But There Are Bigger Struggles

“What’s the strangest thing you’ve eaten?”

“Are there many active volcanoes in Ecuador?”

“Does the government allow you to preach the Gospel?”

This makes the third year my family’s been able to video chat with Ms. Gail and the kids at Canal Lake Bible Camp. I look forward to talking with them. They always have such great questions about our host country and our ministries. Some questions I wish adults asked more frequently.

Towards the end of our interaction with the kids, one little boy introduces himself, takes a deep breath, and launches into his mission-related curiosities. About the food, the attire, the climate. And then,

“What’s the hardest thing about living in Ecuador? What’s your biggest struggle?”

We’re asked this question every year, and every year I give the same answer. It looks like I’m giving it thought, but it’s an automatic response. “I get homesick a lot. And boy, do I miss speaking English!”


But there are bigger struggles than the language. Struggles that I can’t explain in five minutes. Not to an elementary-schooler. Not to anyone my age. Not even to an adult, no matter how interested or sympathetic they are.

So I tell them, I tell you, that it’s homesickness. That it’s speaking Spanish.


I don’t mention that I still don’t feel accepted as a part of the community here in Paute.

That I’m shunned by most of the girls, and I question every guy’s motives for friendliness.

That I’m painfully conscious of everything I say and do, because it’s a reflection on missionaries, Americans, and Christians everywhere.


I don’t mention the hurt I experience by being forgotten by my peers in the States.

That I feel the need to live up to a certain image when I’m back on missionary furlough.

That I feel completely detached and isolated from the American culture, and I have no idea what its expectations are for me.


The misgivings, the doubts, the battles I’m fighting, they aren’t things I often share.

Because when I do, most of you can’t relate.

And it’s frustrating.

You can’t relate to years of having jokes made about you, in front of your face, in a language you can’t understand.

You can’t relate to someone trying to barter a few acres of land for your hand in marriage… when you’re thirteen.

You can’t relate to being ostracized by an entire town who wants nothing to do with you or your God.


So I’ll tell you that my struggle is with the language, and it will just be easier for both of us.

Update Week of April 22

Another week of blessings!
* In Kidstuf, our Children’s Bible and English class, we made Jesus sun-catchers.








* There were 23 (wow!) in youth Friday night and Eric shared about obedience to God. With all the new faces coming in we are having to constantly monitor appropriate displays of affection. This can be challenging due to different cultural expectations and hormones. We are asking God to help us address this with both the children and their families in a manner of love and respect.









*This morning there were 5 in the 7:30am Men’s Bible Study. Eric said it went really well. I wasn’t invited, but he did take a picture!!









*We’ve reached a verbal agreement to rent a different house a few blocks away. It is quite a bit smaller than the one we rent now, but the rent is less and it is across from a basket ball court.









*Here are some pictures from the kids cookie baking class. It went really well and they have requested to learn how to make carrot soufflé next time.


If you missed our last update- here it is http://soallmayknow.org/march-and-a-bit-of-april-2017/


So All May Know,

The Studebaker Family in Ecuador

March and a bit of April 2017

It’s been a wonderful, blessed and busy month. Don’t be surprised if our updates are less frequent – trying to keep up with family life, a busy baby boy and ministry doesn’t leave much time for Facebook!
-We’ve just wrapped up a unit on food and metamorphosis in the kids English/Bible class.
-Elijah is learning to play chess and joined a group of local adults playing in town. He lost one game and won two. He is still attending weekly soccer practice.

– Madeline is still volunteering with Unsion in Cuenca. She recently snuck in through a morgue to pray with patients at a hospital. Oh, the stories that girl has!
-Abigail is preparing for her Quinceanera the 12th of next month. She found a dress and is getting excited about participating in this cultural birthday experience.



-Malachi had his first birthday party. It was SO much fun for us, but he was a bit overwhelmed by the crowd. 🙂











-Visas. Eric has his new visa. The four children have had their visas submitted and we are awaiting approval for them. Mine, well, I don’t have one. We have had three different issues with my FBI reports. Once it was just late, then it came with a typo in the name, this time it has been stamped incorrectly. We have submitted another request (and fee). Once it arrives we will try again. Thank you for your prayers in this matter- they did not have to allow me additional time to try again, I know that God blessed us <3 with His favor.
– Evangelism. The dramas went really well last week in Paute. Several hundred people were in attendance and many more strolled by watching. We’re scheduling more dramas in other (smaller) communities for the future!
– Many of you responded to our request for prayer after my brother’s motorcycle accident. He has had several surgeries, a skin graft and is scheduled for a bone graft. He is making progress and is currently at his home. Thank you for all of your prayers.
-Please be in prayer for our family’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Our contract on the house we are renting is up at the beginning of June and we need to find another home in this area. We’re looking at a smaller house next to a basketball court that would be great for our family, ministry and hopefully our budget.

