Guest Blog by: Mikayla Kent – Here I am! Send me!

Note: Mikayla Kent is my niece. I asked her if she would write a blog for Heart for Ecuador, and she agreed immediately. I have never seen such humbleness, passion, compassion, heart, wisdom, and the ability to be the heart of Jesus, in a teenager. Every time I read one of Mikayla’s blogs, I marvel at her ability to string words together so beautifully and with such deep meaning. Once you read this, you are going to want to read her other blogs. You can do that here. Mikayla, thank you so much for your heart for Ecuador and for your willingness to be sent. It is an honor to be your aunt.

Mikayla Kent – Author, Missionary, and Niece Extraordinaire

Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here I am. Send me!”

Hello, my name is Mikayla Kent. I want to share with you about my time in Ecuador. In the sweet summer of 2018, I hopped on a plane with my friend, to go and join my Aunt Stephanne on her mission trip to the precious country of Ecuador. The 2018 mission trip was split into two weeks, the first being the medical week, and the second being a construction week. At that time I truly had no earthly idea of the authenticity, joy, and love that I was about to encounter. I recall my first morning in Ecuador vividly, as we awoke to sun painted mountains, soft chatter in the alleyways, and the sound of humming cars passing up and down the streets. I remember stepping into Cemad (the church who is the head of this mission) that Sunday morning, with eyes full of awe as I witnessed the most authentic, joyful, spirit-filled worship of my life. I saw people fall to their knees in reverence, and lift their hands and voices in sweet surrender. These people live in a third world country, where poverty consumes people’s lives. Can you imagine carrying that weight? I am sure they have endless concerns and burdens that fill their lives, yet they fell before God with songs of pure praise and worship. They loved us richly and embraced each of us as their own. Worshipping alongside this church was one of the most humbling experiences of my life and challenged me to have a new attitude towards worship. I find myself continually swept away in an ocean of distraction, self-consumption and sometimes I even find my heart has grown numb to intentionally praising God. Witnessing the eruption of praise throughout that church humbled me in more ways than one; even just writing this brings tears to my eyes. The people, oh the precious people I cannot begin to accurately express the depth of their love and tenderness, both towards us and towards God. They covered us in love as they prepared meals for us, showered us in prayers that send chills down your spine as you can feel the spirit of God in the room. I could give you a list, full of reasons arguing why you should go on a mission trip to Ecuador, but the simple statement of “the precious people” is enough in itself. The week was faithfully led by my incredibly loving and Christ-filled Aunt Stephanne who led us in patience, grace, and pure passion as Ecuador is both her heart and home. She took us to five locations throughout the outskirts of Quito to set up our medical clinics for the people in the neighboring areas. The Lord moved in a mighty way throughout this week as we were able to see over 2,852 people in our medical and eye clinics to provide medications, treatments, glasses and most importantly the love of Jesus. My part consisted of assisting in children’s ministry, which was deeply rewarding. I cannot begin to paint an accurate picture of the sweetness embedded within these children, though there was a language barrier, they understand the language of love and affection. We were able to paint the mother’s and kid’s nails, color pictures, run around and play games, give tons of hugs and so much more. Our wonderful translator would read the kids a Bible lesson and then we would pray with the kids. Each day my love for these people and this country grew more and more as I continually experienced the depth of their love, kindness, humility, and grace. The most encouraging factor about partnering with my Aunt Stephanne and her connections to the churches throughout Ecuador is a promise that the work continues far after we are gone, they’re continually planting churches, and every single one built is still thriving today. Our team merely plays a part in their continual ministry, we add to their current efforts in spreading the gospel throughout Ecuador, for they are the ones on the ground, building relationships and shepherding the people. Each person who goes through the medical clinic is not only provided physical care but spiritual care, as the pastors and members of their churches collect addresses and ways of contact to ensure the growth and discipleship of new believers. The week was incredibly exhausting but in the most rewarding way, I am incredibly honored to have served alongside such loving doctors, nurses, youth leaders, students, and translators who walked with humility and grace. I am even more thrilled to announce that I am also returning in the upcoming summer of 2020 on another medical trip alongside many churches throughout the U.S. My heart truly cannot contain my excitement, I am eager to see how the Lord continues to move throughout Ecuador, and through this upcoming medical trip. All honor and glory goes to God for each of us are solely willing vessels, he is the one who saves. If you are considering going on a mission trip, I urge you to go and witness the faithful hand of God as he transforms, moves, challenges and humbles your own heart in unexpected ways. God bless you! 

-Mikayla Kent.

The story of Kayci Sheridan #Ecuador2020 #SendMe

Y’all….if you know me, you know that all you have to do is mention Ecuador and I am a weepy mess. The people that I have on my team this year are blowing me away. I have never seen such an excited group of people who are intent on serving others.

