Saturday, November 28, 2009


1. We love having a daughter! We finally added a girl to our family on November 14. Evangeline Joy weighed 6 lbs 10 oz at birth and has blue eyes, another first in our family of brown-eyed boys. The three big brothers are wildly enthusiastic about their sister. Born just a week before his fifth birthday, Levi told his brothers, "She's my birthday present." He also asked us hopefully, "Do we get to keep her forever?" (photo: Introducing our princess)

2. We really appreciate electricity. Most electricity here comes from hydroelectric plants, which have been struggling with the worst dry season in almost fifty years. For the last month, Quito has had rolling blackouts of 2-4 hours every weekday. Thankfully, the outages are announced in the news so we can prepare. And we're glad it's just electric that's being rationed - much easier to handle than water rationing!

3. Every class is completely different, even when the subject matter remains the same. Dave had a dynamic group of students in his Discipleship class last spring, which made teaching seem easy. This fall's Discipleship class is a group of reserved students with a very different learning style. It's been challenging, but a good growing experience for his classroom skills. (photo: a few fall semester students)
4. You can't predict the impact you'll have. As Dave's former students have headed off to colleges around the world, he's been pleasantly surprised to hear good feedback from students who seemed less than engaged while in high school. One young man didn't attend church as a high school student, but after going off to study in a secular setting in Europe, he told Dave he realized how much he needs spiritual community. Because he plays semi-pro soccer on weekends, he didn't think he could find a church with services he could attend, but after prayer, he not only found a church, but a Spanish language one, his native tongue.

5. Technology is our friend. We've been so grateful to stay in touch with many of you via e-mail, Skype and Facebook. Still, face to face is the best. We've had our socks blessed off by visits from family and friends this year and we're thrilled to now have Dave's parents living just a few blocks away. Ya'll come visit now, ya hear? (photo: The Douglas grandparents visit Levi's classroom)
6. A juicer is a smart health investment when you live in a fertile country like Ecuador. Because fresh produce is so inexpensive, we take advantage of God's bounty and make juice almost every day. It does a parent's heart good to watch the kids happily down glasses of carrot-pineapple-papaya-spinach juice.

7. You get back more than you give when you work to build community. Since the expatriate community is so transient, it can be a real stretch to invite people into our lives, knowing they may leave in just a year or two. Yet after talking to some other young moms about the need for fellowship, Beth started a weekly moms-and-kids group which has been a real delight. We've already had some goodbyes, but the encouragement and strength we receive from each other is absolutely worth it.

8. It IS possible to bake a good pan of brownies at over 9000ft. It took almost three years, but Beth finally perfected her recipe. At this altitude, the low atmospheric pressure means baking often yields dry, crumbly desserts with fallen centers. But with plenty of practice, Beth is finally feeling at home in her kitchen high in the Andes mountains. (photo: Levi samples his birthday cupcake)
9. Not much is as spiritually invigorating as talking with someone who is hungry for more of God. For Dave, the fall semester brought in a number of transfer students who are very grateful to be in a Christian community and eager to know more about God. One student had never cracked a Bible, but is currently taking two Bible courses and plans to take three more before he graduates next semester.

10. God's provision is unfailingly faithful. It's a lesson all of our generous ministry partners teach us again and again, month by month, day by day. We are grateful for our health, our home and food, our family and friends and the continued ministry opportunities made possible through your faithful support and prayers.

With hearts filled with thanksgiving, we wish you a peaceful Advent, joyful Christmas and love-filled New Year!

Dave, Beth, Levi, Luke, Aaron and Evangeline Saavedra

P.S. You can see more new photos of our family at our Picasa album.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Due to scheduling issues, some of Dave’s classes are smaller than usual, which at first was disappointing. Now he’s trying to see it as an opportunity to connect more with individual students. His smallest class, a section of Bible Study Methods (BSM), has just four kids - all quiet, English as a Second Language learners - so this might be just the chance for them to feel safe enough to really open up. Dave’s especially excited about building strong relationships with the incoming sophomores (all new students to him) to whom he will teach BSM. He’s been working on changes to the curriculum in hopes of moving from a largely academic study of the biblical text toward a deeper, more personal engagement with God through his Word. This has the potential to transform lives!

