WHERE WE’VE BEEN- In March of 2009 we moved to Shell, Ecuador, to work with Casa de Fe- a home for abandoned children, many of whom have disabilities. Our original one year commitment was extended twice, and we found ourselves in Shell until November 2010. During that time, God proved His faithfulness and continued to lead us in ways we had not expected. Since this is our first initial support letter for the future, we want to catch you up on what has happened so far…..
In terms of work, the majority of our energy went toward constructing the multi-use building, coordinating and leading short term mission groups, and managing volunteers. Although we wished that we had more time with the children, we felt called to continue with the work that was most needed. The construction project consumed our time and energy for the last six months or so, but the sweet reward of seeing the kids in their new home was worth it. We moved the kids into the new multi-use building on November 6th, and we were able to have our first praise and worship service there the following day. Dwight spoke to the kids during that time about being thankful for their new home but to never lose focus of where our true home is with our Father in heaven. We can’t begin to describe what it was (and still is!) like to see the kids in a clean, safe environment, singing their hearts out in celebration. November 7th was Dwight’s birthday, and it was one we will never forget. Let’s just say we were all a little emotional that day. :)
We returned to Conroe about two weeks later, November 2010, and we had purposely not made a decision yet about returning. After praying for clarity and direction for the future, we both felt God clearly telling us to return to Ecuador. Once that decision was made, we spent time in prayer about what we should do during this next time period. We knew we needed to redefine our jobs and expectations for this next season, and this was confirmed by God leading us into agreement about the changes needing to take place.…
WHERE WE’RE GOING
We feel that our investment of time and energy during the last year and a half has built a strong and trusting relationship with those at Casa de Fe. Building on that rapport, we want to focus more on the spiritual development of the kids and teach them what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. We want to serve and teach the tias (caretakers) and the maestros (construction workers) more about Christ and deepen our relationships with them. We also feel that God has called us to minister to the international volunteer/missionary staff at Casa de Fe. Since our arrival at Casa de Fe, the non-Ecuadorian staff has increased from five to more than twenty full-time volunteers, and that rapid growth has really changed the dynamics of the ministry. We feel the responsibility to provide Christ-centered resources for the non-Ecuadorian volunteers, and we pray that God will allow us to be a source of encouragement for them. It is our prayer that we will have the discernment to be able to hear God’s voice and the wisdom to maintain our priorities and boundaries during this next season of life.
Something more tangible that God has put on our hearts is learning the language. We both have become conversational in our Spanish, but have not had formal training in the grammar or proper usage. Non-Spanish speaking visitors often incorrectly assume we are ‘fluent.’ Our desire to deepen our relationships here in Ecuador can only be possible if we learn more of the language. This is never more evident than when we hit a language barrier during intimate conversations about the gospel, family, or personal stories. Because of this and the other goals for our ministry, we feel that focusing on language training is necessary.
The major change we feel God calling us to is to foster one of the children from Casa de Fe. We have always shared a desire to foster and/or adopt ‘one day,’ but we really did not have a clue how that process would unfold in the future. We had never imagined that we would actually live overseas and adopt directly, but it seems that God has made that kind of opportunity a reality for us. In Ecuador you can adopt as ‘nationals’ after you have lived here for three years, and we will be able to fulfill that with our new commitment to Casa de Fe. Adoptions are never easy here, but we’re trusting that God will work things out for His glory. We will begin the adoption process by fostering one of the children from Casa de Fe, and that will hopefully begin around April 20th. We so badly want to honor Him in this decision, and we ask for your prayers as we enter a new phase of life.
WHAT WE SEEK...
Now that we find ourselves looking at a future of another year and a half minimum here in Ecuador, we are faced with the reality of the longevity of our situation. This journey began as a simple one-year commitment to come volunteer, and that is why we have never sought out an official mission sending agency. During our time here, we’ve been able to learn so much through our missionary friends about both mission organizations and private supporters. Overall, we have come to realize that we are really missing out on a lot by not having committed supporters who are invested in our lives and ministry here. We have been so blessed through the support -spiritual and financial- up to this point, and we are excited about taking things a step further by becoming more purposeful in the relationship we want to have with regular supporters. We ask you to prayerfully consider how you can be a part of our lives, because we are eager to share what God is doing with others!
Financially, God provided for us during the first year, and He filled in gaps that we had not expected. When we decided to return for six months (which later increased to nine) and asked for financial support, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our family! Our home church allowed us to give a presentation of the ministry at Casa de Fe, and a love offering afterward provided us with sufficient funds to be fully supported until this point. Praise be to God.
We currently have an estimated budget based on our expenses up until this point, and we have made adjustments based on projected changes for our upcoming commitment. We have calculated a need of approximately $25,000 for the next twenty months. This amount includes one-time costs of $7,000 for language school, airfare, adoption, an Ecuadorian driver’s license, and a monthly budget of $900. We keep track of all expenses, and our budget is available to anyone who would like to see it in detail. Conroe church of Christ continues to be so supportive of us, and they will continue to receive our donations. This can be a one time donation or a monthly payment of a set amount. We are hoping for those who choose to give monthly that this will serve as a reminder to pray for us and Casa de Fe.
The church has offered to receive our funds for the purpose of making your gifts tax-deductible. However, because the rules for tax-deductable giving have become more defined, it is necessary to abide by the following regulations. When you write a check for us, DO NOT put our full names on the check- even in the memo line! The check can be made out to ‘Conroe Church of Christ,’ and you can put ‘Ecuador D&T’ in the memo. This is the only way the church will recognize that the check is for us, and the government will not recognize it as a personal donation.
If you would like to partner with us, please fill out our ONLINE SUPPORT FORM found below. If you are not able to complete the form online, please send the information to the address below, hand it in personally with your donation, or email us the information at firstname.lastname@example.org . More than anything, we desire to be covered in prayer and supported spiritually. Asking for money is never enjoyable, but we continue to learn how beautifully God brings people together in this process.
The frustration and fear that we sometimes feel about surrendering our future to God is overpowered by His peace and the hope that we have in Him. Thank you for being so supportive of us during this journey. We can’t wait to partner with you, share more intimately, and be encouraged in prayer together.
Grace & Peace in Christ,
Dwight & Tandy Martin ~ Casa de Fe, Shell, Ecuador
Checks can be mailed to:
Conroe Church of Christ
Attn: Dwight & Tandy, Ecuador
1860 Longmire Road
Conroe, TX 77304