Adventures in Ecuador

This is a way for all of you back home to keep in touch with me while I'm in Ecuador, and for me to keep in touch with you and, in a way, take you along on our Adventures in Ecuador!

Name:
Location: San Lorenzo, Ecuador

Friday, September 30, 2005

Bitter Sweet

So now we are quickly approaching the last leg of out wonderful adventure in our service in Ecuador!! Tuesday evening while we were staying in Loja we got a phone call from Kerri telling us that there was a brother that was traveling from Loja to Guayaquil on the bus, just like we were going to be, and he got 30 minutes into the trip and the bus had to turn around. Why, might you ask? There was some sort of strike and the strikers were blocking the roads to stop buses from being able to travel though. So Kerri called to let us know so that we could call the bus terminal to try to reassure and confirm that the bus would be leaving the next day and stuff, and she said our plan B could be that we just catch a flight out of Loja. Well, the flight didn´t work out so we just decided to take our chances with the bus and it went fine. No strikers along the way, although our bus driver was going so fast he could have just run them over and we didn´t realize it. But we finally got there. So now we are spending our last few nights in Guayaquil at a hotel. We went to Bethel today, Friday, and toured the branch and stuff. They have a family of about 140 brothers and sisters. They even invited us for lunch there, which was awesome, by the way. It was Denise´s first time eating at any Bethel home, so she was even more excited for being able to eat there. So this evening we plan on just repacking and stuff to get ready for our early flight home tomorrow. Our flight leaves at 7am but because it´s international we have to be there at 5am which means we have to get up at 4am. I´m actually entertaining the thought of not going to bed at all because if I do it would just tease me sleepwise, but if I don´t I get really cranky. I guess I´ll try to catch some ZZZZZZZZ if I will be able to sleep from being so excited about coming home and seeing everybody!!! Until then, hasta luego!!!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cumbaratza

What a week we have had!! We just finished our trip in Cumbaratza which is considered the jungle. We arrived there from Zumba last Monday and we stayed with Gunther and Karrie Weidner, an awesome couple from the States. So on Tuesday we went out in service in a town called Santa Rosa and the sister I worked with, Nyree, also from the states started a study at the first door!! It was a young girl about 12 or so who asked how Nyree knew the Bible so well. That was a perfect opportunity for her to show her the Require Brochure and show the girl how she could also learn the Bible too. They did the first lesson in the brochure. See, like I was saying, the kids here really take a genuine interest in the Bible and in spiritual things.

In the afternoon we went in to Zamora which is the nearest city like area to Cumbaratza and it´s about 20 minutes away. There they have a kind of privately owned zoo that we went to called Tzanka (said like Sanka). They had monkeys, and no they did not fling poo, although they seemed angry enough to and if you got too close to the cage like Beverly they almost pulled her hair, one of them grabbed Denise´s hand and wouldn´t let go so I had to save her from loosing her apendage. Although if she did loose that hand she does have another one so it wouldn´t have been too big a deal. But I definately stayed away from there!! They did become quite attached to the nocturnal monkey which because it was daytime and the monkey is nocturnal it was very calm and tranquil and oh so cute!! Gunther was contemplating stealing the monkey by hiding it in his backpack. We also saw turtles, porcupines and other animals. Really neat.

Wednesday we went out in service in La Quebrada in the morning and ate lunch at a kind of resort park called Arenal. There they specialize in frog. They even display the frogs and allow you to pick the one you want them to cook, kind of like picking your own lobster. Guess what Beverly had for lunch!!!! That´s right, fried frog, still on the bone too which is not what we were expecting. I had a little. It had the texture of chicken but the taste of fish. Very different. I don´t think she liked it that much though because it was still on the bone, and that kind of grossed me out that you could see the little fried frog leg on your plate. I could just imagine it hopping awayyyyyyyyy!!! Then in the afternoon we went to a town called Timbara for service. Very cool and a nice long day in service. And then on Thursday we went in service in a town called Rancho which is the next town over from Cumbaratza.

