Friday, March 14, 2014

Not Home Yet...

In all our travels to and fro in South America back and forth from the United States...with all the path in between... I feel more deeply than ever that this place is not our home.  We have uprooted more times than is probably good for a family in such a short space of time and I know my heart has searched for that spot God would allow us to sink in, but in His goodness and perfection He had something different in mind.  I believe our souls have been altered - reshaped so that they better reflect Christ.

So here we are, settling down again in Porterville and waiting for the day that it feels like home again, realizing that perhaps God's plan for us isn't that we should settle for a sense of home or belonging.  Perhaps He is more glorified through our longing for Him and the way it tends to set our eyes far above the challenges and even blessings life brings.  I am not sure if "home" means quite the same thing to me anymore.  I think "home" is peace in Christ...not that I always fully experience that, or even believe it is what I need in one moment or another...but no amount of stuff, warmth, familiarity or safety can truly give a heart the total belonging that we find alone in the presence of God.  Don't get me wrong, our love for California, our church, our friends and family is stronger than ever...but HOME is at the feet of Jesus no matter where on the earth my feet tread.

We are readjusting and slowly considering how God is leading us to serve Him.  The layers of feelings and experiences are harder to sort out than I thought they might be...but we've only been home for a week or so now, and I look forward to some sense of normal, maybe.  God is good and He has all the time He needs to sort us out, to make us what He wants us to be, to use our humble selves to be a precious blessing to himself.  We are made to be strong and courageous and so we continue in the courage and strength that comes from Him remembering that we aren't home yet.  And for those who have a longing for home but haven't found it yet, we are going to love them into the kingdom...send them into the arms of the God who sees...  
"She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." Genesis 16.13
When I find myself trying to define all the terms of my life, our missionary journey, my identity as a believer I have to stop and imagine Christ there listening to me and telling me I (we) don't see as He sees or love as He loves...not even ourselves.   For some reason it is hard for us to separate our performance, achievements, possessions, and physical self from our lovability.  I guess I see some things a little differently now and see all the pressure we put ourselves under to be worthy, to give some definition to ourselves and lives... We need to remember who we serve and who among all others truly loves and knows us... We love because He first loved us.  He is literally the alpha and omega... we musn't live only mildly acknowledging that.  I wish I were worthy of His crazy love for me, but I am glad I don't have to be.  I am thankful that he is the best at loving, providing and peace... full of grace and justice.  He is the BEST!  And He isn't done with us yet!

***Check out our PHOTOS! I have uploaded a ton more, including the first service at the Ibarra church plant!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Road to and from Ibarra

Many of you know a few details about our road to Ibarra... one housing complication after another that are still as of yet unresolved completely... and the night before we had planned to finally enter Ibarra as a team, Reese had a medical emergency delaying our family further. Late Saturday night on January 4th, Reese began seizing for the first time ever.  At first we were not totally worried, knowing that seizures are common and not typically dangerous.  After a couple of minutes we realized she was not stopping and we ran for help.  Thankfully, also on the Work and Witness grounds there happened to be a doctor with a short-term group that gave Reese a half pill of Xanex to relax her convulsions as Jon Fischer drove us to the emergency room.  The entire time we were with the doctor on the grounds and the 15+ minute drive to the hospital, Reese was like a beautiful broken little doll with an electrical glitch.  In all, her seizure lasted more than 20 minutes.  We cried, we prayed, and all I could think or say to God was that our desire is to be obedient whatever he calls us to, wherever the road leads, and we trust in His plan for our daughter.  Cole carried her into the Emergency Room and stayed with her all night.  At that point they just stabilized her and made plans for tests.  Sunday night she had an MRI and Monday afternoon she had an EEG, both of which had no signs of anything abnormal.  We have no idea what caused her seizure.  She had no fever, no prior seizures, no obvious predisposition.  The doctor that treated her here in Quito, prescribed her an anti-seizure medication and said it was likely she would have another seizure, possibly prolonged again, in the next 6-12 months and if so she would need to be immediately brought to the emergency room to stop the seizure if it does not stop on its own.  In addition, she requires regular monitoring under the care of a neurologist.  Reese, in all ways seems quite back to normal.  She had no recollection of the seizure when she woke up Sunday morning and actually seemed to find the hospital a funny sort of vacation with her own TV : )