I was working on the website tonight, pulling old journals and looking for pictures, trying to tell the stories that are on my heart. I got frustrated when I couldn’t find the pictures I wanted to go with one of my stories, so I started looking through my Facebook albums. And along the way, I got caught up looking at my news feed (don’t judge me! Ha! You know you do it, too!) and BAM! Cue the tears. All down my face. The kind that streak your makeup and make your nose get stopped up.

The story I ran across was by Kayci Sheridan. Kayci is in nursing school, and while I have known her since she was a tiny little girl, she just contacted me about joining my upcoming trip LAST NIGHT! We were on the phone for almost two hours going over the trip details. Kayci was joined by two friends who have also committed to go, and her awesome mom, who is a Nurse Practitioner, and ummmmm, have I mentioned to you yet that I NEED another medical provider? I am pretty sure I am hearing God’s voice loud and clear. “Angel Sheridan…..GO TO ECUADOR with Stephanne Marsh in June of 2020!” 🙂

Kayci and her friend were so excited, and so was I. I am talking PALPABLE excitement! My whole point to this is that Kayci just committed to go LAST NIGHT, and she already has the most precious fundraiser started. I am totally stealing her pictures and her idea! (Just kidding. Maybe.) Girl, you rock! She is selling Christmas Ornaments with Romans 10:15 on them. They are tied at the top with tri-color ribbon in the colors of the Ecuadorian flag, yellow, blue and red. They are simply adorable! She is selling them for $5.

So, jump on over to Venmo and type in @Kayci-Sheridan and help #sendKayci to Ecuador. You will be so glad you did.

A Surgeon Gets Sent to Ecuador

One of my favorite people in the world is Dr. Ellis Tinsley, Jr. I have never met a more humble, loving, generous, intelligent, amazing……SERVANT in my life. Dr. Ellis Tinsley joined our trip last year and has pledged to go again this year. He wrote a blog that blew me away. I think that everyone needs to read it. Once you do, be prepared. You are going to want to go, just like he did.

You can read his blog here.

Ecuador 2020 – It is GO time!

Heart for Ecuador

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”

-Bishop T.D. Jakes

“Go, Send, or Disobey.”

– John Piper

We talk about the Second Coming of Jesus, but so many have never even heard of His first. I cannot rest, I cannot wait. Until the whole world hears, here I am! Send me!

— Stephanne Marsh

Dear Faithful Friends and Supporters,

All I can say is WOW! I am so excited about what the Lord is doing, that I can hardly contain it! Last year, when we were unable to go to Ecuador because of all of the natural disasters (Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Florence) I was absolutely heartbroken.  I was so homesick that my heart physically ached.  I started praying scripture, specifically Ephesians 3:20. I thanked the Lord for doing exceedingly and abundantly more than I could think or imagine for our ministry in Ecuador. And He has!

As an update, Jon and I are in the process of working with an attorney and CPA in our church to form a 501c3 charitable organization for our ministry. The name that we have applied for is: Heart for Ecuador. We hope to have all processes completed in the next 6 months.  Please pray with us that we will complete everything necessary with perfection and that our application for 501c3, charitable organization status will be approved.  

In addition, I have also launched a website for our ministry.

I encourage you to visit the site.  It explains our purpose and tells the story of what God has called us to do.  There are lots of pictures and videos from past years, stories that I have written that document my time growing up in Ecuador, as well as a blog.  I have been overwhelmed with the response to our new website. As of this writing, there have been over 5,000 unique visits to the website, and it has only been live since November 18th!

This year, we have a team of 54 people that have pledged to give 8 days of their lives away, to take the gospel to Ecuador. There are 6 physicians, 1 dentist, 2 pharmacists, 4 registered nurses, and 6 CNAs, along with 35 other people on the team. This is absolutely amazing, and definitely way more than I EVER dared to dream or imagine.  Many of the people are returning to Ecuador for their 2nd year, and 5 are returning for their 5th year in a row. 

In 2020, we are continuing the work that we began so many years ago.  We are planting new churches through the provision of medical clinics, we are hoping to build yet another kitchen/building for a feeding center that feeds over 1,000 hungry children a day.

Planning this trip and coordinating everything that goes along with having 54 people on the team has become almost a full-time job.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay anything, so I am still working another full-time job. J I truly believe, that with the interest that we have had this year, Jon and I could lead multiple trips a year.  My heart leaps at that chance, so now, we pray for the Lord to pave the way if that is indeed His will for us.  Won’t you join with us and pray for the Lord to show us exactly what it is He would have us do? We, along with many of you, feel an increased urgency to share the Gospel.  I don’t know how much longer we have before Jesus returns, but I want to spend every single second of the rest of my life telling others about Him.

It is only because of faithful supporters like you, that we have had the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with the beautiful people of Ecuador.  Do you realize that over the last 6 years a little over 8,000 people have heard the gospel and 87% of them (6,960 people) have given their lives to Jesus and are active in one of the 28 churches that we have planted ONLY because you invested in eternity by donating to our ministry in Ecuador?

