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Volcanic Ash Covers Quito

On Sunday afternoon, November 3, volcanic ash began falling on Quito. At first, we thought that Pichincha, whose slopes Quito is built on, had erupted again. Or perhaps that the ash came from Tungurahua, another active volcano in central Ecuador.

We were quite surprised to learn that the ash came from a little known jungle volcano named El Reventador, located 60 miles east of Quito.

The ash fall was around 3 mm near our home and HCJB. It covered everything. The air was so filled with ash that Rachel didn’t have school for two whole days, and several half days after that.

So what do you do when volcanic ash falls? Well, you try not to drive your car as ash is extremely abrasive. It’s best to just stay indoors. (Try that with two young children!) If you do need to go outside, you need to wear a mask. Volcanic ash is acidic and can cause burning to one’s throat and it irritates your eyes.

The November 3rd eruption of Reventador, photographed by construction workers building the new oil pipeline.
For a couple days things sort of shut down around Quito as people stayed inside and then began to clean up the ash.

Few people ventured out of their homes the day after the eruption to find little public transportation and high amounts of volcanic ash in the air.
Some areas closer to the volcano received several inches of ash which destroyed a lot of agricultural crops, greenhouses and flower farms.

It’s taken about three weeks and lots of rain to clear the ash from the air. However, some days you can smell sulfur gas from the volcano as it blows across Quito. It is nice to not have to wear masks anymore. Rachel came home from school very excited the first day they could go out for recess without being required to wear a mask!

During times like these, we can take comfort in verses like Isaiah 54:10: "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, my unfailing love for you will not be shaken..." NIV

Rachel & Nicole

Rachel turns seven years old in December and is enjoying first grade. She played intramural soccer this fall and also goes to Awana. She hopes to start piano lessons in January. She especially enjoys doing crafts and playing with friends.

Nicole is a fun, active two year-old. She repeats most every word she hears and eats most everything. She tries to do most everything she sees Rachel do and doesn’t have much fear of anything - unfortunately!

Two-Week Trip to Russia

Duane has been given the opportunity to take part in a two-week trip to Lapsary, Russia.

For several years, our home church, the Wheaton Bible Church, has partnered with HCJB to broadcast weekly radio programs in the Chuvash language. As a result of the personal efforts and broadcasts by Wheaton Bible Church missionaries, Pavel and Natasha Alexandrov, several congregations have been started. And at the moment, one congregation is in the process of building a church and radio studio in Lapsary.

As a member of the WBC short-term team, Duane will also help by photographing various ministries as they happen during the trip. He also hopes to photograph people of the region for HCJB publications. The trip is scheduled for June 2003.

Duane's Photography class

Duane is teaching photography this semester in the Christian Center of Communications.

This year’s photography class. Front: Daniela, Jaquelina, Andrea and Yadira. Back: David M., Christian, David C., Germanico and Duane.

Birkeys to Complete Ten Years
with HCJB World Radio

On January 2, 2003 we will celebrate ten years of ministry with HCJB. It was on January 2, 1993 that we left for language school in Costa Rica. We were a young couple simply following God’s call to use our talents on the mission field. It was a big change for us, especially since Cheri had never been outside of the United States before!

A lot has changed since then! We speak Spanish now. We became parents and have two wonderful daughters. And we’ve spent nine years in Ecuador seeing God do great things.

As we look back and celebrate this occasion, we are filled with thankfulness. We praise God for his faithfulness to us. We are thankful for the churches, friends and family who have prayed for us, encouraged us and have given to HCJB World Radio on our behalf. Missions really is a team effort. We couldn’t be here without the love and support of so many people.

Praise Items: We praise God for ten years of service on the mission field. We are thankful for all of our faithful prayer partners and supporters!

With the girls getting bigger, we are very thankful that we have been able to buy a larger condominium for our family. The building is currently under construction and should be completed by October 2003. Please pray for us as we sell our current home.

Praise that HCJB’s engineering staff was able to get radio programs back on the air after having up to two inches of ash fall at Pifo, the transmitter site. Two transmitters and several antennas were damaged.

Prayer Items: Pray for the many Christmas outreaches planned for December. This year, HCJB’s Children’s Christmas Party will be held at various

sites instead of at the HCJB compound. While this involves more time and legwork, it also brings new opportunities to minister to children and people directly in their communities.

Pray for Ecuador’s newly elected President, Colonel Lucio Guttierez, who will take power Jan. 15, 2003. Pray for wisdom as he establishes his new government. Please pray for economic and political stability within Ecuador during the transition.

Pray for the many people whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by recent eruptions of El Reventador.

Pray for the students of the Christian Center of Communications. Pray for them as they learn skills to help build God’s kingdom through mass-media. Pray that they will know God’s will for their lives.

The Birkeys’ prayer letter

Current Address:
Duane and Cheri Birkey
HCJB World Radio
Casilla 17-17-691
Quito, Ecuador

Home Phone Number:
(593-2) 225-6269

Email addresses:

World Wide Web Sites:

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas season celebrating our Savior’s birth!

Love in Christ,

Duane, Cheri, Rachel and Nicole.

Duane’s Photographs of Ecuador

Contributions may be sent to:
HCJB World Radio
P.O. Box 39800
Colorado Springs, CO
Account # 110375

On Location Fall 2001
On Location Winter 2001
On Location Spring 2002
On Location Fall 2002