Our family traveled up to Ibarra to be with the team with the idea that they really needed us to just get there and start dealing with the housing issue, take care of the weekly finances, food, transport...all the daily logistics of the team so they could focus on making contacts, finding a location for the church, and developing each of their individual ministry responsibilities.  Meanwhile, right around the time all of this was happening, the developing Manta team was having some set-backs of its own.  A confirmed 4040 dropped out, leaving the team too small to deploy on-time.  The decision was made to combine the Manta and Ibarra clusters to form a complete team of 10.  So our team will be welcoming 3-4 additional young men in May after they finish up language training in Quito.  This however left the Manta Cluster Coordinators without a cluster.  All things considered, in light of Reese's new medical concern and need for care that is unavailable in Ibarra, our family has stepped down from the Cluster Coordinator position for the city of Ibarra and the Strunk family will be replacing us.  We will continue to serve in Quito with the Extreme headquarters office over the next months.

There is nothing about this Jesus Adventure of ours that has been predictable.  This marathon we are running sure feels like a relay at times... in one moment we receive the baton and in another we are passing it on.
"What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building." 1 Cor 3:5-9
We are humble co-workers in God's service, taking no credit for anything that is meant to bring glory to God alone.  We each are assigned to a task... Each step along this path, we have felt God's guidance, encouragement and strength carrying us through and it has been a more blessed adventure than I could have possibly imagined...and more unexpected bits than I might have been prepared for, but in all things I trust in Christ.  I trust where he has lead our family.  I trust in Him alone for what is to come.

We look forward to this next chapter in our missionary journey and will keep you all posted about the details of our new roles and opportunities there may be to continue supporting the church planting effort with us in Ibarra, Quito and Ambato, Ecuador.  Just around the corner is Love Extreme taking place in both Ambato and Ibarra in July of this year and later in October the church building project is planned for the Ambato church plant.

We appreciate your support and prayers as always.  Please keep Reese in your prayers as we continue to watch over and care for her precious little self.   Please also continue praying for the city of Ibarra and the team of Extreme missionaries carrying the torch there.

Grace and Peace, 
The Williams Family

Thursday, December 26, 2013

...HELLO 2014!

**Go see the almost 200 new pictures we have uploaded to Flickr HERE**

We are thrilled to see what 2014 brings! 2013 was a year of transition after transition... we have finished up training and language school for the Ibarra team and housing for the team is on the horizon...promised land here we come!

2013 began on an international flight home to CA, celebrating the New Year three times in the air over 3 time zones... So many of you made our homecoming welcome, amazing and way more comfortable than we ever expected!  It was a true blessing to spend the first half of the year with you all..Cole returned to work with his family's business and the grape vineyards of the south valley, Teddy started school as a kindergartner at Summit Charter Academy where he continued learning Spanish, Reese spent two days a week as a big girl at PortNaz pre-school, and I got to be a professional stay-at-home mommy and wife with few distractions...  It was a real special treat to attend church in Porterville and sneak back into your lives for a little while.  We are truly grateful and blessed at your generosity, encouragement and support through our unexpected change of plans for this year.

