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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Franklin

Another special person I met in Ecuador was Franklin! He was my Spanish tutor during my trip. Franklin would sit with me and purposely initiate conversations with me in Spanish in order to help me practice. He was very patient with me and I was able to have several meaningful conversations with him in Spanish. On my last day in Ecuador, I had a conversation with him about my parents. I told him my father lives in heaven with God (I didn't know how to say that he had died). I also told him that my mother struggles with some health issues and lives with my sister. I told him that my mother cannot always think clearly anymore and that it is difficult for us to see her aging. Franklin was very encouraging and reminded me that "La cuerpa is de la tierra." This entire conversation took place in Spanish and I found it very comforting.
Towards the end of my trip to Ecuador, Franklin told me that he did not know how to speak any Spanish until he was sent to Quito when he was twelve to go to school. Up until then, he had only spoken the Quechua language. I then had a little more insight into why Franklin had been so patient with me while I struggled to put sentences together in Spanish...poor pronunciation and incorrect verb tenses and all!
On our last night, Franklin took us to his church in Quito. He attends a Quechua church. I was able to video tape a portion of the women of the church singing to us...in Quechua. Enjoy!

What was truly special was feeling an incredible bond to these Quechua people because we are united in Christ Jesus!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Martha

As I said in an earlier post: going to Ecuador was really about the people. I met some amazing brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the sisters I met was Martha. Martha will be turning 80 this year, still rides her bike through the village of Pifo, and is a somewhat of a legend in the area.
Martha came to Ecuador in the late 1950's to work for HCJB radio as a nurse in Quito. A few years later she moved to a small clinic in Pifo where she was the only nurse between Quito and the Amazon jungle. During the course of her work, she ended up adopting 20 children who were left parentless for one reason or another. Many of these children were half of a set of twins. Twins were considered to be a curse by the indigenous people because there was no way to keep both babies alive. A mother could not nurse two babies because of lack of nutrients. Many times a mother would choose one baby to keep alive and would leave the other to die. Martha ended up keeping these babies. I had the privilege to meet 6 of Martha's children and a few of her grandchildren.Here is Ruth,
Anita,
Carola and a grandaughter,
and here I am with Patty. I did not get pictures of either Nancy or Rosa.
They are all committed Christians. They were all a blessing during our trip. Sometimes they translated for us or helped keep children entertained...or just simply helped with crowd control. Martha has some children who have moved to the USA. One son is a doctor in Houston. TX. After Martha adopted 20 children, she started sending other children to the USA to be adopted. You can check out a story about one of those children here.
On the last day of our trip, we were treated to lunch at Anita's house and many of the members of the family came.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A New Resolution

I have not talked a lot about the poverty level in Ecuador. I have seen pictures of poverty...but to see it first hand is a whole new thing to me. I wanted to take many pictures of the dwellings I saw, but I really didn't want to be disrespectful of the people living there. I took almost all of the following pictures secretly from the bus window. I saw places that were much worse than these.
A house in Pifo, Ecuador.
A house in another small village that we visited outside of Pifo. I cannot recall the name and cannot find it on a map.
A house along the highway in the Andes Mountains. Notice the thatched roof. I thought this one seemed nice in comparison to many houses I saw. I liked the roof.
A home that I saw while walking to the school in El Tambo.
A house in Palugo, Ecuador. All the kids in the picture, including the boy coming out of the house came to our VBS program in the village.
A woman doing her laundry in Palugo, Ecuador. I took this out the bus window. I didn't really want her to know I was taking her picture. The little girls in the picture came to a VBS we ran in the village.
I have decided that I will try not to ever complain again about the home I live in. If I do, I hope the Lord will remind me of what I saw in Ecuador. I will be thankful for what I have been blessed with.

Friday, April 22, 2011

El Tambo Performance

At the school we gave each child a knitted hat that some ladies at our church had made. We also did a craft with them. They gave a performance for us...which I have videoed part of to share with you. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

One room Schoolhouse

I have figured out that I have not really recovered physically from traveling. You will have to excuse my lack of energy. Posting about the school in El Tambo will have to be cut in two.
We visited a more remote school in the Andes mountains in a settlement called El Tambo. It is hardly what I would call a village. It is more of a scattering of homes across a mountain side. It is named for the Rio Tambo which runs through it. We had to park the bus just off the main road. The children were expecting our visit, so they ran to the bus to greet us.And then we started the trek on foot to the schoolhouse. It is about a half mile trek on a trail that winds uphill.
There were friends along the way. There were llamas, cows, goats and a dog. I was also told by Frank that one year he was chased by a bull. Luckily we did not see a bull on the morning we visited.
The story behind the school is that in the 1990s, a woman and her husband from the USA settled into a house nearby. The woman made friends with some of the children in the area. When she asked them about school, she discovered that they did not go to school because there wasn't any. So she set out to do something about it. With the help of people from the US, she had a school house built. Now she and her daughter teach some 40+ students. She also has a couple of former students who also help teach.


Here is the back porch of the school house. The trails on the way up to the school are usually muddy, so the children stop on the porch and change out of boots into their inside shoes.
Here is a picture of inside the school house with their teacher standing in front. Instruction includes English and Bible. Many of these children are very poor. The mission team that I went to Ecuador with has been visiting this school for nine years now. The backpacks, clothing and shoes that the children wear are largely thanks to team members. A couple of days ago I mentioned buying shoes with another woman using my Spanish skills. These shoes were for some students here in El Tambo.
It is cool in the Andes Mountains. Luckily there is a nice big wood stove in the school.
More tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sharp Thinking

Today's post will be short since I have been too busy and it is now 10:00 at night. Tomorrow I will tell you about the school at El Tambo!One of the interesting things I saw again and again in Ecuador were these security walls that were all over. They would build a wall around a piece of property. The wall might be anywhere from 6' to 7' tall or so, and on top of that they would stick shards of broken glass into cement in order to deter intruders. I really wanted to get a picture of one of these walls, but never got the chance. Luckily Rich took a picture and has graciously allowed me to borrow it for this post. Click on the picture for a closer look.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

¡Zapatos nuevos!

Really, going to Ecuador was all about the people. The people I encountered in Ecuador were probably some of the warmest people I have ever met. Everywhere I went, I was greeted with smilesand a cheerful, "¡Buenos Días!" or "¡Buenas tardes!" It is customary to also greet people with a hug, putting your cheeks together and smacking sound with your lips.
The children were absolutely beautiful. Sometimes they would come up to us jabbering away in Spanish...and I wouldn't be able to understand a single word of it. I would usually just smile and give them a hug. That almost always satisfied them.
This is a picture of Judi, Melani and Daniel with their mother. The two little girls seemed to latch right on to me during the two weeks I was there. I figured out that these children are in the Compassion Program (although not sponsored by anyone that I know personally) which made me feel good.One of the neatest things that I got to be a part of was taking kids to a shoe store in Pifo to buy them new shoes. We took them to the shoe store over the course of several days in groups of about 20. We ended up buying over 150 pairs of shoes for needy children from two different schools in Pifo. We also gave each child a new pair of socks.
Aren't these little the boys the cutest?
One of the things I had hoped to be able to do was to improve my Spanish. I am pleased with how I did. I am far from fluent, but feel really confident that I could become fluent if I was given the chance to spend a significant amount of time in a Spanish-speaking country. Most of the time we had people who were fluent in both English and Spanish with us...but not all the time. Toward the end of our stay in Ecuador, it was decided that two more children needed shoes. these particular children were not with us because they live in a small town higher in the Andes Mountains. I was chosen to go along because I knew more Spanish than the other adult going. I am pleased to say that I had no problem communicating with the store clerk about what we needed. I am sure I did not do this perfectly, but I am really happy that I was able to be successful!!!
"Necesitamos zapatos para una niña. Talla 31, por favor."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Colegio Bethel

This is Colegio Bethel in Pifo. Colegio is the Spanish word for secondary school. I originally thought of it as high school...but discovered that there are 8th graders on the campus. This campus was originally an hacienda which is the Spanish word for ranch or farm. It was built in 1882. The mission team that I joined has been coming here to do various work projects for the past 9 years. This year there were two projects underway: building a basketball court and repairing and painting adobe walls.The little girl in the picture is named Shirley. She lives with her parents and sister on the campus of Colegio Bethel. Her parents are the caretakers of the place. Shirley's mother, Monica cooks for the students and staff. Shirley is named after the woman standing on the right. She has been coming down with her husband Rich (holding little Shirley) and leading the mission team for 9 years now.This is Monica cooking chicken for us in an oven that it is about 110 years old. The meal turned out to be fabulous!At every meal Ecuadorians serve this sauce called aji (pronounced Ah-hee). I guess it is their version of salsa. It is quite spicy. They pretty much put it on everything. I have put it on my rice here.On Tuesday of the first week, the students of the school gathered together to give us a welcome presentation. They played music and sang for us. They also wanted one of us to get up and share a testimony. I ended up being volunteered. I gave part of it in Spanish and part of it in English. Luckily I had George to help me out with translating. Although I did very well with my Spanish, I am hardly what you would call fluent. They must have liked it because they laughed at all of my jokes.Here is the beginning of our painting/scraping/repairing job of the adobe walls. This is Frank. Frank is a very special man of God. He has been coming to Ecuador for 9 years and all of the people love him. I will post more about him later.
Working with Ecuadorians on a major job can be quite interesting (and a little frustrating). They may not have any of the tools that you need...or they may see a job as "good enough" when it is not (by American standards). Their method of completing a job might be the most impractical way of doing it that can be imagined. We were warned of this before we even left the USA and told to just smile and do it their way. Enough said. I will say that the people I met in Ecuador must be some of the most cheerful and down to earth individuals around.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mount Antisana

This is the view of the village of Papallacta. It was taken from the guest house in which we stayed. It rained almost the entire time that we were in Ecuador. Some of us started to joke that we would need to go back to Rochester in order to get some sun.Here is the guesthouse that we stayed in during most of our time in Ecuador.
Near the village of Papallacta is this huge volcano called Antisana. We were able to take a quick peek at only part of it one day while returning to Papallacta. Apparently it is quite a site to see when the clouds clear away and you can see it in it's entirety. What little I saw of it was quite breathtaking. George, our guide has used Antisana as an example of how God can seem in our lives. On most days, you cannot see Antisana. It is too cloudy. It is very easy to even forget that it exists. You can go about your daily life thinking that what you see is all there is...and you can even be mesmerized by the beauty of what is around you...sometimes thinking that is enough. The mountain range is beautiful, but when Antisana comes out...the mountains are dwarfed by it's majesty. God is the same way. He's is always there...although we cannot always see Him. Sometimes we forget that He is there, putting our attention on the things of this Earth and thinking that what we can see is all there is. The reality is is that God is so much more amazing than anything on this earth and He is always there...even on the cloudiest of days.This is a picture that I borrowed from Creative Commons. I traveled on this road every single day that I stayed in Ecuador...but never saw this mountain. I could only see the mountains in the foreground and didn't even know that Mt. Antisano was there until George told me. Don't forget that God is always there and to also remind others of His presence.
Photo by L.Marco_Ramahlo: Creative Commons.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ecuador-4/3/11

I am back from my trip to Ecuador. I have so much to say. It was an amazing experience. I was unable to blog about it as it happened because we stayed in a very remote area that had no access to internet connection at all. During the day we worked in Pifo...but didn't have any time to sit in front of a computer...which I would have had to walk a few blocks to do anyway. I managed to speak to my family by telephone about four times during my two weeks in Ecuador. Each time I wanted to call them, I had to walk a few blocks to pay for the use of the telephone in a little store.
This is the house in Quito that we stayed in on our very first night. It is run by a missionary couple from the US. They host many short term missionaries or the family members of missionaries...or anyone who comes to visit HCJB radio in Quito. It was a beautiful place to stay. The couple fixed us breakfast in the morning and then we were on our way up into the Andes mountains to begin our adventure.
Before heading into the mountains, we stopped at HCJB Radio headquarters in Quito. We picked up some supplies that we needed and saw a bit of the complex. Click on the link to read about HCJB to learn about that amazing ministry.
Here is our team in front of the Buen Pastor Church in Pifo. The man to the far left is George, our missionary guide. He works for HCJB radio in Quito.
We went out to eat after church with the pastor and his family. Isn't this food absolutely gorgeous? It tasted delicious too.This is Pastor Romero. He is the pastor of the Buen Pastor church in Pifo. "Buen Pastor" means good shepherd in Spanish.A house in Pifo.A street in Pifo.Before heading to our home base in Papallacta, we went to Tumbaco to buy groceries. This was a fairly modern grocery store. We also purchased groceries for several families of Compassion children that are sponsored by people in our church. It was quite an undertaking loading the groceries onto the bus.That is our bus driver, Luis in the window as one of the grocery store workers hands him a box of groceries.
I will post more tomorrow with some specifics of what we did during the week.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Leaving...on aJet Plane

I'm not sure if I mentioned it before on this blog...but I'm going to Ecuador for 2 weeks on mission trip with my church. I'll be taking pictures and I hope to share a little here. I'm posting this in a hurry because I'm actually leaving for the airport in a about an hour and half. Adios!