Our CMS South America mission partner is Sharon Wilcox.
For the first time in nine years I found myself in England for Christmas. It was not one of my planned visits, but for my own
peace of mind I came home to visit my mum in the nursing home she moved into in September. Sharon visited us aat Holy Trinity during her visit to England. It was lovely to see her and hear about her work in Equador. A copy of her latest newsletter (number 19) is at the bottom of the page for those who didn’t get to hear her speak.
This is an extract from Sharon’s latest newsletter, Wilcox 18, can be found at the bottom of this page.
‘Since I last wrote, quite a lot has happened. I went with the youngsters and Gloria to speak to the church congregation where we work, and as a result we now have a new volunteer, Marcela, with us on Fridays teaching crafts. Another lady has also said that she wants to join us five days a week once her son stops breastfeeding. These are both real answers to prayer.
At the Orchid Project, we have been continuing to make things to sell. A lady who makes beads came to do a workshop, teaching the group how to make keyrings of tagua “men” (tagua is a very hard inedible nut, found only in two or three countries in South America). We had the opportunity to spend time with a mission team from the USA and they were very generous, purchasing several of the heat pillows, lavender bags, sugar hand scrubs and soaps that we had made.
Whilst the mission team was here, I went with them to a couple of different suburbs to witness, pray with people, play with the children and give out food. In one of the suburbs I was approached by the local pastor and asked if I would go and give a talk to the congregation on how they can better support people with learning disabilities. Then a friend of mine was at a conference on the Galapagos Islands where she met a couple of people from the south of Ecuador who are part of a team of occupational therapists. They have started working with individuals with learning disabilities in their home environment but have little expertise. My friend explained what I do and they have asked if I would go and run a series of workshops for them. I replied that I would think about it. However, I now wonder if this is something God wants me to do once I have more volunteers, rather than start up a new group myself – training others to start groups in their regions. I would really appreciate your prayers to help me discern God’s will and to accept his decision (I would definitely be out of my comfort zone)….’
This is an extract from Sharon’s latest newsletter, Wilcox 17, can be found at the bottom of this page.
‘I cannot believe that it is May already and that I am now back in Ecuador after spending two months in England. It was lovely to meet up with so many of you but I am sorry to those I wasn’t able to see (but hopefully next time!). I want to thank all of you who have encouraged and supported me in my decision to return to Santo Domingo for another three years. Thank you also for your hospitality and generosity towards both me and the Orchid Project. I know that it is also God’s will that I am back here. In March, I had the opportunity to take part in a conference on theology, mission and intellectual disability. It’s begun a conversation that will hopefully continue, looking to find ways to both involve and encourage the participation of people with disabilities in church life around the world. I have to admit that some of the theological discussions challenged me. However, by the end of the three days, it seemed everyone was in agreement with the notion that the church is richer when no one is excluded. Since the age of 14, I have known that people with intellectual disabilities enhance our lives. The conference enabled delegates to share experiences and resources…..’
These is an extract from Sharon’s October prayer letter. Sharon’s latest newsletter, Wilcox 15, can be found at the bottom of this page.
‘Hello from Santo Domingo, at the end of what has been quite a dry summer. Quite a lot has happened since I last wrote.
The Orchid celebrated its first anniversary at the end of May by way of a visit to ‘Greenfrost’ for yogurt ice cream with fruit. This was very welcome, given the heat. Our gardening project has gone well and our crop of coriander was so popular that we have had to sow more. People were asking to buy it on the bus, and then the owner of the nearby grocery store called out to us to say that she would take as much as we could let her have. The look on everyone’s faces was sheer amazement that she wanted something that THEY had grown. It was very good – organic culantro (they tell me the seeds are coriander and the green leaves are culantro). We have also recently harvested carrots, camomile and basil….’
These is an extract from Sharon’s October prayer letter. Sharon’s latest newsletter, Wilcox 14, can be found at the bottom of this page.
‘Thank you for your continued support as we reach the middle of the year. In my last letter, I explained that I have a new role in the church. Well, as the fellowship ministry, we have been busy helping the church to celebrate St Valentine’s/ Friendship Day, Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day (15 May) and the Day of the Child (1 June), making keepsakes, giving out flowers and making 120 jellies. By the time you read this we will have been doing something for Father’s Day too.
Pastor William and the deacons have decided that they want the church anniversary celebrations to follow the same format as previous years, so we have been visiting various locations that have swimming pools, football pitches and covered eating areas big enough for 300 people for the family day on Saturday (18 August). William is looking into holding the Sunday service in a local hotel.
