I am getting closer and closer to returning to the jungle. I couldn’t be more excited! A couple weeks ago I turned in all of my paperwork online to the Ecuadorian Consulate. Last week I got a call later in the evening that they were ready to set an appointment for me to come and pick it up! I will travel to Houston, TX for my appointment on March 2nd. If everything goes well at the appointment, this process will have been pretty painless! Please pray that everything goes well and that I leave with my visa.
I plan to leave for Ecuador a few weeks after getting my visa. Can you believe it! I am finally getting to go back after being in the States for over a year. I am overjoyed that I am getting to return! I am in the process of getting things together and wrapped up, buying clothes and things that I need to take back with me. Finishing up the last of my doctors appointments, getting a new drivers license, and packing up stuff that I am not going to take. I have a list somewhere of things I need to do. I kept on listing off all of the things I need to get done before I go and my friend said write it down Ashley! Now I can’t find my list! Don’t tell her!
My friends, in the jungle, are in the process of getting my cabin ready for me. A couple years ago I joked that if they put an air conditioner and windows in my house I would stay a couple more years. Last month I found out that they had planned on doing that! I got a message last night that the window guy is coming this week! Little did they know that I would have gone back with or without windows! I feel a little spoiled but I am very grateful. I love how the Lord chooses to bless me with things like that. The Lord has been so faithful to me throughout this last year. I really can’t explain it any other way!
Here are a few things you can pray for me:
- Safe travels to and from Houston.
- That my visa appointment goes well and I leave with my visa.
- That the Lord continues to send guidance and provision as I get ready to go.
Thank you for your love, prayers, and support!
I was reading in Psalm 139 the other day, and it says that the Lord has recorded everyday of our lives in His book. I wonder if those pages are about to fall out or have been wrinkled up or have fallen out, maybe if I was the writer of my own story they would be. Thank goodness I am not the writer of my own story, you wouldn’t want to read it! 2016 was a difficult year for me. I returned to the States in December 2015, from the jungle of Ecuador, for Christmas break. I was eager to see my family and friends and share all that the Lord had been doing in my life, and I was even more eager to return to Ecuador. A couple weeks before I was supposed to return I had a regular eye check up. That appointment turned into 8 months of being treated for a pseudotumor cerebri (a pseudo brain tumor). I was ill, really ill, and not just physically, mentally and spiritually ill. I wanted to know why the Lord would allow me to be in the States, when He clearly called me to work with an organization in Ecuador. I was depressed. I am not the type to stay in bed or “ho hum” around, but I was that person, and for a month! I was so sad and confused and hurt, I was grieving. I had no idea why I was still here. I was for sure, a fish out of water. My organization gave me plenty of work to keep me busy. I maintained as best I could of the planning for the short term teams and student sponsorship. But, even though that is my responsibility, that is not the reason why I love the jungle so much. I am friends with many of the people that go on short term mission trips to the jungle. So this past year I could see all of the pictures they would post and they would share their stories and how much fun they were having. I would start looking at the pictures and see the faces of the students in the school. I had to stop looking because well, it broke my heart. I wondered what they thought about me, especially the sweet little girls in the 1st grade class who I would always play with during recess. And the boys that lived around the corner who always wanted candy or cookies from my house. I wondered what the teachers at the school thought. I was building relationships with all of these people. Not once did I ever think that I wasn’t going to go back. I always said and still say “I just came for Christmas break!” After 8 months I found out I had been misdiagnosed and then a month later I was diagnosed with a thyroid disease that is treatable. The Holy Spirit never let me feel comfortable about making plans to return to Ecuador until I received the diagnosis of the thyroid disease. When the doctor told me what I had I started crying huge tears. She said “are you okay” I said “of course I am” and I was overjoyed. Who knows why I have been here for the last year. Believe me I wanted to know! My friend (I don’t even know what to call him because friend doesn’t cover it!) anyways, he said “ASHLEY you may never know why and maybe not until you get to heaven and it doesn’t matter why!” I’ve come to be okay with this, even though it took me a lot longer than it should have. Two years ago, on this exact day, I set out on a journey that the Lord had planned for me. Now I am in the process of returning to my second home! I am so excited and grateful to the Lord. I am in the process of getting my visa and I hope to return early this year. If you are reading this certainly you have had an impact on my life in some way, THANK YOU! I will go back to the jungle and continue my responsibilities and whatever else the Lord has in store for me. I also plan to squeeze and kiss the tar out of those sweet, now, 2nd grade girls!
