Monday, November 30, 2009

A few photos of the homecoming

We had a nice surprise when our friends Trevor and Lucy turned up early at the airport - (not a great photo of any of us but I am sure you realize it was very early in the morning and we had not had much sleep) it was nice to pass the time waiting for Amanda catching up.

Some of Amanda's and Tania's friends arrived with this hard case sign to welcome them home. It drew a bit of attention when one of the balloons popped - everyone needed to wake up anyway!

Cuddles all round when a very tired and overwhelmed daughter finally came through the doors!

Marks Mum makes us a flash celebration drink along with a delicious
roast lamb dinner! (she is very happy to have all her family home in one
place for a little while)

We arrived

Well we are back in good old NZ after an awfully long trip. Mark of course slept no problem and I of course did not, even after taking a supposedly strong sleeping pill. I just decided in the end to roll with it and watch every movie available. I was pretty tired of course when we arrived in Auckland but we had a little wait until Amanda come in from Taiwan. It was exciting though because in between our arrival and her flight - the Brothers and Sisters who had been attending the Hawaiian International Convention came in. So it was quite neat. There was a brother iand sister there waiting for someone who were worried about their son who lives in Ecuador. The hadn't heard from him for 4 or 5 days and they were quite worried. Amazingly we were able to give them good news as he was at the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at in Guayaquil (run by witnesses). So that was a relief for them.
My mum in law made us a delicious lamb lunch and we caught up with my sisters and Mum along with Marks family. So the day went by fast and I fell into bed at around 7pm - and slept until 9.30 am - sure did need it.
We have been sorting ourselves out today and hopefully we will be already to go our witnessing tomorrow. Got to get back into routine as soon as possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ya Extrañar Cuenca!

Just a little something to show you some of the things we will miss about being here in Cuenca. Of course the sights are amazing but it is the people that we have met who have really made our time here so wonderful. You would have been watching an hour long video if I could have put everyone in that we have gotten close to so apologies to anyone in Cuenca that wonders why their photo doesn't appear. You are definitely in our hearts none the less!

Of course there are some things that we won't miss i.e: dogs barking (at us and at night when we are trying to sleep), buses not stopping for you either to get on or off, coming home with aching sore feet everyday, mud (not that there has been a lot of that lately), the power going off at the most inopportune time for hours,or having to limit the amount of coffee drunken for breakfast cause you don't know when you will see a clean toilet next but as a whole the joys we have received here far out way the frustrating things.

Saying goodbye to our "roomies" is the most difficult part and we can't thank them enough for having the courage to live with us. It is really amazing how well we have gotten on together especially as Michele and I worked 12 - 14 hours a day together in the kitchen for the remodel. You know what they say about 2 women in a kitchen! Anyway we have enjoyed immensely the fun times we have had together. Keep up the good work Chad and Michele - we will miss you terribly. Let's hope it is only for a couple of months and we can continue on being your surrogate Mum and Dad (oops Mom and Dad). Oh and Chad thanks for all the yummy scrambled egg breakfasts!

Doug and Lisa and the kids have played a big part in making our time here great too. They have steadfastly encouraged and supported us especially when we were first here, with very limited language skills - so thanks a million guys. Doug we will be thinking of you with your mammoth task of the only elder in this huge congo. Mark will be hankering to get back and help, never fear.

Mark and Rebeka McLesky too - thanks for the help you have given us with our spanish - I hope we don't forget all you have taught us.

Entonces nuestros amigos - muchas gracias por todos! Tenemos mucho cariño para ti! Nunca será olvidaremos nuestra tiempo aquí en Cuenca o nuestros amigos amables y por favor nunca olvidarais nosotros!. Te quiero mucho!
(sorry if my spanish is a little off - as you can see I am still not very good - even with all the help from M &R)

Ok well that's enough from me - I am signing off now and packing the computer away for a few days. I will try and post now and again while we are in NZ so that you can keep up with our comings and goings if you are interested.

Thanks to everybody for watching and reading our
"Experience in Ecuador"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pioneer Meeting

We had our end of year meeting early to accommodate Mark and I and I wanted to show you our group. There is actually 18 - you can only see 17 as one of the sisters is a master at hiding - she hates photos. Some of you may recognize Christian (5th from left standing) he has just been appointed as a pioneer along with 4 other young men. Christian is still going to school so has to work very hard for his hours. He is also a fatherless and motherless boy - having been brought up by his grandmother when he was abandoned at 3 years old. She obviously did an awesome job!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mark's first PT

Just a quick snippet from Mark's first public talk here - in front of a large crowd of 199.

