Tuesday, November 27, 2018

PRACTICING THANKSGIVING

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November 2018

Practicing gratitude has been hard work this year! At times Dave has struggled to find joy in his work, while Beth has battled with some physical ailments, including shingles.  Being thankful in all circumstances has been a significant challenge these last few months.

Levi is grateful to be learning guitar from his mom
It is for this reason we are looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We have found that looking over our photos from the last year has been a meaningful practice.  While reviewing pictures from the last year, God can remind us of the many moments of grace along the way.  These blessings have come in the form of timely visits from family, new relationships with students, and surprising financial provision.

Luke is grateful for good friends to help him navigate middle school
We are all grateful to have our permanent resident visas
We want to share with you images from the last year that have stirred up hearts of thanksgiving in us. And we'd love to see a picture or two from your past year that remind you to practice gratitude. Thanks!

Aaron is grateful for visits with cousins
Lina is grateful for playtime with friends
Dave is grateful for the opportunity to pray and play
with his new students from the junior class
Beth is grateful for the encouragement
she receives from these wonderful ladies
                                   Prayer and Support Needs

Please pray that Beth would continue to be healed from her bout with shingles.  In addition, pray for Dave to have renewed joy in serving his students and the Alliance Academy International community.

We continue to seek new monthly supporters for our ministry with Reach Beyond here in Quito.  If you are interested in joining the team, feel free to contact us or visit our Reach Beyond project page here.



New Season & New Project & New Support - September 2018

As September begins so does the season of newness.  We want to thank everyone for the continued support and prayers as we adjust to the new rhythms of life and ministry opportunities.  We are all very excited to see what God has for us in the 2018-2019 academic year at the Alliance Academy International (AAI).
Luke and Levi making new friends
Levi has started his 8th grade year with a handful of new classmates and teachers.  He looks forward to being involved with sports, music, and drama. 

Luke has begun 7th grade and has joined Levi in the band. He loves the new freedoms of middle school and especially likes his science class. 

Enjoying the paddleboats at a park close to home
Aaron (5th grade) is enjoying having Jennifer Kendrick, our neighbor, friend, and the only other Reach Beyond missionary at AAI, as his homeroom teacher. 

Evangeline (3rd grade) is likewise thrilled to have our dear friend, Patrick Pinho, for her teacher.  It is such a blessing to have meaningful friendships with our kids’ teachers. We deeply value the input of other godly adults into our kids' lives.




Last year, Beth recorded lead vocals for a worship song written by a church friend. This fall, Beth joined the filming of the music video that our church, La Viña, produced to accompany the song. La Viña aims to continue sharing musical resources with other churches throughout Latin America, particularly in the Vineyard Movement of which it is a part.



Dave is really looking forward to teaching his favorite classes ("World Religions and Cults" and "Heaven and Hell: Visions of Sin and Grace") for a whole year, rather than just a semester.  He has been enjoying all the new students, mostly Juniors, in his classroom. 


We are so very grateful for the newest monthly supporters of our work with Reach Beyond.  We continue to look to add to the monthly support team to make up the current shortfall. If you are able and willing, please visit the following site to join the team today!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Reconnecting and Renovating



The much anticipated summer has arrived and with it a flurry of activities in and outside the home. As we enjoy this season of reconnecting and renovating we are struck by the incredible mystery that Christ would call us friends.  We see this summer as another reminder of the Father’s desire to lavish his love on us, for no other reason than he enjoys doing so.
Reconnecting: Family Reunion


Shortly after classes wrapped up at the Alliance Academy International (AAI), my (Dave’s) brother Steve, sister Carla, and her two sons arrived in Quito for family reunion. This was Calvin and Jonathan’s first journey to their ancestral lands. We loved showing them the diverse beauty of the Ecuadorian countryside. 


A second part of reconnecting was to reunite my brother with his son, David. David had been living with us and attending the AAI since January, shining in basketball and connecting well with friends.  It was an honor to include him in our family, seeing him mature and come to love Ecuador as we do.  David is returning to Thailand for his sophomore year. 


Renovating: Dave's Classroom

After a decade of teaching, I am renovating my classroom and teaching model. I requested to extend my "World Religions and Cults" and "Heaven and Hell" courses to a full year. This will give me the space for more creative engagement with the course material. I also plan to use a "flipped classroom" of student-led investigation, while using learning centers to empower the students. 



Renovating: Support Levels

After 12 years on the mission field, we see a gradual downturn in our support levels, as life changes naturally prevent some donors from giving. At the same time, our family of six’s basic cost of living continues to rise, particularly educational expenses. We find ourselves with a shortfall of  about $1000/month. 