Friday we took the dreaded ranchero that I told you about before in the Zumba entry. This time we rode on top!!! Yeah baby, we like living life on the edge!! One of the new publishers that had been anounced at the Thursday meeting just the day before went with us and he also rode on the top. There was a group of about 8 of us and we all rode on top of the ranchero. It was a little tricky because you had to watch out for tree branches. Denise got bushwacked a few times. Looked really painful, but don´t worry she´s alright. We took the ranchero to Nambija, a mining town that´s about 2 hours away from Cumbaratza. Riding on top was very painful because there´s no padding, you feel every bump and you slide all over the place, but don´t worry the luggage rack keeps you from falling completely off. In the 1980´s Nambija was very popular for the goldrush they had there so like 20,000 people moved there in hopes of finding gold. The brother that had just been anounced as a publisher that came along for his first time in service had actually lived and worked there as a goldminer. He told us that it was like living in the old west, they had broad daylight shootings, prostitutes, people actually carried around guns. It was very dangerous. All of this because people were greedy for the gold. Because the gold started to become more and more difficult to find people began to leave. But there are still a lot of people there because they are just too poor to leave. You see, they can´t sell their land or house because no one will buy the land because it´s all mountain and people only would move there for the mining which now there is really no more gold. So they´re kind of stuck. We got to place a lot of literature and even go into one of the mines. Gunther went in first to ask for permission and they held up their blasting for us. Blasting is very regualr there. While we were there we heard about 3 of them. The brother with us Luis Castro told us that they used to be a lot more frequent. We rode back on the ranchero, this time inside it and in the front, being that the front part is not nearly as bumby as the back. Tons of fun.

Saturday we went to a town called Cansama which is where there is a Shuar indian village. Plus you have to wade accross a river to get to the territory. How many times have you had to do that in order to get to a territory?! Try never!!! That was awesome. So us girls girded our loins like in Bible times so that we could cross and not get our skirts wet. We worked the territory and then Karrie, Gunther, and Beverly went swimming in that same river we had to cross. Denise and I opted out of that because the water was so cold, but we did wade in the water. We have some unique video footage of that when we get home that you´ll have to see. We got back in time for the meeting that evening.

Sunday we went out in service and Denise went to go help with the Kingdom Hall maintanence since their CO is coming next week. That evening we were in the middle of watching a movie and all of a sudden the house started shaking. At first we thought is was a huge truck passing, but the shaking went on longer. It was an EaRtHqUaKe!!!!!!! Yes, and that puppy lasted about a minute. It got stronger and stronger and we huddled under the doorposts, because they say that´s what you´re supposed to do. Did I mention that we live on the 3rd floor!! Little pieces of the cement ceiling started falling!! Very scary!! It eventually stopped, but the whole while Gunther was in the middle of the living room saying, ¨This is so neat¨. After it had ended we thought is was neat, but no during. We later heard that it started in Peru as a 7.9 on the Richter scale and was felt all the way to Bogota, Columbia!! A house in Yantzasa fell, and that city is just a few towns over from Cumbaratza. We though, didn´t have any damage. Pretty neat to add earthquake to my list of natural disasters I´ve lived through.

Monday we woke up at 4am to go to Podocarpus, the rainforest and see some birds because that´s when they are supposed to be most active. We were able to see a flock of wild parrots and some other really beautiful birds. Getting up that early was so worth it. We got to see some really awesome waterfalls too!!! It so felt like the rainforest. We agreed that everyone should have their own rainforest.

So now, Tuesday we are in Loja for a few days. About 2 hours from Cumbaratza and we leave Loja Wednesday to go to Guayaquil and then we leave Guayaquil Saturday morning for HOME!!!

So I´ll be seeing everyone very, very soon!!!!!

Zumba

Hello all!! Man, I don’t remember where I last left off at, but anyways, we were in Zumba a few weeks ago, which if you look at a map of Ecuador is at the far, far, far south tip almost in Peru. I just haven´t had the chance to use the internet for about 2 weeks. Zumba is the town I told you about in one of my entries that the 2 sisters that were on the English convention program because they are 7 hours away from the nearest congregation and they are the only witnesses there. We met them at the convention and Claudia, one of the sisters invited us to visit. So we took the bus from Guayaquil to Loja which was an 8 ½ hour trip and we took the night bus at 10pm so we arrived in Loja at about 6:30am and then from there we took the bus to Zumba which is an additional 7 hour trip!! I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it DID feel like forever!!! I was so ready to jump off the bus while it was still riding to just end all of the misery. The trip from Guayaquil to Loja wasn’t that bad, but to Zumba it felt worse because we had already been on the bus for so long, I thought it was never going to end. From Guayaquil to Loja our bus got stopped at a Police checkpoint so everyone had to get off the bus and all the males had to assume the pat down position on the bus meaning hands spread on the bus feet separated and all. It looked a little scary, I was so glad at that moment for NOT being a guy. The women just grouped together and had to show proper ID so we showed our passports and one of the policemen asked if we were from the Church of Jesus Christ, so we got a chance to tell him NO we were Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m still not sure how or why he assumed we were religious but anyways. Then we got stopped again on the bus when we were entering Zumba because Zumba has a large military base there so this time the army stopped us and us 3 gringas had to actually get off the bus with our passports so that they could register us and our passport numbers and stuff to kind of keep tabs on those that are entering Zumba since it’s so close to the Peruvian border. Claudia met us at the bus station and it was so refreshing to see a familiar face after such a long journey. That was the journey here.

Once we arrived last Sunday they informed us that the meeting was at 5pm there at their home. So we ate something and got settled in a bit and changed for the meeting. Since it’s just the 2 sisters here and there is no brother they don’t have a public talk they only are able to do the Watchtower study. Sometimes they’ll show one of the Branches DVD’s or Videos too. So the other sister Martha Jackson conducted the study and Claudia read. With us included they had an attendance of 11 people! So we really got a chance to comment and participate in the wt study.

Wednesday we went to another small town that’s in the Zumba territory called San Andreas. San Andreas is about 2 ½ hours away from Zumba through the mountains. Mind you this journey is not on bus. No, it’s in a ranchero. What is a ranchero you might ask? A ranchero is a trolley type vehicle similar to the ones used at amusement parks such as Disney World to transport people from the parking lot to the entrance of the park. This means that the ranchero has no doors and just benches for you to sit on. Riding from the parking lot to the entrance of Magic Kingdom in one of those things is not so bad, but riding for 2 ½ hours was borderline torturous!! This was only because the mountainous road was kind of dangerous and extremely bumpy and the benches hardly had any padding, and if any of you know me, you know that I hardly have any ‘natural’ padding myself so needless to say it was a bit painful. But it was so well worth it. Once we got to the small town between the 4 of us we placed about 85 magazines and we brought the Noah dvd and found a place to show it at and invited people to attend and we had a total of 11 people come, not including us!!! A lot of those that came were children because here in Ecuador the children have such an interest in spiritual things that is quite uncommon in our territory in the States. So the horrid ranchero trip there and back home was well worth it.

Interesting fact that I didn’t realize, but if there is no brother in the territory they are not allowed to invite people to the Theocratic Ministry School and Service Meeting. They can only have this meeting privately, it’s not open to the public. So Thursday the 5 of us gathered together and we each had a part on the meeting doing as the Branch recommends for sisters, which is to just read off most of the information and not actually give a discourse unless it’s one of the student talks. Also, we got to do it in English since all of us speak English anyways and it was easier so that we all could have a share in the meeting. That was neat!!!

Good news though. Claudia told us that a special pioneer couple are being assigned here to Zumba at the first part of October which means that they are going to then have a brother to do all of the meetings!!! What a relief for the sisters! And that also means they can start inviting people to the Thursday meeting and they’ll have a public talk every week!! Very encouraging since they haven’t had a brother the whole time they’ve been here, which is for 10 months!!

