Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Breaking News

Just paid our monthly water bill - wait for it ..... $5.50. That is on a parr with our power and telephone bill which we paid last week. They were both around 5 bucks too!
The only other thing we have to pay for is the refilling of our 14.5 kilo gas bottles. That is the exhorbitant price of $2 per refill. I just have to say it is not a pleasant experience being in the shower and the hot water running out. Mark had to change the bottles over quick smart! The neighbours probably heard me screaming! and wondered what on earth was going on!

Friday, May 23, 2008

A day in the life of a new needgreater

6.30-7am Depending on what time the alarm goes off (that is the car revving next door) we awake - maybe not really ready to face the new day but ready to give it a go!
Over breakfast after the days text and DBR - its cramming for conversations starteds in spanish before we head out the door for the group between 8 and quarter past. The longest walk to the group is on Tuesday - it´s about 25-30 minutes. The group starts at 8.30 and we walk everyday to it except Saturday cause that is up the hill and we take the bus (believe me - it´s a necessity).
When you arrive at the group - you do the rounds - kissing and shaking hands with everyone - the same thing happens when you leave - you do the rounds again. We have found that you only need to say Buenos Dias and Como Estas (which is how are you)- they don´t want to know anymore cause they have already moved on to kissing the next person.
After getting paired with whatever poor sucker assigned to us for the day - we trudge off to the territory (if its a good day we may get a ride either by car, taxi or truck, with as many people crammed in as possible)Then for the next 3 hours or so - it´s full on consentration, either trying talk to our partners or trying to talk to householders.
By 12ish we are on the way home, either by bus or by tired foot. When we get home one of us will make lunch depending on who´s tirest (usually that´s me - what a good husband I have). Takes awhile to get moving after lunch - sometimes the bed or couch just calls out to us so loudly and we have to obey it´s voice - as you can see by the picture above. The rest of the afternoon is taken up with cramming for whatever meeting it is next. The BS or WT is the easiest of course because we have the english version to compare but the MS or SM take quite awhile to prepare for.
Dinner is usually around 6ish and consists of pretty much the same food as what we would eat in NZ. If I try to roast vegetables though - I always seem to burn them as I am still not used to cooking with gas. I always get a little nerveous approaching the oven to light it too(as you will remember from previous blogs) - hopefully I will get over that soon.
So then at 7.oopm we take ourselves off to the ¨Reunion¨as the 2 weekly meetins start at 7.30 or at 6.oopm for the Saturday PT and WT at 6.30.
Pretty much that is the norm - Monday is a little differnet as we don´t go out winessing but do all the house stuff which includes the shopping- that is a bit of a chore without a car, I must say. We head to the supermarket by bus and load up on supplies then we jump in a taxi for home. Have to ask the taxi drivers first before accepting their service cause the price ranges from $2 to one guy who tried to sting us $4. We beat him down to $3 though - we may look like a soft touch but we are hardening up). Just on a side note - I thought I got stared at because I was a gringo but the CO tells me that it´s more likely that they think I am a rich Cuecan. Apparently I fit in more here than Mark - looks wise. So when on the Bus - they are wondering what on earth a rich Cuencan is doing taking a bus.
If I am in the mood - I will change the furniture around. New country - same old habits. Have to say the interlocking lounge suite is a good idea for someone like me. I have even changed the curtains around - it´s a problem I have - I Know. I wonder if there is a self help group for my issues - maybe it could be called Changaholics or something.
10pm-11pm Our day ends. By the time we fall into bed again our feet are nearly falling off and our heads are spinning but we are mostly satisfied with our day. Life is treating us pretty well at the moment.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oh dear - this language thing is destroying my confidence!

Well yesterday we both came home from service with a light heart cause everything had gone well. With me making an arrangement to call back on a man with a bible for him. Then the meeting was good cause we had done the correct amount of preparation and we were able to understand nearly all of it. Even the CO´s talk (which he is easy to listen to because he speaks slow and my mind needs slow). So we thought - hey we are getting this - it´s all good.
Then this morning everything went to pieces with me placing mags with a lady in a shop and then saying I would return sometime. She was happy with that and I came away feeling pretty good. Then my partner told me I had said to her that she talks too much! Maybe she won´t want to see me again afterall!
I went to see the man from yesterday and totally blew it but he took the bible happily. I got on the bus for home feeling a little low. There were heaps of people on the bus so I had to stand for awhile. I looked around and a grubby old man was patting the seat beside him - beckoning me to come and sit. Thankfully another seat opened up right then so I took that one. By now everyone was staring at me including the lady in the next seat so I thought I might as well give them more to talk about me and pulled out a mag for her. We got into quite a conversation so once again I was happy. When I got off the bus, low and behold so did the grubby old man and he was still eying me up so I gave him a mag too (that´ll teach him). So on the way home,feeling ok with myself - one of my neighbours came along - she asked me if I had been to church so I told her no and pulled out another mag. She wanted to talk some more but of course - I folded! What am I to do - it is so frustrating!

