Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My mother would be jealous

Yep that's Tripe waiting to get cooked for lunch the other day. It brought back many childhood memories - there's nothing like that smell (it pongs!). The finished product was nothing like my mother cooked but I still couldn't eat it!.
(Sorry Mum - nothing against your cooking but I never did like the stuff).
For the uneducated Tripe or
"guatita" as it is called here is cow stomach. Everyone seemed very excited about having it so they must love it. I was wondering how Mark would cope with it but he ate it because he said it was cut up very small and cooked in a sauce with potatoes.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Good Times

Just wanted to show that we do smile and have fun in the kitchen too - I may have been sounding a little negative lately - it's amazing what a good sleep will do. Everyone is working hard and the job is getting done. The brothers and sisters will be able to look proudly on their brand new Salon de Reino with joy - knowing they have all had a part in its construction.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

So here's how the empanadas looked as they were being fried first thing this morning. I have to say while they were ok - I wouldn't rave about them and they certainly were not worth all the bother.
Mark is on the mend although he has lost a lot of weight (some people have it good) - he went back to work today although he still wasn't feeling 100%. Chad too was working so it seems us gringo's are back on deck. We girls in the kitchen are still doing a lions share of the work but hopefully there will be some changes as the brother in charge of the construction team has noticed that we are there making and serving every meal and doing the dishes as well. Of course it is a privilege and I am not really moaning - just venting.
Tonight though - I was much more comfortable with the preparation of dinner, as Pizza was requested. Finally I could make something without having to ask for directions - I think they went down well too so I am happy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sorry this photo is a bit off - but I wanted to give you the idea
The women here go to a lot of trouble making their food and it seems like a big waste of time and energy to me. Today we spent 2 or more hours making empanadas (not sure of the spelling) out of green bananas - first they had to be cooked till soft - then minced up (top picture). Then they make a dough out of it with butter, salt etc and roll it out between plastic. Cheese is put in the middle and then it is folded over cut and pinched together. This lot is for tomorrows breakfast so I imagine they will be fried as always. I am sure they will be very nice but really not worth all the trouble and manpower involved.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not a particularly good day today. I woke up with a headache but headed off to work at 6 am drugged up. Chad got a nail through his foot the other day and the tetanus injection he had to get made him feel pretty bad. Mark came home at around ten and flopped into bed - he's got some flu with high temperatures (lets hope it's not THE flu eh) and Michele, well she is exhausted. This build is killing us "gringitos" off - maybe we are just not strong enough for it - having all been used to 4 day quick builds!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dia especial de asamblea

Today was our special assembly day and guess what - after nearly 20 years for Mark being on cleaning and me in the audit department (not for that long but a fair few years) in New Zealand - we both had the exact same jobs and that meant we were last out again! Thankfully Hermano G waited for us to finish to give us a ride home with the rest of the Gringo Team. On the subject of counting money - I have never been so confused in all my life. They do things so differently here and of course there is a bucket load of coin to count so we had a mammoth task. I hope I don't ever get that job again!
Tomorrow I have the day off but poor Mark has to work half the day guarding the bodega - he will get to sleep in just a little though so don't feel too sorry for him! Then on Tuesday we have the CO and his wife coming to stay for 2 weeks. The first week they will be in another congo and the second week with us. Phew - stop the world - I think I want to get off!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009


Michele got quite a surprise when she pulled the chicken out of the bag - thankfully another sister was on hand to do the honors - otherwise I think we would have had trouble getting the head off without being sick!
This lady must have a stomach of steel - she has cut up so many chickens in the last two days - she deserves a medal!

Interesting job we had to do today - peel the outer husk off chick peas. Talk about mind numbing - an hours worth of work for 4 of us just so the beans looked better - oh please!!!

By the way - I think I found out what Jefa (boss) really means - chief dishwasher!
Three people didn't turn up for their shift today at lunchtime so we had to wash the dishes again - it took us till 3 pm - not really what you want to do after a 6am start!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kitchen Kapers

The other day Michele was telling me how it's the done thing to try the food as it is cooking by putting the spoon in the pot, take a taste, then return the spoon to the pot. Ewwwh! We were hoping that the sister here to train us would put a stop to that practice but I cracked up when she did the exact same thing - even offering me a taste, then returning the spoon to the soup!
Everyone seems to have a different idea as to how things are cooked so it is a continual battle for Carina (boss lady). She is very patient though and goes with the flow. She is only here for 2 weeks and then Michele is on her own. I say that it is her on her own and not me because I would have absolutely no show telling these woman what to do.
So the schedule is this: Be at the kitchen by 6am and get prepared for breakfast, which usually involves frying something in copious amounts of oil. There are 10 on the team so breakfast is not so bad really. Lunch starts getting made at 8.30am. It always a soup first then a plate of rice with meat of some sort, salad, fresh juice and maybe a dessert. I thought I had a good plan after lunch today when I started washing the trays (we fed about 40 for lunch) so I could go home early. Ended up doing all the washing so won't be rushing to do that again. At 3 cooking starts again. And it is another plate of rice, meat and salad. Of course most of the brothers have gone home to their wives by dinner time so it's not as mad. We understand these guys have to be fed properly but they are pretty picky - one guy even refuses vegetables! It's a little annoying.
So only the second day in and I have broken all my nails from all the washing dishes. Incidentally they have to be rinsed first, washed, then passed through boiling water as the tap water may be contaminated, so it is a long process. I also have the sorest back cause all table and sinks are made for Ecuadorian size people - and I am definitely not that size!
Roll on July!