Dave’s two other courses are World Religions and Cults (WRC) and Discipleship. The opening paragraph of the syllabus for each of Dave’s classes reads:

The Bible is the most important book you will ever study. Through it God has revealed himself to us so that we can be in a personal relationship with him. It is an amazing gift! Thus the study of the Bible is our most important task, because it is God's eternal truth for our relationship with him. Biblical truth is essential for your life as a friend of God. Thus, Bible classes are of highest importance.


With Dave home more often, Beth has been more active in women’s ministry. Our church’s women’s program normally goes on hiatus over the summer, but God motivated Beth and a friend to keep the fellowship going. Beth and Denise have been co-leading a study over the summer with 7 to 15 women coming weekly (Denise is second and Beth is fourth from left).

One elderly Ecuadorian widow, R., told us that our study day and Sundays are the only happy days of her week. R. has barely been making ends meet as a street vendor and was recently threatened with eviction from the apartment where she lived with her grandson. Between the church’s benevolence fund and gifts from several women in our study, we were able to help her find another apartment, but please keep R. in your prayers as she looks for more stable work.

There are many situations like this within our congregation and we need discernment to know how best to respond. Right now our women’s ministry leader position is vacant, so please pray with us that God fills that spot quickly with a wise woman.


This was our first summer here with a car and both of us as licensed drivers. It’s been a great blessing to drive around getting to know Ecuador better (see our travel photos). As we make family memories here, we feel more at home and connected in this nation—truly an answer to prayer. Another reason we’re feeling more at home here is that Dave’s parents, Americo and Kathy, moved down in July. The boys adore having grandparents living just a few blocks away!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saying "Good" Goodbyes

One of our most vivid memories from our pre-departure missionary training in Colorado was being locked into a room with the thirty or so other missionary candidates with whom we had just spent an intense few weeks of living and learning together. Our mission? To say goodbye to everyone in the room before we could leave.

There were grateful tears as we shared how certain folks had touched our hearts. There were awkward moments saying goodbye to acquaintances we doubted we would ever see again. There was joy in being able to say “thank you” to those from whom we had learned so much. And there were plenty of hugs to go around. When we finally left, we felt a closure about having said “good” goodbyes and we felt freedom to move on to the next stage of our lives.

The end of the school year is a bittersweet time that brings up the question: how will we say goodbye? None of us enjoy saying goodbye to departing students and staff, but in a mobile community like the Alliance Academy International (AAI), it’s a fact of life. It’s easy for kids who see people move in and out of their lives all the time to become jaded about relationships or just to keep things superficial so as not to get hurt. One of the most common defense mechanisms is just to walk away from relationships without saying goodbye. But reflecting back on our friendships and then talking directly with our friends about the blessings and challenges is an important way to deal with our grief. And that’s exactly what Dave had the high school and middle students do when he led one of the last chapels of the year.

Keeping it light at first, Dave started by asking the students (and faculty present) to find someone who had made them laugh that year and to give them a hug. Then he moved on to other topics, like finding someone who taught them the most, someone who they wanted to thank, someone from whom they needed to ask forgiveness, someone for whom they could pray a blessing. It’s the third year in a row that Dave has led this chapel and it has become a real highlight for students looking for a way to find closure and comfort in saying goodbyes.

We’re saying goodbye to a number of our adult friends, too, and ask you to please pray for us - both to be able to have “good” goodbyes and to keep doing the hard work of opening our hearts to new friendships. One great aspect of being children of God is knowing that no goodbye is forever since we’ll meet again in heaven!

Saying Hello

Even in the midst of many farewells, we are preparing for a big hello. The fourth Saavedra baby will be arriving sometime around November 14. The big brothers are very excited to meet our new addition (Levi pats Beth’s tummy and asks, “Is our little girl in there?” while Luke insists that he’s going to have another brother).

