Greater Darkness, the Light of Jesus is Blazing’.)

Cortez and his wife, Nancy, who recently retired from Reach Beyond after 22 years of service, have helped Ecuadorian pastors learn how to better shepherd their congregations. For César an aspect of this has been continuing education short courses in Bible study methods and spiritual leadership.

Nancy teaches Christian education workshops using the active learning approach (learning by doing), and she has also been active in the Academia Cristiana del Aire (Christian Academy of the Air, formerly the Bible Institute of the Air) which couples radio programs with correspondence courses that teach the Bible.

Seeing a strong relationship between community development work (such as clean water) and Christian discipleship, the Cortezes have also helped improve water systems and hygiene for families throughout Ecuador. Read More…

The Johnsons (left to right) Erin Corniea, Peg, Zach, Judd and Whitney Dauer.

Judd Johnson reached out via Facebook in early June, seeking some help on behalf of an Ecuadorian friend struck by a vehicle. The man’s recovery time extended beyond what his finances would cover.

Helping when and where they could was how Judd and his wife, Peg, operated. Mission work was to them a core value. As Peg once wrote, “Judd and I have both been interested in missions since early in our marriage.” They served the Lord by serving others in Ecuador and then Haiti.

Just a month later on Tuesday, July 4, the Johnsons themselves needed help. Asking Facebook friends to pray, Judd wrote, “Peg was just diagnosed with a pancreatic cancer that has spread to her lymph nodes and liver. This is a very recent condition, actually confirmed later in the day that this pic[ture] of our kids and grandkids was taken.”

He added to his post one of Peg’s favorite Bible verses, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You: because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV).

“I have no words,” replied Phil Quinn. “Our whole family is praying for you and your family.” Quinn had helped Johnson and others to provide amplified sound at numerous concert venues around Ecuador.

The high-volume audio service, Altos Pasos, had been launched even as Judd was working as a construction supervisor during Reach Beyond’s 1987-1996 expansion of Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ), Project Life. Later on in Ecuador, Judd also worked independently, with construction contracts that included buildings for the U.S. embassy.

Another friend posted that praying for Peg’s restoration was right because, “Lord, Peg has vital kingdom [of God] work to do.” Many others offered an “Amen” along with confirmations that they too are praying. Later echoing Quinn’s sadness and bewilderment, English Fellowship Church pastor Len Kinzel, said, “We have no words. So many of us in Quito are sighing, aching and groaning with you and for you.”

The Johnsons spent the ensuing days in and out of local hospitals, culminating with a visit to the emergency room at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Sunday, July 16. There they learned that despite Peg’s willingness to undergo chemotherapy, she was not a candidate for such treatment. Judd deemed the following evening as “really hard.” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | June 26, 2017

School Closing Sends Students Elsewhere as Ambassadors for Christ

Near the shelves of library books at Nate Saint Memorial School (NSMS), a closing chapter was written when the school shut down this month after 51 years of educating children of missionaries.

“It’s sad to think about NSMS closing because there is so much about this school that I’ve liked, but we must look on to the future,” said Erik Umble, 13. One of 12 students at the school, he and three others prepared and gave speeches at a final awards ceremony on Tuesday, June 6.

Umble, the son of one of the teachers at the school in Shell, Ecuador, said God had placed the students there for a reason. He then admonished them, “I want to encourage all of you to trust that God is in control of your future, and He has the best plan for you.”

“The first day that I came to Nate Saint my only friend was Erik and I was so nervous—I was literally shaking,” said Joshua Fogg, 14. “When I entered the classroom, everyone was staring at me, and I had to say my name and where I was from. That was the scariest moment in my life. Now, I barge into the room laughing and having fun.”

A comfortable teacher/student ratio facilitated an innovative and creative learning environment. Erik’s father, Randy, taught at NSMS for 15 years. Skyler Williams, 12, recounted how Mr. Umble once showed up in history class as a character named Shem Peachey.

Skyler Williams

“We ate hardtack and drank coffee, and then you put on some Civil War tunes,” Williams recalled. Then addressing Umble he continued, “You started to dance around and finally got up on a chair! You didn’t see the fan [and] it almost smacked your head.”

Apparently the overhead classroom fan gained a reputation. Fogg began his talk with a few “remember whens,” asking folks if they remembered “the time on that peaceful afternoon when Ms. Kujawa was eaten by the savage fan?” Read More…

Fourth graders from Alliance Academy International visited Radio Station HCJB and learned about media messages.

by Ralph Kurtenbach*

Amid a continuous cascade of media apps, websites, video and social media in the hands of young people, has interest in radio entirely dried up? Not if a recent field trip by the fourth-graders of Alliance Academy International (AAI) to Radio HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, offers an apt measurement.

“I learned how the radio works,” wrote Isabela, who also cited “all the cool stuff you got” as having held her attention during the visit by 36 fourth-graders and several teachers.

Arriving at the station just across the street and a half block away, the youngsters were formed into tour groups with teachers as guides. Then they made their way to the different points of interest.

Afterwards, Isabela’s note to the tour guides (including this writer) had been done in colored pencils, showing a person wearing headphones at a radio console. She summarized her appreciation with “my favorite part was learning the history of HCJB.”

While it’s true that the thank-you notes fulfilled a post-trip requirement, the comments seemed authentic. They reflect a good level of student engagement on the Reach Beyond campus where the radio station operates studios, offices and a tall tower.

The tour guides strove to put their presentations at a fourth-grade level, giving short shrift to such technicalities as the electromagnetic spectrum, the speed of sound and audience research statistics. For Reach Beyond’s Tammy Kooistra, this meant that at the tall tower’s guy wire, she did not demonstrate its purpose but instead its sound production.

Each time she flicked the cable with her finger, a student—with an ear laid on the guy wire—heard what sounded like a Star Wars blaster gun. “Kapaw! Kapaw!” was how Daniel described the weird sound he heard while another student, Eliana, characterized it more as “Kwaping!”

As with Isabela, both Daniel and Eliana included in their thank-you notes hand-drawn pictures in color. Eliana showed a smiling Mrs. Kooistra demonstrating the little-known guy wire feature of the green area near the station; Daniel drew a heavy diagonal line (representing the cable) and above his name, a blaster pistol.

Kooistra also shushed each vivacious bunch of kids before ushering them into Studio 9 where the brightly lighted “On Air” light told people that the program hosts were indeed talking to the listeners.

Anabella Cabezas, who spoke about programming and marketing, is the director for HCJB Ecuador which owns and operates 89.3 FM in Quito (where the station ranks seventh among dozens of FM outlets) and its repeaters throughout Ecuador. Adapting to changing listener habits, she and her production team have added to traditional media Control Z (, an online youth-oriented website with a continuous music livestream.

The onsite learning at HCJB reinforced the students’ unit in English Language Arts, according to Kat Wing, who teaches one of the fourth-grade sections and has headed up the visit for two consecutive years.

“The students are learning about media messages including visual and auditory,” Wing said. “We thought that it would be a neat thing for the students to see the HCJB radio station that is so close to us.”

The scope of ministry was also grasped as noted in Miranda’s appreciative words: “I am so happy that we went to HCJB ‘cause I learned that you had [sic] a hospital and my favorite part was recording our voices.”

Photo showing Dr. Ev Fuller vaccinating a Shuar leader, Tsantiacu, against polio in 1961. Fourth graders’ attention was directed to the bending needle.

In Studio 10, program producer Veronica Saavedra recorded and played back the children’s voices, to the amusement of all. A student who adorned her note with two multicolored microphones wrote, “I learned the history of HCJB, and it means: ‘Heralding Christ Jesus’ Blessings.’ My favorite part was recording my voice on the microphone.”

*Ralph Kurtenbach explained to the students the integral role of HCJB in the creation of electronic media in Ecuador. In the station’s gallery of historic photos, he showed how in a pre-Photoshop photograph touch-up could “paint open” the eyes of people who blinked as the camera shutter opened. Also tying in Reach Beyond’s healthcare ministry, he pointed to a photo of a Shuar Indian chief receiving an injection from a doctor, the needle bending as it penetrates the tough old Indian chief’s skin.

Archive photo shows early staff of HCJB. (Front, left to right) Francisco Cruz, Mariana Aguilera, Nelson Chavez, Grace Larson and Clarence Jones. (Back, left to right): Adriano Jaramillo, Jose Canelos Victoriano Salvador, Stuart Clark, Raul Cedeño, Pablo Williams, Luis Fernando Ayora. Cruz was station manager and Cedeño and Ayora became HCJB voices familiar to listeners.

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 24, 2017

A Special Visit to Nate Saint Memorial School

by Gary Meier

Nate Saint Memorial School was one of the all-time favorite stops of the many (up to five a year) Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global) tours to Ecuador. We were told that the students considered a visit one of their highlights of the year.

The group usually congregated on the concrete play area to meet the principal and receive an orientation. Then each student—even the first-graders—were assigned a visitor to whom they gave a personalized tour. The school was named after missionary pilot Nate Saint who in 1956, along with four of his fellow missionaries, was martyred in the Ecuadorian jungle by a tribe then known for savagery.

Before departing their homes in Shell for the last time, the five men and their wives gathered for a time of prayer and praise. Then before walking out the door, they all sang their favorite hymn, “We Rest on Thee.”

Early learning days in Shell with Charlotte Swanson as teacher. (photo compliments of Don Davis, in front in striped shirt)

As our guides concluded their tours, everyone eventually ended up in the assembly room. There a presentation by the children sometimes consisted of a skit, a special story and of course, singing. Before the tour left, they always sang, “We Rest on Thee.” There never was a dry eye in the place as the tour members filed out to their bus.

On one tour as we stood on the concrete play area, the sun beating down on us unmercifully, everyone was drenched with sweat. The principal gave a talk on the history of the school and its education philosophy. As group members squirmed from the heat and shielded their eyes from the intense sun, she explained that one day they would erect a roof. With careful planning, it would cost about $6,000, she stated.

The group then met the students assigned as their special guides. This was followed by the program in the much-cooler meeting room. After everything had concluded, it was imperative that the group board the bus for the other scheduled tour activities. As usual, it was nearly impossible to pull the group away as they wanted to see more of the school, visit with the kids and ask the teachers more questions.