I got this sister to pose for me to show you the potatoes. They are similar to our mashed spuds but with so much milk and butter (margarine actually) - it becomes a runny mess. I had to pulverize the cooked spuds with a pestle because we didn't have the equipment out. What a job - I will have very good muscles I think by the time it's all over!
This photo must have been taken early in the day - cause I'm smiling!
Michele Tries here hand at frying meat!
It's only the 2nd day and I am almost dead - I really don't know how I am going to cope with the next 6 weeks. Mind you - yesterday was the longest day (14 hours) because we had to unpack all the kitchen stuff and make a list of what we had. We were supposed to do that first thing in the morning because it would take us 2 hours - however surprisingly (not) they didn't have the key for the trunk. So we didn't get home till after 8 - but I tell you one thing - we slept like babies!
I am just home on a quick break (it is 2.30 in the afternoon) - I just had to get out of there for some sanity time. The ladies assigned today are real Chatty Cathy's and it does get a bit wearying having to try and keep up with the play. I am due back in half an hour but I might just close my eyes for 10 minutes! Until the next time guys...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jefa's de la Cocina

It's hilarious - Michele and I have been made "Jefa's de la Cocina" (Bosses of the kitchen) for the build. Don't these people know I am just a humble vegetable peeler in the Quick builds back home (although I did graduate at the last one to chocolate sauce maker for the final meal). Poor Michele is freaking out (I am trying to be the calming influence but secretly I too am a little scared). On Wednesday a sister from the branch is coming up to spend 2 days with us giving us the needed instruction (i.e. how to keep every thing sanitary). Then one or both of us has to be there for every meal - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hopefully once we are used to everything we can take turns. Otherwise it is going to be a very long 6 weeks!
If anyone is interested in learning about what it is like to "needgreat" in Taiwan - check out this site - http://totallytaiwangirls.blogspot.com
I am so proud of my daughter and surrogate daughter doing this - and they for their part, are no doubt having the time of their lives!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Team Has Arrived

Great flurry of activity yesterday when the building team arrived. They are a team of a married couple and 8 single brothers - this is their full time job, going all over the place building new Salon del Reino's ( KH's) or fixing up broken ones.
Things seem to be more than a little disorganized which is frustrating for the likes of Mark and Chad, but when in Ecuador - you just have to go with the flow.
Talking of disorganized - we had our meeting last night in a different KH and while Mark had the keys to get in - nobody had thought to give him the keys to the sound box. He had to do the opening song (with no music) and the whole bookstudy without mics. Poor guy - he really has copped it all here (remember the no lights incident?). He took it all in his stride though in true kiwi fashion - even humming the tune for the song so that everyone could follow!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Sometimes you can really see Jehovah's hand in what happens. Today for instance, I was with Michele and we were assigned not-at-homes, separate from the rest of the group. We were working a block with not many houses on so we decided to cross the road and do the two houses there first. The first house was actually a place with 3 apartments and I noticed a girl on the second balcony. So I called out to her - but she said she didn't have time. So I then asked if she would mind me leaving a tract in the gate for her to come and get and read when she did have time. She signaled that she would come down and get it, which was unusual. The door opens but it was another lady, who is about to leave - so Michele stepped up to take her as I would be busy with the girl when she came. (Turns out they were actually mother and daughter). The mother had a very fierce look on her face and the first thing she said to Michele is that she did not believe there was a god. Of course that is something very unusual here - they are all very religious! Michele, with her excellent way with words got to the bottom of the woman's problems and had an awesome discussion with her and the daughter.
The problem for this poor lady was one very similar to what we have heard so much of before i.e: the husband has gone to the States to work (usually illegally) and up until now has been able to send money back to support the family. Of course now there is no work and consequently - no money. On top of this some sleazy old man from the church they were attending has been sniffing around pretending to want to help them but it turns out - he wants to marry the older daughter (she wouldn't be more than 18 at the most). When the mum refused - he has been making life very difficult for them. Apparently he was fairly high up in the church so of course this poor family have no leg to stand on. It was understandable that the woman was so put off.
Anyhow at the end of the discussion - Michele says she would like to come back and share some more texts from the bible, when the woman says would we like to come up now. We ended up sitting in their living room with 2 of her daughters and her mother-in-law and having a 1st study.
As I say - we just felt that today we were directed to this house - the lady was very stressed and sad (the dark glasses she had on were to hide the tears in her eyes) - she did of course believe in God, but because of all the happenings in her life, she had a hard time believing that he cared for her.
Yesterday Mark and I went back to a girl named Flora that I had found about 6 weeks ago. She understands a little english and I promised to return the next week. I did try but could not find her home even though I went back at different times. Last week, we were assigned not-at-homes on her block so of course I tried again. Not home again - so we moved on to the next house. Yep you guessed it - I had been knocking on the wrong gate - because out comes my girl! We arranged to go back yesterday as she really wanted us to talk to her mother. When we got there at 8.30 in the morning as arranged, they were waiting for us and we were with them for 1 and 1/2 hours answering the mum's many questions. I kept saying I would bring back someone who spoke more spanish but they assured me that everything was just fine. So another experience that reminds us why we are here and what a great priviledge we have to be the ones teaching these people the truth.
Thank you to all commented or sent emails after my plug about wanting to hear from you. Special hello to our new friends - Rick and Lisa from Nova Scotia and Isaac - glad you are enjoying reading about our experiences. To anyone out there contemplating serving where the need is great - my advice is to Just Do It! You will never regret your decision and the experiences in the ministry you will no doubt have, will be absolutely amazing. Of course I would like to suggest that you all come to Ecuador, but I am sure other places would be just as awesome.
P.S Isaac - in answer to your question - I use Adobe Premier Elements for making movies but Windows Movie Maker is a good start off program (it's on everyones computer)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Supergringo's in action