In 2018, the statistics were staggering.  Allow me to share them with you:

Patients treated: 2,852

Reading glasses fitted and given away: 1,936

Prescriptions filled: 11,408

Churches planted: 3

Hearts given to Jesus: 2,481

One new feeding center was built and 400+ children are fed weekly

This year, we have a team that has doubled in size, which will allow us to minister to a larger number of Ecuadorian people. We are preparing and planning for 4,000. A greater than ever emphasis is being placed on evangelism.  We have a group of 4 team members that are dedicated to working with the new pastors to plan and help strategize for the success of the new church plants and the retention of the new converts. We are taking church and pastoral study materials with us to leave with the pastors. Our next desire is to buy Spanish Bibles to leave with each pastor of each new church. Buying a Bible is an extravagance that the average Ecuadorian cannot afford.  Very few people have a personal Bible.  Getting the Word of God into the hands of these new Christians is so important.  We are praying that the Lord will enable us to do what we feel sure He has laid on our hearts.

These are the current needs for this year’s Ecuador Mission:

  •  We buy our prescription medications through Blessings International.  The total cost for the medicine this year is around $7,000.  For $3, you can provide vitamins, antibiotics, Tylenol and parasite medicine for 1 person for an entire year.  We expect to treat about 4,000 people in 5 days.  Of those 4,000 people, approximately 90% of them give their lives to Jesus after hearing the gospel story.  These people are the people that make up our new churches.  We have pastors in place in each location, that continue to minister to and shepherd the churches after we leave.  We have started over 28 new churches over the last 6 years and every single one of them is thriving and growing.  Your gift towards the purchase of our trip medications has a priceless value, as you will be caring for physical needs and giving them the opportunity to come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
  • We will be building a kitchen and covered area for the feeding program at one of the new churches.  This feeding program will feed approximately 1,000 children per week. We need approximately $4,800 to build the kitchen and put a cover over a large section of the lot they use. This will protect the children from the elements.  (Blazing sun alternating with torrential rain.) For about $.20 cents a day, we could feed a child one good meal per day.  $200 a week for one thousand children. $11,200 would feed them for an entire year.  How many of us spend $200-$400 a month on groceries for a family of 4? How many of us spend $50 when we eat out at a restaurant? Your gift of any amount can feed a child as well as give them the opportunity to hear about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. 
  • Eyeglasses – We have been able to procure our reading glasses from the Lion’s Club this year, 3,000 pairs at $.44 per pair and 1,500 pairs of sunglasses for $.25 per pair.   The glasses will ship out the last week in February, and I will have 30 days to pay the invoice. With shipping, we owe $1812.  I wish you could see the faces of the people when their eyes light up when they are fitted with a pair of glasses and can read! Priceless.
  • Bibles – We can purchase Bibles in Spanish for $2.75 each in Ecuador.  It is much more cost effective to buy them there than to pay to have them shipped.  We would love to leave at least 100 Bibles with each pastor, so we need 500 Bibles total.  $1,375 would put Bibles in the hands of hungry new Christians.
  • Videographer – If any of you follow my blog or are my friend on Facebook, then you have probably heard about this need already.  I have been wracking my brain, trying to figure out how I could easily show someone what it is that we do in Ecuador.  The Lord laid it on our hearts to seek out a professional videographer.  Videography can be very expensive; however, the Lord knew what we needed, and He led me straight to a young man that is a professional videographer and his specialty is missions and missions’ trips! I sent him an email, bracing myself for a fee that was completely out of my reach, and instead, I got a reply that told me that if I could cover his trip costs, that he would donate his time for the week and donate the production of the video! I desperately need a sponsor for the straight trip costs for our videographer.  The costs for his flight, hotel, and food are $1975. I just know that this video will open doors for other people to see the importance of the work that the Lord has called us to do in Ecuador!

As a recap, the current needs are as follows:

             Medicine –                                   $7,000

             Kitchen Construction-                $4,800

             Feeding Program-                        $11,200

             Eyeglasses –                                  $1,812

Bibles –                                     $1,375

Videographer –                         $1,975

Approximate funds needed- $28,162

I know that the Word is clear, it tells us that we are called to go and share the gospel making disciples in ALL nations.  Ecuador is where He has called me and my family.  Not everyone is able to go, but everyone is able to contribute in some way.  Whether it is in prayer support (desperately need prayer warriors lifting up this ministry!), or a donation towards one of the areas that speaks to your heart, or perhaps you even feel a calling to participate in the trip, there is an opportunity for every single person to serve. As always, if you are able to make a monetary contribution, it is 100% tax deductible, and you will receive a tax receipt. You may donate online by going to GiveSendGo at this link. Or, you may contact me here, and I will be glad to give you instructions for mailing a check.

As always, I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you, and I thank my God for you daily.

After all, everything I do is for His glory.

In Him and in His Service for the People of Ecuador,

Stephanne Marsh