Currently, about 90% of our monthly support comes from our original donors, who started their giving twelve years ago.  We are profoundly grateful for that faithfulness! 


Our hope and goal now is to increase partnership with friends who have seen our ministry firsthand from living, working and visiting with us in Ecuador.  If you are an Ecuador friend, would you please prayerfully consider monthly partnership with us to help make up our shortfall?

Thank you!

Friday, May 4, 2018

UPS and DOWNS

We’ve been roller coasting up and down and all around lately and want to share with you a bit of the ride.



DOWNS:

The big trough over the past few months has been our son Luke’s health. He has been having intensely itchy allergic reactions all over his body, and despite visits to a top-notch allergy doctor, we have yet to determine a cause or a very effective treatment regimen. Missed school, missed sleep, rotating treatment attempts, and trying to eliminate the endless possible allergens are all taking their psychological toll on the family. Please keep us in your prayers in this trying time. 


Another emotional valley came with the decision to close the English service we’ve been part of the past several years (and headed up a good chunk of that time). The responsibilities involved kept increasing, and I (Beth) could not give the full-time attention required, on top of running our active home and addressing Luke’s health needs.  As sad as I feel to close that chapter, I’m also grateful for the wonderful people we met and grew with. We have encouraged our community to view this shift as a chance to integrate more completely into our vibrant Spanish-language congregation.

Prayers of blessing in our final English service

UPS:

We are finally official residents of Ecuador and proud owners of national ID cards, which will facilitate maaany transactions for us. So long as we meet physical presence requirements for the next two years, these visas are essentially permanent, and we couldn’t be happier. The only downside is we won’t make it to the U.S. this summer, but we’d love to have you visit us here.

Dave’s Koinonia project (where AAI staff pair up for monthly hosting of students for meals at home) has gotten off to a great start, with over 50 middle and high school kids involved. Our own family has had such fun opening our home (and even inspiring some impromptu pillowfighting). Memories!

Our kids enjoy having the high school students over to play

MORE PICS FROM THE ROLLERCOASTER:


A birthday photo of Abuelita Kathy with the five grandkids
she currently has in Ecuador

Assistant coach Dave with the AAI JV soccer team
Levi (top) on the stage crew of the AAI's spring
theater production
Our dining table surrounded by students and teachers -
just the way we like it!

Thanks so much for riding along on this roller coaster with us through your prayers, your messages, and your financial partnership, which makes what we do possible. "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness," (Lamentations 3:21-23)

Warmly,
The Saavedra Family








Sunday, December 31, 2017

NO MONUMENTS, ONLY FOOTPRINTS


"By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going…" (Hebrews 11:8)

I can’t help but laugh when I read that verse, identifying so much with befuddled Abraham. At the start of 2017, Dave and I committed to a time of prayer for a clear vision for the coming year. The response was not the desired one-year plan, a monument to 2017 that we could build and point to as a success. Instead, we heard, “Just obey for the next step.” So, we’ve forged ahead like Abraham, with “no idea” of a long-term destination, just praying over each decision as it comes, and trying to obey one day at a time.

And what a year it has been! We’re sharing glimpses with you in photos here, and we thank you for walking along with us in prayer, and in personal and financial support. Eugene Peterson describes following Jesus as a lifestyle on the move. He quotes Faulkner, who writes that we do not leave behind monuments, which only say, “At least I got this far.” Rather, we leave footprints, which say, “This is where I was when I moved again.”

The true monument building belongs not to us, but to God. We don’t see the master plan, but we can offer ourselves as obedient workers. We walk faithfully forward, like Abraham, who “did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations – the City designed and built by God.” (Hebrews 11:10)

On the move into 2018,
Dave & Beth,
Levi, Luke, Aaron and Evangeline


These goofballs are sleeping much better at night. Thanks so much for your prayers!


Dave's 14-year-old nephew had such a great visit to Ecuador this summer that he's joining us for all of next semester. Please pray that we'll thrive with two teens in the house. 

Dave is currently teaching courses on Peter and Moses and keeps working on community building at the Alliance Academy International

Beth keeps expanding her role at our church, La Viña, continuing in music and teaching, while adding mentoring with Celebrate Recovery and serving on leadership council.

Due to changes in immigration law, we decided to submit a visa application for permanent residency. While the process is costly, we will no longer have to go through visa renewals every two years, which will be a relief. 