November has been a good month. So many things I can talk about or share with you but I think I will limit it to a couple. When I first moved here in August we started a women’s bible study with the missionary women here. We finished the first study and decided that we would ask some of the teachers here in the school if they would like to join, and a few did. In our first meeting one of the ladies didn’t say a word and I was wondering did she really want to be here with us. At the very end she broke down and shared her current situation and poured her heart out to us. I was so thankful that she shared and I had no idea that she was struggling like she was. I felt a little convicted about things I had been thinking about her. We have been praying for her and she came back one other time to the bible study and then missed another week. But on Saturday she came to my house and sat and talked with my roommate and I. We listened and I couldn’t help but think this was an appointment God made for us. After listening to her share what she is still going through, we shared with her God’s love for her and reminded her how important she is to Him. I am excited to see what God is going to do through her and glad God is using us to be apart of that. Pray for her!
One night shortly after I moved to the jungle I had walked outside for some reason and looked up at the sky. It was a really clear night and I saw the most stars I have ever seen in my life. When it’s clear I will sometimes go out and see if it is as clear as that night, but it hasn’t been, until last night. My roommate and I were walking home from church and looked up and it was clear so clear you could see all the stars, literally all of them! We stood there in awe for a minute and even saw a shooting star. Yesterday marked the first day for advent, I have a tradition of observing it, so I went and got my candle that I burn while I read a reading plan for advent and brought it outside. We stood outside under the stars…all the stars to be exact, and worshiped and praised the Lord. It was a surreal moment, in the middle of the Amazon Jungle, underneath all the stars God placed in the sky, in the middle of the school property God has placed in the community to use for His glory, celebrating His coming. There’s not much more I can say to describe that moment, but I am so thankful for this life God has given me.
Well I have now been living in the Jungle for about 2 months. Although it feels like I’ve been here a lot longer…in a good way! I have gotten settled into my new house here and have tried to seal it up as best as possible to keep bugs out. I had a week where I battled ants, large ants, it was not fun! But I really do enjoy living here, it’s quiet and peaceful and then during the week I get to see all the kids since I live on the school property. It’s fun to see their smiling faces everyday and go out and play with them on the playground! I had gotten pretty ill a few weeks ago from eating bad food while out with a team. I was sick for 12 days, I didn’t really eat that much and even had a hard time holding water down. First lesson learned is do not go to the free clinic! They did not give me the correct medication which prolonged me being sick. Second always pay for the good doctor! The doctor I went to see the second time was very kind and knew his stuff and gave me the correct medicine. He was even telling us about his son who is in Oklahoma as a foreign exchange student…small world! But thankfully I am much better now and I am super thankful to have a great community of missionaries that looked after me. A couple of the kids snuck into my house and saw me sitting on my bed and asked me what I was doing, I said I was laying there because I didn’t feel well. So they left and then I heard them come back in, they had went and gotten a cup of water and tylenol for me to take since I wasn’t well. It warmed my heart, and thankful that God gives me reminders like that of why I am here.
My responsibilities here are coordinating the child sponsor program and the short term teams. Both of these keep me extremely busy. The child sponsor program consists of getting info on children who need sponsorship, finding sponsors for them, keeping in contact with the current sponsors, and getting updates of the children to the sponsors. The short term team coordinating consists of planning out the teams and schedules for the next year. The schedules entail a lot…flights, work project, vbs project, travel, lodging, sightseeing, and much more. So far there are 10 groups coming and we are looking at more. We also still have 3 more groups coming before the end of this year.