Our coming to Quito has also been truly blessed and guided by Christ.  We have started on a brand new project and team headed into Ibarra, Ecuador to officially start ministry with the people this Jan.  Our team is particularly gifted, sincere, hard-working and focused... We have 28 year-old Prsicila Inca of Santo Domingo, Ecuador who was a leader in her local church and had a radio show on the regional Christian station.  She has been partnered with 24 year-old Rebecca Fahrni of Massillion, Ohio, a graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene University and would-be teacher except that she is now an Extreme missionary.   We also have 23 year-old Abigail Crespin from Guayaquil, Ecuador who because of a medical issue was told she may never walk again.  She promised God that if he would help her walk she would go wherever he wanted her to go bringing the good news. She will be walking alongside her partner, 19 year-old Michaela Rimmer of Eugene, Oregon who has felt called to missions since the age of 10.  David Pilco of Riobamba, Ecuador, age 22, received his call to missions as a product of ministry work by Extreme in Ambato, Ecuador where David had been studying Industrial Design. His partner is 23 year-old Chase Howard an accounting graduate of SNU.  They are amazing.  They are inspiring.  They are going to be used by the great I AM to change lives and generations in the community of Ibarra, Ecuador!  We are so excited to be serving alongside them and to invite you to do the same!

It is mind-blowing, scary and exciting to be standing on the crest of the hill so to speak, looking out into the next 2 years.  We have laid out our 100 days plan to hit the ground running, are armed with the power of Christ, your prayers, our prayers, the gift of a lifetime to hand out freely... and of course an enemy that is prowling around us like a lion ready to consume.  It is going to be one crazy race but in the end I am confident that He who began this good work will be faithful to complete it!

Thanks be to God first of all for his faithfulness and provision during this year.  Thanks to you who give so we can give... we love and miss you terribly but are so blessed by your desire to bless us and take part in this call God has placed in your lives.  We truly Love you and look forward to the day we will be reunited with great stories of life change that are direct results of this partnership.

I promise to get better at sharing all the little stories along the way through this next year of ministry...we get busy and it gets hard to settle down and write sometimes but we are eager to share this journey with you as much as we can! Please feel encouraged to let us know how you are doing and how we can pray as well for you.  This distance does not diminish our great love and sense of responsibility to lift you up.  We pray that God's grace and peace will truly fill your lives and ministries as we begin another new year...

with Crazy Huge amounts of Love and Thankfulness, 
The Williams Family

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wrapping Up in Quito...

We are less than a month away from leaving Quito and heading to Cali, Colombia for the final and most intense part of Team Ibarra Training!  I remember when Cole came home from Cali in July of 2011, he was a changed man...  I am so excited to see and experience the great passion that is growing and flows from the people of God there.  The ironic thing about what is happening in Cali is that it is not a new idea is what Jesus has asked His followers do do from the very beginning - "Go and Make Disciples" (Mat 28:19) and "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Luke 11:9).   The whole structure of the church is focused on prayer and discipleship as the sincere and life-changing mark of a believer.  Our team will be in training for a month practicing and learning the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and how to effectively disciple new believers.

We finish up in Colombia and return to Ecuador on the 19th and on the 29th we will move into Ibarra!  This coming Monday through Wednesday our family will be in Ibarra looking for houses/apartments for the us, the pastors and the team.  Please pray for God's hand to be guiding us with wisdom and His divine voice to find the right places.  We have 3 appointments to see houses and are hoping to come across some more options while we are there.  We have some very specific needs and also want to be sure they will be locations that provide safety and comfort for everyone while being prime locations for ministry.  We really appreciate your prayers!  In general keep the whole team in prayer as we grow and develop together.

This month Teddy turned 6 years old!  I can't believe how fast these kids are growing up!  Reese is sounding out words and just as busy as ever!  They are the most amazing little people : )  I just read somewhere about children that "the days are long but the years go by fast"...true stuff.  They are also missionaries with another organization and will be running a camp (that we are hoping to possibly use for church retreats!).

This month and next month are feeling like the final warm-ups for the big race...  Deep Breath.  I am looking forward to settling down and getting this project underway!  It will be nice for the family to stay in one house for the next two years as compared to the 9 different homes we will have lived in since Feb of last year... Can you believe it??  Since Feb of last year through this coming December we will have lived a month or more in 5 countries, in 7 cities, and 9 homes.  As you can imagine, we are very excited to stop with the transitions, suitcases, packing, and unpacking for a short spell as the Lord allows : )

Please keep especially our kids in prayer as we strive to provide them with all they need and also for the community that surrounds them.  We have a lot of open months for the Kid's Prayer Team if you feel called to pray for them for a month or two over the duration of our missionary journey.