As liaison between the church and the Baptist school, I have managed to persuade Pastor Rodrigo and Pastor Ricardo to cover the weekly assemblies. Pastor Ricardo and his wife (my friend Peri) have agreed to do two or three events in the school during the year as well.
Ricardo and Peri, returned to Santo Domingo at the beginning of March to start an evangelism ministry, having been in the USA for the past two years. You may remember that she and I used to meet for lunch once a week so that she could speak English with someone.
She still speaks very little Spanish. We have begun meeting up for lunch again. I have also helped out with their ministry a couple of times, visiting some of the poorest suburbs, and showing a Christian film. The children have been pouring in once someone passes out word that there is popcorn!…’
I just want to let you know of a FANTASTIC opportunity coming up. Latin Link ( based in Reading) is looking to send a Step Team of volunteers to Santo Domingo in Ecuador, in July. They are hoping to have enough people, who are willing to give a couple of weeks, to come to help build an extension on the church where I work with my students! Which is great news for me, could be a wonderful experience for you , and you would get to see what I get up to first hand.
I have no other details, but you can contact Latin Link direct on 01189577100. Their website is at Latinlink.org.uk
‘Greetings from Ecuador at this the beginning of 2018. I hope that you had the opportunity to enjoy some good company over the Christmas and New Year period, as well as the chance to reflect over the past year.
As I was reflecting, I realised that on 12 March this year I will
have been working with adults with special needs for 40 years! It
does not seem possible. I was 14 when I felt God calling me to do
this work, but had no idea when I started four years later that it
would be for this length of time. It has been a privilege and, for
most of the time, a real blessing. Not sure if I will celebrate it, but
everyone here loves an excuse to eat cake and drink cola! So
perhaps we will do that.
I find myself thanking God for all that he has done here in Santo Domingo over the past few months….
We had always planned to have an open day in December, so we got busy making things to show/ sell. We made chocolates to give to everyone as a treat for coming. This was a very popular activity for the youngsters, as you always break some which then need eating up!….’
‘Since my last update we had a visit in July from Bishop Henry Scriven, CMS mission director for Latin America. He came as part of his farewell tour of South America as he is retiring shortly. He was able to visit the projects he saw four years ago: the Orphaids Orphanage, LIAT school and Women’s Project (run by Blanca and Rodrigo), as well as be introduced to my new programme and to see where Lydia and Mark Tresize are going to set up their project.’
‘A new member, Paul has joined the group Paul, is 25 and has mild learning difficulties. After about an hour, he decided that he would like to join us. So he started the following day. I really felt that this was confirmation from God that I am doing what he has planned for me. At 25, Paul is an adult and it would not have been possible to take him on the programme at the Life in Abundance Trust as he is too old. He and Cristian have started to become friends and catch the bus home together after classes, as they live on the same bus route. ‘
‘So from July we became a team of five. At Cristian’s request, on 10th August we invited the teenagers from the LIAT life skills programme to join us for a sports day (football and basketball). We had been using a local park where there is a concreted area to play both. Just behind it is an enclosed football pitch with a synthetic all-weather surface. I enquired at a local shop as to who hold the keys, and was eventually directed to the right person. He agreed to open the pitch for us on the Thursday morning. LIAT had two teams of five players, so we were able to have a threeway competition. I am grateful to Gloria for giving Cristian, Paul and Camila a pep talk about taking
part being more important than winning – as we were well and truly beaten!’
Gloria has started cooking lessons which have been very well received.
In August also it was the 1st Baptist Church’s 49th anniversary. This was held over four days and included an evening for couples (run by Luz Celly), a talent night (including Mark Trezise on piano), a family day out and a three-hour church service followed by the sharing of an enormous four-tier cake. I am not sure how we will beat
that for the 50th anniversary next year.
Many thanks for all your prayers and support.
An extract from Sharon’s latest newsletter, Wilcock 11. sharon says” she started a new life skills programme on 29th May with just one student, Cristian. A couple of weeks later, a young lady called Camila joined us. She uses sign language. I had been in the middle of telling her grandmother that we did not have the skills to be able to communicate with Camila, when the church secretary interrupted to say that there was a member of
the church who used to teach sign language, and so she would ask her if she could help us. She said yes. So Camila joined us and on 24th June we had our first sign language workshop.
The church has been really supportive, providing cooking utensils and buying us a cooker.
Thanks to friends in the UK, I have been able to provide some materials to get us started. The pastor, Gustavo, opened the new programme, praying for all that we would be doing. As Gloria and I are not paid, and the church is
in use every weekday anyway, we are able to offer free places on the programme. Many people cannot afford the fees asked for by schools and foundations, so when word gets around we may have several more people wanting to come.
