​A delegation from Ecuador visits  Central Plains. Front row: Alyssa Rodriguez, Daniela Sánchez, Noreen Gingerich, Darwin Villacis, Manuel Ronquillo and Luis Tapia. Back row: Zulema Rodriguez, Donald Kempf, and Fernando Ramos. Photo by Daniela Sanchez.​
By Laurie Oswald Robinson
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

As they traveled from Ecuador to Iowa and Minnesota in mid-July, Luis Tapia, Daniela Sánchez, Manuel Ronquillo, and Darwin Villacis wondered what they would find on the other end of their journey.​​

 

 

​They knew they would reunite with some longtime friends from Central Plains Mennonite Conference with whom they had related in what is called the Ecuador Partnership. But what of the other people they would meet for the first time in congregations in Iowa and Minnesota?  

Would members of Central Plains’ congregations identify with their challenges at Quito Mennonite Church and its ministries and church plants? And would they, as Ecuadorians, understand the challenges faced by rural and urban communities throughout the Midwest?   

As the Ecuadorians met members of several congregations, it didn’t take long to forge new friendships, the Ecuadorians said at the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) gathering in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  

Their pre-MWC trip included visits to First Mennonite Church in Iowa City; Christ Community Church in Des Moines, Iowa; and Faith Mennonite Church in Minneapolis. They also visited several sites and individuals along their route, including an Amish bishop and a store that sold fair trade items from Ecuador.  

“I was touched by how people at the congregations knew my name, even though I hadn’t been there before,” said Tapia, pastor of Quito Mennonite Church. “This partnership goes way beyond helping just for the sake of helping. People actually care about who we are and what we are doing in Quito.” 

Sánchez, who helps to lead the peace education program, said, “What most touched me was relating with women who opened up their homes to us. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, I felt we bonded. These women inspired me through their hospitality, faith and ideas.” 

Ronquillo saw Americans in a new light that cut through stereotypes. 

“People in the global South think that because Americans have material wealth, they do not have any needs,” But I saw in a new way that this isn’t true. Americans struggle, too. Our mutual exchange is good, because it puts a face on people and humanizes the whole story.” 

The benefits of the relationships flow in both directions, said David Boshart, executive conference minister of Central Plains Conference.  

“Our relationship has changed the way we do church planting in Central Plains,” Boshart said. “It has made us more sensitive to the way we do evangelism. We are learning what it means to walk hand-in-hand with others, learning together as we go, rather than being the one with all the answers. 

“This partnership has been one of the most transformative experiences our conference has ever had. Many of our congregations in Central Plains are 100 years old, or more, and this partnership has awakened that part of us that had gone to sleep.”​

Have you been affected by these mission friendships? Click here to support mission relationships around the world.


 

 Related articles

 

 

The Heartbreak of the border: A call for compassion and changeBloghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5043/A-call-for-compassion-and-changeThe Heartbreak of the border: A call for compassion and changeGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Karen HorsmanQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5039/Here-with-purpose-Karen-HorsmanHere with purpose: Karen HorsmanGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mission partnerships help each participant to experience more of GodBenin Bible Institutehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5037/Mission-partnerships-help-each-participant-to-experience-more-of-GodMission partnerships help each participant to experience more of GodGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Cotonou
Unwavering faith in the face of persecution yields harvest of peaceFaith in Sidihttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5029/Unwavering-faith-in-the-face-of-persecution-yields-harvest-of-peaceUnwavering faith in the face of persecution yields harvest of peaceGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Sidi
United in ChristTwo-Way Missionhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5026/United-in-ChristUnited in ChristGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Zábalo Village
Here with purpose: Michael OyerBloghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5027/Here-with-purpose-Michael-OyerHere with purpose: Michael OyerGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Casa del Abuelo: Navigating crisis and compassion in La GuajiraBloghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5023/crisis-and-compassion-in-La-GuajiraCasa del Abuelo: Navigating crisis and compassion in La GuajiraGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476La Guajira
Counting down the twelve days of service with MVS and Service Adventure (part two)12 days of servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5019/Counting-down-the-twelve-days-of-service-with-MVS-and-Service-Adventure-part-twoCounting down the twelve days of service with MVS and Service Adventure (part two)GP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Learning to praise GodAdvent Devotionalhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5020/Learning-to-praise-GodLearning to praise GodGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
God’s logicAdvent Devotionalhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5017/Gods-logicGod’s logicGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Counting down the twelve days of service with MVS and Service Adventure (part one)12 Days of Servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5018/Counting-down-the-twelve-days-of-service-with-MVS-and-Service-Adventure-part-1Counting down the twelve days of service with MVS and Service Adventure (part one)GP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Gisselle GuityQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5016/Here-with-purpose-Gisselle-GuityHere with purpose: Gisselle GuityGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
We followers of Jesus not only gather to pray, but also to enjoy lifeAdvent Devotionalhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5014/We-followers-of-JesusWe followers of Jesus not only gather to pray, but also to enjoy lifeGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
A Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communitiesGod's gracehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5012/A-Congolese-pastor-overcomes-fear-of-preaching-in-remote-communitiesA Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communitiesGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Sara GuruléQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4990/Here-with-purpose-SaraHere with purpose: Sara GuruléGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476

 

 

​Laurie Oswald Robinson is a freelance writer living in Newton, Kansas.

 Related

 

 

The Heartbreak of the border: A call for compassion and changehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5043/A-call-for-compassion-and-changeThe Heartbreak of the border: A call for compassion and change
Here with purpose: Karen Horsmanhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5039/Here-with-purpose-Karen-HorsmanHere with purpose: Karen Horsman
Mission partnerships help each participant to experience more of Godhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5037/Mission-partnerships-help-each-participant-to-experience-more-of-GodMission partnerships help each participant to experience more of God
Unwavering faith in the face of persecution yields harvest of peacehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5029/Unwavering-faith-in-the-face-of-persecution-yields-harvest-of-peaceUnwavering faith in the face of persecution yields harvest of peace
United in Christhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5026/United-in-ChristUnited in Christ
Here with purpose: Michael Oyerhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5027/Here-with-purpose-Michael-OyerHere with purpose: Michael Oyer



 

 

The Heartbreak of the border: A call for compassion and changehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5043/A-call-for-compassion-and-changeThe Heartbreak of the border: A call for compassion and change
Mennonite medical ministry changing in Taiwan even as Christ’s love remains the samehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5040/Mennonite-medical-ministry-changing-in-TaiwanMennonite medical ministry changing in Taiwan even as Christ’s love remains the same
Here with purpose: Karen Horsmanhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5039/Here-with-purpose-Karen-HorsmanHere with purpose: Karen HorsmanQ&A
Service Adventure: Spread your wings!https://www.mennonitemission.net/video/5005/Service-Adventure-spread-your-wingsService Adventure: Spread your wings!Service Adventure
Benin Bible Institute renews a 20-year partnership with Indiana congregationhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5038/Benin-Bible-Institute-renews-a-20-year-partnership-with-Indiana-congregationBenin Bible Institute renews a 20-year partnership with Indiana congregationBenin Bible Institute
Mission partnerships help each participant to experience more of Godhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5037/Mission-partnerships-help-each-participant-to-experience-more-of-GodMission partnerships help each participant to experience more of GodBenin Bible Institute