Tuesday, April 23, 2013

shandia 2013 - high time

I really hate it when we've had an incredible time somewhere and life is busy so that I don't get to documenting it right away.  And there is so much that you want to say and tell and all that but it is almost too overwhelming to take the time to do it all.  I'm just tempted to let the pictures speak for themselves and say nothing.  But I know I'll regret it later and I know I will also make some people a little unhappy if I don't give a little explanation at minimum.
First I just have to say that the week the team from our church comes is definitely the highlight for me and I believe for our family.  It is so amazing getting the chance to see people we love and people we have heard about and having the opportunity to serve with them.  This year I was beyond thrilled that my amazing friend Veronica - and her entire family - came.  While I naturally longed for way more time than we could have, every second with her was rich and wonderful.  I can't believe how blessed I have to have incredible friends like her.
With this week also comes going to the jungle to do work and ministry.  I come alive there.  For some reason I am way more unreserved with my Spanish... I chatter away with all kinds of people (poorly, but I still feel that freedom).  I go crazy with awe at watching my kids serve and interact and also use their Spanish much more and with greater freedom - they in many ways come alive there too.  I often get frustrated with my and their shyness when ministering here in Quito.  But in Shandia, it seems to melt away.
There seems to be something that blocks us when we are here - I really don't know what it is.  We love the guys we work with but as much as we adore them, there is something here that intimidates or blocks us.  Eric and Mia are good.  Cade has started to have more "moments" (especially when he plays Wii with the Casa G. boys!  I think he likes it that he is better than them!!). They make me smile and laugh, and I love love love being around them, but I'm so reserved.  It drives me crazy especially because I can't really put my finger on it.  For the kids, I don't know, but for me, maybe I just don't feel cool enough or good enough.  Okay - this self-evaluation is another whole blog post....  Sorry for babbling.
One thing I like about serving in the jungle is the manual labour.  Doing some hard, physical labour in the jungle is also so refreshing - I always love that.  It feels so good to work the body and work it hard, especially while doing it alongside of both people from "home" and the amazing local people.  And then the play time and more formal ministry time is also so rich.  Seeing this community who have so many people already passionate about Jesus and seeing others willing to learn.  It is hard to beat.
In normal circumstances when I am in heat like that, I shrivel.  The heat drives me crazy.  Plus I am just a gnarly, sweaty mess (I don't glow, I don't perspire, I am sweat.  I'm a big time sweat - er..... not a sweater, by the way...  I just sweat way more than a female should be allowed).  But there - I hardly notice.  It is a place I long to go to.  I long to serve at.  I long to have our family serve there.  It is real.  It is rough.  It is uncomfortable in a very comfortable way.  I LOVE it.  
I would be very happy (yet scared spit-less and feeling incredibly inadequate) if God had our family working there much more often.   I actually suggested to Eric while we were there that perhaps we should move there....  but I'm over that part.  Yes, we'd do it if God called us to that, but I might go a little batty after months and months of sweating.
So back to that week.  I'm probably just going to run through the stuff quickly, otherwise I'll be writing for hours and this will never get posted.  I'm sort of an all or nothing kind of blogger.
These first few pictures are when we did some work on the pathway to the new training center.  Clearing brush and branches, laying dirt and gravel, raking and stomping (packing the path) and moving bricks (a job the girls did - very slowly.... there were plenty of large bugs hiding in the stacks of bricks so there were a lot of shrieks and "ewwww"s).  Of course the village kids were right there with us, having a great old time.

In between some of the work one of the young village boys caught a chicken.  Nina decided it would make a good pet until it pecked her in the mouth.  It is hard to see, but her mouth is bleeding.  Thankfully she didn't catch any infectious diseases!

Some of the girls took a break occasionally to play with the kids in the cover of the training center.  Of course the kids eat it up!

Cade seems to love the physical labour as well.  He works like a banshee.  I get pretty proud of his work ethic.  He's out there hauling and dumping and shoveling and grunting.

A big part of what goes on when our team comes is bike repairs!  Shandia already knows Karl, the bike guy.  Karl has been going to Shandia for many years and he spends most of his time fixing all of the very well used (and most definitely abused) bikes.  So when Karl comes, the bikes all come out.  This time around he also had Scott to do repairs - Scott also knows what he is doing.  Those poor guys fixed bikes for days.  It was a labour of love, that is for sure - fixing bikes for Christ!  And when they were done, some of the bikes they had already fixed came back to get something else worked on.  These kids are hard on their bikes!!

Our kids also love the attention from the students that come from our church.  While the team really comes down to serve the people in Shandia (and surrounding areas), they bless us as well.  They play with our kids and love on them - making them feel special.  It has a huge impact on them.
Bug spray and sunscreen - very very important, three-times-daily, process.
The informal hang out times with the kids is the best.  Playing in the river.  The river is surprisingly cold and feels amazing after getting so hot and working so hard.  The guys, however, must have such sore arms at the end of it all - first they are shoveling and hauling wheelbarrows full of dirt, then they are heaving kids in the water for hours.

Usually there are some kids who do more rapid-riding, but not many did this year.  Apparently Cade and Mia missed it, so they decided to just do it themselves.  Their trip went a little awry, however, probably due the to size of the tube.  Cade ended up solo and Mia ended up with some bruised shins.

Spa treatments are always a highlight and I think never cease to make the village kids wonder why in the world everyone smears mud on themselves.

Cade didn't bother with the mud and went with some of the boys to throw stones instead.

The team did several teen nights as well.  After the first one kids came from a bunch of the neighboring villages as well (so I heard.... I had to leave to go back to work while the rest of the team stayed for three more days.  I was rather bitter.  I'm over it now.  Almost.).

I was pretty impressed with Maddy's brute strength going against some of these rugged jungle girls in the games.  She was laughing like crazy (loved that) but still held her own!

One thing you often find in poorer areas are people who have received hand-me-downs and a lot of the time, they have no clue as to what their shirt says or means.  It is surprising how often it happens.  The photo below is a perfect example...

We tried to get him to stand to the left of Karl, without Karl noticing, for a photo (we made three attempts) but either I was too slow or Karl was too quick (or our buddy didn't quite understand that he had to be on a certain side of Karl for it to work).  Oh well.  Everyone had some good laughs in the process.
On Sunday our youth pastor preached and a bunch of people helped with Sunday school.

The kids are awfully unruly so Gina told a little story about an animal and how they were supposed to keep their mouths quiet like this animal.  Cade liked to be up there helping show everyone when to be quiet.  At times it felt like perhaps we were at a rock concert instead, but I had to shake that out of my head....

This picture is precious to me.  It is Veronica and Camila (I think that is right).  I remember Veronica telling me, before we ever even thought of coming to Ecuador, about meeting Camila and talking with her.  They had a conversation - through two translators about Camila's memories about Jim and Elizabeth Elliot.  Camila spoke in Quichua, one of the locals translated it into Spanish and then one of the team translated it from Spanish into English.  I was enthralled by the story of that time and it drew me to Ecuador.  I also know that was an incredibly rich and powerful time for Veronica.
So much richness happened during this time in the village.  It was great to have the family come back to Quito (where I already was remember.... yes, still a little bitter... maybe a little more so than a few paragraphs ago) and have the kids talk about their friends back in Shandia.  I love that they have their buddies there.  And hopefully we'll be able to visit them soon.

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