Friday, February 25, 2011

Feb 12 - 21

I'm giving up.

It has taken me forever to do this post because I have been trying to figure out a way to get this video clip from a friend and then put it on this post. But it will just have to be done at a later time. I can't responsibility keep my audience waiting any longer.
Ha ha ha ha ha!
The clip is of our friends surprising us.

We knew that 9 people from our home church were coming up for a short term trip to the jungle. One of said people is one of my most beloved friends, and two of said peoples are her two daughters - one if which is Mia's bestest friend forever and always (I suppose that would be BFFaA).
What we didn't know is that they sneakily planned to come early and surprise us.
And surprise us they did.
It was fabulous!

Once I figure out how to get it on here (getting it from her is the tricky part), I'll be sure to post it.

They surprised us on Sat. the 12th, and the rest of the team came on Sun. the 13th.
It was so good - so wonderfully delightful - to have friend from our church here.
We have missed our church so much - one of the things that has consistently been the most difficult. We belong to an incredible church.

Before we headed to the jungle, we spent Monday seeing a few sights in Quito.
Went to the Basilica - a gorgeous church.
We also went to the Presidential Palace and had some driving adventures....which consisted of our friend Karl driving our van (Eric had to work) up a very steep and narrow road (no fault of his own - he was told to go there) that had a dead end at the top of the hill. He had to make a twenty two point turn to turn around and get back down. There were one or two Ecuadorians who must have had a great time laughing at the stupid gringos.

The evening was spent having dinner at our house.
Simple fair - hamburgers and hot dogs.

The team also brought four bags of our stuff that we still had stored at our brother and sister-in-law's garage.
I have my Kitchen Aid!!!!!
And Rachel, the friend who came early, brought me two Diet Dr. Peppers!
Wii "Just Dance 2".

Just Dance was discovered at Drew and Julie's on my trip to Maryland.
It is the only Wii game I'm good at, so I ordered it.
All the girls played it together.
Tuesday morning it was time to pack up and head out to Tena.
Tena is the town we stayed in for three nights. It is about 20 minutes away from Shandia - the jungle village in which we were working.
The only problem was that Maddy was sick. During the night she woke me up with a 102 fever. We decided to haul her along anyway, since we were going to be gone for 6 days.
She didn't have a very nice trip.
Most everyone else had a good time - at least during the lunch stop.
An odd thing you discover, when heading out of Quito and towards the more rural areas.
All the towns seem to have an infatuation with clown garbage cans.
They are everywhere.
Some places will even go a little loco and have Buzz Lightyear or Shrek garbage cans.
I'm sure they are drawing in the crowds to their establishments.
But most just settle for creepy clowns.
My cousin Kristi just might never ever visit me do to these freakish things.

Moving right along...

We arrived at Tena and stayed at a rather nice Hostal.
It had a pool, which was great for the kids to decompress and cool off in.
Cade found a ginormous snail beside the pool one day.
And they had roof access, where the kids could play jump rope.
One of the main reasons for the trip was to work on a building project that our church is involved in.
There is a man, Juan Carlos, who has invested a lot of himself in Shandia and several other jungle villages. He has taught them about Jesus and goes back as often as he can to teach and encourage the believers. Many of the villages do not have anyone who can teach them more about the bible. So Juan Carlos has wanted to have some type of training center where people can come from all of these villages and learn about the bible and learn how to teach their people. This is what we were building.

We moved a lot of sand and rocks.
Several people from the village, including kids, came out and helped too.
It was a lot of hard physical work, but it was also rather fun. It just feels good to do some hard manual labor sometimes.
Some of us didn't work quite as hard as others, but spent some of their time sitting on the rock pile, looking adorable, and encouraging everyone else.
Well, she did do some work, but wasn't quite as into it as some of the others.....

Even though we were dresses in long pants often - due to the bugs, it was rather hot, of course, and I sweat like...., um..... well, like something that sweats a lot, so I was drenched every day.
Attractive, isn't it.
Really not sure why I am even putting this picture on public domain... not flattering.
And that was my second shirt.
Love how it draws the eye....

Okay, moving on again.
I really don't have enough pictures of us working. Or any, in fact. I guess I was working so hard that I didn't stop to take any.
Or maybe I took a lot but don't want to post them so that you think I worked really hard.
I guess you'll never know.

Sheesh, I'm getting sidetracked by my ramblings....
The kids worked really hard to - carrying buckets full of sand back and forth.
The village kids loved getting rides in the wheelbarrows when they weren't full of sand.
Almost as many kids were transported as were loads of sand.

We got to interact with the kids at other times as well.