I had a group come last month, normally when we have groups we always take them up river to this zoo but we were also going to visit a local village to drop off some supplies. So we leave that morning and head to grab some canoes. We leave for the village first in the canoes but couldn’t pass because the river was too low. We decided to head on to the zoo. Needless to say the day didn’t go as planned, but the group still had a great time. A couple days later I took the ladies in the group to the village (leaving in a canoe in a different place this time). We made it but had to hike in through thick jungle to get to the school in the village. We were late arriving and the teacher and the students waited for us. This school only has about 10 kids and the teacher travels by bus and canoe everyday to get there.The teacher was very grateful to get the supplies that we took to her and the kids are just so precious and were excited about the candy! When we left and were heading back to town in the canoe all I could think of how privileged I am to lead the life that God has given to me. I got to take a group of women up river in a canoe on the Napo river in the Amazon Jungle to visit a village, pretty amazing to me.
Here are some things you can be in prayer about for me and my ministry: My health and that my stomach would stop being so sensitive! You can pray for my family back home. Pray for Jungle Kids for Christ…the missionaries here, the students and teachers. We are also in the process of raising money for a new school building, please pray for that. Pray for God’s continued provision for me to be here serving. Pray for my supporters and their families.
Go ahead and sing the song in your head because I am! Last week I moved to the jungle. After almost 7 months of living in Quito the main city, learning language and adjusting to the culture I have made it here. Crazy to think that a year and 5 months ago I decided to leave my comfortable life in the states and start preparing for this journey. But with living in Quito for 7 months it was so hard to say goodbye to my friends I have there and to the ministry I was working with (Dunamis Foundation). Most of the girls in that ministry have been there quite a while and we had developed friendships. Saying goodbye to them was one of the hardest things ever, they begged me to stay or to pack them in my bag so they could go with me. On my last day with them we took pictures together and they made me goodbye cards, I will treasure them forever. Although it was super hard to leave I know that they will continue to be loved on by other great volunteers and God will continue to guide their paths.
And now to start this new beginning in the jungle. I have gotten all my stuff moved in and kind of settled. Thanks to a team that came last week (a couple of my favorite people were in this team!) they helped me move and also cleaned up my house. My house got new screen and pretty trim around the screen, because we don’t have windows, oh and ceiling fans too! They also helped clean up the inside as there was construction going on the other side and it was a little messy. My job while I am working here will be short term team coordinator and child sponsor program coordinator. I am excited to have these jobs and have lots of ideas! I am thrilled about the community of missionaries that is starting here as well! There are 2 families onsite now, another single lady who is my roommate, and a family that will be moving down early next year! I love seeing all the great things the Lord is doing here. School will start this week and I can’t wait to see all the beautiful faces on the campus! If you want to see more of what the school looks like go to junglekidsforchrist.org.
Be in prayer for the teachers, students, staff, and their families as school starts and that God will continue to use this place to change the world! Pray for me as I adjust to living here in the jungle and take on my new responsibilities! Pray for my family and all the people who are praying and supporting me!
Wow, well it has been 6 months for me here in Ecuador! Time flies when you are having fun! I honestly can’t believe it has passed so quickly. God has been so good and faithful to me in this time and I have great peace knowing that He will continue. So for the last month and a half I have been super busy. I have been traveling back and forth with short term teams, picking them up from the airport taking them to the jungle, then taking them back to the airport. We (we as in, Jungle Kids for Christ) had 7 teams that came for a visit over June and July. I have to say I was a little nervous at the beginning of “team season,” one because my Spanish isn’t the best, and that is a lot of people to keep track of and get them safely to the jungle! But they all made it, not with out a few bumps in the road….literally. There are two ways you can travel from Quito to the jungle and one of the ways was closed all but one weekend. It was closed because they had so much rain it caused tons of landslides/mudslides, whatever you want to call them. The difference in driving time is about 5 hours or so, even the longer way was closed a couple of times due to landslides! I totaled up the time I spent traveling with the teams and it was a bunch……. I spent 12 hours in the airport, 14 hours in a taxi and 77 hours give or take in the bus! And with about 93 people in total from 6 teams! I bet your wondering if it was exhausting, and yes it was a little bit. But the drive is so beautiful and getting to talk with people from the teams is great too. Working with teams is a great job to have, and I loved being able to see the love and passion they have for the jungle and for Ecuador.