Teddy is on a T-Ball team here in Quito!  It is mostly other missionary kids and diplomatic families.  He will miss the last 3 games of the season but he is really enjoying it!!! Teddy has an awesome throwing arm!  I will have to film it so we don't forget : )

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sing Like Never Before

"Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I worship Your holy name

The sun comes up; it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes"
 From 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman
To preface this post a little, read through it with an attitude of praise, worship and thankfulness : ) Don't mistake the worship for sorrow.  What began as sorrow has ended in praise.  

My aunt Pamela Geisler passed away last weekend and I was able to come home amazingly thanks to tons of airline miles... death is so crazy.  We just don't get it and it always seems to catch us not ready even though "death is the destiny of every man...the living should take this to heart." (Ecc 7:2)  These are the times when I can easily feel like what God asks of me is too hard.  I have missed many special and important moments being away.  At the same time, being home this weekend reminds me exactly why what we do is so important... 2 people got saved this Saturday at my aunts funeral and the beautiful ceremony was to me so worshipful and honoring of the Lord because that is just how my Aunt Pam praise of God at all times. The following song was sung just before the last prayer:

 I had heard it before but never experienced it quite so real...   I raised my hands and sung in worship right there in the church...not loud, but I worshiped in that sad moment of loss knowing that life is nothing without our worship and love for Christ.  We take nothing home but our heavenly treasures and that day we enter nothing here will seem quite as big as we make it seem right now.  No matter what a day may bring... Bless the Lord Oh my soul! Worship His Holy Name!  Sing like never before, oh my soul! 

Each new day is a chance to sing our song of praise again, a new moment to witness the promises of God fulfilled.  "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thes. (5:16-18)  This is not to say that we don't mourn or feel sorrow...even Jesus wept when Lazarus died in spite of knowing he was about to raise him... but we can be thankful in all circumstances and look in wisdom on even the most difficult of days.  

God is powerful and always good.  He continues to work in amazing ways.  As a great testament to the unstoppable will of the Lord...we are so excited to say the Team Ibarra is now COMPLETE!  We just received word that our final team member has been approved which sets us at 6 amazing women and 4 men of God!  In just about a month we went from no leads and an incomplete team of only 5 to a full 10.  God is providing and doing great things on behalf of the people of Ibarra, Ecuador.  The team is doing great.  I can hardly believe they have already been here for over a month.  We are nearing the time when we will be travelling a few times to Ibarra in search of places to live for us, the team and the pastoral family.  Finding homes, especially for so many of us that will be close in proximity, is not as easy in South America as it would be in the states.  Many homes and apartments tend to be available for sale more often than they are for rent and often they are smaller spaces.  We have very specific needs for the team as far as housing so please, please keep this aspect of our ministry in prayer over the next month and a half.  We hope to have our places secured by the beginning of November.  As a team we head to Cali, Colombia for training from Nov 21-Dec 19 and we would LOVE to come home to a home : )  Once we finish up in Cali, we plan to celebrate the birth of our Saviour and then we begin the full time work of ministering to the people in Ibarra!  

We hope you consider joining us as at some point on a short-term missions trip!  There is an open college group trip planned for May of next year.  You can also work with the Extreme Mobilizers to plan a short-term project specific to your church.  Short-term events are so important to what we do.  I love that they create an opportunity for you our supporters to come and be blessed to see and do for the Lord with your own eyes and hands what God is doing in Ecuador.  It also allows us to do bigger outreach events, it creates increased momentum and jump-off points in the ministry, and often it expands involvement with Extreme for those called to missions on a long-term basis.  Not to mention the great encouragement short-termers bring to the field.  Check out for more information about short-term opportunities.