We did a VBS type event one day - with a lesson, crafts and games.
And there was just a whole lot of playing as well.
Here is Cade with three new friends.
They loved playing jump rope - and Lucy loved turning the rope. She's actually pretty coordinated (and awfully cute).
The work sight is situated in the lush jungle and is surrounded by naturally growing Cacao plants. The kids would climb up a tree, grab a cacao fruit and tear it open to share with us. The seeds of the cacao, of course, are used to make chocolate, but surrounding the seed is a sweet gooey pulp. You just grab one, pop it in your mouth and suck on the pulp. The flavor is really good.
I neglected to take a picture of a Cacao tree on its own, but I do have a picture of one with "Flat Carson" sitting on a fruit.
(Flat Carson is a paper doll of our nephew. His class read the book "Flat Stanley" and then took pictures of themselves, glued their faces on a paper drawing of a person and sent them to people that live in other states or countries. We received "Carson" a few days before the team came. We were supposed to dress him up like the locals and take him on adventures. I dressed Carson up like a typical Otavalian man - complete with white pants and shirt, an open poncho and black felt hat.)
We also had a teddy bear that belongs to the nephew of our friends in Maryland. They received the teddy bear and took him around their area and then thought it would be cool to send teddy with me. So we had many adventures with Flat Carson and Teddy.
Here is Teddy with one of our meals.
Tilapia - served whole (fish is almost always served whole like this), wrapped in a banana leaf and stuffed with hearts of palm. It was very good. It is served with yucca and cantaloupe juice.
A very tasty meal.
Maddy liked it so much she wanted to eat all of it.
One of the highlights of our time was going to see Jim and Elizabeth Elliot's house.
It is just a few minutes walk through the jungle to get there.
Our guide was Alberto.
He was a little boy when the Elliots first came to Shandia.
His brother now owns the property and for a time would often not allow people on the site. He has now become a Christian and more readily allows people on his land. We were so grateful to be able to go.
Alberto is a great man with a big smile. He recently started to come to church and now plays with the "worship band".

The first room that you see on the left was Elizabeth's pharmacy. She used to dispense medicine to the people there.
A few of her bottles still remain.
This room, which is in the right rear of the house, is the kitchen.
You can see where the cooked as well as the fire place.
The house is completely infested with bats, as seen in this bedroom (left rear of the house).
We had many many bats flying around us - but thankfully no one got one stuck in their hair!
The Elliots left some markings in the concrete for us it enjoy.
The date left on the stoop outside the kitchen/dining area.
Handprints (sorry - hard to see) left on the front porch.... including their dogs paw print.
Our hot, sweaty family in front of the house.
We're looking rather gnarly.
After we went to the house (on Saturday afternoon), we headed to the river.
The river, also the laundry area for the village.....
is really big, cool and fast moving. The kids can often be found there, cooling off.
There is quite a bit of white water rafting that happens on various parts of it.

We hung out there for a while with a bunch of kids.
Some swam, some played in the sand and some played soccer.
And we all gathered wood for a bonfire that we had in the evening.
The bonfire was supposed to be a youth event, but it ended up being just whomever wanted to come.
The kids played in the sand again.
And we all sang praise songs in English, Spanish and Quichua (Quichua is their language, but most people now have learned Spanish. The older people in the village still only speak in Quichua).
Two people from our team shared and Eric interpreted.
I was extremely impressed with my husband - to see how far he has come in his Spanish, that he could do some interpreting. He's quite amazing.

One of my biggest thrills was hearing the kids singing Spanish praise songs with some of the people there, even after the "official" singing time was over.
We ended the evening making s'mores.
They had never had s'mores before and boy-oh-boy did they like them!
Rachel and Alisa, who handed out the marshmallows, were constantly surrounded by people and sticks - asking for more.
We were quite amazed that they never got stabbed.
But they sure got sticky!

The next morning we enjoyed church, Shandia style.
Dan, one of our pastors, preached through a translator, and two of the other team members shared their testimonies as well.
Then several of us taught Sunday School.
Gina read the parable of the lost son, in Spanish, of course, and Rachel had the kids act out the story.
Maddy played her part - complete with a dramatic death scene - perfectly.
There were some cute faces I just couldn't help taking pictures of....

Including one of my own darling cuties.
One of the little boys, Jimmy - the most memorable of the lot.... he's a handful - had a pet bird that he brought to Sunday School. Cade was quite thrilled to hold him.

After the story the kids did a craft - making "salvation bracelets":
specific colored beads to represent salvation:
black - our sin
red - Jesus dying for our sin
white - our clean hearts after His forgiveness
green - growing in Jesus
yellow - golden streets of heaven.
Immediately following church, Gina, Rachel and Juan Carlos interviewed some of the people who remember the Elliots. They are going to have various people translate it(first from Quichua to Spanish, then Spanish to English). It will be great to see.
To keep the kids out of the way, we broke out the parachute and balls and played with the kids.
And sadly, after that, we had to take the long drive home.

It really was an incredible week.
I loved pretty much everything about it.
We were able to serve with friends we love from back home.
We were able to make new friends with other we hope to visit again soon.
We saw pieces of history from missionaries in the past.
We did some great physical labor.
We worshipped Jesus in three languages.
We had new experiences and ate new food.
We got millions of bug bite that were and still are incredibly itchy.
Okay, I guess that is where it ends.....
the bug bites weren't so great.
If you could zoom in, you would see lots and lots and lots of big red spots all over these legs.
First, lets see whom these legs belong to....
Lucy, Rachel, Hailey, Mia, me, Cade and Gina.
And that is only a fraction of us.
But we must zoom in.
I chose my legs:
and the back:
Back in the day, my brother's college friends used to call me "Angel Legs".
I'd hate to hear what they would say right now!

If I took another picture of my legs today, they would actually look worse.
We all discovered that we ended up with more bumps or bites even after we left.
Not sure what is up with that.
The up side is that our family has since bonded more and more as we keep ragging on each other not to scratch the bites.
We are all very good at stopping each other from scratching.
And we are all very good and continuing to scratch ourselves.

It was a week that I am sure we will never forget and pray that we have more of.
Our team:
back row: Juan Carlos, Eric, Dan, Alisa, Rachel, Karl holding Hailey, Tim and Gina
front row: Cade, Daniel, Brianna, Tatum, Mia, Lucy and Maddy.

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