The next month and a halfish I will continue living in Quito, working with Dunamis, and working on my Spanish. Toward the end of August I will move to Misahualli, and move into a house on the school property. I am so excited and a little nervous to be moving. In Quito everything is at a fingertips length and in the jungle everything is further away. So please pray for me as I make this transition. My job once I move, will be coordinating the short term teams and the child sponsor program for the school. I think both these jobs will be a great fit for me!
I ask that you would pray for my supporters as they have been so persistent in praying for me and along with their monthly support. Please pray for both ministries I am working with Dunamis and Jungle Kids for Christ. Please pray for my family, as they have had some difficulties in the last couple months.
Thanks for reading!! Love y’all and praying for you!
Well first of all I missed 2 months of blogging. I hate when I miss and feel like I’m not keeping everyone up to date! Anyways things have been busy and changing and I even made a visit back to the states! After my last post in March, I was able to go to the jungle with my friends who had come on a short term trip (same trip I came on last year). I had a great time with them, and had a sense of pride being able to show them my new home. But when they left it was REALLY hard. I didn’t realize how hard it would be on me, and then I had a sense of loneliness for the next few weeks. In hindsight I know that this was a time that was supposed to be for me and God only, lots of time talking with Him. Thankfully He held my hand tight through this.
After getting over this hurtle, I continued on with my “normal life.” I put that in quotes because my life here seems normal too me now, but when I think about my life its far from normal……I’m a missionary in Ecuador! My days are still working with the girls in the foundation and taking Spanish classes. I have found the best way of practicing Spanish is in the taxi, with the taxi driver. Quito traffic is horrible sometimes, but the good thing about that is talking with the driver…..I think I got asked out on a date the other day!
I was able to visit the states most of May. During my time there I shared with my church, small groups, youth group, family and friends about what has been going on since I moved to Ecuador. The support from all of these people is overwhelmingly amazing, they were all excited to see me and hear about what God is doing. My sister also graduated from college while I was there! Being in Oklahoma did make me miss Ecuador, and when it was time to go back I was ready to go home. Not that I was tired of the states, I just missed my life here and I do feel like Ecuador is my home, and I am super thankful for that.
Over June and the beginning of July, I will be working with short term teams that are coming from the states. These teams are coming with Jungle Kids for Christ (my main organization). I will be picking them up from the airport and going down to the jungle with them, and then coming back to Quito and waiting for the next group to arrive to do the same! This will be a lot of traveling! But I am excited for this and to work with the teams, I always like to share how God sent me on a short term trip and now here I am.
I ask that you would pray for both organizations I work with, Dunamis and Jungle Kids for Christ. I ask that you would pray for my health, as I write this I am not feeling the best, for God’s provision over me, and for all the traveling that will be coming up for me.
Thanks for reading and for all your love and support!!