Finally they began heading to the bus. Before getting in, however, they gathered in a circle and asked me to come into the center. The appointed spokesperson handed me a wad of checks and cash. You guessed it … $6,000. God’s people had again responded to a need. The children, and all the subsequent tour groups, enjoyed the covered play area for many years.

Kathy and Gary Meier

*Gary Meier is a retired Reach Beyond missionary living in Young Harris, Ga.

Missionary Charlotte Swanson began teaching children in her home Shell, Ecuador in 1964. A school building and the name “Nate Saint Memorial School” was added later. (photo compliments of Don Davis)

With books turned in and desks cleared, nary a child would say that bittersweet describes the end of classes … except perhaps for the students of Nate Saint Memorial School (NSMS). At this small school in Shell, Ecuador, the last day of school is just that—the last day.

The school’s closing at the end of the 2016-2017 term was announced by Reach Beyond in March, pointing to declining enrollments given as a decisive factor. NSMS has educated missionary children for 51 years.

The 12 full-time pupils at the school—along with their friends who drop by for extracurricular activities—have enjoyed a pupil/teacher ratio low enough for plenty of personalized help.

Randy Umble (left) with Reach Beyond’s Gary Meier (photo compliments of Gary Meier)

“I’ve felt spoiled being a teacher at NSMS,” said Reach Beyond’s Randy Umble who has been an instructor for 15 years and whose children attend there. He has taught mostly seventh- and eighth-graders. With class sizes ranging from three to 10 students, he says, “the kids are fun, and the most difficult class management problem is students talking out of turn!” The projected enrollment for 2017-2018 would have been just three pupils, down significantly from this year. In the last few years, school attendance was in the 20s, including 29 students in 2012-2013, which was the year that Reach Beyond closed its Shell hospital after five decades of medical service.

Umble said he and his wife, Melanie, have not firmed up plans for the future, but they “are praying that God would guide us to our next place of service.”

“When you have small classes,” agreed former NSMS teacher Carolyn Wolfram, “much more time is spent on actual learning and only a very small percentage of time on ‘crowd control’ and getting in line and getting their attention.”

“When I told my kids that there won’t be school any more after the summer break, they were really sad and couldn’t believe it,” said Birgit Schmale, whose children Amelie and Ricardo are homeschooled in German and Spanish. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 22, 2017

Nate Saint Memorial School: End of an Era

A blog entry used by Reach Beyond with permission by The Voice of the Martyrs.

by *Dory P.

The end of an era comes next month.

In August 1985, I clutched my mom’s hand and squeaked my rubber flip-flopped way down the gravel path from the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) “base” to the cinder block Nate Saint Memorial School. Miss Carolyn Wolfram greeted me and the three other kindergarten students and we took our places at the red, yellow, blue and green desks.

David’s parents were with Gospel Missionary Union, running a conference center for training local church workers. Rebekah’s dad was an anesthesiologist at the HCJB mission hospital in town. And Cristina’s parents worked with the local church while her dad trained to be a pilot with my dad at MAF.

Dori P. of Voice of the Martyrs stands at the school in Shell, Ecuador that she attended as a child.

I completed all of my elementary education through the sixth grade at Nate Saint Memorial School. In my era, the school hosted around 30 kids in kindergarten through eighth grade; all of our parents were involved in various ministries and denominations and types of mission work in the tiny town of Shell, perched on the edge of Ecuador’s Amazon rain forest.

At NSMS, as we called it, classes were frequently put on hold so the school children could perform a song for visiting tour groups from the U.S. We marched in the town parades proudly carrying a banner with Nate Saint’s name on it, and when we got tired of standing in the hot sun, our teachers would exhort us to set an example for the Ecuadorian schools, because they knew we were the “evangelical” school.

Class sizes were small, and like a prairie school house, often contained multiple grades. After the teacher got the third graders working in their math workbooks, she might quietly read the English assignment to the fourth graders on the other side of the room. When there were political strikes and no one could travel around town, we had classes in homes, books spread out on dining room tables with our mothers overseeing us.

Thursday afternoons were for swimming, when the whole school would pile into the rattly GMC mission vans and head for the river. The teachers would try to make sure we didn’t drown in the fast current while I worked up the courage to finally jump off that big rock into the deep spot.

When the eighth graders needed frogs to dissect for science class, they first spent an evening out behind the school, capturing toads and dunking them in formaldehyde from the hospital. The surgeons’ wife came over on Tuesdays to have us draw still-life paintings. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 10, 2017

Turn on the Tap and . . .

by Ralph Kurtenbach, blogger

The graphic on the screen at church featured a Bible with a faucet—or tap—attached to it, spewing out dollar bills. The pastor’s message on a section from the New Testament book of Titus emphasized the need for sound biblical doctrine. Then to contrast, he showed the faucet-Bible and commented on a spurious teaching that is circulating.

That faucet stuck out at me. I had just visited Yalare, a remote community in Ecuador’s coastal province of Esmeraldas. The folk there had helped Reach Beyond’s César Cortez and Edison Caiza put the final touches on a project, followed by the big moment and inauguration of the clean water system.

What did people in Yalare want from their faucets? Clean water. That’s a lot different than praying that God would make me rich or buy me a Mercedes Benz. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 20, 2017

Orthopedic Surgeons Offer Ecuadorian Youth a Chance to Walk

Photos and story by R. Kurtenbach

Converging on Quito, Ecuador, for two weeks, orthopedic surgeons recently traveled from four countries with the aim of correcting that which is mal in their pediatric patients and making it right.

 “The work is to help children who have malalignments of their legs to function better and to help preserve their joints,” explained Dr. Tom Novacheck of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minn. “So many of these children have developmental problems—maybe neurological, maybe muscular—that affect the way their feet develop, and [their] hips and knees.” Former Reach Beyond surgeon Dr. Eckehart Wolff coordinated the Feb. 23-March 3 operations on 23 patients, ranging in age from three to 23.

Orthopedic surgeons on their feet for long hours in an operating room at Hospital Vozandes-Quito means one thing to those whose walking is impaired or impossible: feet and legs that can support and carry them.

Drs. Tom Novacheck (left) and Camilo Turriago. (Reach Beyond archive photo)

Their approach of using two surgical teams—a team working on each side of the patient—allows for simultaneous correction of mobility problems that are often a consequence of cerebral palsy (CP). The multiple operations approach is what Dr. Jim Gage has called “one of the things that differentiates our approach from conventional CP surgery.”

Gage was medical director at the hospital in St. Paul when in 1995 he met Reach Beyond’s Dr. Wally Swanson, who asked him to be a volunteer surgeon at Hospital Vozandes Shell. The program of helping Ecuadorians to walk began with one child. Gage was asked, “Can this boy be helped?” as he studied before him a 12-year-old whose mobility consisted of crawling. Struck by a car a decade earlier, the boy had been left crippled. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 17, 2017

After 5 Decades Nate Saint Memorial School to Close in Ecuador

Nate Saint (Archive photo used with permission of Mission Aviation Fellowship)

After educating missionary children for five decades, the Ecuador-based Nate Saint Memorial School (NSMS) is due to close with the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

“We are thankful for the 51 years that it has served the missionary population,” said the school board’s president, Renee Fogg, in a March 7 recommendation to the managers of Reach Beyond’s Latin America Region. “The Lord has been very faithful.” The board cited as rationale for the closing, a continual decline in enrollments.

Their recommendation was accepted and formalized by Dan Shedd, the region’s executive director, who observed that “even with the CHILI (Community Health Intercultural Learning Initiative) program [based in Shell, Ecuador], we don’t necessarily see a huge influx of families with young children coming in.”

Adding to Shedd’s comment, missionary Hermann Schirmacher said that “some—or more—missionaries do homeschooling now.”

A dozen students currently attend the school, including two in high school, six in middle school and four in elementary. Two of them are children of Renee Fogg and her husband, Eric, of the mission’s community development office in Shell.

The enrollment number compares with 15 students a year earlier. In the last few years, school attendance was in the 20s, including 29 students in 2012-2013, which was the year that Reach Beyond closed its Shell hospital after five decades of operation. The NSMS 2017-2018 projected enrollment was three full-time students, according to Fogg. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 3, 2017

Injuries as Mission Plane Crashes in Ecuador’s Jungle


Photo used with permission of Eco Amazonico (

By Ralph Kurtenbach

A pilot and his passengers were injured when a plane operated by Alas de Socorro Ecuador, (ADSE) crashed Wednesday, March 29 after takeoff in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador in South America. ADSE is the Ecuadorian affiliate of the U.S.-based mission agency, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

When the Quest Kodiak 9-passenger plane struck a river bed near Moretecocha in Ecuador’s eastern province of Pastaza, the pilot, Captain José Daniel Soria, and some of his six passengers sustained injuries, according to the Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC) of Ecuador. Initial medical care was provided at Shell-Mera, with five of the seven released after treatment. Soria was subsequently transferred to a Quito hospital. On Thursday a seven-person team of investigators from Ecuador’s DCAC began investigating the crash. (video interview in Spanish)

Some of the Kodiak planes have been produced under Quest Aircraft’s Quest Mission Team (QMT) program, and several have been delivered to such organizations as MAF and Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS). Since 2013 ADSE has been flying its Quest Kodiak from Shell, where ASDE maintains its administrative offices and hangar, serving some 200 remote communities of the rain forest.

ADSE has been flying the skies of Ecuador since 1948, when MAF missionary pilot Nate Saint established a base at Shell and began assisting people of the jungle through flight, coupling his work with sharing the gospel of Christ. Ecuador’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has certified ADSE as an air taxi operator and as an Approved Maintenance Organization. Pilots and mechanics are licensed by the CAA.

About 20 years ago on September 14, 1997, a Cessna 185 plane slammed into a 9,500-foot mountain between Shell and Baños, killing ADSE’s Job Orellana, his brother, Walter, and MAF pilot Dan Osterhus. The pilots had been involved in a search-and-rescue mission to locate a commercial Cessna airplane, which had crashed in the same region a day earlier, killing its two occupants.

Photo used with permission of Eco Amazonico. (

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 3, 2017

Radio Station HCJB, Wayne Pederson Honored at NRB


Wayne and Willi Pederson

by Harold Goerzen

 National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) honored Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, and former Reach Beyond President Wayne Pederson during Proclaim 17, the organization’s recent convention in Orlando, Fla.