He did very well (of course I am no judge of good spanish) and I was told by many people afterwards that they could understand most of the talk. I'm so proud!!!
This photo cracks me up - I know I have said it before how much we feel like giants but it's still funny all the same! Especially Hermano Jacinto tucked under Mark's armpit - it's hilarious. This family has only recently moved into our congregation (even though they have been in our territory for ages). They are really cute and so zealous. The boys are both baptized and although very quiet lads, they are slowly coming out of their shells.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last Saturday in Service

With Alexandra a new unbaptized publisher - she asked me to go out with her before we left so I happily obliged as it meant we had to go up to the mountains for the group!

Fitting final day out witnessing (well it probably is as I haven't packed yet) - we got to go in Normas' truck for the last time. You may remember climbing in the back of her truck to go to the territory was our first experience, witnessing here so to finish on the same note was awesome!

Holding on for dear life on the trip down the mountain - as Mark enjoys the ride (of course)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Michele and I stopped by to see this little family yesterday in our travels. They had not been at the meeting lately and I had been missing the kids as they always come up for cuddles when they are there. The Mum and Dad have some troubles and  have become a little discouraged but hopefully they will get back on track soon. Of course I wanted to say goodbye to them so it was a good excuse to stop and let them know we were thinking of them.

What a marathon day it was yesterday - we must have walked the lenght and breadth of our territory and then some. My feet sure take a pounding here and I had to give them a bit of TLC when the day was done. We also had Telephone Witnessing which is getting easier for me but still not my favorite.
Today we are having to get some last minute things done - time is ticking away fast - also we have lunch booked with the Scarborough Family which will be nice. It's going to be a mad last week, with every bit of spare time taken up with saying goodbye to folks. Oh and of course Mark gives his PT tomorrow night and we have invited all our studies to come and listen. It will be great if they all come but I am not holding my breath.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Yep I finally finished this video - it's been difficult, what with the lack of power some days (Ecuador is officially in drought so they cut the power in various sectors anywhere from 4 to 12 hours at a time), and me running round trying to get things done before we leave next week. We had an excellent time away with the Ochoa family and Chad and Michele - it was a nice "last Hor-rah"!
We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the little boys, Mateo and Pablo, who are the politest kids I know. They would come out in the morning and "Buenos Dias" everyone individually and everytime they would get down from the table - a cute little "gracias". Just the way they said it has Mark and Chad taking them off here in our house now and it never gets old!
Salinas is a touristy beach but it is not quite the season yet so it was nice and mellow - also not too hot yet so that was good. I came home with a few injuries but it's my own fault - I really should remember I am not 25 anymore! The first day there, I bent my finger back playing basketball with Chad and it is still very bruised. Never mind - it got me out of the dishes quite a few times.
I have also included some photos from our goodbye party last night which as it turned out was a combined party - not solely for us. The congregation wanted to thank The Willis' and Chad and Michele for all the hard work they had done in the remodelation and also it was welcome party for the Haines. Naturally they didn't tell anyone that and when the Haines didn't turn up (they had been out in service all day and were too exhausted to come) - they of course panicked. Vaguely reminisint of the time we didn't turn up to our welcome party eh?
So with it being a combined party - I was spared blubbing too much. I did a little game for the kids - who just didn't get the concept of the race but I think they enjoyed it. Then of course we danced the rest of the night away and today we are all complaining of sore legs and feet!

 This brother (who we had never met before as he is in another congo) came and sang us a farewell and come back song.

I have started handing my studies over to Michele and it is really dawning on me that this is it! Still trying to be positive though that we will make it back - so here's hoping!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Great Grub and Gringo Day

It's 5 o'clock in the morning and I am up and about. Not that I wanted to be but this morning a guy was going around in his car with a loud speaker, rabbiting on about something (very difficult to understand spanish through a loud speaker, especially at 4.30am). What is it about these people and their penchant for waking everybody up??

     Sitting around this table we have
Aussies, Canadians, Americans, Mexicans and of New Zealanders

        Oh well I'm up now so I might as well tell you about our day yesterday. Mark had the talk at the English Meeting so that filled our morning up. As we always do we went out to lunch with a few of the friends. We have a brother and sister in our congo that own a restuarant and I had wanted to eat there before we left. So with trepidation (you never quite know what the situation will be ie cleanliness and what the food will be like) I suggested we go there. Thankfully      William and Sandra run a pretty good place.  Everyone loved the food and the atmosphere was great.Phew - especially when there was so many of us - there was a lot riding on my decision.

With William and Sandra. Not a great photo of any of us but I just wanted to show you why I feel like a giant here! I guess poor Sandra didn't feel too great either with so many tall gringa women towering over her!

Today we are off to Salinas - its a beach on the coast - for our last Hor-rah with Chad and Michele and the Ochoa family. It should be fun but I am not looking forward to the 5 hour bus ride. Maybe though I will sleep thanks to the stupid man with the loud speaker this morning.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's begun

Mimi and her hot wing factory
Ivan made us learn a few Latin dances to take home with us (it was good for working off the wings too)

The goodbyes have started and I don't know how I am going to cope. The other day a sister from another congo, who we got to know in the remodel kitchen, stopped by and gave me a little picture that she had made for me. She said I want you to remember me because I will remember you! Of course I started crying - so sweet!
Last night we were invited to a little dinner party by Mimi and Ivan (you met them eons ago on the blog, he is Ecuadorian and she is American, but brought up here). Mimi has a gift with chicken wings and as you can see - she makes tonnes of them. Honestly they are sooo good and no matter how many you eat, there is always more coming! And her home made Ranch and Blue Cheese dressings are to die for!
Having to say goodbye is not good at the best of times. I think when we left our home congregation,who all turned up at the airport to see us off - it was pretty emotional but we always knew we would see them again. The doubts as to whether we can get back here is making these goodbyes extremely difficult and I am on the verge of tears every time I think about it.
What an experience we have had though and we have grown so much from widening out. Learning to accept different cultures has been huge (even though I would have thought I was ok in that area) as has been learning to deal with the frustrations of things not going how you think they should go (eg being in the kitchen for 8 weeks - you know all about that though eh - so I won't bore you with more stories).
Anyway the countdown is on so I had better steel myself for the emotional rollacoaster that is to come.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More Firsts

Today has been a few firsts for me. First time I have had to go to a Doctor here. It only cost $8 and they are pretty thorough in their exams, according to the doc I have the blood pressure of a 15 year old (shame I ain't got the body of one). They are not really into technology and after poking and prodding me here and there,diagnosed me with a sinus infection - nothing major and wrote me out a script and sent me on my way. I went into a pharmacy to get the script filled and nearly fell over backwards when they wanted $82!!! Another first for me - I said that was way to expensive so she knocked off $10 just like that. I got the feeling I was being ripped off and said I would have to come back and then took my script back off her and left (much to her chagrin, I think). I rang the doctor back and asked her if that was correct, which of course she said no it wasn't and to come to the pharmacy near her office. In the end it cost me $20!! Isn't that disgusting?
Then I wanted to see a Skin Specialist cause I have some sunspots that need attending to. I walked into the recommended chap and paid $25 - amazing! That would never happen in NZ - ie after waiting 6 months for an appointment - I would then be charged about $250 for a five minute visit. Crazy!
The first I am most proud of though is I actually made a call when we had the telephone witnessing group here! People who know me will remember that I really hate using the telephone - and telephone witnessing is my worst nightmare, so in another language is just petrifying! It may have been the drugs I am on or maybe the encouragement of the others, but I was determined to have a go and guess what - the woman I talked to said I could call back on Saturday!!! It sure got my adrenalin flowing and I am so pleased I actually did it. Just another time I have stepped way out of my comfort zone! For the 1st hour - we had no lights so I quess that is another first-
Telephone Witnessing without lights!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekend in Guayaquil

Well we had a good time even though I felt pretty rotten. Turned out that I stayed at the hotel - not so bad really, the bed was about 10 foot wide and very comfortable! It meant I was able to tune into the program in Australia for Aaron's graduation so I was pretty happy with how it turned out.
Sunday - I was still sick but determined to be amongst the biggest crowd I have ever been in (witnesses that is) to listen to the special talk given by Brother Guy Pierce of the Governing Body. What an awesome experience - we sure felt quite humbled by it all. Of course we didn't know too many people but that didn't matter - everyone is your friend in the truth eh?
Loved the point Brother Pierce made about when we are talking to characters of old in the new world - they will be asking us lots of questions about what it was like living in these last days.
He said they won't be asking us how much money we had in the bank or mundane stuff like that - but what we did to help people learn the truth, will be more interesting to them. Food for thought!
After we got back from the stadium - after having walked for about 4ks looking for a taxi (which I have to say I was scared about taking as we are always warned by the branch not to flag taxi's down in the street because there are pirates among them and they will rob you)- we thankfully had a late checkout at the hotel and could have a much needed cold shower. Guayaquil humidity is a killer!
We didn't get home till about 9pm which made it a long day. I am home today because I think it set me back a bit and I have now just about lost my voice. Problem for no one but me!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Aaron Graduates

Even though we couldn't be in Australia with Aaron when he graduated - we were very happy to hear some highlights and see a photo provided by my brother who went in our place along with Marks parents. I am glad he had some family to support him when he found out he would be sent to a really little congregation in the middle of the North Island. It has been a very spiritually uplifting weekend as we have just been to the special talk for the dedication - attended by 40,000 people - never seen such a crowd coming from small little NZ. And you know what - not a policeman in sight - it sure is an awesome organization we belong to.