Tuesday, June 29, 2010

bruised cheekbones

Sunday, our first full day in Quito was full. And a little overwhelming. And a little great. Or a lot great.
We hung out at Casa Gabriel, our ministry, with the guys there, some of their family members and some other missionary staff. Too many wonderful people all in the same place.
One problem: there is a greeting here in Ecuador that I need to work on. It is a wonderful custom. It is the touch-right-cheeks-together-and-kiss-the-air greeting. You do this with everyone (everyone) who is at the place you arrive at, and everyone who comes after you will also do it to you when they arrive. It is also done with everyone (everyone) when you leave, and everyone who leaves before you. Needless to say - it is something you do a lot. It is beautiful in that everyone is included, welcomed and it is somewhat intimate. It just sort of connects you right away. Love it.
However, this little custom is not coming easy to me. I seem to go in on the cheek touching too hard and smashed cheekbones with several people. Yes, it isn't a big deal. But remember, there were a lot of people at Casa G. on Sunday. There was a lot of coming and going. There was a lot of hellos and goodbyes.... Therefore there was a lot of cheek smashing on my part. Bone on bone, covered with just a little flesh for protection isn't working well for me. I need lessons on the approach. After that I'm good.
Maybe that should be part of our training.
So glad we are here.

Side note: Need to make sure I drink more water. Not something I'm good at. Something that is, apparently, even more important at high altitude. Headaches, lots of headaches, with out water.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mariachi madness

Our first night in Costa Rica we were awakened to a Mariachi band that started to play at 10:00 p.m. next door. We wondered what we were in for. What we discovered was a beautiful, but very loud culture that likes to celebrate late in the evening....often to all hours.
It is our first night in Quito (we are finally here!!). It is just after 10:00 p.m. and the Mariachi band started a few minutes ago. Apparently the people of Ecuador celebrate in much the same fashion (from what we understand it is fairly normal for most of Latin America). At least in this area we know what we are in for!
Party on!

The kids are having a hard time. One has been acting out hugely - worse than her normal....which is already pretty difficult. One is very clingy. And one is weepy and wanting to go home (I'm interpreting that as being California). They are certainly not going through easy times.
I just read this (before settling in to enjoy the Mariachi): "The only thing we absolutely could not survive would be the loss of God's love. And that is a loss we'll never have to try." It is a quote from Beth Moore. Definitely something I need to share with the kids tomorrow a.m. To remind them, and myself, that we will survive this - even thrive in it - because we have God's love. You've got that, you've got it all.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yup, it sucks.....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

saying goodbyes

I'm realizing more and more that part of being a missionary is having to saying goodbye.... a lot.
Can I just be blunt? It sucks.
Over the last year we have said goodbye to a whole lot of incredible people. It started at our training in IL last June-ish. It is amazing how spending 6 short weeks with people can endear them to you forever. But we had to say goodbye. Then we got back home and of course, had to say goodbye to all our family and friends there. Horrible. Now language school. People... wonderful people.... have been coming and going for the last 10 months. Make new friends.... they leave in Dec. Make more new friends, they leave in April. Make more new friends, we leave in June.
Picture to the left? My oldest, saying goodbye to a great friend. I've been trying to convince her and her mom that they need to move to Quito, but they aren't listening.
Can I just say it again? It sucks.
The whole moving again, saying goodbye and all that is taking a toll on the kids. It shows in their faces. In their actions. Hard.
Today we said goodbye to our teacher/tutor. She is just great. Then we went to our dear, dear friends' house for dinner and said goodbye to them. This family was one of God's greatest gifts to us when we got here, and still is as we leave. No fun (well, it was very fun to be there, but no fun to say goodbye, of course).
And tomorrow. We say goodbye to our empleada. I know I'll cry. Again. Then goodbye to more good friends... friends of two of our daughters and their mother - who makes me pee my pants laughing (no, not literally). And then another goodbye to another fabulous friend. I sooooo enjoy her. And she and her husband have been so kind and generous with us. She makes me pee too - in the good, non-literal way, of course!

BUT, even though all of this sucks and I really don't like it at all, I can't help but be incredibly grateful for how rich my live (and the lives of all in our family) are because of it. It is so much better than not meeting any of these people at all. That is some of the richest stuff there is. It is part of what is eternal. God has blessed us incredibly with so many wonderful people that we have been able to know.
Yah, it sucks, but I am thankful.

side note: Sorry if you don't like the word "sucks". Since it is so very not fun at all, it just gets the point across. There is some power in the sound of the word. Blows, bites, stinks, is yucky, is lousy or something of that nature could also be used if you find my vocabulary offensive, but I sure hope you don't.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

sad boy tears

We got a package today from my mom. So sweet of her. She sent books for the two oldest, a cool flashlight for our son and a movie for our youngest. And then a olympic stuffed animal and key chain for each of them. Problem is, upon opening the package - no flashlight, stuffed animals or key chains. Upon closer examination, the package was opened and resealed and - obviously - stuff taken. Poor sad boy tears began. He got nothing.
But they left the stuff that was in English.
So once we get to Quito, we are on the hunt for a cool flashlight. It may cost us as much as it cost my mom to buy all the contents of the package and the mailing cost combined.....