Our next excursion is on Monday when we leave Zumba then go to Loja a 7 hour trip and then from Loja go to Cumbaratza a 2 hour trip. We’re going to be there in Cumbaratza for about a week visiting Sister Athena Schuler’s brother and sister in law. For any of those who do not know sister Schuler, she’s a sister in my congregation.

We were told to let everyone know that they need so much help here in Zumba, so if anyone is contemplating serving where the need is great in a foreign country, Zumba would be the place. We have had so much fun here in Zumba and it’s so beautiful because it’s surrounded by green lush mountains all around and clear blue skies and the people are so interested and willing to listen I just hate to leave. I hope one day I can return to help out in forming a congregation here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Yummy

I forgot to mention something about when we were in Quito. Guess what I had for lunch on Sunday.....go on guess......I see you´re not going to be a good sport and actually guess so I`ll tell you. We had something called Cuy. Do you know what animal cuy might be?....I`m not going to ask you to guess again because you probably won`t guess like you didn´t last time, but cuy issssss...............................guinea pig!!!!!!!!! Yep, they deep fry that puppy head legs and all and serve it on a platter with a side of potatos and salad. Some people had told us about it so Denise and I shared an entire cuy. Beverly had a taste too. It was actually very good, and yes it did taste like chicken only it was very juicy. I liked it. The only thing that kind of turned my stomach slightly was that it was fried with the legs, which after frying looked like claws, and then the head of mine still had some whiskers. No lie...I ate everything but the head. That was one part I couldn´t eat. But it tasted very nice.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Quito

So we arrived here in Quito on last Thursday. Our Quito trip is somewhat of a vacation because we just came from San Lorenzo and after Quito we will be going way down to south Ecuador area called Loja. So dont think we are here for these 2 1/2 months just slacking off. We needed a bit of a break back into civilization so thats where Quito comes in. Quito is over 9000 ft above sea level. So because it´s high up it´s cold and also Denise learned the hard way that sunscreen is still needed. We were all wearing jackets and stuff but because we´re so high up and close to the equator she got sunburn on her head, like in her scalp!! So now she wears a hat.

So like I was saying we arrived in Quito last Thursday and had most of the day to look around Quito, which is very city like, and it reminds me of NYC minus the subways, although they do have a similar system but above ground called Trolleys. They also have a McDONALDS!! Its the first one I have seen in Ecuador since we arrived a month and a half ago!!! So guess where we ate dinner at. You guessed it, McDonalds, and might I say that normally back in the States I would not be excited at all about going there, but here it was the best thing ever. And it even tasted better than the food from the McDonalds back home. Weird.

Friday we went to something called TeleferiQuo, I think it´s spelled which is these cable cars that take you another 4000ft above sea level up a mountain so that you can get an entire view of Quito. So all together we were over 13000 ft up!!! That´s the highest I have ever been, being that I was born and raised in flat Florida. The view was awesom!! Of course I got a little motion sickness, dog gonnit... but I had my gum to chew on and tie me over!!

Saturday we went to a city called Otavalo which is know for their craft market. Ever since we arrived here in Ecuador everyone tells us that anything we see in other cities that we like dont buy it because it will be loads cheaper in Otavalo. So we waited and once we arrived there we were like kids in a candy shop. We went balistic bargaining with the venders and stuff. That was so much fun and because I learned great bargaining techniques from both of my parents the girls wanted me to show them how to bargain. So we did, and they caught on pretty good. I taught them everything they know. he he he....

I met a sister at the English Convention who lives here in Quito and so I contacted here so that we could go to their meeting on Sunday, but they had their Spanish convention this weekend so we were unfortunately unable to go to a meeting. So instead we did our wt individually and then walked around Quito some more. In the park area they had more markets and art!! My heart lept because it reminded me of Otavalo and the markets, which I absolutely LOVED. So we did a bit more shopping and walking around Quito both old and new town areas looking at a few of the churches. I was tempted to go in since we didn´t get to go to our meeting, but I´m sure the girls would have talked me out of it...hah....