The first trimester was very challenging physically and emotionally for Beth (one reason for the delay in our news, since she’s the chief letter writer). But now that we’re into the second trimester, things are starting to look up. We’re so grateful for your prayers for our growing family, especially for health for the baby and energy for Beth.

Keeping Up the Work

What else has been going on for us over the last few months? There’s always a steady stream of activity!

In May, we had two ER visits, one for Dave, who got a minor dog bite while walking to work, and one for Luke, who got five stitches in his forehead after a fall. When Beth wasn’t running down to the hospital, she was going to the transit authority to work on replacing her lost driver’s license. It took seven trips, making us nostalgic for the DMV in the U.S.

Dave feels more confident all the time in the classroom and fills most of his lunch hours meeting with students. It was hugely encouraging to hear one graduating senior (who Dave met as a troubled sophomore) say, “I am coming away from this school confident that I am a Christian. And after taking your discipleship class, I know that I am the beloved.”

Thank you so much for your help in making our work here with HCJB possible! We deeply appreciate the faithful prayers and sacrificial giving of so many of you.

Right now we are running about $400/month under our recommended support level, so if you have been thinking about starting to give, or about increasing your gift, now is a great time to do so. For information on how to give or how to change the amount you give, please contact HCJB Global (info on front page). Donations to HCJB Global are tax-deductible.

Thank You!

Bonus Video: Blast from the Past!
This seven minute clip is from February/March of this year. It includes a walk to the neighborhood park and interviews with family members.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Week with the Saavedra Family

Life in Ecuador IS different than in North America but the longing to enjoy a loving family, connect with a caring community and live a meaningful life before God is the same around the world! Here is a snapshot of what a typical week looks like for us in Ecuador. You may find the rhythm of our lives feels more familiar than you expected!

Monday: After Dave walks to the Alliance Academy to kick off a week of Bible teaching, Beth gets the boys ready to grocery shop at Quito’s biggest supermarket chain, Supermaxi. It’s very similar to grocery stores in the U.S. and there’s even a bigger version of the store (called Megamaxi) that includes apparel, toys, electronics and appliances.

For our first two years in Quito, we always took cabs (about $1.50/ride), which was getting to be a handful without car seats for the boys. But now, thanks to your kind support for our work with HCJB Global, we have finally purchased a vehicle! We love the freedom it affords and the opportunities to give rides to our friends!

Tuesday: The boys and I prepare to attend Bible Study Fellowship. Our study on Moses is a real hit with them because, as Luke says, “I have a brother named Aaron, just like Moses did!”

The rest of my small group is all Ecuadorian ladies and most have only a basic grasp of English (the language of the study). We laugh a lot as we try to pronounce Hebrew words like Kohathite in both English and Spanish.

At school, Dave spends Tuesday lunches with a small group of young men, alternating more serious Bible study with weeks of fun activities (they were playing Wii together this past week – another hit!).

Wednesday: It’s off to AWANA’s Club on Wednesday afternoons, or, as Levi and Luke call it, “Iguanas.” It’s fun for Aaron and Mom to have some quality time alone while the boys are gone. At night Dave does mid-week stress-busting playing soccer (called futbol here) with fellow teachers and school alumni.

Thursday: Titus Women is a Bible study sponsored by our church and Beth leads the weekly worship time with her guitar. This gathering has been the source of some of her closest friendships and prayer partners. It’s also a time for sampling cuisine from around the world as Ecuadorian, German, American, Canadian, Filipino and Colombian ladies take turns bringing snacks to share.

Friday & Saturday: When Dave isn’t working on lesson planning for the upcoming week, these are our days for entertaining. In a highly mobile community like ours, it can be hard to open up to friendships when you’ll likely be saying goodbye to those people in a year or two. Yet we all long to know and be known, so we make a point to keep reaching out. And the returns in friendships are rich indeed!

Sunday: We head to church at English Fellowship. Beth leads music about twice a month, so Dave pulls extra kid duty. And then comes the Sunday afternoon siesta (nap)– hopefully as much a staple in your home as in ours!

Regardless of the day of the week, every evening ends with Beth speaking the Aaronic blessing over the boys before bed. And it is our prayer for you, through your week that: