Monday, June 30, 2008

It's OK

Yep it didn't take long and things looked brighter. We have just come home from the book study and I can report I understood the questions, was able to answer and read a scripture (without too many mistakes) and then also converse quite well afterwards with the bro's.I was able to tell them my story about the censo and they understood what I was talking about.

Thank you everyone for your very encouraging words - we really appreciate you taking the time to spur us on! We'll keep on keeping on a bit longer!

Anyway who could be sad for long when we have dogs like this to look at??

We are told we have to "just smile"

Anything official is a pain in the proverbial here and we have certainly found that out.
I might have mentioned that I lost my censo which is a ID card you must carry with you (no one has ever asked for it mind you) and I have been trying to get it replaced.
I rolled up to the Registration place where we first got it and they told me I had to have a police report saying I had lost it. Ok so a couple of days later I finally found a Police Station up the hill from us and by an interpretor was told I had to have a document from the registration place saying I needed a police report!!! I thought that really can't be true so today went to find the main police station. We were sent by the information office to the other side of the city and finally found the place - interesting that the police station has cows in the front yard! The very unhelpful chap in there gruffly told us - no we were in the wrong place and needed to go back into the city. It took us another hour to find the very small office. Well that is not the end of the story cause I explained my problem to the guy in there and he told me (hah I should really say - yelled at me, cause I had interrupted his game of patients on the computer) - I needed a document from a lawyer! Unbelievable! I could not stand it anymore and instead of just smiling as we have been advised - I burst into tears! Mark had to take me to a coffee shop to calm me down. And so the saga continues....

Sunday, June 29, 2008

3 Month Crash

We have both had a little bit of a crash and feel a little low - not homesick low (well perhaps a little - could do with an Amanda hug) but just so frustrated with ourselves still with the language thing.

Yesterday when I was walking up the hill to a study at 8a.m it hit me. Here I was in a 3rd world country walking by myself in a neighborhood that if in NZ would probably be condemned to conduct a study in a language I still haven't got come to grips with yet - who did I think I was kidding? I desperately wanted to be in safe old Tauranga doing what I had done all my life - speaking and preaching in English. By the time I got to the house I was really doubting myself. I coped ok and I know it is not my words that would be what reached the womans heart anyway but still I feel extremely disappointed in myself - Mark says we are probably being too hard on ourselves and I guess he is right. We would like to wake up one morning and know we can go out and communicate with whoever we meet. Maybe we are just missing our lifelines - the other Gringos from Gringo Hill.
It's 3 pm and we have just come back from return visits - we walked for miles and no one was home so still not feeling back on top of things. I am a bit concerned that I won't be able to handle 70 per month and am considering staying a continuous auxiliary pioneer come September. We had to go out this afternoon as I had one hour left in my time for this month and I have to tell you it was hard work. Maybe I am better off not killing myself! Mark will be ok - he is stronger and able to walk up the hills easier - we shall see though - things may change in the next couple of months.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's a monologue & E's news! Lucky you!

It was our privilege to host the farewell party for the other Gringos in the congregation - who have all deserted us!!! Thank goodness Barbara is still here!
Let me tell you about the Party System here. 1st the find some poor fool to say yes to being the hosts (well should I say the supplier of the house - it's really a Clayton's Party - the party you have without having a party). They converge on the house and no place is sacred or out of bounds. We were asked to each give $1 towards the dinner and we could have left it all in their hands but I have learnt from previous experiences that dinner won't turn up till at least 7.30 (the party starts at 4pm) so I decided to provide snacks too - a good idea but I should have had a lot more - they ran out by 6pm. We were happy to do it for C & M and the others though - they have done so much for us.
When the dancing got started the PO happily said that Mark and I would demonstrate NZ dancing. After a long day of preparation and also a couple of hours witnessing (starting at 8a.m) - I was so not in the mood but of course there was no getting out of it so once again we trotted out a chacha. We are definitely practicing something else before the next do!
There were so many people here - it was just amazing. In fact it seemed like there were 4 separate parties were going on at one stage. Some out in the front courtyard - singing to the guitar, dancing in the lounge - a group chatting in the back courtyard and of course the kids playing havoc in the upstairs rooms.
Dinner consisted of a huge pot of rice, another of a meat dish - supposedly chili - but they don't like really spice food here so it was very very mild. Also a slightly strange salad made of beans, corn and what looked like beetroot.
They have the system of feeding the multitudes down pat with the kids fed first - then sisters and finally brothers. In the line you are handed a spoon, a plate of food and a fizz drink of whatever variety (no choosing - I always end up with a fruity variety that tends to make me feel a little sick).
After the tucker it's back to dancing and having a great time.
The house was trashed and it took days to get the mud out of the "carpet" and the floor needed 5 washes but really it was quite cool and at least we didn't have a long walk home!
With reference to my new look - yeah I know I said I wouldn't do it again - but really who could resist the $25 dye jobs they offer here? I am hoping it will mean I don't get so stared at - although that may be a little too much to ask for.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Exciting News (for us anyway)

After days of waiting and many frustrating phone calls - we are finally on the internet and I can blog from the comfort of mi casa! Wahooo!!!!!
E's news update coming soon!