Monday we went to Mitad Del Mundo, or translated Middle of the World which is where you can see exactly where the equator would be and you get a chance to stand in both the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time!!! They have a monument set up there which is supposed to represent the spot and they have a line painted for you to see where the 2 hemispheres would be. So we went there, and then we went to the REAL place where the equator is. I say real because the first place we went to is just a monument, but further down the street is where the real equator would be and they have another little museum set up there. So we went, and took the tour and our guide showed us different experiments of ways that they know that this was the exact spot where the equator would be. For example in the northern and southern hemispheres the water either drains to the right or the left. But right on the equator water drains directly down!! We also learned that standing on the equator you way 2.2lbs less for some reason. A lot of cool stuff. Then for dinner we were able to meet the sister that I met at the convention for dinner. Her and 2 other friends took us on a carriage ride around San Francisco square and then we had dinner at this restaraunt on the roof which gave us a magnificent view of the city at night at 360 degrees all the way around. They were so great and we had such a nice time.

Well I have to go to bed now because our flight back to Manta leaves tomorrow at 7am so I have to get up at 4:45am. Sounds fun right, especially since I´m such a morning person!!! Yeah, right.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Brief Note

Just a brief note. From now on I will not be able to post anymore pictures. Its a long story but I no longer have my digital camera USB cable so I am not able to download or upload my pictures from my camera to put on my blog or on a cd. I am soooooooooo sorry about this, but be assured that when I return you will be able to see all of my pics. But until then please keep reading and commenting and Ill try to write as descriptive as possible so you will not even miss the pictures! Thank you for understanding and I will tell you all about what happened with my USB cable when I return. It is a valid reason.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

September Plans

Well, we are now staying in Manta. Long story there but let me start at the beginning. Last week I spent part of the week with a sister that I met at the English Convention. She´s in the pictures I posted, the black sister with the funky glasses. That´s Buffy and she lives in an apartment above the missionary home in Manta. So I was able to spend 3 days with her and go out in service here and stuff. We had so much fun and her studies are so humble. One girl she studies with said she wanted to learn all that she can because she has a baby and she wants to teach him correctly from the Bible and she wants to one day do what Buffy does and teach others the truth!!! So humble, honest, and hungary, the 3 H´s.

Anyways, we leave for Quito on Thursday at like 7am, but our flight is from Manta to Quito and there´s no way to get a bus from San Lorenzo that early in the morning to catch our flight on time so we knew we were going to have to stay overnight at least on Wednesday, but something happened to our power at the house in San Lorenzo, like you know the thing we would do with tapping the line, well we would try that and it wouldn´t work anymore, so we realized this was a job for a professional, but with the way things are here in Ecuador, people kind of take their time doing things. So we haven´t had any power for the past week. So sister Parker was able to find a hotel for us to stay at and she booked it for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so that for those 3 days we could be in some kind of civilization which is great!!! I actually got to wash my hair in hot water!!! I´m sure you know from previous comments how awesome I think that is. But it was kind of sad leaving all of the friends in San Lorenzo for the last time. They were so loving and helpful to us in inviting us on their studies and stuff. I´m gonna so miss those bucket baths, and as of last week we were taking bucket baths in the dark by candle light since we had no power. Very romantic I guess you would call it. Also one pioneer sister that Beverly and I worked with, she teaches English in high school and at a University, and she did 2 studies and because she wasn´t going to be there the following week to conduct them, she asked Beverly and I to do them for her!!!!! I know, I see the look of shock on your face, but don´t worry I felt the same way. I felt like asking `you mean you want us to conduct the study in Spanish?!´ But we went back and Beverly conducted it and I help her out and we did very well. Surprisingly well. Of course we know it was Jehovah the entire time, and it was such a nice feeling that this sister had enough confidence in us to allow us to do the study. Then the next day she gave Beverly 2 more studies to do for her and Beverly went with Summer on those and she said that also went very well.

