As our guy Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And ohmygoodness, has life been moving fast around here. Since landing in Ohio almost six months ago, Mario and I have: bought a car, celebrated his first Thanksgiving, celebrated Christmas, Mario got a job, I went full-time with Reliant as a support raising coach, we joined a new church and we bought a house! All the while reuniting with friends and family…that is, until about a month ago when our reunions became virtual!
Over the weekend, I was on the phone with my dear friend Amanda and noted that if there are words being said – in any situation – I will find some to add to the conversation. So as much as I would love to dive deeply into all the events, big and small, of the past six months, I’ll focus on the highlight reel.
Mario got a job! In February, Mario was hired by Veeam, an international IT company to be a support technician! Veeam partners with Microsoft and is a competitor of IBM, so we see this as a great opportunity for Mario to learn and enhance his skill set – a complete answer to all our prayers!
Not only is Mario assimilating to life in Ohio with a fancy job, but he has experienced some good ole fashioned USA traditions as well! We celebrated Thanksgiving with Josh & Amanda Raines! At the end of the night, Mario confessed, “I truly didn’t get what the big deal about Thanksgiving was, but now I get it!” On an unseasonably warm December night, we braved the crowd at the Columbus Zoo lights! This is a tradition I missed while in San Salvador! Mario had the chance to meet my wonderful, crazy family at my Aunt Carol’s birthday party! It’s been a true blessing and joy to finally introduce him to people I love so dearly. Mario and I celebrated Christmas in Hocking Hills! We rented an adorable AirBnB cabin (complete with hot tub!) and spent Christmas Eve in the woods! We even brought a little El Salvador with us and lit fireworks at midnight! Mario and I had a lovely New Years Eve dinner out and then rang in 2020 playing Super Nintendo Mario Kart and sipping champagne (I lost terribly)!
Mario and I have joined a new church in Columbus – Ethos! Ethos is pastored by Jordan Smucker, the former youth pastor at Faith Family Church in Canton, Ohio. I met Jordan back in 2015 at their Love is Red youth conference. The first Sunday we attended Ethos, Jordan was highlighting the local, national and international partners that they support. Guess who they support internationally? Iglesia Gran Comisión La Libertad! Let me remind you of our church in El Salvador. It’s Iglesia Gran Comisión San Salvador! This was a total wink from God that we were in the right place. Mario has already begun training to run sound on Sundays and I am easing my way into youth leadership. We have joined a young married couples lifegroup and I absolutely love it. We have connected especially well with another couple from our lifegroup, Oakey and Victoria Olatunji. They are both from Nigeria, but met and got married in the States! We’ve been doing Bible devotionals with them and have plans to get together regularly as soon as possible.
At the beginning of 2020, I officially became a full-time employee of the Reliant Central Staff! I am now coaching full-time and supporting the Ministry Team Development Health Team. This team works to make sure people raising support are healthy spiritually and financially. As of last week, I am coaching seventeen people! It’s so amazing. Before the Corona virus hit hard, I was able to travel to Austin, Texas for a fixed-term New Staff Training (NST). Fixed termers are people who will only be support based for a fixed period of time, usually one or two years. It’s a branch of Reliant that is growing rapidly and I have been fortunate to work closely with the fixed term team. I love NST because I get to meet the people I will be coaching face-to-face and reunite with co-workers I usually only see through the computer screen! This trip was especially fun because I got to see my longtime friend (I’m talking like since 2001!) Amy and her husband Phil! They took me to Austin’s best donut joint, where I got to use my Spanish with the workers and they blessed us with hot off the line donuts!
Since stay-at-home orders are active and traveling isn’t safe right now, at the end of March I participated in a virtual NST! My plan was to go to Raleigh, North Carolina, but when that became impossible, we ALL met online for the training! We used just about every connection available – Vimeo, GroupMe, Google Hangouts, text messaging, Zoom! But we did it! The Reliant fixed term team virtually hosted one of the biggest NST’s ever and more inspiring, 40+ church interns and residents faithfully began raising support in the middle of a pandemic. I pray that God graciously blesses their faithfulness to trust in Him and not in the world.
And finally, for the most exciting part – WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!!
OHMYGOODNESS!!! This is the first house that Mario and I have ever bought (the Barbie Dream House was a generous gift from my parents and grandparents). It was super complicated, super scary and super amazing. After weeks of hunting on Zillow, a dozen showings with our realtor Marie Hennessy (including a few This does NOT look like the photos! and What in the world were they thinking when they built this?!) and some very complicated numbers, we closed on our house! Casa Ramirez is in beautiful Westerville, Ohio, has a cozy gas fireplace, a home office for me (Mario usually works out of Polaris), a spacious master bedroom and a lovely guest bedroom, especially chosen for Mario’s parents! This house is everything we needed and everything we wanted. It was pretty much “move-in ready” except for some painting, which turned into quite the project. Thank goodness for our friend, Curt Good! He’s been meticulously painting for weeks! It’s absolutely gorgeous. Many of you have sent us housewarming gifts such as kitchen appliances, silverware, dishes and even a vacuum (you know you’re an adult when a vacuum excites you!)! Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this journey! We can’t wait to invite everyone over this summer!
None of these amazing things would be possible without the love, encouragement and support from Steve and DeeDee English. Longtime friends and supporters since the beginning, when we knew we were moving back, we needed a place to stay. I reached out to DeeDee and she said they’d be more than happy to house us for a while! Not only did they provide a place to sleep and delicious home cooked meals, but Steve offered his financial tips as we entered into home ownership and DeeDee freely gave cooking and cleaning tips along with ALLLL the hugs. I’m not sure if they knew that we would be crashing in their home for almost six months, but even so, they made us part of their family. We celebrated birthdays and holidays together and we were even with their daughter Elaine the night before she gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Wren! Steve and DeeDee showed us exactly what it means to be a cheerful giver. Mario and I pray that one day we can share our home with others as the Englishes shared with us.
My work with missionaries, interns and residents has become more encouraging than ever as they continue to actively support raise even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. They need weekly, sometimes daily reminders that God saw this coming and has a plan to get them fully funded. And His plan is working! On average, the fixed term programs are MUCH higher in giving than last year across the board and they’ve already raised approximately 25% more funds at this time in 2020 than in 2019! As they continue to take steps in faith, I am inspired to have the same faith in my own support raising!
As Mario and I continue to settle into home ownership and life in Ohio, we are continuously blessed by the financial support many of you provide. My salary continues to be support-based, meaning financial gifts continue to be vital. I am currently at 27% of my monthly goal. Thanks to the continued giving of many, I am able to receive a full paycheck every month. As I always say, this ministry is not possible without your partnership. Thank you for your continued giving!! I know that things may be a little uncertain right now. If you find yourself in a pinch and cannot continue your giving, please let me know so we can put that on pause until you are able to start it up again.
I thank God for your support and pray that you are well and growing in this season. As you pray for Mario and I, we would love to pray for you. How can we be praying for you? I would love for you to text or email me ways we can be supporting you in prayer!
Please join us in prayer:
- Continued health for both Mario and I and our friends & family
- Adjusting to life in our new home – complete with mortgage payments and utility bills!
- That Mario is able to grow in his knowledge at Veeam and they see his potential!
- For the seventeen amazing people I’m coaching! That they’d continue to faithfully and courageously ask for support.
- For unwavering faith that God has us in His hands and we can trust Him with all the unknowns.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together,
will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
at His feet,