Monday, May 19, 2008


It´s been a busy old time the last few days - no time for blogging - sorry about that but it´s back to ¨normal¨now!

On Friday after service we made our way to the assembly hall to help with the cleaning of the chairs. They all had to be wiped down as they get very dusty. We got stuck at the hall cause it rained of course and came down in buckets - so we didn´t get home till around 6ish. I shoulda known that was not going to be good for me - too long without food I think cause the next day I woke with a migraine and it was a ¨doosey¨! There was no way I was going to be able to make it to the asamblea! So while I drugged myself to sleep - Mark was my eyes and ears at the hall. The baptism sounded interesting with everyone staying in their seats while one person from each congregation went up close to take the pictures. 2 brothers preformed the baptism duty with Doug being one of them. 24 in total were baptised including Doug and Lisa´s kids. Not often you get the job of baptising your own offspring - how cool for Doug!

Anyhow Sunday roled around and I was feeling spacey but better so 2 bus rides later we were back at the hall for day 2. The hall reminds me of ¨Misery¨Creek as it is just a big barn really. When it rains (which as you know - it does every day) it is very hard to hear anything. I´m told they have had to stop the program sometimes until it abates. One thing that is different is the car park is not full of cars - cause of course not too many brothers own vehicles so people arrive by bus or taxi mostly. It´s a strange feeling jumping on the bus dressed in your Sunday Best - good job we are used to being stared at!

I was gagging for a coffee by the time we got to the hall and wow they supply coffee! It smelt so good and then I took a swig - it was full of sugar and if you know anything about me - you would know that I take my coffee black,strong and sugarless. I was so disappointed! Mark got to drink my much needed coffee!

At lunch time Mark and Becky Mc. who have been here for 10 years came and sat by us and brought a little girl with them to feed her. Nancy is the neice of one of their studies who has 6 kids(not married) herself and has taken little Nancy in as well. Soon enough one of the other 6 kids found us and he was happy to devour any left overs we could give him. (Mum only brought bread apparently which was probably all she could afford).Anyway we have a friend for life now, Henry came and gave me a big hug at the end of the day - cute.

Cleaning afterwards was interesting - seemed very disorganised with brooms flying everywhere (no witcheypoo jokes pls). They lifted the seats forward-swept the dirt backwards, lifted the next row, swept the same dirt further back etc etc until finally at the back of the hall the dirt was swept up and trashed. It did get the job done in 45 minutes so I guess the system worked.

We were nearly last out as ¨G¨gave us a lift home and he is in the audit dept so nothing changes for us whatever country we are in!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The fields really are White!

It´s amazing territory here with vast difference in economic situations from one house to the next. There will be a shack next to a palatial house or you will find a nearly non existant path that leads you to 2 or 3 houses with people ekking out an existance from the land. It´s no wonder there is a huge alcohol and drug problem as their life is very hard. Their situations must seem hopeless so to be able to show them from the bible (or in reality whoever I am with shows them) that Jehovah will end their misery is a priviledge. We all really need the new system of course but it just seems more pronounced here.

The witnesses talk to everyone they can here - the other day I was with Vicotria who was not intimidated to stop and talk with a gang of road workman. All 6 stopped and listened as she read a couple of scriptures and one took a brochure. This morning there was a building site that didn´t phase the sisters at all - there were dozens of guys working but we plowed through the mud and gave most of them a leaflet. Back to Victoria - she stopped a young girl of about 9 and had a good conversation with her. In the course of it she asked the little girl if she knew God´s name. The girl answered Jehova which I was impressed with but afterwards Victoria told me that most know God´s name here as they are taught that in the Catolic Church which of course is really different from home where noone knows his name. Speaking of the Catholic Church they are very frightened of the Witnesses here and are constantly warning peo0ple not to speak to us as we are from the devil! Many a time I have had someones finger wagged at me to go away! They must be concerned alright because this service year alone there has been a 15% increase in Cuenca and of course most of them come out of the Catholic Church and of course that means less revenue for them!

It is just so frustrating to us that we are unable to say more than simple presentations and then have to let our partners take over. We have both had to stand by and watch as studies were started. This weeks WT though reminded us of Phil 4:6 - ¨not to be anxious over anything¨Our time will come no doubt!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cranky Mothers Day!!!

