Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Wonderful Opportunity!

Hi Everyone!

I can't believe today is the last day of February!

Josh and I were able to attend a contemporary church service at the United States Air Force Academy Chapel today.  Wow . . . .  It is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen!  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

See what I mean?!  :)

Needless to say, it was a very moving service and we are hoping to be able to get a ride back next Sunday as well.

Besides that, we've been working on a lot of homework regarding conflict resolution styles in different situations with different people.  We had to talk to each other, to a member of our family of origin, and a co-worker or other close friend about the way that we handle conflict.  The purpose was to realize that it is inevitable that we will encounter conflict with our team once we get to Ecuador, and there are a lot of different ways to handle it.  Each situation demands prayerful consideration.  This has required some very intense and sometimes difficult introspection, but we have learned a lot about ourselves.

The tendency is to think that there is only one appropriate way to handle every conflict and that we are, by nature, utilizing the wrong method.  We realized, however, that Jesus himself valued many different styles of conflict resolution in different situations: sometimes he withdrew from the conflict (Luke 5:16), but sometimes - for example in the temple - he was far more assertive and took charge of the conflict (Matthew 21:12).  Just realizing this fact, however, is not enough.  It will take a great deal of time, focus, and prayer to put this into practice.

Josh and I are very excited to jump into this next week!  On a lighter note, we learned that when a road sign says 4-wheel drive vehicles only, they aren't kidding:

Thank goodness for a kind man with an SUV!

Love and God Bless,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's SPLICE anyway?

What an introspective week!

We've discovered that SPLICE requires a lot of self-examination and self-discovery and it is exhausting!  We are both ready for the weekend and a little down-time for our brains.  Josh says that he feels like he's back in Chem 101 with all the brain-power this takes. ;)

Our instructors are fantastic and they really know how to dig in deep.  The philosophy behind SPLICE lies in the fact that in order to REALLY get into another culture, you have to know yourself and how you relate to your spouse, family, and friends first.  That way you will be prepared when you are faced with something truly different (like Ecuador!).

Today we focused on "expectations" and the different ways that our expectations (especially expectations of our new life in a new country) shape our feelings and emotions.  Josh was chosen to help illustrate this point:

He got extra credit for this one!

Once per week each person/couple meets with one of the trainers for a "personal coaching" session.  We had our first one today and it was truly one of the most helpful things we've done here.  We got to ask specific questions we have about the nitty-gritty of missions and we received straight-forward and faith-based answers.  We talked a lot about our financial situation and we have realized how much work we have left to do when it comes to raising support.  We're really looking forward to our next session.

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7-8pm a fun little group has formed in our recreation room downstairs!  One night after dinner I decided I was missing my dancing and I needed to do some stretching so I went downstairs to find some room.  Well a few of the little girls were interested and asked if I'd teach them.  I agreed and soon it turned into a class of about 7 or 8 kids!  It is wonderful to get some exercise and to teach them some really fun moves in the process.  I am hoping that it is something that they can keep up even after the program.  The surprise blessings we are receiving here are amazing and we are so grateful to have this opportunity!

Love and God Bless,

Monday, February 22, 2010

SPLICE Begins!

Hello All!

After experiencing (and playing in) some beautiful snow over the weekend, Josh and I are rested and ready to begin a new program called SPLICE!  SPLICE stands for Spiritual, Personal, Lifestyle, Interpersonal, Cultural, Endurance/Enjoyment.  From what we understand, we will be learning more about ourselves in all of these areas in hopes that we will be better prepared to enter and acclimate ourselves to our new cultures.  We have heard WONDERFUL things about this program and can't wait to get started.

There are 23 people in the SPLICE program and 11 of those are people who have stayed over from PILAT.  It's great to be among familiar faces, but I know we will grow extremely close to the new-comers over the next three weeks.  I will definitely update everyone as I find out more about what's to come!

On a side note - Josh and I attended a church this past Sunday called North Springs Alliance Church in Colorado Springs.  We were invited by one of the PILAT participants who lives in the area and it was wonderful.  The message was about "Viral Faith" - having a faith that is infectious and spreading it - and the pastor focused on 1 Thessalonians 1:3, "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.".  He gave the analogy of a sailing vessel and said that the "faith" in this verse would be the sails catching the wind and moving the boat, the "love" would be the hull holding everyone together, and the "hope" would be the anchor keeping the boat steady in rough waters.  It touched my heart to hear the cross-reference to Hebrews 6:19 which inspired the title of our blog!  We will certainly need to hold strong to that anchor of hope in order to endure the challenges that lie ahead.  

