November 2, 2022
Dear Friends in Christ,
Greetings from Ecuador! We are stuck in Quito and have not been able to get on the last three daily flights. . . and tonight is looking good! However, this has given us time to be thankful that this rarely happens and that Candy McCune, who accompanied us, is such a champion at rolling with the delays at returning home.
Not only that glitch but also when coming down, only Candy and I got on the flight and Richard stayed behind. Two hours into that flight the pilot announced we had to turn around and return to Houston. . . a cockpit window heater malfunctioned causing one of the double paned windows to crack. . .Fortunately, only one pane cracked, or an emergency landing would have been required. . . It was midnight when landing back in Houston and we needed to be back at 5am to depart again at 7am so we decided to sack out in the airport. . . Sounded like a clever idea but. . . well. . . And after we left, Richard took a flight to Panama City and on to Quito so that the three of us could make the flight to Manta. Challenges, yes, but enough of those tales!
We had asked Candy to return to Floron to the review principles of “Peacemakers” (Biblical conflict/resolution principles) to the clinic staff (For some, it was the first time presented, others a review from six years ago).
Luz Marina Vera (interpreter) – Candy McCune – Flori Zambrano
Clinic staff plus pastors Alexi, Gabriel, and Jhon
She did this six years ago for Buen Samaritano staff and at one of the churches in Portoviejo. Candy has a gift for going ‘below the surface’ in situations where it appears there is resolve but in truth there remains deep hurt that fester and grows over time. Sound familiar? Prior to our coming, I asked Dra. Silvia to invite the three local pastors to join the seminar. I was thankful to see how excited the pastors were about the seminar. Candy also mediates in disagreements that seem like an exercise in futility. Candy was asked to mediate in a situation regarding two close friends on a newly formed foundation for abused women and children. Ultimately, one friend was asked to leave the board for strong differing views on the direction of the foundation. The two had remained friends but there was an icy relationship between them. And the one was deeply grieved by the situation. Candy skillfully guided the mediation which found the two both apologizing and admitting the part they played in the conflict.
I am sure each of us can recall situations that were easier to ignore than face and restore a relationship. Churches, which one would think are exceptional in forgiveness are often the very place where relationship wedges are planted, ignored and fester. Thus, this is why “Peacemakers” was instituted and grew; and so successfully grew that even non-Christian institutions have sought out “Peacemakers” principles for reconciliation for mediation. I keep thinking back as far as Moses and the plethora of disharmony he was called on to mediate to the point of being so overwhelmed that he assigned others to assist at the advice of his father in-law. Could we be avoiding issues that divide and separate us from Christian brothers and sisters. . . simply because we choose to avoid conflict? May we grieve and seek to openly confront issues that separate relationships. . .even from Our God.
Many of you know that I have authored a book highlighting the various events that I felt the workings of the Holy Spirit in our mission. “I CAN’T DO THIS!” (“So, Who Will?”) was given to all the staff who appeared in the book. . . It was gratifying to see their reaction and sincere thanks to those who have purchased a copy as a fundraiser for Buen Samaritano Clinic and Water. I was laughing and asked Richard if he thought Prince Harry’s book that comes out in January would hurt the book’s sales. . . He rolled his eyes.
I went to visit Maria Sanchez and family who suddenly lost her husband a month ago. Richard was able to visit her during his last trip . . . Joffrey was a special person I had known for over 20 years. He had rheumatic fever as a young child and had a valve replacement as a young boy and then again in his late twenties. Due to the uncertain outcome, he had his mom call me (Joffrey always said I was his ‘American mom,’ and Richard was his ‘American father') in Englewood before he went into surgery. He survived surgery and worked extremely hard to support his wife and three children. Maria said he left at 6am and came home around 11pm for the past five years. He sold bed sheets door to door. . . sometimes having to return to collect from those who purchased on credit. Though he always looked like the wind could easily blow him away he was active in church and always with a smile. Maria says it was the increased stress of his work that one night caused him to gasp for air one last time. I cannot say how Joffrey is missed. Their twenty-year-old son has taken an eight-month course online and received a certificate as a private guard. . . to help support the family. As of yet, he cannot find a job which is no surprise. . . Employment is a problem for as long as I can remember in Floron and actually all Ecuador. Please pray that Rolando Joffrey can find work and that Maria’s grief can be comforted by her loving God.
A second visit was made to the family of our past nurse assistant, Angelita. You may remember she had asked to have Fridays off at noon so she could return to school to work for her GED. Angelita was the eldest in her class and Richard was there to attend her graduation at 65 years; this little mite of a lady was a darling in her graduation cap. Later that year, Richard said ‘good night’ as she left the clinic and early the next morning it was reported that she had passed away during the night from an asthma attack. She was sixty-seven. I miss her beyond words. . . Thus, I took the family my book since her graduation picture was in it. . . Her daughter gave me a locket with Angelita’s picture in it. . . She said she knew I would be back to visit them sometime.
As I said, we are ‘stuck’ in Quito. Flights are running full, but we should get out tonight and home tomorrow morning. These infrequent ‘glitches’ perhaps are a time to reflect on how these twenty-five years are an incredible collaboration with hearts moved to pray and donate to make all this happen. . . all glory and honor to Our Sovereign God!
Our love and prayers,
Richard and Elizabeth <><