After three months in the shop, our car is back. We are super grateful for mobility to be able to visit beautiful places like this again. 

Everything we do is in partnership with our amazing team of supporters. You can make an impact with a donation to our work with Reach Beyond here. Thanks!


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DAVE DOES DISCIPLESHIP

Dave tackles worldviews in the classroom

For some years, I (Dave) have felt that the Alliance Academy International's unique Christian identity has been under attack. Our chapel and discipleship programs were hijacked in many ways by the need to comply with new government regulations. Some of my Bible classes suffered a near 50% reduction in class time. Perhaps the most frustrating change to our Christian formation programming was the loss of our Christian Service Outreach (CSO) program. 

For decades, the AAI provided a variety of CSO ministries to equip our students to put their faith into practice through the visual arts, community service, youth ministry and evangelism. Alumni have frequently commented that our CSO programs were a life-giving highlight of their AAI experience. The closure of CSO two years ago – amidst intense transitions at AAI– was greatly lamented by many alums. A painful consequence of this loss is a growing disconnect between the vision of AAI for Christian identity formation and a narrower academic focus of many of our families. My conclusion is that we need a broader, specifically Christian perspective on how their faith integrates with the rest of their lives. 

Thus, it was a tremendous honor when our new school director tasked me with resurrecting our CSO programs. In partnership with a former student of mine, we began the revitalization of CSO with the Guardians ministry. Guardians is based on the principles of discipleship development in 2 Timothy 2:2. Our team of adult leaders is training 20+ high school students to study the Bible, craft an interactive devotional, lead a variety of team building exercises, and facilitate small group discussions and prayer times with 4th – 8th graders.  Our hope is that Guardians will help our students value their Christian education for more than just their diploma, but as God’s tool for developing them as the next generation of Christian leaders. Check out the video from our kick-off retreat (below) and please join us in prayer each Wednesday for our Guardians leaders. Thanks!



Guardians leaders growing their skills

A BROKEN CAR IS LIKE A BROKEN HEART

...It takes time and patience to fix! We’ve been carless for several weeks, relying on Dave’s parents’ very kind lending of their vehicle as we wait for the repair of our Ford Explorer. Getting parts and navigating repairs have been complicated and expensive. 


Back when our car - and the Chicago Cubs! - were functional

Thankfully, though, our hearts aren’t broken over it. However, we do feel our patience tested recently from our kids’ recurring sleep troubles. Sometimes it feels like a whack-a-mole game as different kids pop in during the night. We do live in a noisy city apartment, but some of their sleep troubles seem to be anxiety-related. We are still working on getting to the root of these issues.   

You can help with both these scenarios! How? Please pray for peace for the hearts of our kiddos and for grace and wisdom for us as we parent. And please consider a year-end donation to help us get our wheels operational again. Our happy (hopefully well-rested) hearts thank you!



Saturday, July 29, 2017

SEASONS OF SOWING AND REAPING


In recent months, we’ve been reflecting on the tears of this past year and also composing some songs of joy we hope to sing with increasing volume! Specifically, our weeping over mandatory changes at AAI that have edged out some discipleship time during the school day is now turning into excitement as Dave plans new ministry ideas for outside school hours. Brainstorming with other teachers, he’s seen interest in building spiritual community through peer mentoring teams, an open-home hospitality rotation, outdoor adventure club, sports and other service ideas. Please pray with us for the organization of these opportunities, as well as the hands needed to make them all happen!

Prayers of goodbye blessings for our dear friends

We’ve also just experienced the perennial goodbyes of summer, this time including some of our oldest friends here. I (Beth) have been praying Bifrost Art's beautiful musical rendition of Psalm 126:

Although we are weeping/Lord, help us keep sowing
The seeds of Your Kingdom/For the day You will reap them
Your sheaves we will carry/Lord, please do not tarry
All those who sow weeping/will go out with songs of joy


The hopeful image of sowing seeds of the Kingdom even while weeping, has strengthened my heart, as I hope it does yours. Your partnership with us in Quito is part of the greater purposes of God to yield sheaves of blessing! We are so grateful for your prayers, which lift us up and keep us planting. 

SOME SUMMER SHOTS


We celebrated Levi's 6th grade graduation
along with Dave's extended family


The abuelos (grandparents) showed ten grandkids
the windy ruins of Ingapirca


Saavedra and Sons posed at the Cuenca Zoo


Luke cozied up
with a praying mantis in Baños



Aaron soared on the
"Swing at the End of the World"


Evangeline enjoyed the view
at the top of Pichincha volcano