Friday, June 20, 2008

E´s News

Some of you have expressed the thought that you prefered my E news video to the written monologue and so I have another episode ready for you.Sorry but I have not had time to do a voice over (a fortunate thing for you) but I hope you enjoy it anyway. Please feel free to ask any questions that the following broadcast may raise - I will be happy to try and find the answer. I have to make an amendment to the comment about it being 70 ks drive - it was 70 miles! You will notice the beautiful blue sky and me with a scarf on - it was a little chilly until later in the morning when it got very warm - especially when we were on the walk. Fasinating place to look at.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

You know you are in Ecuador when...
... You take a swig of coffee or tea that someone has kindly made for you and it's so sweet you want to gag (Tip – ask for hot water – not cold cause it probably will have come straight from the tap)
... A 13 year old gives a prayer at the meeting or an 8 year old knows her bible it seems, better than you do.
...You spend $100 at the supermarket and that gives you 2 or 3 weeks worth of groceries – not 2 or 3 days worth!
...You wait long enough at a stall at the market and the price will drop dramatically if you look like you are not going to buy. I brought a alpaca wool scarf for $7 when the girl had started off at $12 coming down a $1 @ a time. By the time she got to $7 – I had to stop her – I felt too cruel!
... You wake up in the morning ad there's no water – no warning or explanation or how long it will be off for.
... No sooner is your foot on the first step of the bus and it takes off ( Yes Tee – the question is – How has she not fallen out yet). Some of the drivers really are maniacs – there have been a few near misses I can tell you! Also you may be entertained along the way when someone gets on to sing or play their instruments (of course they want your money)
... Petrol increases by 2 cents a gallon once in 2 months here – not 2 cents a liter once a day. It's now 32 cents a liter here and we don't have a car – boo hoo – what's with that!
... You try to buy a jacket but even the largest is too small! (Well not really 2 small but definitely 2 short in the sleeves for me).
... You can buy over the counter drugs at the pharmacy that will knock your socks off (no I haven't rushed there yet- but Lisa brought some muscle relaxant stuff and could hardly stand for a couple of hours).
... You dress in the morning for the yucky day it looks like – only to be sweltering by noon or you dress cause you think it will be warm and by noon it has rained so hard you are wet and consequently cold.
... The umbrella you buy in the shop lasts only 2 or 3 weeks max.
... You can buy a new release movie for $1.50 – seems no copyright laws exist here or at least nobody enforces them. Yes we have succumbed as sometimes we need to hear English spoken – not Spanish! (We have a rather large movie collection now).
...It takes ½ a day to get your official identification card called the censo and ½ a week to get it replaced if you loose it. Unfortunately I think I lost mine on the bus one day and it has been such a hassle to get another one – even though I have a stamp in my passport saying I had one.
... You have no trouble starting studies even with limited Spanish – it's keeping them going that's the problem. The people here have no sense of time and if something comes up – well see ya! ( Mind you that is how it is in NZ too – just not the limited Spanish part).
...You feel like something to eat that you recognise so order a hot dog and chips and coke. Out comes a cold dog on a cold bun, squirted with a heap of mustard, cold fries and raspberry fizz – stipulate cola cause any fizz drink to them is coco cola.
You know you are a “need greater” in Ecuador quibble about a 25 cent bus ride and if you can afford it or not, then you get home with your feet dropping off because you decided to walk! Some days I can hardly drag myself up the stairs to go to bed – but guys – it is sooo worth it!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another quick update

Seems like time just runs out here - even though we don´t work - life has gotten very busy.

Mark is at the hall at the moment helping with the literture delivery. Unknowingly we came to the coordinating congregation - hah that was one of his jobs at home and he was glad to have left it behind - that will learn him.

I have just come back from conducting the first study I started last week - the girl was great and very patient with me - I had back up though so all went well. This morning I went to another one but I think she is a bit of a luney tunes so maybe won´t bother walking up the really big hill to her for awhile.

We were also able to go into town today and sort out a PO Box so that was great. We went to a Mexican restuarant to celebrate the fact we had a mailing address. The simplist things make such an impression!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A quick update

If everything pans out like it should - this week we will have started 5 studies between us and I have been given one this morning in english with a young girl. Phew - we won't have any spare time soon.
Will let you know how it goes!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Finally we are doing it for ourselves!

What a day it was yesterday – we came home from witnessing so happy!
First of all we were with our perspective partners as usual – I had just finished saying to my partner that how could I practice when no one was home when out comes a lady from the house we were at. She came right to the gate which is fairly unusual here I have to say. Well I launched into my presentation – showed her a couple of scriptures and placed the book with her. Then said I would like to come back next week to go through the first chapter with her. She agreed and my first study was started (lets hope she's there eh). My partner started one at the next house so it's all on for next week. Mark had similar success – they actually had their first study with a guy in Marks personal book as he didn't have one to place. On the way home we decided to be brave and do a couple of calls – by ourselves. Well in one – I demonstrated how we study the book (Mark had placed the book with her on Sunday) and she wants us to go back on Saturday to study with both her and her husband! Don't get me wrong – we are not great at the language still but the cool thing is we got across what we needed to and also understood what they were saying to us. Finally we may be of some use around here! We can see that life is going to get very busy for us – all the stories about going out one day and starting study after study are true!

Monday, June 2, 2008

They sure know how to party here (which I have mentioned before )– even if it takes them ages to get started. We were told to be at the house by 3pm but we had already been tricked by that one before. If you arrive then you will be the first one there and then sit around for ages waiting for everyone else. We didn't get there until 4.45 and we were still early! People actually kept coming in right up until about 8 o'clock.
After a little speech by the P.O. Welcoming Mark, me and Barbara to the congregation and also a new baby that is about to be born (I have mentioned before that the parties always morph into something else eh?) - they rolled out the entertainment. We had gathered something special was going on as there were lots of coming and goings up and down the stairs by various ones. First of all out came some young ones who did a rock and roll dance in formation, then some older teens did a pasadoble (once again in formation), the young ones came out again and did a couple of traditional dances, a couple of girls sang and then 2 guitar players did their thing.(I have tried to put short bits on the video for you to get a feel for it all.) Of course then they expected Mark and I to show them something – we tried to do a chacha to very unchacha music (we really are going to have to get some more moves – Aaron hurry up and book a flight over here and teach us) – it didn't matter though, whatever we did was appreciated.
By 7.30 ish everyone was up dancing and we were wondering if we were going to get fed as the party was in full swing by then. Thankfully though they hauled out the biggest pot of rice and we were soon chowing down on a very tasty dish. It was like fried rice but not if that makes sense – a squirt of hot sauce made it quite delicious. Then back to dancing as soon as you had your fill.
It was getting on to 9 when to be honest I was quite had it and Jessica (Ohio girl with us) needed to get home too so we went to make our excuses and thanks for the evening. No we were not allowed to leave – they had cake for dessert! I had also taken along a thing I had made – did you know there is a traditional Kiwi dessert made of layers of meringues, cream and boysenberries?I had tried to make meringues for our party on Friday night but with the high altitude- they come out quite flat and flaky so I put them in a bowl as I said with layers of cream and fruit with a sprinkle of chocolate on the top. Went down a treat!
After the long walk home – the girls had brought some coconut ice creams for us earlier on in the day so we poured a little sambuca on top- yum - and sat and chilled for awhile before falling into bed. It was a great night!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What a Bust!

Some of you will know that Friday the 30th May was our 27th Anniversary. It is the first time we have not spent the occasion with some if not all our family so it was going to be a little sad. We decided to invite all the Gringos from Gringo Hill to come for dinner to take our mind off it. Feeding 16 people was going to be a major undertaking especially with my cooking skills with gas, so I started early on in the week with the cooking and shopping. Friday came and everything was prepared but I was still feeling unwell - blaming the flu I had been trying to shake. By though - I was throwing up so the party had to be cancelled. Mark took the prepared food to Doug and Lisa and Chad and Michele (note the Michele with one L here - important to Michele) but the other family we had invited missed out. I hope they had something they could rustle up for themselves at late notice. Anyway needless to say our Happy Anniversary never came this year - oh well I quess there will be plenty more.
We have 2 lovely American girls staying with us for the weekend. They have been in the south for 3 months and are going home to the States tomorrow but they wanted to catch up with Doug and Lisa and see something of the country before they left. D & L have been very busy with people staying so we offered to have them. (We are getting a large friendship base in the States eh? We now know people from Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California - not bad for 2 months). I have just come back from town with them - took them to the souvenier shops.(It was good to go shopping with girls again - reminded me of shopping with Amanda of course). Mark is at a study and later we are going to our ¨welcome to Cuenca¨party. We have been told by so many people we have to be there - I quess they are scared we will pike out or forget again!
So finally after 2 weeks of being crook I am finally feeling like myself again - which is good as we start continuous auxilery pioneering this month. Our goal of having our whole family in full time service is well on the way to realization. Hopefully by September we will have caught up to our kids!
Will let you know how the party went tomorrow - hasta manaƱa!