HCJB Ecuador, an Ecuadorian foundation now operating the station that began in 1931, garnered the International Media Award while Pederson received the Milestone Award for at least 50 years of “exemplary service in Christian broadcasting.”

85 Years of Broadcasting

HCJB, the world’s first missionary radio station, was honored for its still-pioneering work in using new media to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

Geoff Kooistra, director of services for the foundation, received the media award during the final day of the four-day event. The honor goes to an organization based outside the U.S. that “excels in media ministry—exercising integrity and faithfulness to the cause of Christ while demonstrating unusual effectiveness—and excels in innovative uses of electronic media in the proclamation of the gospel of Christ in impacting the target culture.”

Founded in Quito, Ecuador, in 1931, the station has in recent years expanded its broadcasts to include livestreaming, exclusive online print and video content, and social media interaction with listeners. The new initiatives have broadened the impact of the station, known as the Voice of the Andes, which ranks eleventh in popularity among Quito’s 45 FM stations, according to the ratings firm Mercados y Proyectos.

Today the FM station’s livestream draws about 17,000 visitors monthly while a youth-focused livestream featuring music has listeners in almost 40 countries. The station’s website,, attracts 360,000 visitors annually. In the first six months of 2016 more than 600 decisions for Christ were made by visitors directed to the website,

Geoff and Tammy Kooistra

While traditional broadcasting remains central to HCJB Ecuador’s mission, “we realized that we needed to be less radio-centric and integrate other platforms and opportunities more,” said Kooistra. “Everything works together: When we make a radio program, we need to think about the content being multiplatform. We are not just speaking on the air, but how will this work on the web and how might it be used in an article or on social media.”

Radio Station HCJB had simple beginnings—a 200-watt transmitter in a sheepshed—leading to the station’s growth in geographic reach accompanied by broadcast technology innovations still talked of in engineering circles.

A gala event to honor the station took place in Quito in December. It included videos featuring historic photos, speeches that extolled achievements, and narratives about the focused vision decades ago of the founders’ intent on Christian broadcasting. A new commemorative book called HCJB 85 Años Pasión por el Servicio (HCJB 85 Years of Passion for Service) was distributed at the celebration. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 3, 2017

First CHILI Commissioning Service Held in Ecuador

by Harold Goerzen

After studying community development in Ecuador’s eastern jungles for six months, four of the graduates of a mission agency’s newest training program are set to serve in the mountains of a closed country for the next 1½ years.

It was a drizzly afternoon in the Amazonian community of Shell on Sunday, Feb. 26, as dozens of people gathered—some in person and others online—to view the inaugural commissioning service of Reach Beyond’s new Community Health Intercultural Learning Initiative (CHILI).

Four of the five graduates will serve together as a unit, working alongside local partners in an unreached country while graduate Heidi Salzman will remain in Ecuador. She will focus on studying Spanish, writing promotional materials and helping with the next program set to begin in September.

“I was sad to see the classes completed, especially since I would soon bid goodbye to the team I’d grown so close to,” said Salzman, whose parents, Paul and Shari Salzman, serve as Reach Beyond missionaries on loan to partner Inspiracom in El Paso, Texas. “However, I was thrilled to see my team take this beautiful opportunity to share Jesus in a closed country.”

Some 25 people were present for the send-off while another 17 people witnessed the event online from places as diverse as Germany, U.K., Turkey and Alaska. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | March 22, 2017

Building Trust Goes with Constructing Water Project

by Ralph Kurtenbach

César Cortez says that using Loma de Pacay-Guacalgoto’s only church building as a venue for residents to gather and plan a clean water project was one thing. Winning their confidence to then talk of a personal relationship with Jesus—now that was another.

Direct opposition to Cortez initially came from the rural community’s catechist, a middle-aged woman named Rita. Cortez said her assertion was plain enough—he was “sent from the devil.” But in time the rocky relations warmed as he went about his work the best he could, given additional difficulties of designing an appropriate system for the Ecuadorian village.

César Cortez

On trench digging days, Cortez vied for a place beside Rita. Then engaging her in conversation as they rested on their spades or shovels in the rarefied air of the high plain, he aimed to come across as productive, not merely as espousing a different doctrine.

“Basically it is a very hard working community and the challenges had nothing to do with administration or work, but rather with nature . . . with the climate of the sector.” The work continued, with periodic sessions to educate people on hygiene and health habits. “And along with that, of course, to change values,” added Cortez. “To do so, it was necessary to teach the Word of God.” Read More…

Edison Caiza cuts the ribbon to inaugurate a clean water system at Loma de Pacay-Guacalgoto. Project chairman Pedro Huilca (left front) and Reach Beyond’s Wim de Groen observe the ceremony.

Reach Beyond, which has been assisting with clean water systems for more than three decades dating back to Ecuador in the early 1980s, is celebrating World Water Day today. According to the U.N., over 663 million people worldwide are living without safe water. In 2016 alone Reach Beyond helped complete 15 clean water projects: nine in West Africa (Benin and Ghana) and six in Ecuador. The following story details the completion of the latest clean water project high in the Ecuadorian Andes.

When the sun shines you make hay because tomorrow may bring rain. The rural folk of Loma de Pacay-Guacalgoto in Ecuador know this well, as weather-related challenges are certain to accompany their livelihood amid the clouds and fog of the Andes.

With spectacular mountain vistas, these families—many related to each other—adapt to delays by working more diligently when time allows.

This fact wasn’t lost on Reach Beyond’s César Cortez who came to know the people of the community in early 2016 when the community and Reach Beyond’s community development team began collaborating on a clean water project.

Regularly, clouds drift up from the neighboring coastal province of Guayas, then bank up, Cortez said, and “it was a long waiting process more than anything.” Fog prolonged his topographic survey, which is critical to the process of setting up a gravity-feed water system.

Additionally, the farmers postponed any trenching so they could first harvest their crops, but then dug nearly eight miles of trenches to bury the pipes. An earlier water system had fallen into disrepair, and erosion on a trail exposed the shallowly laid plastic pipes that had been installed with less care.

The new pipes—some installed at altitudes of up to 12,000 feet—are buried more than a yard deep and will remain undisturbed by cultivation when planting everything from cabbages to corn. “So we had to wait this whole year,” Cortez explained. “The work itself only took 45 days.”

At the system’s inauguration on Thursday, Feb. 16, a band played, a ribbon was cut symbolically and a politician railed against what he said was an unjust jailing of the mayor who arranged gravel and rock deliveries to Loma de Pacay-Guacalgoto for the project. (The official allegedly could not produce receipts to account for financial transactions.) Read More…

Copies of the book HCJB 85 años Pasión por el Servicio were given to attendees of the radio station´s anniversary celebration

Copies of the book HCJB 85 años Pasión por el Servicio were given to attendees of the radio station´s anniversary celebration

War, peace, looming disaster, personal trauma—these themes all appear in the pages of a recent commemorative book about the pioneer missionary broadcaster, HCJB La Voz de los Andes (HCJB The Voice of the Andes).

On the pages of a Spanish-language book, HCJB 85 Años Pasión por el Servicio (HCJB 85 Years of Passion for Service) anecdotes reveal how Christian media in Ecuador has touched the lives of its listeners.

The broadcasts began in 1931 on a 200-watt transmitter when radio was in its infancy around the world. The founding families were in the vanguard of broadcasting, and down through the years, innovation has marked the station’s progress.

Former Ecuadorian Army General Paco Moncayo, currently running for president of the country. (Photo used with permission of El Comercio)

Former Ecuadorian Army General Paco Moncayo, currently running for president of the country. (Photo used with permission of El Comercio)

“I remember as a young lieutenant on the beautiful Curaray River at the Pavacachi and Lolocachi posts [in Ecuador´s rain forest],” recalled former Ecuadorian Army General Paco Moncayo, who is a candidate for president in upcoming Ecuadorian elections. He said that “we had no way of communicating with the rest of the country, so with another lieutenant and some 20 soldiers, we listened to HCJB on the battery-operated radios.”

Decades later during a 1995 border war with Peru (Ecuador’s southern neighbor), Moncayo and his jungle-based troops appreciated hearing news on the solar-powered radios issued to them by the Christian media outlet. News from the outside was revered, especially when Ecuador and Peru signed a peace accord. “For soldiers who are gambling their lives every day, knowing that peace had come was really huge news,” Moncayo said.

Horace Easterling

Horace Easterling

Former missionary Horace Easterling recounted how a pastor answering the listener helpline at a Bolivian affiliate station of the Spanish-language satellite radio network, ALAS (América Latina vía Satélite), received a call from a teenager in distress. “It took several minutes for her crying to become a mournful sob, as he gently spoke words of encouragement and reaffirmed that he would help her in any problem she was experiencing,” wrote Easterling.

The caller feared she might bleed to death. When asked about its cause, she confided that she’d had an abortion hours earlier. Her parents knew nothing of the abortion or the pregnancy. When the caller finally conceded to give her address, help was sent immediately. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | February 10, 2017

Ecuador Radio Station Marks 85 Years in Gala Fashion

Gazing at a gallery of historic HCJB photos at an anniversary celebration marking 85 years of broadcasting.

Gazing at a gallery of historic HCJB photos at an anniversary celebration marking 85 years of broadcasting.

Let’s face it, compressing 85 years of history into a single evening event is a tough assignment.

If an anniversary ceremony for Radio Station HCJB in Ecuador failed to squeeze the story into a capsule, it wasn’t for lack of trying. The Ecuador radio station’s rich history was told on Dec. 1 in Quito, with the event’s emcees recounting the background of the media outlet, telling about its dedicated staff and explaining the influence of the outlet’s impact on society.

The special program components blended to relate how simple beginnings—a 200-watt transmitter in a sheepshed—led to HCJB’s growth in geographic reach accompanied by broadcast technology innovations still talked of in engineering circles.

But alas, stories rife with luscious detail needed to be condensed. And why? Because—as with radio broadcasting itself—the clock is running. Ever running.

Anabella Cabezas, director HCJB Ecuador and a Reach Beyond board member, together with her staff, put together a program that included videos featuring historic photos, speeches that extolled achievements, and narrative about the focused vision decades ago of HCJB’s founders’ intent on Christian broadcasting. In a 2½-hour marathon that also featured recognitions of key people, the segments were interspersed with lively musical interludes that drew rousing audience participation.