Cole and I will be participating as missions representatives in the  Join HiStory event this weekend held at PortNaz in Porterville, CA.  Join HiStory is a conference on missions designed to engage and inspire more believers in the great commission on an international level.  You can find out more about it on facebook or at

Lastly, Extreme is still mobilizing 40/40's for the Manta and Portoviejo teams starting next year.  We are looking for young men and women that are called to missions and willing to serve for a 28-month term in Ecuador.  If God is calling you to Ecuador, don't be like Jonah... after being spewed out of the great fish I imagine he was pretty stinky : )    If you are called to Send others to the field, I pray that you continue to do so or ready your heart to let go of whatever God is asking you to give.  Don't miss what God has for you...any of matter what He has called you to.  Don't live wanting to serve the Lord, serve Him NOW.
Grace and Peace to each of you, 
The Williams Family

Monday, September 9, 2013

Getting Schooled!

So, we came down to Ecuador prepared to homeschool the kids, mainly Teddy right now as Reese is preschool still... and that is exactly what we are doing! I say that with an exclamation point because I was so nervous about it before.  I have never before had a desire to be a homeschooling parent...maybe the introvert in me found the idea a little intense.   It turns out that it is not as hard as it seems, doesn't take all day and Teddy is actually, truly, really learning things!!!!  This boy has memorized a poem that he can still repeat effortlessly a month later, has also memorized bible verses, the difference between common and proper nouns, his handwriting is improving, he is telling me his 1st grade math book is too easy so we have skipped ahead about 60 pages to find something "new", he is also doing Spanish class online with ALL BY HIMSELF, and he is excited and eager for class each day!  Who knew!?  I teach him math, language and writing each day while Cole teaches him history, PE and early science about 3 days a week.
Reese joins in on a lot of the lessons though we don't pressure her with the same amount of schoolwork.  She is however working on the beginning skills to be reading soon and "teaching" her stuffed animals while Teddy and I aren't using the white board.  It is an unexpected bonus that Reese gets to see Teddy in school and gets excited about the idea for herself.  Ted even helps Reese with her writing practice and re-teaches what he is learning to her a little here and there.  This week we are planning to do a volcano project since we are living in a crazy volcano range here in the Andes... should be fun and apropos : )  We get all this done in the mornings while the team is at the seminary Monday through Friday 8am-12pm... Thanks to those of you that helped me find the right materials and were great encouragers as I prepared for this...  It has been a very awesome blessing this past month to home school...      Which brings me to the team!  This past Saturday they practiced evangelism for the first time as a team and it went awesome!!!

We are still praying with great hope for the remainder of our team.  We have 7 on our team officially right now, interviewing a young man this week and still very much praying for the last South American girl and North American boys to complete the team.  It is crazy and crazy cool hanging on the edge of our front row seats to God's plan for our team and ministry in Ibarra.  Our girls, Caty, Michaela and Rebecca are all in language school and the other half of the team, Priscila, Abby and Diego are in seminary classes.  They are doing awesome!  You can bookmark the team blog at for news about the team.   ALSO, I am working on keeping our Flickr album updated for those of you that don't use facebook.  You can see our online Flickr album at  

Thanks for your prayers!!! If you get a chance, check out this article, It is for those of you who SEND others to the mission field.  We Love you all very much!!!

Grace and Peace, 
The Williams Family 

Monday, August 12, 2013

First Visit to Ibarra, Ecuador and Great News about God's Plan for us...