I would like to say that I am mostly settled in here in Ecuador. I am learning the bus routes and what time of the day is good to take the bus and which is not. If you ever get the feeling of being alone or need to be around people, being squeezed in on the bus is a great fix for that, and I mean literally squeezed in! This month has been a little difficult for me, not bad at all but difficult. I have been sick a few times which sucks all the life out of me. I hate being sick and hate having to miss Spanish class and hate missing time with the girls. Hopefully my body will start building up immunity to the food here. (Please pray for that!) It’s also been a hard few weeks with the girls. We have had 4 or 5 leave and new girls come in. It is extremely hard on me when the girls leave. We don’t know what kind of situation they are going back to. I want to just take all of them and keep them so they can be safe for forever. I know I can’t do that and I know that God has a plan for them. Sometimes I wish God would smack me up side the head and say, “Hey Ashley…..remember me??? Ya I got this!” Maybe I should write that on my hand or something! The second part of this is working with teenage girls! Man they are tough! There are 9 girls or so living with each other, constantly around each other with no break. Ya you catch my drift…..they can be difficult sometimes. (You can pray for that too!) I found a devo that deals with being a friend and why we should love and how we should love. Hopefully they are listening when we are sharing the devo, but I continue to pray that they will realize they are one big family and they need to make the best of it.
I got to visit Jungle Kids for Christ (the organization I am partnered with) last month. It was a nice visit and I was able to find out a little bit more of what my responsibilities will be when I move there. (Right now I live in Quito and work with Dunamis a sister foundation to JKC. I am working with them and learning Spanish so that when I move to the jungle I am better equipped with the language.) I will be working with the short terms teams that will be coming, help with all work that goes into that. I am extremely excited about being able to that. I also hope too that we will be able to open a child care center, as that will take some time.
God is showing me that I need to be totally dependent on him. Whether its being sick or frustrated with being squeezed in a backed bus or whatever it is. I am so thankful for His love for me and I ask quite often for Him to fill me up with His love I ask that you would pray for the girls I work with. Pray for both organizations that I work with; Dunamis and Jungle Kids for Christ. For my family back home, for my health and well being, my spiritual health and the provision I need. Also pray for my awesome partners and their families!
Love and miss you all, thanks for reading. Also I was asked for a wish list in case you wanted to mail me goodies. I heard that you are not allowed to mail food anymore, Ecuador changed their laws. But I would love letters or pictures or cards! If you would like my mailing address please send me an email or a message and I will respond back with it.
Hello from Ecuador! I have been in Ecuador a full month now! Sometimes it seems like I have been here forever and sometimes it feels like I just stepped off the plane. I am kind of starting to settle into a daily routine here. I have made my house and home and have gotten connected with a church and a singles group within the church. I have tackled the grocery store, somewhat, every time I go I discover something new….like cream cheese or whipped cream. Although,I have not seen enchilada sauce, thats okay I think I can make my own. My days usually consist of working with the girls, and by girls I mean girls that are live in a shelter in Quito. They either live there because some sort of abuse or neglect took place in their homes. The girls arrive at the foundation and we share a devotional each morning then they either work on jewelry or sewing or a computer class that I teach on Friday. Working with these girls is such a blessing, when we are not busy working they latch right on to me and want to be hugged and loved on. I love it and am super blessed that I get to share all the love that God has given me with them! In the afternoons there is a Spanish language tutor that comes to my house and teaches me Spanish. I initially had planned on going to an actual school, but that did not work out as it is pretty far from my house and costly for a taxi each day. So the tutor, Martha, is amazing and a great teacher and I really enjoy learning from her. Plus working the girls helps me to learn, as well and they correct me when I am wrong! I also teach them some English so it all works out. I am actually writing from the jungle right now. I came down to do a site visit and discuss what my future role with the Jungle Kids for Christ. In discussing with them their need in the foundation they need a person to handle and take over the short term teams that come. This position will oversee all that goes on with the teams before, during, and after their visit. Also being able to work on the child care center if that is the way God leads the organization. I am excited to work with teams, it was on a short term team that God showed me where He wanted me to be. And hopefully I will be able to share my testimony in that, and God can use that to recruit other missionaries!
God has been truly amazing in this last month. He has been right by my side and holding my hand tightly. I know that I live in a foreign country but so far it has not seemed like that to me. I really do not feel out of place and I feel at home. I think that in my past, growing up the way I did and always having to adapt to situations that children should not have to, has helped me to adapt in every situation good and bad…..this of course is a good one!