The station’s first broadcast emanated from the living room of the home of the ministry’s co-founder, Clarence Jones, in Quito, the Ecuadorian capital, on Dec. 25, 1931. Read More…

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service

An American missionary has received an award for his decades of work ministering to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, whose 50-year fight against the government had been the world’s longest continuous war when it ended in a peace agreement last August.

Russell M. Stendal (photo by David Hitt, used with permission from

Russell M. Stendal (photo by David Hitt, used with permission from

According to World Watch Monitor , the missionary, Russell Stendal, has been in Colombia for over half a century, having first arrived with his parents – also missionaries to the indigenous people there; it was this which later helped him build relationships with the rebels.

Stendal has been kidnapped by the FARC and by other rebel groups, but he launched his Bogota-based ministry, Colombia for Christ, with his captors in mind. His audacious vision: that all of the FARC can learn about Christianity and that, if embraced, it will change guerrillas’ hearts and minds.

World Watch Monitor says that Stendal was honored by a group called First Step Forum in Bogota on Sunday, January 22, 2017, with the Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award, named after Pakistan’s first Christian Cabinet Minister, murdered almost five years ago for his criticism of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and his defense of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman still on death row for “blasphemy.”p1100452

In his speech, First Step Forum’s Finnish founder, Johan Candelin, said Stendal deserved the award for his “extraordinary peace work for 32 years”, saying that his work had led to a change of heart in many FARC leaders, and also in Colombian Army leaders: “Many have been healed as a result of prayer”, he said. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | January 27, 2017

Healthcare Advocate, Communicator Susan Olsen Dies at the Age of 67

Susan Olsen

Susan Olsen

by Harold Goerzen

Susan Olsen was struggling in the early 1980s when she met John and Yvonne Gardeen in Minneapolis, Minn. As retiree Roger Reimer, then serving as healthcare director for Reach Beyond in Ecuador, put it, “They took her into their home and treated her as a daughter.”

Intrigued with the concept of a mission hospital, Olsen traveled with the couple to Ecuador where they visited their son, Gary, and his wife, Mary, and family who were serving as missionaries at Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ). Gary was the administrator of the hospital, a facility operated by Reach Beyond.

Olsen was impressed with the staff and the quality of the physical and spiritual care given to patients at HVQ, but she also found a hospital in dire need of renovations and updates that were critical to keeping the doors open and modernizing its services.

Project Life, a decade-long, $4-million construction program to expand HVQ, was gearing up to launch in early 1987, but funding was minimal, and Olsen was eager to help. That’s when her life was changed with an exciting new assignment.

“The mission had a policy at that time that did not allow [professional] fundraisers, and although she had an interest in promoting Project Life, we weren’t sure how to appropriately get her involved,” Reimer related. “As with a lot of those who came to see the ministries, she became an advocate for the hospital.”

Olsen came to Ecuador as a working visitor in the fall of 1986, then joined Reach Beyond as a full-time missionary in March 1987, serving as director of resource development for the Healthcare Division.

Working primarily out of an office provided by First Covenant Church in Minneapolis but making frequent trips to Quito, her new assignment fit her background perfectly. She had graduated in communications with an emphasis on healthcare from the University of Minnesota, and she had helped produce audiovisual presentations for several hospitals in the area. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | January 16, 2017

Legendary Broadcaster in Ecuador Now Quiet on AM Dial

HCJB's Edmundo Zarria (wearing headphones) and two others (probably Raul Cedeño and Raul Arias) covering a session of the Ecuadorian congress. (Archive photo)

HCJB’s Edmundo Zarria (wearing headphones) and two others (probably Raul Cedeño and Raul Arias) covering a session of the Ecuadorian congress. (Archive photo)

by Ralph Kurtenbach

Hours prior to noisy celebrations as Ecuadorians welcomed 2017 with fireworks, an evangelical radio station with history dating to the nation’s earliest broadcast media went silent on the AM frequency band at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31.

The last song to play featured panpipes and stringed instruments accompanying women singing a Christmas song in the Quichua language followed by comments in the same language by Luis Santillán.

Luis Santillan (Archive photo)

Luis Santillan (Archive photo)

Earlier in 2016, signal strength from its 50,000-watt transmitter had been reduced and airtime pulled back in keeping with the decision made by the board of trustees of partner HCJB Ecuador to not file with the Agencia de Regulación y Control de las Telecomunicaciones (Telecommunications Regulatory and Control Agency or ARCOTEL) for renewal of the 690 kHz frequency.

It was a frequency that HCJB La Voz de los Andes (HCJB The Voice of the Andes) had held since 1974 on the medium wave (AM) dial. The silencing of 690 AM came seven years after shortwave broadcasts were terminated from the international transmitter site at the nearby town of Pifo.

HCJB’s first programs aired on Christmas Day, 1931, when there were a dozen or perhaps fewer radio sets in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito. Nevertheless, a telephone call afterwards convinced its founding families that their program of Christmas carols and preaching had been heard. Since then the programming has offered listeners Christian teaching, music, public affairs reporting, news and more.

The station operated under the auspices of World Radio Missionary Fellowship, Inc., which has used different mission agency names throughout the years, including HCJB World Radio, HCJB Global and as of 2014, Reach Beyond.

Down through the decades, history has been recorded as HCJB-AM’s announcers and journalists have told of events in Ecuador and elsewhere. In January 1956 the station was instrumental in informing the world that five evangelical foreigners had been speared to death in Ecuador’s Amazon rain forest during a risky overture to take the gospel to the Waorani, then an unreached tribal group.

Reporters for the religious station also told listeners in May 1981 of the deaths in a plane crash of Ecuadorian president Jaime Roldós, along with his wife and others. Via the airwaves, HCJB listeners were warned over the years of threats of volcanic eruptions and informed of devastation by earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Diverse cultural aspects of Ecuador were showcased in interviews with unique musical styles from the nation and the region featured daily. Few if any aspects of Ecuadorian life were left untouched by the station’s coverage, and some of its announcers became household names to listeners. Read More…

by Theresa With

Thousands of listeners descended on Christian radio stations in the Ecuadorian cities of Quito and Guayaquil in early December to visit the studios, meet the staff, pledge their support for the broadcasts and tell about the impact of the programs on their lives.

The 16th annual Misión Compartida (Sharing the Mission) raised nearly $400,000 in gifts and pledges for HCJB-FM in Quito and HCJB2 in Guayaquil. The two stations, along with FM repeaters in the provinces of Pichincha, Manabí, Tungurahua, Cotopaxi and Esmeraldas, are now operated by an Ecuadorian foundation called HCJB Ecuador.

Folkloric dance in Larson Center at the Reach Beyond campus where Radio Station HCJB has its studios and administrative offices.

Folkloric dance in Larson Center at the Reach Beyond campus where Radio Station HCJB has its studios and administrative offices.

3,000 Attend Event in Quito

At the event in Quito, a record 45 hours of live programming aired from the early-morning hours until late at night Friday-Sunday, Dec. 9-11. Most of the programming was in Spanish but some was in Quichua, a language spoken by over 4 million Ecuadorians.

More than 3,000 people came to the open house in Quito. Areas set up for both children and adults offered activities and presentations which included drama, concerts, seminars and prayer times. In addition, booths and tents were set up where home-grown fruits and vegetables, animals, handmade clothing and other personal items—many supplied by the Quichua people—were on sale to raise money for the broadcasts.

“In Quito we reached $300,000 the day after the event ended—an amount higher than last year,” said Anabella Cabezas, director of media for the Latin America Region and a Reach Beyond board member. “We are confident that the $400,000 goal for Quito will be met this year. Typically another 20 percent above what is pledged actually comes in throughout the year. We praise God for His provision.”

“The people who called to pledge support, make donations and visit the campus shared how God, through the message on the broadcasts, performed miracles of all kinds in their lives whether material, spiritual, physical or emotional,” Cabezas noted. “God is powerful!” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | January 13, 2017

Versatile Missionary Retiree Marian Osborne Dies at 87

by Harold Goerzen

New, different, exotic scenes. Borders to cross. Oceans to travel. Different cultures and people. This was how in an article in ANDEX magazine, once published in Quito, Ecuador, for shortwave listeners worldwide, described the radio program, “Passport.”

One of the key contributors to the program that aired on Radio Station HCJB for many years was Marian Osborne, a tall, dignified mother of three who loved variety and the spice of life. Her diverse background, sense of humor and desire to take on new challenges made her an ideal producer for the entertaining show.

Marian Osborne

Marian Osborne

Putting together this and many other programs for the station was just one of Osborne’s many roles while serving with Reach Beyond for 33 years, first in Quito and then at the mission’s international headquarters in the U.S. She died in Windsor, Colo., on Thursday, Dec. 29, after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 87.

Marian Jane Osborne, the daughter of Swedish immigrants John and Frieda Selin, was born in Chicago on June 27, 1929. Her family moved to California when she was 16, and she graduated from a high school in Pasadena.

After a year at Pasadena Junior College, she attended Rockmont College (now Colorado Christian University) in Denver, Colo., completing her bachelor’s degree in education. Years later she earned her master’s degree in communication from Wheaton College, studying by correspondence and taking classes from visiting professors in Quito.

It was during her student years in Denver that she met her husband-to-be, John, and they married on Aug. 24, 1951. They would have three children, Dave, Steve and Kathleen.

Osborne’s first job was as a social worker in Denver. Then she and her husband worked for a year as houseparents at a children’s home in New Britain, Conn. This helped prepare them for a long-term assignment, directing the Faith Home Teen Ranch in Turlock, Calif., a facility for delinquent boys.

“At the boys’ ranch I worked as a cook, laundress, houseparent and shopper, and we helped in [fundraising],” Osborne noted. She and John also sponsored the youth group at Turlock Covenant Church.

Reach Beyond retirees Travis and Margaret Gowan recall meeting Marian and John while they were fellow students in Denver before eventually serving alongside each other in Quito.

“We hit it off almost immediately,” Margaret wrote. “I sang with Marian in a girls’ sextet, and the four of us were in the college choir. As I recall, it was a while before Marian and John started dating.”