So now our plans are to leave our big luggage at Buffy´s house here in Manta, then we go to Quito Thursday, come back the following Wednesday to Manta, stay a few days here and pick up our stuff here in Manta, then we take the bus to Guayaquil, stay with a few more sisters there, leave our big luggage there, and go to Zumba to visit the 2 sisters on the assembly part and then we go to Cumbaratza where sister Schuler´s brother lives to stay with them for a week or so. Then we go to Loja for a few days, which we hear from everyone is really pretty. Then we take the bus back to Guayaquil and fly out of Guayaquil for home a few days later. The entire bus ride to Zumba will be an out- of- control 17 hours. I know, sounds like a lot, so I plan on completely finishing reading and studying the new book we got at our assembly. So I plan on staying occupied and chewing a lot of gum so that I don´t get sick again!! Can´t have that. That´s a rundown of our future plans. I´ll be keeping you up to date on them.

Once again, this internet place has no cd drives so that I can put my disc in with all of my pics. But probably some of the internet places in Quito will have it, so if you could hold on until then.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Got a few neat stuff to tell you about. This weekend past the group here in San Lorenzo had their convention but in Manta, only about 1 hour away. So we decided that we would try to go to the Sunday session to at least see the drama. We knew that those that had cars would be picking up a lot of studies and stuff so we weren´t sure if we could go. So we asked Jason if there would be room to ride with someone, but we didn´t mind not being able to go because we have already been to our convention and we want to make sure that those that are studies make it there and that there would be room for them. The studies are more important. Jason says, "No, that shouldn´t be a problem, you can ride with my dad in his car." We ask if he is sure and of course he says yes. So we go to meet his dad the following morning to ride with him and Cindy and their car can carry about 8 people at the most and very uncomfortably. So us 3 girls hop in and think to ourselves, "This is going to be a most comfortable ride" because when you ride with Jason you ride in the back of his truck on benches holding on for dear life over bumps and around curves, so this seemed pleasant. Well, Brother Lundman says that Jason needed him to pick up some studies in Las Pinas a town over. I´m thinking, how many might that be? Well, we soon found out that it totalled about 11 more people!!!!!! 11!!!!!! Once again I said 11!!! So all together it would have been 16 people in Jeff´s 8 seater!!! Not happening. So once we girls saw the multitude of people that were supposed to ride along, we volunteered to get out and walk back home and just not go to the convention to allow room for the others. Of course Jeff and Cindy had no idea that there was that many people they would have to pick up, so they felt pretty bad, but we didn´t mind. It was for a good purpose. We did, however, ask them to give Jason a firm tongue lashing when they saw him, because we learned later on that he only had 5 people in all in his truck, which can hold 16-18 people!!! But on our walk home, we tried to make the most of our time by witnessing to those that passed by that were walking and handing out tracks. That wasn´t so bad. It worked out.

Also, since Jason has left for the States, and the other brother Levi doesn´t come back till next week, and the third brother was in Peru on vacation we had no brother for our meeting Thursday. So the sisters were given permission to handle the parts according to the way the Branch directs of course. I got dragged into being a last minute householder, and a householder for a demo. on the service meeting too, all in one night!!!! They said I did good, and I also recorded it so when I get home you can see it and judge for yourself.

Another thing, since Jason has been gone his truck is here for us to use in the ministry when needed. So Summer, who would usually drive it didn´t go out in service one day, and Denise didn´t have her license with her, it´s in the States. So guess who had to drive that day. ............ ME!!! For the first time in about 3 years I drove a stick shift. It was a little scarry at first, but I got the hang of it again! All of the past 2 paragraphs all happened in one day. Quite eventfull. Too much, I would say.

My computer is really slow and it locks up every time I try to add pics. So I´m gonna try adding them Monday when we come back.
Love ya!