We are so happy to be a part of this program as we know the Lord has placed us here for His purpose and the tools we learn here will be invaluable to us on this journey.

Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Week 2 of PILAT

Hello All!

We are nearing the end of the PILAT program and boy has this week been busy!

Josh and I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful church on Sunday.  One of the families here, to whom we have grown extremely close, offered to let us go to church with them since they have their van here.  It's called the Little Log Church and it was an awesome experience!  Here are some pictures:

The pastor spoke  on Malachi 1:1-5 and our tendency to ask God "How have you loved me lately", when in fact He shows us all the time simply by giving us the opportunity to be his children!  For its size, this church has an amazing number of overseas missionaries which was great to see.  We are definitely planning on returning to this church for services during the remainder of our time in Colorado - as long as we can get a ride!

We had more classes, phonetics drills, and quite a few assignments that were due this week in class. Most of the assignments had to do with ways to put the PILAT techniques that we have learned into practice once we get to Costa Rica for language school.  They have taught us that it is easier to change a plan once you get to language school than it is to make it up on the spot.  Josh and I have a meeting tomorrow with one of the instructors to discuss the best ways to utilize these techniques practically in our situation.

I took a couple of pictures of our classroom so you can see where we spend most of our time:

We have REALLY bonded with the people in our PILAT group and we are so sad to see some of them leave at the end of PILAT!  We are very excited about the beginning of SPLICE, however, and can't wait to get into the cross-cultural ministry portion of our training.

We now have a facebook page called "Support Joshua and Stephanie Tucker in Ecuador" and we are so grateful for all of the fans that we have.  We want to truly thank everyone for your prayers and support - both financially and otherwise!  It means so much to us!

We will keep you posted as we move into the next part of our training!

Love and God Bless,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Value of PILAT

We are nearing the end of our first week of class, and things have definitely gotten intense!

We have at least 2 drills per day of practicing sounds for our languages, and then other classes throughout the rest of the day.  We have been given several assignments to truly gauge our learning and also allow us to reflect on our language goals for the long-term.  Josh and I had no idea, but today we found out why it is so hard to get rid of an American accent in Spanish.  We have COMPLETELY different tongue positions for a lot of sounds, so we spent some time today with one of our professors trying to fix this.

As one of our mentors told us, "The effectiveness of a missionary is directly proportional to their ability to speak the language and speak the language CORRECTLY!"  Communication will be vital to us as we build relationships in Ecuador.  Starting a hospital is quite an endeavor and we will need to clearly express our goals and our needs to the local population, the government, local churches, and craftsmen in order to get the job done.  Just mumbling and fumbling our way through Spanish will not be sufficient.

We are so grateful for the support we have received and we know that this training will be invaluable to us moving forward.  As much as we would love to move straight to Ecuador tomorrow and begin our work, this is s a very important step and we have had to realize that.  We'll see what tomorrow brings!

On a side-note, I cannot believe that North Carolina has gotten more snow in the last week than Colorado.  Who would have thought???

Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More Pics from our First Day

Josh enjoying some rest after lunch.

The View from our Room

Josh and I on our Hike

First Day of Classes in PILAT

Josh and I had our first day of classes today!

"PILAT" introduces you to a new way of thinking about language and language learning.  The classes mostly center around linguistics/phonetics and language learning techniques.  Today, we learned that there are 44 sounds in English but there are infinite sounds that your mouth can make.  We are learning to get our mouths to make sounds that we aren't accustomed to so that when we start learning our specific languages we don't automatically try to make the brand new sound conform to one of our English sounds.

For example: in Spanish, the "l" sound is produced in a different part of the mouth than in English and a lot of English-speakers just say "l" the way they are used to instead of the way that Spanish-speakers say it.

The language learning techniques so far have placed the focus on listening instead of always trying to speak the language as soon as you hear it.  Our "prof" referred to James 1:19, "You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry," and said that that can easily be applied to language learning!!

After classes finished today, Josh and I and our new friends Anna (going to China), Stephanie (going to Thailand), and Katie (going to the Dominican Republic) all went on a hike up to the actual "Palmer Lake".  It was beautiful, but incredibly COLD!  We definitely have a lot to get used to.  Josh and I are thrilled because we were able to check out a humidifier from the office to use in our room and that should help us get used to the altitude.