While the Osbornes enjoyed their rewarding ministry of helping emotionally disturbed boys, they also sensed God’s prompting to serve in foreign missions. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | December 7, 2016

Staff Members Repair Star Over HCJB in Ecuador

A person is already at 9,350 feet in Quito, Ecuador, one of the highest capitals in the Western Hemisphere. This tower worker, Marco Manosalvas, added another 140 feet to that.

A person is already at 9,350 feet in Quito, Ecuador, one of the highest capitals in the Western Hemisphere. This tower worker, Marco Manosalvas, added another 140 feet to that.


Vinicio Gualoto (Reach Beyond) and Milton Pumisacho (HCJB Ecuador) watch Manosalvas' progress as he prepares to lower the star.

Vinicio Gualoto (Reach Beyond) and Milton Pumisacho (HCJB Ecuador) watch Manosalvas’ progress as he prepares to lower the star.

Darrell Holden and Marco Manosalvas replace the transformer and a couple of neon tubes on the star.

Darrell Holden and Marco Manosalvas replace the transformer and a couple of neon tubes on the star.

3dec2016Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,  “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” The Gospel of St. Matthew 2: 1,2
Posted by: calloftheandes | November 14, 2016

Latinos Embrace Role in World Evangelization

henry1by Ralph Kurtenbach

 “The Church,” said Carl F. H. Henry, a Christian thinker and first editor-in-chief of Christianity Today magazine, “is in position, in a way it has never been before, for a global witness. A great deal depends upon what we do with that opportunity.”

Henry’s statement to Discipleship Journal more than 30 years ago offered an early glimpse to a new horizon of missions—the involvement of Christians from the Global South. People from nations where the gospel has been presented for centuries have in turn joined the ranks of those carrying the message of Jesus Christ elsewhere in the world.

From Jerusalem when the gospel first began to spread, the epicenter of Christianity had moved steadily west and north. Mission scholars attribute the Western missionary movement to an Englishman, William Carey, whose pamphlet in the late 18th century was titled, “An Inquiry into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen.”

Instrumental in the formation of the English Baptist Missionary Society, Carey began doing mission work now deemed as the beginning of world evangelization. Some 150 years after his groundbreaking work, the face of missions began to see more cross-cultural ministry by Africans, Asians and Latinos. The geographical center of Christianity has steadily shifted east and south since 1970.

“You sometimes wonder if the results [of mission involvement] and dividends are worth it all,” said Dr. Abe Van Der Puy in 1977 at a meeting in Ecuador when he was serving as president of the mission agency Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global). “Well, [Ugandan Bishop] Festo Kivengere stands as a beautiful example of what’s happening in the Third World today.”

“God has not only saved him [and] brought him into a position of leadership—wonderful exposition of the Scriptures—but now God is bringing him back to our own lands—the lands that send out the missionaries—to bless their hearts again,” Van Der Puy explained. Kivengere brought several keynote addresses during the mission agency’s annual members’ meetings in Ecuador.

Luis Palau: The Gospel Goes from South to North

Van Der Puy also referred to the Argentine evangelist Luis Palau, saying that “it was through a missionary witness that Luis Palau and his family came to a living relationship with the Lord Jesus. Now [he] is coming back to North America and to Wales, and to Europe—there to present the message of the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Having heard, understood and responded to the news of Jesus’ love, churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America are now sharing the gospel across borders and in countries of the world where access by Western missionaries can prove difficult or even dangerous. Global South churches and individuals make up the newest missionary sending force, representing a vision and effort that has been building for decades.

Phillip Jenkins, a professor of history at Pennsylvania State University, wrote in “The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South,” that 60 percent of the estimated two billion Christians in the world live in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. (An excerpt of Jenkins’ book appeared as the article “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” in the December 5, 2006 edition of Christianity Today.) By the year 2050, according to Jenkins, there are expected to be some 3 billion Christians with 75 percent of them in the Global South.

Shouldering the Missions Task with Latinos

from-jerusalem-to-irian-jayaLatinos—dedicated, committed and increasingly more equipped—have firmly placed themselves within this global spread of Christianity. In some ways, the very fact of being Hispanics gives Latinos an advantage over their counterparts from North America and Western Europe. For one, their passports may generate less negative reaction. As well, their views on societal and family relationships parallel views held by many in the Middle East.

“The day of the Western missionary is certainly not over,” wrote Ruth Tucker in From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya. “But the task of world evangelism is being shouldered to a greater and greater extent by Christians from Third World countries.”

Tucker’s 1983 book—published at a time when Carl Henry lauded the Global South trend in missions—devoted a chapter to non-Western missionaries (Kivengere, Palau and Rochunga Pudaite) and their work. The chapter began with the ministry of Korean believers, a maturing church that Henry noted as the fastest growing in greater Chicago.

“One of the heartening developments is that in the Third World some traditionally receiving countries are becoming missionary-sending countries,” said Henry. “They are now giving encouragement to the West at a time when the light has seemed to be lowering in the West.” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | November 8, 2016

Psychologist Writes of Ways to Improve Care of Latino Missionaries

by Ralph Kurtenbach

When it comes to caring for the needs of overseas mission workers, does a one-size-fits-all system adequately answer all situations or problems?

No, according to Dr. Carlos Pinto, a missionary psychologist working in Quito, Ecuador, with Reach Beyond. A maturing church in Latin America is sending its own missionaries overseas to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Stresses of this cross-cultural ministry can take their toll and so missionary care—referred to as member care—is needed.

Carlos Pinto

Carlos Pinto

Such help has adopted methods, structures and theoretical frameworks of Western thought. Pinto however, suggests a path to discovering member care that is uniquely suited to the needs of Latin American missionaries.

Pinto, writing in the October 2016 edition of Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ), views as one preliminary step toward an indigenous model a healthy differentiation from the prevailing member care model. He urged that care practicioners, “examine our most frequent mentalities and leave behind certain myths such as the one that says, ‘The people from the U.S. and Europe are better prepared than us Latins; they have better education and they know more.’”

“As we look at our future dialogue and cooperation within the global member care movement,” Pinto said, “the process of our becoming psychologically independent with clear boundaries of self and others is important.”

His article also cites well-known conceptual frameworks traditionally applied to psychology (positivistic, interpretative and critical theory). Since cultures differ, so too should the conceptual structures, rather than indiscriminately building upon one framework all across the world. Issues tied to colonization and inequalities form part of the core psyche of a Latino for example, and “liberation social psychology has the aim to understand the psychology of oppressed and impoverished communities.” While such issues have not interested many in North America, wrote Pinto, “thankfully, however, there is a new spirit of integration in the U.S. and other Western churches that is growing.” Read More…

Fed by mountain glaciers and jungle rains, Peru’s remote Ucayali River (along with neighboring rivers) is considered the main headwater of the mighty Amazon. It’s also strategic for thousands of river dwellers, providing fish, food and jobs while giving access to vast forests and serving as a lifeline to the outside world—a 910-mile “highway” navigated by vessels of all sizes.

Eliezer Gonzalez

Eliezer Gonzalez

“It’s truly a river of life,” said Bible teacher Eliezer González. “It’s the main communication channel for indigenous and mestizo communities along the river. It’s a way of trade with those communities. At all times, you’ll see large and small boats ply the river, loaded with people and bananas and all kinds of merchandise, going back and forth to distant and nearby communities.”

The body of water also served as a spiritual lifeline for river dwellers in five Shipibo villages during the 10th annual Misión a Bordo (Mission Aboard) outreach the last five days of September.

González was one of four teachers, 33 participants, a six-member medical team and 12 riverboat supporting staff who were on board the riverboat El Evangelista (The Evangelist), giving medical care to local residents, teaching the Bible and studying principles of missions led by seasoned Latin American teachers.

Seeing Record Numbers of Patients

The majority of this year’s participants came from Peru—nearly half for their second time. Volunteers included six medical doctors—three from Peru, two from Reach Beyond’s Hospital Vozandes in Quito, Ecuador, and Dr. Mark Nelson, a former Reach Beyond missionary working as a physician in Fort Worth, Texas, who headed the medical team again this year.

The medical team saw 750 patients this year—double the average of 375 patients in previous outreaches.

“Patients included children, youth, adults and the elderly,” explained Reach Beyond missionary Américo Saavedra who has repeatedly helped organize and lead the event along with Peruvian missionary Juan Carlos Sánchez and local facilitators. “Medical help is always part of the Mission Aboard project and is welcomed by every village we visit.”

Saavedra, who heads Reach Beyond’s Apoyo pastoral training and leadership development ministry in Quito, grew up in Pucallpa, the city from where the ship departed on Monday, Sept. 26. With a population of over 200,000, it’s the largest city along the Ucayali River.

Team members visited five rural communities—Vista Alegre, Samaria, Dinamarca, Antigua Ahuaypa and San Luis—all for the first time. “In each village there is a specific protocol,” Saavedra explained. “First the apu (head of the community) approaches the boat with his entourage, and from the banks of the river gives us words of welcome and tells us, ‘We’ve been waiting, and community doors are open for you.’”

An Ecuadorian physician, Dr. Katalina Rosero, examines a child who lives in a Ucayali River community in Peru.

An Ecuadorian physician, Dr. Katalina Rosero, examines a child who lives in a Ucayali River community in Peru.

While physicians attended to patients, participants distributed clothing and sandals to local residents, assisted with crowd control, took part in the evening services in each village, played with the children, shared Bible stories and carried equipment and supplies to and from the boat each day.

“They also surveyed each community that we visited to have a better understanding of the people, their worldviews, needs, fears, and hopes for the future,” Saavedra noted.

He pointed out that Misión a Bordo attendees “could not stop talking about how engaging and fun it was to connect with the community—especially with the children. Our doctors worked extra hours to serve those in need—even saving a lady from severe dehydration. The village chief thanked them profusely and made the invitation to return any time.” Read More…

Linda May Clayton

Linda May Clayton

Note: A memorial for Linda will be held on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2:00 at Robertsville Church Morganville, New Jersey.

Story by Harold Goerzen

Quiet, unassuming and easygoing, former missionary Linda Clayton never stood out in a crowd. But during her nearly 17 years with Reach Beyond in Ecuador, serving as an X-ray technician at the mission’s hospital in Shell, she left a lasting impression, endearing herself to all who met her, whether missionaries or Ecuadorians.