Hope you enjoy this video.If you do like it - I would be so
happy if you sent me a comment!
(just a little plug cause I haven't heard from a lot of you for ages)

By the way - you will notice there is no lid on the bodega - that is because the Building team bring it with them on Friday. So their first job is to attach the roof.

Daniel has asked me to explain what a bodega is - it's the spanish word for storeroom. I suppose I really should have said that eh?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

And so it begins...

The dog that lives in the lot lends a paw too.

Chad gets down to it with the limited tools they have

Our KH is getting a remodel - it's the oldest in Cuenca being about 20 years old. Today the work began with the building of the bodega - (storage shed). It had to be close to the site and this lot was found about 5 minutes walk away. Problem is - it is only a lot and they need a covered area. So in true Ecuadorian style - last night Mark and Chad found out that today they had to build a suitable shed. Of course that meant first clearing the site and thankfully Chad has some sway with the young guys in the congo so he was able to russle up some help at the last minute. Mark looks a little dubious of the tamales
Morning tea consisted of Tamales (made by a very kind sister from another congo)- a mixture of cornmeal, meat, eggs and vegetables wrapped up in banana leaves and cooked. They are very good actually - very tasty. Hope the guys can cope with the fried rice for lunch that Michele and I have been slaving over for the past 2 hours. We are not too certain of our abilities when it comes to pleasing the Ecuadorian palate!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

So today Mark nearly got a baby named after him. That came about as I was with another sister in the mountains this afternoon at the study she has in the native language - Quechua. The daughter of the lady (who looks no more than 15 at the most) has a baby boy, 2 months old and they haven't given him a name yet. They were very interested in my family - who I had showed them a photo of - and then asked me what name I liked. Of course I said "Marcos" (they would never have understood Ryan or Aaron), which they mulled over but then the other sister said she liked Timoteo. It will be interesting to see if they have made a decision next week. Felt so sorry for this young girl as it sounds like the baby is a result of rape and the mother said that is why she left the area they lived in so it did not happen to the other little girl. Who by the way is another cutie and we got on like a house on fire. Anyone back home that knows me - knows I seem to acquire numerous surrogate grandchildren, especially little girls, and it is no different here. I now have lots of little friends running up to me to say hello and give me a hug at the meetings - so it's beginning to feel like home. This little cutey is Dominica and she is adorable. Michele studies with her Mum (she is a reactivated witness, so is at the meetings and out witnessing) and I get to go with her to keep Dominica occupied. Of course I still love my little friends back home - "Hola Tasha, Emily, Molly and Madison - and of course Flynn, Ava, Miller and Tyson, Max, Ethan and Lincoln (legitimate nephews and neices) - hope you haven't forgotten me!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hanging out

Now that we live with young people again - we get to hang out with the "it" crowd. It's pretty cool getting invited along on outings such as this one to the kebab place (by the way - it was a first to see whole chicken legs on the kebab stick)Or when they come over and we can play cards, dominoes etc with them. Sometimes we think they don't have homes to go to cause we almost have to push them out the door.

So it is not so great for our sleep patterns - as you can see Mark catches up wherever he can!