Many of you who have followed GCA's ministry over the last decade have seen God's hand diligently at work in Guayana, Guatemala, and Haiti through the ministry of aviation and humanitarian relief. You can read about some of the incredible things He has done over here on the GCA blog.
In 2012, God connected our family (the Whittemores) with the Rice family to partner together to continue the efforts of GCA to reach the Nations with the Gospel!
Since many of you don't know us, we want to give you some background to introduce ourselves as well as get you caught up on the ministry that GCA is doing in the Amazon region. Hope you'll take a moment to catch up!
- We grew up in Chattanooga, TN and felt called to missions at a very young age. All through our teenage years we traveled on mission trips with SCORE International as God continued to water the seed that He had planted in our hearts to serve on the foreign field.
- After graduating from high school, we attended Word of Life Bible Institute in Argentina (2005-06) where God placed in our hearts the desire to reach the |ndigenous peoples of the Amazon. Returning back to the States, we completed degrees in Aviation Management (Richard) and English (Ashley).
- We were married in 2007.
- During this time Richard was engaged in aviation training. He spent several years flight instructing and is currently a commercial and multi-engine rated CFII (I don't know if I wrote that right!)
- In February of 2012, he completed helicopter training with JAARS in Waxhaw, NC.
- Our first child, Elliott, was born March 29, 2010.
- In August of 2012, we sold everything back in the USA and moved to Brazil to have our second child, Raegan. She was born here on November 14. We are now in the process of applying for permanent residency here in Brazi|.
- Brazi| is home to the largest number of uncontacted people groups in the world. When we heard this statistic back in 2008, we had no doubt that's exactly where God would have us work.
- Our first trip to Brazi| was in April of 2009. Since that time, we have gone on several short term trips while raising financial support to move there full time. We have brought 5 teams, installed 3 water filtration systems, conducted medical clinics, built buildings, and taught in the Indigenous Seminary, all in an effort to serve the people of the region.
- Most of the locals are not keen on foreigners coming in, so much of our efforts over the last three years have been in an effort to build relationships and prove that we are there, not to exploit them, but to serve them.
- In January of last year, we were formally invited by the |ndigenous leadership to move to one of the vil|ages to serve and help disciple the people as well as become permanent teachers at the Seminary.
- We work closely with the |ndigenous Seminary which is run entirely by the Nationals. This Seminary runs each January and has grown to over 100 students from 4 different tribes. The Seminary is divided into four classes (First through Fourth Year). Many of the students travel for days by canoe just to participate. Many of the students hear the Gospel for the very first time during this time and while many of them cannot speak fluent Portuguese or Spanish (the languages the classes are taught in), the Holy Spirit works in such incredible ways that they leave changed!
- While we do not have an active aviation program yet, the goal is to implement a helicopter program by January of 2014. We will be partnering with an Asas de Socorro missionary who is beginning an aviation program in the region. The helicopter will be used to provide medical evacuation in hard to reach areas in an effort to further build relationships among the tribes.
- We currently live in Recife, Brazi| where our daughter was born. We plan to live here until our visa application process reaches a point at which we can move to the Amazon without impeding the process.
- Richard is currently in the Amazon to teach for two weeks at the Seminary.
We hope that you will stay connected with us as we move forward on this journey. We post frequent updates to Facebook and Twitter (@GCA_mission and @RichAshE_andR) as well as here on our blog. Feel free to browse some of the posts to get to know us better.
We would love to hear from you! Write us on Facebook or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.