Our Return to Puca-Chikta: Part 2

[Read Part 1 of Our Return to Puca-Chikta here: http://soallmayknow.org/our-return-to-puca-chikta-part-1/]
We sit on a bench in front of her home — a hut, really — and catch up while I paint faces.

“You were so young when you first visited our village,” Evelin says. “You’ve changed a lot.”
I have changed. Our family had just moved to Ecuador when we visited Puca-Chikta for the first time. [I actually wrote about the experience here: http://soallmayknow.org/voy-un-paso-mas-im-going-one-step-further/]
“You’ve changed too,” I remind her. “Viejita, you’re old now.” She’s thirteen… in a few years, she’ll be old enough to get married here.

Our little conversation continues, and I debate inwardly on whether I should ask about school.
“So, Evelin, how’s school?” I probe.
Her eyes shift away from me.
“School?” I ask again.
She won’t look at me. She won’t answer.

There she goes, breaking my heart into a million pieces.
I assure her that it’s fine, and I change the subject as fast as possible.
But inside? I’m screaming.
Children receive such little education in remote villages like this one. Government funding is minimal, and the teachers aren’t equipped to do their jobs. Many of them haven’t been well educated either.
And now it appears that Evelin’s not getting any of it. None of the classroom learning at all.

It’s not fair.
And it’s not just the school thing — it’s everything.
It’s not fair that Evelin’s family of seven is living in a tiny, three-walled, dirt floor shanty.
It’s not fair that her little brothers’ teeth are rotting away, because the can’t see a dentist to figure out what’s the matter.
It’s not fair that her little sisters have worms eating away at the insides of their eyes, and they can’t see a real doctor.

Evelin wakes up to either unbearable heat and stench, or rain soaking her through the roof. She goes to sleep at night with an empty stomach and an unsaved soul.

Evelin lives a simple life. It’s filled with many horrible things, and it’s missing the most important thing. That’s a harsh reality I have to face. And I can try to imagine… but I will never understand.

I don’t claim to understand just because it’s simple.
I’m aware of her great needs, small hopes, and no idea of the world outside her village. But I don’t dare claim to understand her life until I’ve endured the same impoverishment and affliction.

She has nothing. Pray that she accepts Christ.
Because then she will have everything.

So All May Know,
Madeline Studebaker

Our Return to Puca-Chikta: Part 1

Dusk. The sun has stopped beating down on us and the shadows are starting to fall. 
We unload the car. Boxes of paint, bracelets, tracts, jump ropes, and a soccer ball from our friends in the States. It’s not long before a dozen children surround us, consumed with curiosity. 
Genuine smiles light up their faces, shining through the filth and grime that covers them.
Dad, Derrick, and Elijah untangle a jump rope and initiate a game. Abigail and I open the containers of face paints. Mom draws some stragglers out from behind a clump of bushes. 
A group of six wanders toward the small crowd around us, and I recognize them instantly. Over two years since our families lost contact, but here they are, by whatever miracle. 
And yes, I chose to believe that it is a miracle. 
Evelin, the oldest, extends her hand in a traditional Kichwa greeting. A smile spreads across her face. 
She’s grown up so much. This was the little girl who guided her siblings from one side of the jungle to the other… just to spend the day with us. Both of us remember those days — the ones we spent drawing with chalk, playing soccer, eating rice and beans. Those days meant a lot to my family, but they meant even more to Evelin’s family. 
Our home was a safe place for them. Not because our roof didn’t leak as much, or because we had enough food to share, but because our home was filled with love. And that’s not something they had much of. 
But now, it’s something they’re being exposed to again.
[Read about how we met Evelin’s family here: http://soallmayknow.org/something-special-about-babies/]
One by one, the children sit beside me to get their faces painted. No one seems bothered by my obvious lack of artistic skills, or language skills. I ask each child their name and try to remember it… trying, but not exactly succeeding.
There’s a lot of wiggling around, and giggling, and trying to communicate across the language barrier that, unfortunately, still exists for my family. 
Fortunately, there’s no translation needed for the universal language: laughter.  
Because there’s laughter too. Laughter that rises up and breaks through the clouds and is audible in Heaven. 
This opportunity — it’s something to be truly grateful for!
We’re impacting this village with the love of God, we’re being His hands and feet. 
They come for the face paint and games… but they leave a little closer to getting to know Him. 
So All May Know,
Madeline Studebaker





Kidstuff on Wednesday the 14th!

We had a great time  singing, dancing, and learning!  Classes are now free, so once word gets out we are expecting a room full!  English and Bible, Hokey Pokey- Give your Heart to Jesus! ABC Vocabulary, Shapes and Colors.