Oh, lunch at our Empleada's: Wonderful time was had by all.
She lives in a very very poor neighborhood, but has one of the nicest homes there. To me, it shows evidence of her hard work, care, discipline and faith in God to provide for her. Most of the houses around her are made of rusty corrugated metal. Streets are all mud.
She had her three grandchildren there - whom we all had met those kids - they live with her. Then her cousin and a neighbor. Great people, great food. She showed us a photo album that she has of all the families that she has been an empleada for, for over the past 25 years or so....all missionaries and students of the language school. You can tell she loves all the families and loves to serve the Lord by serving the families. We are so blessed to have her.
I was a little sad that we didn't bring the kids - they were invited, but with how shy they are and picky about food, we just didn't want to have to deal with it....and of course, the youngest is close to always causing grief and we just wanted to be able to visit. But looking back, it would have been great for them to have been there. Seeing how content the family is in a very very small house, with very little, in a highly dangerous and downright (and literally) crappy neighborhood. They have been exposed to this before, and I know they will again, but we know her so well that it would have been good. Well, God will still work that out in them just as He is working it out in me.

Two more days in Costa Rica.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

a visit

We have been invited to our empleada's (maid) house for lunch today. I love her. I am going to miss her. While half of the time I am struggling to understand what she is saying, mainly because she speaks so fast, she still manages to make me laugh. A lot. She has shared much of her life with me - not an easy one - and I am so grateful. It will be sad to say goodbye. And then there is trying to keep in touch. #1 problem - I stink at it; #2 problem - she doesn't have a computer. Oh Lord, help me!!
So back to the invitation. I'm really nervous. Not sure why. Maybe it is because I am not going to be on my "own turf" so to speak and so all my comforts are gone (well, Eric will be there too and so that is a fairly large comfort!). But it bothers me that I am nervous about it. I just hope that we can be a blessing to her as she has been to us. God has got to help with that too. And knowing Him, He is faithful.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Psm 25: 4,5

Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Do you think a person can become physically ill from lack of creative expression? My thought - definitely yes.

It has been slightly over a year with almost no opportunity for creativity. Well, okay, that is not quite true. I have purposely stifled myself to some degree because I wanted to focus on learning Spanish. And secondarily, I didn't want to make a bunch of stuff that I couldn't (shouldn't) take with me. To some degree it is a bit of an expression of discipline too.

But looking back, I'm thinking that maybe I would have done better in Spanish had I given my brain something else to feed on - a diversion - and something that makes it sing, so to speak.

Not that I didn't do anything creative. There were the costumes that I got to sew for the play our oldest was in. That was fun. And I showed the kids how to design and make their own "stuffies".... some version of a stuffed animal. They want to do it every week now but we are running out of materials. I sketched out lots of possibilities (see the picture??) And, of course, we created the towels.

We brought old white towels with us that we will just leave here (we've got our nicer ones coming to Ecuador). I'm all about having my own towel and not mixing it up with someone else's so, we label. It also is handy when one delightful child leaves their towel on the floor instead of hanging it up. No question as to whom it is. Hmmm, maybe I should label everything.

The process is simple.
  1. Take a water soluble fabric marker and have the kids write their name on a towel (They would, of course, look nicer if there were all the same, nice, new towels. Ours are a little "unphotogenic", shall we say.)
  2. Let them pick their color thread/floss (Or, of course, if you want to stick with color theme, just choose the color yourself. That is what I did with our good towels).
  3. Embroider over their markings (google embroidering stitches if you don't know how).
  4. Rinse the area with water so that any visible marker disappears.

Now the kids have their own towel. They are responsible for it. They are proud of it. And everyone is happy.

When we get to Quito, no more reigning in creativity. Well, okay, I might need to, to some degree. I tend to get a little carried away. But I know that my creative brain is a gift from God. He has allowed me the privilege of using it in ministry in the past and I pray that He will again. That's my favorite.... when He does that.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
1 Tim 6:6,7

I've been kind of fussing within my mind over the last day or so. Just found out that second hand stores don't exist in Ecuador. Neither do $1 stores. Or extensive crafts stores, I'm guessing. That puts a real dent into my creative plans. Here I've had all these dreams of what I can create for our new home.
I'm in serious nesting mode (no, not pregnant!)....just excited about being able to make our house a home in a more permanent fashion.
But now this. Not a lot of resources - especially inexpensive resources. Sigh.

Then, during my time with Jesus just now, I was brought to these verses.
I know God takes delight in my creativity. He gave it to me, after all. But my "poor me" attitude - and some jealousy to boot* - is not delightful.

Now it's got to change.

And besides, didn't I just write the other day about being thankful to live more simply?

*my jealousy currently is stemming from my darling friend, the author of We share two dreams: missions and creating beautiful (or just interesting) things. I guess we have, without discussing it, each taken on one of those two. Me, the former, her, the latter. We'll just share our love of both things and have appropriate jealousy of each other! Is there such a thing as appropriate jealousy?.....

Saturday, June 12, 2010

two weeks

We are still in Costa Rica.
Two weeks from today we leave for Quito and are finally going to be at our destination. While it is a welcome transition - it is after all what we have been aiming at for a few years now - it is also a bit of a scary one. Another adjustment: a new house, a new city, another culture, another set of friends, and the list goes on. Of course we know that God is in control and has got this covered. A faith journey.
We are so blessed that our transition here went so well. We arrived in San Francisco de Dos Rios, Costa Rica almost 10 months ago for language school. It has been so good. Yes, we have learned Spanish (to varying degrees, of course), but we have had adventures (visa run to Panama, for example.....suppose I should have started blogging a long time ago) and seen a lot of new country, made wonderful friends, enjoyed experiencing the culture, began living with less (I highly recommend it.... having lots of stuff is completely over-rated) and were able to have a lot of time together as a family.
Currently I am trying to focus on all of these blessings when thinking of moving again. And when talking through the move with the kids. One little boy that I know, in particular, is having a difficult time. Some days he "just wants to go back to California" and other days he "can't wait to get to Ecuador so that it is only two years until we get to go back to California". Either way, what he believes is home is his focus. We are praying that after two years in Quito he'll be wanting to stay - 'cause that is the plan, but we will see....
Meanwhile, we've started packing. Again.