We are both pretty tired and are having to get used to being in class again.  It is truly wonderful to be surrounded by fellow missionaries (and to-be-missionaries like us) and hear their stories.  We are blessed to be surrounded by so much encouragement and we want to take advantage of it!

Love and God Bless,

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mission Training International!

We are thrilled to have made it safely to Mission Training International in beautiful Palmer Lake, CO!!!  (

We had orientation today to meet each other, and to learn more about the facilities and the program.  The first two weeks of our time here will be spent in a program called "PILAT" (Program In Language Acquisition Training).  The last three weeks of the program is called "SPLICE" and focuses more on adapting to and living in a new culture.  We are extremely intrigued to find out exactly what these programs entail.  We have heard that in PILAT we will be learning about phonetics and linguistics, and we've heard a lot about "drills" . . . Sounds intense :-).

There are 43 other participants from a variety of backgrounds who have plans to go to countries all over the world: India, China, Ukraine, Dominican Republic, Somalia, Kyrgyszstan, Honduras, Turkey, Thailand, Uganda, and Ecuador of course!  Some participants have been in the field for 10 or more years and some are brand new missionaries like us.  We are amazed and humbled by the strength and faith of the couples here with their children - even children less than a year old.  God calls and you must go!

Josh and I are very excited about the extra-curricular activities as well - this part of Colorado is really beautiful.  We've already seen some snow and we hope for some more.  If we have time, we'd like to ski, hike, horseback ride, and explore the area as much as possible while we're here.  What an adventure!  I'm sure I will have much more to share tomorrow after our first day of classes.

Love and God Bless

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back from Haiti

What a miracle that everything worked out for us to go to Haiti!  In less than 1 week, God provided 4 private jets, a group of 23 doctors, nurses, coordinators and translators, a guesthouse for us all to stay in, and so much more to enable us to go and care for patients in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

When we arrived on Thursday, we went to the clinic where we would be working.  It was just being finished and still needed some finishing touches - windows and AC in the Operating Room for example!  We settled in at the guest house where we were staying and had a delicious dinner!  Meg and Wilbert Merzilus run the house and also run a wonderful organization called Living Hope Mission (  We couldn't have asked for better accommodations or friendlier hosts.

 When we arrived at the clinic the next morning, the OR was finished and all that needed to be done was some organization and some cleaning up in order to make it usable.  The group was divided up into two teams: one team saw patients needing medicines and treatments for ailments relating to internal medicine, Optometry, or OB/GYN and the other team performed surgeries.  We saw a mixture of cases - some directly related to the earthquake and some not.  Regardless, we were able to help people who ordinarily might not have received care.

For two days we worked in the clinic, I estimate we saw somewhere around 70-80 people.  The mood there was slightly somber, but also determined.  It seemed that the people of Cap Haitien recognized what had happened but wanted to push forward toward the future.  The people that we saw had such a strong faith in God - it was inspiring!  In speaking to Wilbert, Meg, and Tim who all live in Haiti, the struggle for the country now lies in finding the wisest use of gifts and money that are pouring in from all over the world.  The people of Haiti need a helping hand right now, but continued handouts are developing a culture of dependence and the people don't know how to do for themselves.

Medical Ministry International will be building a permanent center in Port au Prince to provide continued help there, but as Willie Hunter (head of MMI) told the group, MMI is not an emergency relief organization like the Red Cross, and our goal is the long-term rather than immediate disaster response.  MMI will be continuing short-term mission trips to Port au Prince in the coming months, and they will post them on the calendar at

Josh and I are so thankful to have been a part of this trip.  We were given the reigns in a lot of situations and we learned a ton!  We were able to talk to Willie in depth about his experiences and his vision for us and for MMI as a whole.  Tim, the MMI Country Leader of Haiti gave us a lot of insight as well into the day-to-day of the position.  After discussing with Willie, and experiencing the frustration of not speaking the language when trying to get things accomplished, we have decided that we will be lengthening our time at language school from 3.5 months to 1 year.  Achieving fluency is vital to effectiveness in a role like ours and we don't need to cut short a time devoted exclusively to that end.  It is an idea that we are still getting used to and we pray that our donors will understand the importance of taking this extra time.

I am hoping to get a lot of pictures from people on the trip and as I get them I will try to post them on the blog.

We leave for training in Colorado 1 week from TODAY!  I can't believe it's almost here!

Thank you so much for your prayers!!!

Love and God Bless,