Youth Night at SIP91

We had a great time at SIP91 last night. We heard a devotion and watched two related videos, had coffee, cookies and wraps, and played several games. What a super group of young people!!







Hogar- Friday 14th of September 2016

We saw seven kids Friday.
The Bible story and coloring sheet was on David and Goliath.
This Friday- these seven kids- some didn’t know the story of David and Goliath.
Never heard it.
Please pray for us as we go and share, that God would give us more of Him that these children might come to know Him.
So All May Know

BTW- We’d like to give each child their very own Bible book for their birthday. Please let us know if you would like to help give

them that gift.










The Apron

The apron is so pretty, every time I put it on I feel like twirling around!

I wear it to cook for my family, to cook for our friends, to cook for those that I hope will become friends and family in Christ.

Last week a women asked me about the apron.

I explained it was a gift, made by a sister in Christ.  She was obviously impressed.

Much time and love was put into something made for serving others.

Our guest noticed.

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:40New International Version (NIV)

Am I serving as if it were HIM  that I am serving?

Because according to Matthew 25:40 it is doing it for HIM.

Regardless of if we are in a pretty apron or mud boots, how we serve is important.

People notice.  HE notices.

Let us serve well.






September 5, 2016 Update. Praying, Preaching and Reaching!


Here’s a quick update on the happenings here in Ecuador.  Thank you for taking the time to read it and, most importantly, to join us in prayer!


Elijah lost another tooth.  He isn’t enjoying seatwork, but loves to work on projects with Eric or be outside.

We searched all over to find a special thermometer for Madeline’s Biology course and finally found one (with help!)  Her classes are going well.

School has resumed in the house. Abigail is doing well in her studies and is learning to sign a song to share at church.

Malachi is starting to scoot and laugh.  He is sleeping less and growing fast.  Our updates are likely to stay brief as there is now limited time now to type without baby drool soaking the keyboard!!

We’ve replanted the aquaponics bed and garden, replaced a pump in the aquaponics system and Eric has made a few repairs to the car.

We’ve hosted several families for dinner and tea, and cleaned and prepped the SIP to re-open.

This week:

Children’s English and Bible classes resume this Wednesday.  After much prayer, there is one BIG change this time- it’s free.  We’re expecting more children and more FUN!  The money from the classes was paying the rent, but we are trusting that God will provide the $200 needed every month. Please be in prayer for all the aspects of this ministry:  evangelism,  outreach, safety, love, discipline, wisdom….

We visited the orphanage and saw several faces we remembered.  Sadly, many faces we loved aren’t there any more.  Some of the children have been relocated with family members and some of the staff is gone.  One staff member that isn’t there is the director.  We are scheduled to meet the new director this Friday.   Please be in prayer that we will have God’s favor and continued access to the children on a regular basis.

Every Friday (beginning this week) we will open up the SIP to the community with music, a devotion, snacks, and games or a movie.  Our focus during this time will be on teenagers and young adults.  We’re actively inviting other churches and the unchurched to join us.  Please be in prayer that this reaches many and opens doors for  salvations and discipleship.

This week  begins Elijah’s Spanish classes 2x per week.  He was so little and cute, no one ever corrected him and he has not acquired as much of the language as we would have hoped.  Please pray that he and his teacher will bond, that our little man will be a good student, and that he will learn much.  Prayerfully, we will be able to add on classes for the rest of the family.

Eric gave the message this past week- in Spanish!  We’re so proud of him as he strives to learn the language, disciple and share the Gospel.  He is back on the rotation for preaching and will be helping with the discipleship of the Paute youth group on Saturdays. The adult Bible and English class will begin this Thursday.  These will be given at no charge as well.

Also, this week Eric will be preparing for his drivers license test in Spanish (English isn’t offered).  This is especially difficult because it utilizes a completely different set of vocabulary that we have been learning and in written form is without context clues.  Please pray that he won’t stress out and will do well on his test.  Eric will have his hands full throughout the week.  Please keep him and the ministries he is serving in your prayers.

This week we will be able to deliver 50 copies of a chronological Bible study to the local church.  We purchased the study (in Spanish) from NTM before we returned and the local copy shop is duplicating and binding it.  Thank you for helping fund this <3

Coming soon:

In October we will be making a trip to the jungle. Please pray that the car we were able to recently purchase makes the trip safely and that it is a fruitful time.  We are beginning the planning now.

We are super excited about the prospect of groups coming to serve with us here in Ecuador.  There have been people inquiring about coming with groups from church or work, individuals and families.  Some people have asked about staying long term. (You can stay in Ecuador for up to three months without a visa!)  Would you pray that God will open and close doors as He brings workers to His fields?