Well mothers day is very big here - actually starts it seems at midnight and keeps going all day. We were woken up by the loudest music at 3 am on Sunday morning - someone had a stereo on the back of a truck blaring out Ï love Mumma¨type music until it abuptly stopped at 6 am. If you ask me it would have made all the mothers cranky but I guess it could have been worse - like heavy metal or something.Lisa and Doug said it was the same in their street so we were all a bit tired out in the ministry. I had decided that a good payback would be to go and bang on the door of the offending house at 8 and wake them all up - but that would have done no good cause they were still up and partying - just quieter!
Anyhow both Mark and I came home feeling happier with the conversations we had with people out in the field and Mark has an appointment to do an RV this afternoon so he is excited about that. I went with young Rachel W and I think because I was not have to concentrate on the conversation between the doors - I was able to focus on my presentation so I was not so frustrated with myself.
Back to Mothers day - it was a funny sight coming home on the bus and seeing all these guys carrying cakes for their mothers. Looked quite cute.
In the evening we were invited to a ¨Gringo Party¨and it was an evening to remember. There was even Sis Jones there who you will have read about in the Awake earlier this year. She and her husband look after ther Assembly Hall here in Cuenca so I am looking forward to talking with them some more. She reminds me a bit of my mum a few years ago - a no nonsense, just do it kind of woman.
Also there was our C.O Peter, He is Canadian and his wife is Ecuadorian(although you would never Know it cause she sounds so American) They have just returned from being in Canada for a year as he had a Brain Tumor and had to be operated on. What a story they tell - makes you realize even more how Jehovah manovers things and how he really takes care of us all. Mark and I were just so encouraged by the conversation with this bunch of people who have changed their lives so dramatically. Everyone has their own story but what comes through is their real joy at being here. What was nice was how they told us how we had encouraged them coming all the way from NZ and not knowing any Spanish, so that was nice. The whole evening was upbuilding and it was so neat to not have the conversation revert to the mundane things of life. It will keep us going for a few days - probably not past the next weekend though as we have a two day assembly. It´s hard enough getting through a 2 hour meeting in spanish let alone 2 days!
¨G¨came and picked us up in his taxi and we made him take some money. He is so kind - gives us rides all the time so we said to him that it would make us feel better if he took a contribution this time. We got home to a little present of a bag of corn left at our gate. Don´t know who put it there but they are all so kind it could be anyone.
So this cranky mother ended the day very happy and so pleased to have the opportunity to be here!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dog gone it!

There are dogs everywhere here - big dogs, cute dogs, mean dogs and just plain ugly dogs. Dogs behind gates - dogs in laps - and dogs in the street - there was even a dog that decided to come to the meeting the other night! It walked right up the centre aisle and on to the stage. Of course there was a titter that went thru the congregation but the speaker never missed a beat - just made the comment öh the little dogs want to hear too¨and carried right on! It took a while but the attendants finally decided to chase him away. Quite funny!

The dogs on the street get fed 3 times a week - Rubbish days! Rubbish is collected on Tuesday,Thursday and Saturday nights - you just put your bags out and after the dogs have had their fill (and humans have checked it out too) rubbish is usually spread all over the place so someone has the job of coming round and cleaning everything up and then the rubbish is collected. Strange system but it works I guess!

The one thing I notice about there being so many dogs is - that there is not that much dog doo on the street. Of course there is some but you would think there would be heaps more - I don´t know where they do their business but at least I only have to watch for pot holes and rocks on the ground and not dog doo!

You will notice in the picture a chappy having a siesta on the sidewalk - more likely drunk as a skunk - I thought you would be interested in one of the regular sights we see. Once from the bus we watched two guys lift this dude away from their garage - they just moved him aside. When we came back the same way 2 hours later, he was still there - flat out on the ground. It´s a very sad sight I must say!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gringos Day Out

Chad and Michelle have friends down from the USA and we went with them and the Willis Family on a day trip to the Cajas National Park. Guillemo or ¨G¨as he is called affectionately by the gringos has a taxi van so we set off with him just after 8 am. The Cajas National Park has around 200 lakes and countless streams so we were in for an interesting day.

We got to the entrance and the guards wanted to charge us $10 per person (stardard price for Gringos but natives get in for $1.50 - how fair is that?) Usually that price would hire us a guide for the day but none was working so G said he knew of a better place to go as without a guide we could get lost! When we got to that checkpoint - discussion insued about price again but they were much more reasonable after we showed them our Censo´s to prove we lived in Cuenca. (The censo is a local id card that you must carry with you - we got ours last week before the 30 days of being in the country were up. That´s the law and if we had not got one we would be fined $200 per day until we got it).

The walk around the lake was beautiful and I had to pinch myself every so often to realize we were looking at the Andes!

Mark and Chad decided to be Alpaca herders and we all got a close up view of the Alpacas. Fascinating!

We then went up to a lookout point and viewed Cuenca from a good vantage point. Up on that hill there is a big church (how unusual) and G told me that the Brothers had started to build the assembly hall up there but the priest of the church had kicked up a fuss and the project was stopped as they had to find another spot.

Well now they have an assembly hall and the original land is eroding and slipping so they are far better off. The priest really did the witnesses a favour. Who was behind that I wonder?

Just to Prove my Point about the Rain

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The rain in Spain falls mainly in Ecuador

I hear you have had some bad weather in NZ - bet you didn't go witnessing in it though!
This morning we were out in the hills somewhere and it poured! Remember there are not that many paved roads here so it was mud mud mud. I will post some pictures tomorrow to prove it that there are no fine weather christians here! We did eventually give up when we were all drenched. Everyone was still happy though so no worries.
Had our first native dinner guests last night - I got scared and decided to ask Chad and Michelle to join us at the last minute so that we could still talk. It would have been fine but it was lovely having them with us anyway.