“She often forgot about the time while talking, especially to jungle patients, so an X-ray could take some time to get done, but only we Westerners (missionaries) complained,” recounted German surgeon Dr. Eckehart Wolff who served alongside Clayton at the hospital.

“The X-ray department was full of papers, articles and ideas she had collected for her patients,” added Wolff. “Even today I talked to some former lab technicians from the old hospital. Linda shared her life with them and had a great influence on the national personnel.”

Linda May Clayton died in Port Orange, Fla., on Wednesday, July 20, after a brief battle with cancer and subsequent complications. She was 68. Born in Englishtown, N.J., on April 29, 1948, she had a desire to serve as a missionary ever since she was a young child.

Early Years

Raised in a devoutly Christian home, she committed her life to Christ at the age of 4 while her father was pastoring Spring Valley Community Church in Morganville, N.J.

“We had missionaries stay in our house every time there was a missions conference in the church,” she said in an interview soon after arriving in Ecuador. It also made an impact on her life when one of her Sunday school teachers decided to become a missionary in Benin, West Africa.

“Later when I was a teenager that same person influenced me to go into missions,” Clayton related. Read More…

A Quito daily newspaper, El Comercio described the job of those working to help survivors of an April 2016 earthquake as, “to calm and diminish fear, anguish, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and prevent mental problems”—a task the writer termed as ‘psychological reconstruction.’

Many volunteers for this challenging quake follow-up were trained beforehand by Christian psychologist, Dr. Carlos Pinto, of Reach Beyond. This interview with Dr. Pinto by Ralph Kurtenbach was transcribed, translated and then edited and condensed for clarity.

You have helped by giving these workshops here in the Andean corridor, and also out at the coast, south of the earthquake epicenter. You also went there to personally give talks and offer comfort?

Yes, I also had the opportunity to go to the very epicenter—the disaster zone—something I found consistent inasmuch as not only helping via the aspect of training others to go and counsel to facilitate a healing process after the earthquake, but also importantly, to experience it in the field so as to speak with authority on the subject.

What I found when I participated in the weeks immediately after the earthquake was a need for medical emergency relief. Working with Christian doctors and then groups, I assumed a secondary role. As we came to different tents where people were, I left room for doctors to intervene first. The first appeal for aid was, “My son who was injured,” “My wife’s foot is cut” or “my spouse is in pain,” etc., etc.

So medical care was given first, and once that was concluded and I saw that people’s anxiety about the medical problem had significantly lowered, I approached them to ask, “How are you sleeping?,” “How are you doing with the pain and the loss of your home?,” “What are you feeling?” and “What are you thinking as you look to the future?” Read More…

After a devastating earthquake rocked Ecuador on April 16, 2016, Reach Beyond sent several teams of physicians and other medical staff to the quake zone. They traveled from the ministry’s Vozandes Hospital in Quito to handle trauma cases and urgent needs, helping meet the immediate physical needs of the victims.

 However, the care went far beyond the physical, addressing people’s mental, psychological and spiritual needs. Many volunteers provided counseling for the survivors, putting to use the training they had received from Dr. Carlos Pinto, a Christian psychologist with Reach Beyond. A segment of interview with Pinto is published below.

Did the attendees[to seminars for volunteer counselors to quake victims]  bringformally or informallysome reports about what happened and shared the results?

Yes, the Christian Emergency Committee of Ecuador—the lightning rod that really mobilized Christian churches and that Reach Beyond accompanied—had meetings that yet today are being held weekly where each area gives their reports.

In the psychological area—which I was to some degree coordinating—we followed a format in which each participant indicated the name of the person, the spiritual questions asked, any visible signs found of emotional trauma, losses mentioned by the person and the recommendations that were made. Along with that, the reports included any referrals given to visited person or family, and any professional attention suggested, including professional psychiatric attention.

Was there was a central theme at the base of the workshops such as, “God understands what it means to suffer” or something that is based on Christianity and the Bible?

There was a theme or slogan with the understanding that God is sovereign and that even in amid difficulties God it is present and there is nothing that escapes the knowledge of God and God’s intervention.

Carlos Pinto

Carlos Pinto

From what I saw at the Larson Center in Quito, the workshop was not a series of lessons given by an expert (you) but something more participatory in which each attendee added something.

It seems that that the adult education people want these days must be of a style which corresponds precisely to the age group in a way that honors them and signals to them that the wisdom residing in them is recognized. As adults, they’re given the opportunity to share their own experiences. At the same time, there are times when attendees are permitted to practice what has been communicated—skills needed [in work with trauma victims], such as listening more and talking less. So, empathetic listening is a concept that was immediately put into practice. That is basically the most important tool that people are going to use in the field. And so [the workshop] was a combination of interaction/participation and also giving theoretical concepts.

Both nongovernmental organizations and government agencies have sent psychologists. What part would you say churches contributed on the coast after the earthquake?

I’d say there’s a difference—without intending to minimize the effort made by the government or that which the government has done—but it’s worth saying that the effort of the evangelical church has added a component to what psychologists accompanying the government to these places have done. Read More…

After a devastating earthquake rocked Ecuador on April 16, 2016, Reach Beyond sent a few teams of physicians and other medical staff to the quake zone. They traveled from the ministry’s Hospital Vozandes in Quito to handle trauma cases and urgent needs, helping meet the immediate physical needs of the victims.

 However, the care went far beyond the physical, addressing people’s mental, psychological and spiritual needs. Many volunteers provided counseling for the survivors, putting to use the training they had received from Dr. Carlos Pinto, a Christian psychologist with Reach Beyond.

 “It’s very important for us not just to deliver physical help or just healing for the body,” noted Reach Beyond’s Hermann Schirmacher. “We also take pastoral services with us. We cooperate with the church to have them involved in the effort as much as we can, and then reach out in the community.”

 Within 10 weeks after the temblor, the Ecuador’s Ministry of Health reported that nearly 21,000 quake survivors had received psychological care. Evaluations found most of them suffering from acute stress and sleep issues.

 The Quito daily newspaper El Comercio described the job of those working to help quake survivors as to “calm and diminish fear, anguish, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders and prevent mental problems”—a task the writer termed as “psychological reconstruction.”

 Below is an interview that Ralph Kurtenbach conducted with Dr. Pinto. He then transcribed, translated and edited/condensed it for clarity.

Dr. Carlos Pinto

Carlos Pinto

 You gave training sessions in April for those who wanted to offer counsel and comfort to earthquake victims. Besides the workshop in Quito, how many other workshops did you hold?

The workshops were given in Quito (the capital of the country) and then in Guayaquil because it’s also the second-most important city in the country and also due to its proximity to the epicenter. Also in the north, there was [training] in Ibarra because despite the distance, there was church interest in training. People there had great empathy and great desire to travel to the area and give hope via the message of God’s love to the earthquake survivors.

How many workshop participants on average? For example in Quito, I think saw about 150. How many attendees and what—more or less—was the audience profile? Professional? Lay persons?

Well, I think that would have been the average on number of attendees. It is worth mentioning that these workshops were arranged and conducted quickly, so there wasn’t much time to inform those who would be interested. Read More…

A patchwork of dark blanketing neighborhoods of Ecuador’s capital of Quito after an earthquake, Jim Childs glances out his apartment window to see light at Radio Station HCJB where a powerful generator had kicked in as it should. He crosses the street anyway to check on things at the Christian media outlet.

Jim Childs (file photo)

Jim Childs (file photo)

Of particular concern was an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) to keep program automation computers running as the batteries had been getting weak. “The generator takes 30 seconds to start,” said Childs, a longtime missionary engineer. “I wanted to be sure that we weren’t broadcasting dead air.”

Programming was going out normally on local FM, shortwave and via the internet. (The AM frequency had shut down on schedule earlier that day.)

Ecuador’s Geophysics Institute rated the 11:23 p.m. Monday, August 8, earthquake at 4.7 in magnitude on the Richter scale with a depth of 7.3 km (4.6 miles). Its epicenter was near Puembo, a Quito suburb near the city’s international airport.

“We just had an earthquake that took us out of bed,” posted Hermann Schirmacher on Facebook. After a devastating April 16 earthquake months earlier on Ecuador’s coast, he spent two weeks in the quake zone, leading Reach Beyond medical teams.

Just two floors above the apartment where Childs and his family live, Schirmacher wrote that, “it was a feeling very different than the ones [quakes] that come from the coast.” The fault line running through Ecuador’s Andean corridor passes through Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, producing earthquakes when plates shift beneath the earth’s surface.

“This temblor is not related to the earthquake of April 16  that battered the coasts of Manabí and Esmeraldas provinces,” El Comercio newspaper reported, adding that subsequent quakes and aftershocks “continue provoking alarm as ocean surface plates interact with continental plates.” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | August 22, 2016

First-Person Account: What We Did on Our Summer Vacation

By Ralph Kurtenbach

July 10, Tonsupa, Ecuador

 In the dark—electricity out—we crawled from the living room to a bedroom, glass breaking behind us. Toilet water sloshed as we passed the bathroom, my wife, Kathy, hanging onto my heel and directing me to a bedroom and under a bed.

Ralph Kurtenbach

Ralph Kurtenbach

We squeezed under there and communicated (by phone, iPad) that we were OK, for now. Kathy was telling our kids in the U.S. that we were in Ecuador’s province of Esmeraldas at a beachside condominium owned by friends. We were on the seventh floor.

Under that narrow space of the bunkbed, we prayed. Psalm 46 came to mind—even though the earth be removed and the mountains crumble and fall into the sea. I was wishing I knew more memorized Scripture to pray. (“Help!” is enough for God, but Scripture can help one’s mind and heart attain peace.)

We waited. Would the building tumble down and we go up to heaven? Or would it fall only to find us under rubble hoping to have a dog sniff us and start barking for rescue workers to come?

It did not fall. After a while, we joined others on the tennis courts. We were a safe distance away from buildings and power poles where we waited for 90 minutes.tonsupa3

We returned to the condo where hanging kitchen lamps had clanged together, breaking the glass. Otherwise the place was in pretty good shape. We went to bed and slept. We stayed another couple of days.

Ralph and Kathy Kurtenbach have served as Reach Beyond missionaries in Ecuador since mid-1992.