We made our first trip to Ibarra this last weekend and it was so wonderful!  For those of you who know us well, you know we like countryside and calm more than the closeness of city life... well, God has called us into city  life and more closeness than we ever imagined we would face as a family!  In just three days most of our team will be arriving in Quito and moving in with us!  We have lived on regular-neighborhood-side-by-side-houses streets for about a year and a half now, but in this stuff, God has blessed us and continues to bless us with sweet family time in spite of the 24 hour working day, patches of warm grass, climbing trees, flowers, and here in Ecuador the most incredible collection of hummingbirds that hang outside our dining room window all day long. Which brings me back to our visit to Ibarra this last weekend... it is the calmest little busy city!  It has a neat and quaint busy little city center with homemade ice cream, plazas, Sunday afternoons in the park, a big open market for fruits and vegetables, and silent nights.  We could imagine our team and evangelism in the streets... kids running to hear about Jesus in the park...  It  is also filled with massive saint shrines that just make me uneasy and so eager to share with them something of real power in the great I AM.  I don't quite know how to describe the strangeness of these shrines.  They are large wooden dolls, painted, adorned, lit up, prayed to, worshiped and expected to bring blessing. I recently learned that in Catholic teachings they completely leave out the following verses in their version of the 10 Commandments:
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." Ex 20:4-6. 
We are seriously so excited to plant a church there...and not just any that is truly committed to God, discipleship, loving others, prayer, service, tithing, and kingdom work!  I can't stop thinking about the warnings to the 7 churches in Revelation... what kind of churches are out there right now?  Is it possible that some of us are missing the whole point of Jesus' words to us?  I know I want to hear from my Lord, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  I want to really KNOW my God, to hear his call in my heart, his approval, his life, love and forgiveness.  I want to feed his sheep

Already the mission in Ibarra has begun...  we have another trip planned to Ibarra to scout locations for the new church plant and possible houses for the team and an apartment for the pastor.  Since our arrival in Quito, Cole and I have been praying with Yoan and Astrid, our pastor and his wife, over the 4040's, the people in Ibarra, funding for the whole project in all categories, and for the right locations in Ibarra.  The goal is for us to have a complete team of 10 4040's and right now we are short.  I have asked you to pray for us in this matter previously and I ask you again to pray with fervency on our behalf.  We need 2 North American men to join our team, 1 South American male, and 1 South American female in addition to complete funding for one of our NA females, Rebecca Fahrni, who has struggled to find those willing to obey God's call in supporting her.  If you know of any young men that are excellent leaders and called to international missions, we would love for them to consider if God is calling them to Ibarra. Please know that your prayers are so, so important. We know God will provide every need, just as he has up to this point and this situation we are in nowncall out in us another leap of faith, a trusting that though we see obstacles ahead, to God they are moments for glory and power that only come through Him.

***Just as I am writing this, Cole returned home from a leadership conference here in Quito with amazing news...  The whole day was filled with incredible sermons, lessons and stories.  The very last speaker, Doug Carter shared on generosity in our living...more than just our finances, but true generosity in our spirits. He was being translated by Christian Sarmiento, the Regional Director for South America.  He translated the last bits of Doug Carter's message then continued talking.  He talked about Extreme and the need for more missionaries to serve in Ibarra and Manta.  He waited and began singing until about 6 young men came forward to the altar to answer the call! God is so good all the time!! Oh my goodness we are humbled.***

Help us get 4040's to the field!  If you have influence in your district's NYI, youth group, college, college group, spread the word.  Your invitation for someone to check out Extreme and join us in Ibarra could be the very thing God is planning to use to get us our last 2 North American males!

I know you all are invested in this project along with us and I ask that you not neglect praying for the ministry and that God would send more workers to the field for harvest.  Let us be churches and people that SEND and GO when God calls!

Seriously, it is a tremendous blessing to get to know our leaders like Christian Sarmiento and Dr. David Graves and both of their sweet wives (not pictured here), The Rich's and Howard's and many others.  We as a church are in very good hands...first God's and in those that lead us from within the body.  They are truly humble servants and amazing examples of disciples.

Some pictures of Ibarra...our soon to be home : )






IMBABURA volcano and Ibarra, the White City below it!

WWW.EXTREMENAZARENE.ORG for more information about becoming a 4040 for Ibarra!!!

If you have made it this far... THANKS!  Check out this song that I can't get out of my head right now... 

Blessings to you my friends, brothers and sisters in Christ!