I realise how richly I have been blessed for remaining faithful to God, and seeking to do his will. I have a new job, with a new purpose; a new home with new furniture; someone teaching us Ecuadorian sign language, and a real sense of contentment that doing God’s will brings. ”
The full newsletter can be found at the bottom of this page.
3rd April 2017
I am writing to let you know that, with much sadness, I finished working with the Life in Abundance(Ecuador)Trust in Ecuador on Friday.
Due to many changes being made to the way of working, by Luz Celly the Director, it was no longer possible for me to proceed with the Life Skills programme, in the way I intended. Neither was it possible to continue to train Petita, or indeed work with her. I found myself unable to carry out God’s will for me here.
I have been in close contact with CMS during the past month, as it became obvious that I was no going to be able to continue, and in agreement with them I am going to spend up to 3 months looking for another Foundation that wishes to work with my project. I know there is a great need to help adults with Learning Disabilities here in Ecuador, and am sure that God still wants me to do that.
My prayer request is that I will have safe travel around the country(yesterday was the final round of voting for a new President, and today there is much unrest), and that I will quickly find the place where God wants me to be. I intend to start looking here, in Santo Domingo, and Pastor William (who is on the Committee of LIAT here) has offered to go with me. That in itself is a confirmation that, he knows, it was not possible for me to continue.
Again, I thank all of you for your support, and look forward to writing soon with good news.
Sharon’s work with LIAT
Sharon Wilcox moved to Ecuador as a mission partner with the Church Mission Society (CMS) in 2013. She initially started working with children and adults with severe learning and physical disabilities with LIAT.
Sharon has started a new Life’s skill project in August 2015 to support local school leavers and adults with learning disabilities, which will help them develop the necessary life skills that enable people to become independent valued members of their community and to live as independently as possible. She hopes the life skills programe will develop to the point where participants will have a small business selling homemade craft items so they can gain financial stability.
Sharon says ‘All my adult life I have worked with adults with learning disabilities in the UK. Having been a Christian since I was a teenager, I worshipped mostly in Anglican or Baptist churches. After being baptised in 2008, I felt God asking me to serve him overseas. I spent two weeks in Nepal with the Baptist Mission Society in 2011 before joining Church Mission Society in 2012.
I have knowledge and experience, as well as the drive to try and change that for them and their community. I want people in Ecuador and other Latin American countries to realise that their lives will be enriched by getting to know people with disabilities. Sharon says that people with learning disabilities in Ecuador are under-valued and often hidden from society. Her desire is to show God’s love in action to people with learning disabilities and to help them to feel valued.
Being part of a large church family network like CMS enables me to carry out my role, knowing that people are praying for me regularly.’
As a church we are keen to continue to support LIAT are now supporting Sharon as our CMS South America mission partner and her work with LIAT .
The aims and objectives of LIAT Ecuador trust:
- Providing education to children with special educational needs
- Developing Pre-school education on the local barrio
- Developing card making workshops and jewelry making workshops to enhance family incomes
- Developing a large project to support women and children who have suffered from abuse.
Jill Ball set up Life in Abundance (Ecuador)Trust in 2004. She was a mission partner with the Church Mission Society (CMS). Jill also worked in partnership with The First Baptist Church in Santo Domingo Ecuador. LIAT’s ministry seeks to improve the lives of the poor and marginalised in Ecuador and to show God’s great love and hope of a full, abundant life.
Jill retired as a mission partner from CMS this March, but is an associate mission partner, which means she is still involved , though in a different way. Jill has been living Leigh on Sea for the past 9 months, where she attends an Anglican church, St. Michael and All Angels. The work in Ecuador, goes from strength to strength, and Jill is in regular contact with Ecuador through email and Skype.
Jill is keen to promote the work of CMS, while continuing to support the work in Ecuador through regular visits and speaking about the charity wherever possible.This August, she is returning to Ecuador for a month with her son Daniel, his wife Aparna and their three children.
CMS South America Link Letters
More information about LIAT and how to support their work in Ecuador amongst the poor and disabled and can be made by clicking on the LIAT website.
To read Jill Ball ‘s latest newsletter click here Jill’s LIAT News letter 17 06 2014
To read Sharon’s newsletters click here Wilcox 1, Wilcox 2, Wilcox 3, Wilcox 4, Wilcox 5, Wilcox 6, Wilcox 7, Wilcox 8, Wilcox 9, Wilcox 10, Wilcox 11, Wilcox-12, Wilcocx 13, Wilcox-14, Wilcox 15, Wilcox 16, Wilcox 17, Wilcox 18, Wilcox 19