 The 5.9- and 6.2-magnitude quakes of Sunday, July 10, in Ecuador’s coastal province of Esmeraldas left one person dead and 22 injured. In Pueblo Nuevo, a landslide caused 70-year-old Isasio Zamora—who was walking—to fall into a hole. There was also minor damage to area homes. Tourists left, and the Atacames beach adjacent to Tonsupa was practically abandoned.

A gecko less than two inches long on a repaired corridor wall at the condominium mentioned in the story.

A gecko less than two inches long on a repaired corridor wall at the condominium mentioned in the story.


by Caleb Smith, working visitor, Reach Beyond

We’re sitting in a one-room bamboo house and eating fish and rice as flies crowd the floor. The only light illuminating the table and food is a white fluorescent bulb. Lucy, the mother of the household, sits on the floor against the stove, tired from the long day, surrounded by her four children.

As she tells us about the condition of Mompiche after the earthquake, she rocks her 16-month-old child in one arm and rustles the hair of another child. She talks about the minute-long earthquake and how she grabbed her kids and ran outside, afraid her house would crumble. The house indeed did fall.

Lucy’s house has been rebuilt by the local Assemblies of God congregation, but she explains how many friends from church and around the area have not been able to find the help they need even weeks after the earthquake. Many of the people affected, she says, still don’t know what to do, where to rebuild, or how to move on.mompiche9

Driving into Mompiche, the only indications of an earthquake that we see are the blue temporary tents with Chinese characters on them. There are a few crooked buildings here and there, but everything appears normal for a small Ecuadorian coastal town.

Life continues on at its normal pace as fishermen sew long white nets, children play in the muddy streets and people rest in the shade wherever it can be found. Talking to the residents of the town, we find that a number of houses have been hit and workers from the church are helping to rebuild those houses. We are told we need to visit an adjacent island, Muisne, in order to see the more drastic effects of the earthquake.

Driving down the road that runs out of town, we encounter a hotel resort with horses in the fields and air-conditioned houses. Our guide describes this as a “huge destination for tourists,” but the earthquake has almost totally halted business. Farther down, the road runs into a river, and we talk to some Ecuadorians who offer passage to the island. Piling into the boat we fight the river’s currents and land on a nice sandy beach (far nicer than the beach littered with dead crustaceans in Mompiche).

Caleb Smith with co-workers during a boat ride in Ecuador's Esmeraldas Province.

Caleb Smith with co-workers during a boat ride in Ecuador’s Esmeraldas Province.

Walking along the beach, there are no signs that an earthquake occurred. In the distance the gaunt hotel we passed earlier sits across the river, facing the ocean. Walking farther inland away from the beach we can begin seeing the effects of the quake. Houses positioned along the coast—their foundations dug into the sand—are askew or fallen over. Our guide tells us about the poor construction location and the problems facing beach houses.

Gathering at the church, the people pray for deliverance as the leader of the church (not an ordained pastor) cries into his microphone for the glory of God to be seen in this place. In between his deep breaths the congregation whispers,“Gloria a Dios” (glory to God),“Amén” (amen) and “Santo eres” (you are holy). Leaving the church, we are greeted with an outpouring of love—hugs, handshakes and bendiciones (blessings). We leave for supper feeling welcomed as family. Read More…

mompiche34At a restaurant, they bowed their heads to pray for the victims of the April 16 earthquake that rocked Ecuador’s coast, and soon afterwards they put their hands to hammers and saws to help rebuild people’s homes.

A cell group from English Fellowship Church (EFC)* in Quito, they meet weekly at a local restaurant, Mister Bagel. In lighter moments—amid peals of laughter that often accompany their breakfast discussions—they refer to themselves as the “First Bagel Church.”mompiche26

Ron Borman, an EFC elder, and engineer Jim Childs* most often lead a Bible lesson. No collection plate is passed, but some extra cash remains after Borman uses what people have laid on the table to cover breakfast costs.

And so in discussing ways to help survivors of the 7.8-magnitude temblor, Childs reviewed their “bank” (bills tucked into Leviticus 26 in the Old Testament). Then he announced the amount to help to cover travel, food and board for the June 7-10 trip to Mompiche in Esmeraldas province. It amounted to several hundred dollars.

Rúben Alvear and Jim Childs at a breakfast Bible study in Quito.

Rúben Alvear and Jim Childs at a breakfast Bible study in Quito.

Prior to leaving Quito, Borman’s team received donations for rebuilding costs from different sources, including ministries that a decade or so ago were start-ups by Reach Beyond missionaries.

In the intervening years, the fledgling ministries have since taken flight on their own, including Extreme Response (led by Russ and Gina Cline* and Jerry and Dawn Carnill*) and Pan de Vida (Bread of Life, begun by Ecuadorian Oscar Aguirre and Canadian accountant David Tippitt*).

A U.S. group hosted by Don Wolfram* gave financial help, as did Larry Salay, who does Salasaca Quichua translation work.

The six-person EFC team arrived in Mompiche three weeks after the coastal town had been jolted by a pair of 6.8-strength aftershocks on May 18. Their local contact was Emilio Velez, who pastors an Assemblies of God congregation in Mompiche. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | June 14, 2016

Nurse Says Receiving Sometimes Goes With Giving

Joanna Fidel, RN, speaking at an annual medical conference in Ecuador, Jornadas Médicas.

Joanna Fidel, RN, speaking at an annual medical conference in Ecuador, Jornadas Médicas.

Dying is one thing, according to nurse Joanna Fidel. She had seen people die before. To die alone though—that is another matter.

Fidel works in the emergency room of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. As a guest speaker at Jornadas Médicas 2016 (Medical Conferences 2016) in Quito, Ecuador, she told of heartbreak and how God used the situation to teach her of Himself.

Themes of emergency medicine and disaster response were amply explored in 52 lectures, about half of which were given by specialists from outside of Ecuador, including Fidel. She related that when a lung cancer patient in pulmonary distress arrived at the ER, “we tried bi-pap, but we ended up having to intubate him.” (The former method delivers pressurized air through a mask to a patient’s airways, whereas the latter does so through a tube introduced into the throat.)

With doubts about the patient’s survival, Fidel attempted to contact his daughter. “As a nurse,” Fidel said, “you give a lot of yourself to a patient. You will not take your lunch break—sometimes not take your bathroom break. You give a lot of yourself.” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | June 14, 2016

Medical Conference Prepares for Ecuadorian Disaster Yet Unseen

jornadas2Themed “The Challenge of Emergency and Disaster” the 28th Jornadas Médicas (Medical Conference) in Ecuador preceded by less than two months a 7.8-magitude earthquake that left some 660 people dead and thousands wounded. Hundreds of buildings in two provinces were also flattened, including a hospital in the coastal province of Manabí.
Reach Beyond’s Hospital Vozandes co-sponsored the event, along with other institutions, including Ecuador’s Ministerio de Salud Publica (Ministry of Public Health or MSP).
This year’s event was held February 22-26 at Reach Beyond facilities in Quito. In April and May, the killer quake struck Ecuador’s coastal area. Within days, the first HVQ medical team was dispatched and subsequently additional teams saw to the medical, psychological and spiritual needs of quake victims. The medical teams went out at the invitation of the MSP.
An annual event, Jornadas is considered the core academic event of HVQ, which in June celebrated an anniversary of the founding of its medical education program. A paramedic at the 2016 conference, José Luis Paguay, said learned enough in the first few days of the conference to begin applying to his weekend shift in pre-hospital triage and transport work at a hospital in Quininde. He also found useful a talk on hypertension, a common ailment of Ecuadorians. Read More…

Canoa, Ecuador suffered great damages in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake of April 16, 2016.

Canoa, Ecuador suffered great damages in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake of April 16, 2016.

When home is no longer a refuge but has become instead a threat, what are your options?

This is no theoretical question for thousands of Ecuadorians. Displaced by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, their homes are different than before. Their new normal means bedding down in tents after the April 16 temblor shook down homes and hotels alike in two of Ecuador’s coastal provinces, Esmeraldas and Manabí.

A displaced Ecuadorian’s daily rhythms may include cooking outdoors along with doing pretty well everything else in a camp setting—waking up and brushing teeth, caring for kids, visiting, eating. Or it may mean sharing a common kitchen with people who were not neighbors prior to the earthquake.

Statistics vary, but the Secretaría Nacional de Riesgos (National Secretariat for Risks or SNGR) says that 22,754 people are in such camps. The Ministerio de Inclusión Económica y Social (Economic and Social Inclusion Ministry or MIES) put that number at more than 28,439. Earlier this month, MIES announced that its technicians would survey the camps to establish why people are staying and what it would take to return them to their home communities.

“Life in the shelters was uncomfortable,” Rosa Arias told the Quito newspaper El Comercio about a month after the devastating quake. “So my family and I decided to go to the island (Muisne) to begin again.” She fled Muisne in Esmeraldas province along with some 1,500 others who moved to shelters at Pueblo Nuevo and El Salto for those displaced by the mid-April quake. Read More…

by Ralph Kurtenbach and Harold Goerzen

Ecuador’s coastal area was shaken again by earthquakes on Wednesday, May 18. The temblors occurred just a month after an April 16 quake upended tourism towns and cities across two provinces, leaving some 660 people dead and over 4,600 injured.

The pair of tremors, interspersed by aftershocks, occurred near Mompiche in Ecuador’s northern province of Esmeraldas. Just before 3 a.m. a 6.8-strength quake jolted people from their sleep. Its epicenter was around the community of Rosa Zarate, according to the Ecuador-based Geophysical Institute. Throughout the morning hours, aftershocks continued periodically. Then around noon another 6.8-strength quake struck the same area.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced on Twitter that one person died and at least 85 were injured. People had already been unnerved by the killer 7.8-strength quake that hit at 6:58 p.m. Saturday, April 16, leaving nearly 30,000 displaced after homes, businesses, churches, hotels and other structures were thrown down. Victims may begin to wonder if life will ever return to normal.

In the port city of Guayaquil, a Reach Beyond broadcast partner (HCJB-2) was unaffected by the tremors, according to Allen Graham, who is directing the facility. About 100 miles inland, people in Quito felt the shaking of both the 3 a.m. and 11:47 a.m. temblors, the earlier one of which lasted nearly a minute.

