PARNELL, Iowa (Mennonite Mission Network) — During a reunion of those who have participated in Mennonite Mission Network’s fellowship and work team visits to Ecuador, Mary Lou Farmer, Edie Nebel, Patricia Urueña, Liliana Ocampo and Roger Farmer trade memories. Urueña and Ocampo are Colombians serving in Ecuador through the Ecuador Partnership.
The first team of Iowans and Nebraskans traveled to Ecuador in 2000. Many North Americans and Colombians have followed.
Linda Shelly, Mennonite Mission Network’s director for Latin America, said there is a high level of commitment of former team participants to continue the relationships they established during these visits.
“To have so many participants at the reunion on a beautiful Sunday afternoon shows that those who visited Ecuador have an ongoing interest in what they experienced,” Shelly said.
The gathering took place at the Washington (Iowa) Mennonite Church in the context of the annual Ecuador Partnership meetings in Parnell, Iowa. Conversations and visits beginning in the mid-1990s led to the formation of the Ecuador Partnership, including Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (Colombian Mennonite Church) and Central Plains Mennonite Conference, together with Mennonite Mission Network.
The partnership initially focused on, and continues to prioritize, theological education with indigenous churches, which led to support for the Ñukanchik Yachay Education Center in Cebadas. The other priority is the Iglesia Cristiana Menonita, a congregation begun in Quito through the partnership.
Together with the congregation, the Partnership is involved in children and youth peace ministries and refugee support. Partnership personnel have also taught conflict mediation and theology in programs through the Latin American Christian University (UCL) in Quito and the Latin American Biblical University (UBL) based in Costa Rica.