Some ways that you can pray for me are: my phyical health, I did get sick a couple weeks ago from parasites and I am sure that it will happen again. Pray that God will use everything that goes into my body as nurishment. Not sure if it counts when I eat chocolate or drink a coke….but hey you never know! Pray for my spiritual health. We had two girls leave the foundation, the government said it was time for them to go home. They usually do not go back into safe enviroments when they do. It is hard when they leave because we establish loving relationships with them, and more than likely not see them again. Also being away from my family is hard and I do miss them a ton and they miss me, please pray in that. Pray that God will keep the devil away from me and the organizations and my family. You can pray for both organizations that I work with, Dunamis and Jungle Kids for Christ. Both are raising funds for the great things that God has going on for them, and that God will send more missionaries their way. Pray for the girls at Dunamis, that God will work in their hearts and that they will see how much He loves them. You can pray for my amazing partners that give each month either with prayer or by financial means. Pray that God will bless them and help them in what they need as they are a major blessing not only to me but to the organizations that I am with.
Thank you to my partners who do give each month as you have committed, you have no idea how thankful I am for you! It is one less thing to preoccupy my mind when I need to be focused on what God would has for me to do. I do have a mailing address so if you want to ship me some goodies either email me or facebook me and I will give you my address. Also check out my facebook page…..Ashley Murphy Missions as I regularly post pictures and quick updates!
Well the time has come, ticket is bought, bags are being packed, and goodbyes are being said. This month has been full of ups and downs. I returned home from training the beginning of November and have been going non stop since. At training they told us that transition would be hard and they were RIGHT!! There have been so many emotions and I have grieved over things I didn’t think I cared about. There were a few days that I felt like I shouldn’t be talking because everything I was saying came out the wrong way. But it has gotten better and thank God he has held my hand through this time.
My church commissioned me at the beginning of December and it was an amazing day. My really good friend Curt came from Nashville to preach and commission me alongside my church. I am grateful that it took place during all 3 services. One of my friends took some pictures for me and you can hardly see me through the sea of people that came up to pray over me. During the service, Kevin my pastor, read a letter from a lady that God used to turn my heart to missions. I was surprised at the letter she wrote to me full of such kind and encouraging words, this was a very special moment for me, among many. Previous to the service I had been worried about getting the monthly support that I needed, 50 people at $25 a month. During the service we showed a video and I poured my heart out and shared what I would be doing and what I needed. I had people come up to me after the service and said they were going to partner with me and handing me money. This was an amazing overwhelmingly emotional day, filled with family and friends and God continuing to show me that HE is in control. The next day I was elated to find out that I got all my monthly support needs met! I sure am thankful that I prayed and asked God to “make it rain!” Yes I did pray this, He knows how crazy I am!
I will be leaving on January 8th, and if you have heard the names Jim Elliot or Nate Saint or Pete Fleming this is a special day. January 8th is the day these fearless God loving men were killed trying to reach people that certainly were the least. They put their lives on the line to share the Gospel with people they knew were dangerous, but God had given them a heart for them and they needed to share it. I had the privilege to visit the Nate Saint house back in March and I don’t know that I have been more taken over by the Holy Spirit than that. When I settle down in the jungle I will live about 30 or so miles away from where these men were murdered. Probably sounds scary to some people, but to me it comforting God is truly in this place. These men kicked the doors for missionaries to follow, and especially in Ecuador. If they hadn’t gone I wouldn’t be going to Ecuador to share the Gospel. So to leave on January 8th to Ecuador is a privilege to me.
Please be in prayer for me that leaving will go smoothly, that my family will be in peace as I leave, that the rest of the one time money comes in, and that God will go ahead of me and make the way.
I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart that decided to partner with me, whether financially or by prayer or both. Love you all!
See ya in Ecuador!!