“Whoo!” exclaimed Reach Beyond’s Hermann Schirmacher on his Facebook account, describing the earlier May 18 aftershock’s magnitude and saying, “I jumped out of my bed and got to the roof. All fine here.”

Days earlier, Schirmacher and three others from Reach Beyond had returned to Quito after days of medical caravan work in Manabí province where physicians Drs. Mauricio Coronel and Steve Nelson treated 327 patients in rural zones during several days. The province had suffered widespread damage and loss of life in the initial quake.

Doctors Steve Nelson and Mauricio Coronel.

Doctors Steve Nelson and Mauricio Coronel.

“The acute needs related to the earthquake have been dealt with,” said Nelson, whose time in Manabí province this month showed him “an ongoing issue with people [which] is the anxiety of a possible further earthquake,” fed by rumors claiming a new quake would top the April 16 event. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 24, 2016

What Does God Know?

Photo shows Ecuadorian city Bahia de Caraquez, from San Vicente.

Photo shows Ecuadorian city Bahia de Caraquez, from San Vicente.

by Ralph Kurtenbach

What does God know? At a gas station in San Vicente, we wait for Steve. He has run to a pharmacy to find iron supplements to make available to patients in rural Manabí Province.sanvicente2

A small pickup pulls around the gas pumps, its truck box’s hand-lettered message proclaiming in Spanish, “Only God knows if I’ll return.” I smile at this and assume the driver’s attention to vehicle upkeep, speed limits or even safe driving habits may be spare.

In the end though, the little truck has it right—only God knows. Sure, we do something to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. But truly our lives are in His hands.bahiadecaraquez2

Across the bay a day earlier, we had toured through some hard-hit areas of Bahia de Caraquez. Some who survived the 7.8 strength earthquake on April 16 in Ecuador told their stories, including some who had brought out people from under the wreckage of a building.

The car stops and I get out to look and photograph.  I look up at tall buildings, pristine white, attractive from across the bay in San Vicente. Up close, these same condominiums and apartments  do not look safe. (But as someone told us, what fell off during the quake was plaster or stucco; the structural components weren’t compromised.) bahiadecaraquez4I look down, and at my feet is a dead bird, and the building and the bird serve to reinforce in me a biblical truth. Jesus once said, Are not two sparrows sold for a [a]cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.(Matthew 10:29 )

The idea seized me that amid the destruction of a devastating earthquake, God cares—even to seemingly insignificant matters of a bird’s death. Was Jesus exaggerating? I don’t think so. When the world was created He gave Adam the task of naming the animals and when He later destroyed His own creation, He led Noah to save the species.

bahiadecaraquezadjustedA ways farther on, a slick, professional-looking sign fairly begs to be photographed before the tall buildings whose white facades have chipped and broken away. “Are you looking for a secure investment?” The sign asks. Boldly it then declares, “Look no further,” with an arrow pointing to the tall buildings. A children’s song about building a house upon a foundation of sand plays out in my mind.

A wise man, continues the song, builds upon the Rock.

ralph1The daily habits of trusting God—these are what will get us through in times when even the ground beneath us offers no stable support.  God knows our going out and coming in, and He knows the details of our lives even to the number of hairs on our head. He can be trusted, and we are to teach this to our children as we walk along the way.

Ralph Kurtenbach is a missionary with Reach Beyond.

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 23, 2016

Notes from the Quake Zone (Twenty-sixth in a Series)


(12 May 2016 Manabí Province, Ecuador)

by Hermann Schirmacher

At the point we believed there is no way to continue on and go any farther, people pointed out to us that there were two ladies at a place that have not received any medical attention. We went farther and farther into the remote area we had not planned to go to. Would we be able to turn the car around with deep slopes and rocks in the way? When we came to the point where we could not go on, there was a guy with a horse and he said that his mom was up the hill. There was no way to go with the car, and we again did not get good information out of him to know how far it was to go there.13237684_621912144627403_6814127774656274483_n

First I said we would not go there, but my eyes went over to this horse. It was not good for my weight, but it probably could carry Dr. Nelson who is 70 years old. And he probably would never go again on a medical relief with me as a team leader if I would make him walk up that slope.

The guy agreed he would let him us the horse and so I just had to figure out if Steve would be fine doing this. But it did not take an eye blink and he sat in the saddle of that horse. The two psychologists and I walked alongside the horse up that hill. We sweated as a pig and the horse fortunately walked in slow motion.

A psychologist and Rosa, who lives at the end of a road in Ecuador's Manabí Province.

A psychologist and Rosa, who lives at the end of a road in Ecuador’s Manabí Province.

It took a good effort to get up there. Finally we got to Rosa, who needed help and probably will need some more help in the future. We recommended that she should move down closer to the road but she would not like to leave her house and her neighborhood. Later, also her sister-in-law showed up and received attention.

As we understood no military truck had made it that far and I was glad to make it back safe to the paved road.

Hermann Schirmacher is a missionary with Reach Beyond.

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 20, 2016

Notes from the Quake Zone (Twenty-fifth in a Series)

(12 May 2016 Manabí Province, Ecuador)

by Hermann Schirmacher

First of all we are so glad for all your prayers and you becoming vital part of this endeavor to bring a bit of relief to the people of Ecuador who suffered with this 7.8-magnitude quake that rocked Ecuador’s coast on April 16. It killed hundreds and injured many thousands. The fear that people continue to have cannot be taken away with a candy bar, a medical visit or with a smile—even less with any kind of medicine on our 4-wheel drive pickup as we left this morning to join the military to bring donations and supplies to the people.

Dr. Nelson and Hermann Schirmacher with a patient in Manabí Province, Ecuador.

Dr. Nelson and Hermann Schirmacher with a patient in Manabí Province, Ecuador.

We went with two cars—as Dr. Coronel and Ralph would go back to Quito today—to the military base that is the collection and distribution point of supplies in the Canoa area.

When I talked to the soldier responsible, the trucks already did check out at the gate to leave. He helped me to write down the two routes the trucks would go. That did mean we had to split up the team quickly again. I handed the names of the places to Ralph as well as the box with medicines they would need to use. So they went to places like El Salto and Rio Canoa and we left for places like Zapallo, Rio Muchacho, Chorro de Agua Fria and Boca de Camarones.
On the road we did see all kinds of medical needs and handed out medicines as before. Most of the places we did see, people still sleep outside of their homes, some have abandoned their homes to go to safer places as the earth had many cracks.

Hermann Schirmacher is a missionary with Reach Beyond.

Dr. Steve Nelson photographs a Manabí Province road that shifted in the April 16 earthquake in Ecuador

Dr. Steve Nelson photographs a Manabí Province road that shifted in the April 16 earthquake in Ecuador

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 20, 2016

Notes from the Quake Zone (Twenty-fourth in a Series)

Residents of Muyuyal share laughter with a psychologist in Ecuador's Manabí Province on May 11. The following day, the Reach Beyond medical team split up to accompany military trucks to the countryside.

Residents of Muyuyal share laughter with a psychologist in Ecuador’s Manabí Province on May 11.

(11 May 2016 Manabí Province, Ecuador)

by Hermann Schirmacher

The challenge between giving enough help, food, water and clothing in a disaster relief and the moment to reduce and draw back such support is not easy. Where is this point to stop or continue for the military to drive to remote villages several times a week and hand out supplies for free? People will continue to sit at the street to open the hands for free food as long as it comes. How to encourage to start taking on a job, take care for their crop, the livestock, continue to produce.
The other challenge is the help that folks expect from the government to hand out construction material, cement, wood and blocks to start building. But what construction code will people follow to avoid having their house destroyed again?
We heard that it is difficult to get workers to do jobs and start generating their income and help on the reconstruction. On the field away from the city many people work on small farms making 12 USD a day. Some are out there and working; some are waiting.

We went with our team and the military out to Muyuyal Arriba. They had on board of their Chinese military truck some supplies, several psychologists and went out to this remote place. We followed the truck with our vehicle and found a nice place under the roof of a building that was not finished.
We set up our spot to receive the patients. I appreciated the work from the psychologist who work with a Catholic organization. They did a good job to identify individuals to help individually and also to do some programs with the kids.

Hermann Schirmacher is a missionary with Reach Beyond.

Map showing rural settlements where Reach Beyond medical teams have tended to patients.

Map showing rural settlements where Reach Beyond medical teams have tended to patients.

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 20, 2016

Notes from the Quake Zone (Twenty-third in a Series)

Dr. Mauricio Coronel with a patient at Santo Domingo Chiquito in Ecuador's Manabí Province.

Dr. Mauricio Coronel with a patient at Santo Domingo Chiquito in Ecuador’s Manabí Province.

(9 May 2016 Manabí Province, Ecuador)

by Ralph Kurtenbach

At Tabuchila we did 12 patients but just barely, as urgings from the second sergeant—not Master Sergeant Garces—were making me think I shouldn’t have taken down data on so many people. It would only set them up for expectations that we couldn’t meet as there were still other communities on our schedule.murachi

We learned something as we went. If Dr. Coronel or I had thought that we were hot stuff riding in the cab of a 2015 three ton, China-made army vehicle, we indeed were hot and sweating from boarding and getting out. I will say that each time there was a “community” the driver, Sargent Garces always asked the locals where was the “town center.” On some occasions it was at the farmyard where there was some room to set up our consult area and hope every prospect wasn’t listening in on others’ symptoms and Dr. Coronel’s medical solutions.

At each stop, the six of us in the cab dismounted (no easy task in itself) and the two in the back began to hoist and toss down ration packages to the other two who had gotten down as well as the two soldiers from the cab. The two Ministerio de Inclusion Economica y Social (MIES) men noted people’s data as they received the rations.

Dr. Coronel and I would scramble to find a workable place, hopefully in the shade. Usually out of the sun, but with some distractions, such as a sow in search of feed. The remote communities we visited were on asphalt-paved roads (mostly) but still made me appreciate anew the Health Ministry’s requirement that new doctors serve out a “rural year” as part of their licensing.

Ralph Kurtenbach is a missionary with Reach Beyond.

Army truck loaded with supplies edges up on cattle being herded on the highway to Murachi in Manabí Province.

Army truck loaded with supplies edges up on cattle being herded on the highway to Murachi in Manabí Province.

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