Friday, December 30, 2011

Look what Mark came home with today! He says its the fruitage of the Lords work! (jokingly of course).
 Guess we will be having lobster for dinner tonight - it's such a sacrifice serving where the need is great!

Had nice visit with the kids in Cuenca and it was awesome to see Michele again. How I missed that laugh of hers!

Sadly Aaron and Amanda were sick - Aaron with Salmonella, which was a bit scary as he couldn't get out of bed for days! Amanda had a a bad chest infection - I really didn't like leaving them on their sickbeds but then again they are adults so don't really need their Mum (much).

We've been moving into the apartment over the last couple of days - of sorts that is - our wardrobe and desk are still not ready so we are still living out of suitcases. However the kitchen is now all set up and Mark said he enjoyed washing, drying and putting away the dishes without moving one step!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Doesn't bode well for what is to come - we were sweltering last night after the meeting so we jumped into the swimming pool when we got home. It's not even in the real warm weather yet apparently  - we are told wait till next month! Shouldn't complain aye - at the moment we do have a pool to jump into! That'll change soon enough though when the bosses arrive!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This weeks shopping trip was just hilarious - we tagged a ride with the Aussies in their pickup truck to Manta along with the other car-less  gringo couple and their son. Of course everyone of us was stocking up so there were shopping bags for miles and the sort out at the end was huge.In fact I still have a loaf of bread here that isn't mine! We left at 9.30 am and by the time everyone had done their errands we didn't make it back until 4.30pm. Exhausting stuff! But I shouldn't have to do any grocery shopping for a couple of weeks at least!
Sadly though we do have to go back up to Manta today - we are still hotly pursuing raising the value of the land we brought (I know, I know - when will this saga ever end) - and we now have a piece of paper that is apparently the last bit of the puzzle that we need. It has to be signed though by the vendor and his lawyer - so we are heading up there again, this time by the bus of course. It is becoming more and more evident that a car is essential here on the coast - lets hope we find some gold at the end of a rainbow to fulfill that need.

It's getting quite a bit warmer now that we are well into December - in fact it is 8am at the moment and I have had to put the air conditioner on - we have been warned that January, February, March are the hottest of the year so I hope I don't melt in that time.

I am feeling quite homesick for Cuenca at the moment so Mark says I can go  visit with the kids this weekend which I am super excited about. Haven't seen Michele since June so that is going to be a cool reunion and of course spending time with Amanda and Aaron gets me over homesickness for NZ. Roll on Saturday!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Catch up time

So many beautiful sunsets
Its been super busy lately - hence this blog has been neglected - here's a few photos to catch you up
Party on the beach
Kids came and went

Bus trip to the One day Assembly
 ( here we are at 6.30 in the morning waiting for the bus)

Open air assembly hall

Pack horse Mark - after a shopping trip to Puerto Lopez 
(30 minutes away by bus).  I am not much help at the moment as 
my old back problem has flared up again so poor old Mark has to 
carry all the load - oh to have a car (or just not
eat so much)!

A photo to show you what the poor guy was carrying!
(You may notice a bag of prawns in the mix - $1.50lb!!)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I don't know what the heck this thing is but it came visiting. 
The photos don't really show the size - was at least 4 inches long - 
Mark reckons  it's a type of grasshopper??
This guy lounged all day on the wall - glad he didn't climb over it
 on to our side!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Never thought we would be land owners again in this system of things but happily I can report that we finally finalized our purchase today and we have the paperwork - yay! Now on to the next step of having the value raised.....

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pictures around the town

I've been waiting to get some better shots from around town, so as to show you where we live (as requested by Sharon) but actually - this is pretty much all there is....
The most prolific inhabitants of the area - vulchers

The bridge crossing the non existant river - there has not been any significant rain here for 3 years, so while there is no river - at least there is a bit of green to be seen!

The view from the front gate 

Looking towards the town square

Can you spot the donkey on the beach?
Cute Kingdom Hall

Every night, just about, there is a sunset to ogle over!

Friday, November 18, 2011

the land is nearly ours!

It's not quite celebration time but we are one step closer to becoming South American land owners!

Today we signed a document to say we would buy the land (well at least that is what we hope it said -hehe) and then we went to the bank to transfer 1/2 the money to the vendors bank. We walked into the bank and couldn't believe our eyes with the queue - it was miles long to go to the teller, which thankfully we didn't have to - it made me laugh because when I worked for the bank in New Zealand - customers would complain if there were 3 in the line waiting - if only they knew hah?

Anyway our queue was only short, with about 10 waiting so it wasn't too bad. While we were waiting though, I said to Mark that things really were going to easily so something was bound to go wrong soon - sure enough, the bank transfer system wouldn't accept my passport number so we couldn't do a bank to bank transfer. {As a side note, I want to tell you about the security they have in place here - we have an account with a local bank,  have a debit card attached to the account and also they have our fingerprints on their system, which we always have to place our finger on a special button for identification, but we still have to show our passports, which they then copy every time - so weird! Oh well I suppose I can trust that no one else will get into our account easily}. Anyhoo our next option was a bank cheque and after filling out what seemed like a dozen forms and they checked our shoe size (just kidding) we were able to toddle off to the other bank - phew!
So next week we should be (don't hold your breath though, anything could happen) proud owners of prime beachfront property. I tell you what - when we finally do get our residency - there's going to be one big party with a heck of a lot of yahooing going on!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bit of excitement last night here in sleepy old Puerto Cayo.
There was an 5.7 earthquake off the coast of Ecuador around 9pm which rattled and rolled a little bit. But of course we are now so near the coast (well actually right on the beach) so it was time for a little caution to be shown and evacuate the house. Gary and April swung by with their kids and dogs in tow, so we jumped in with them to go up the hill and spend a pleasant 30 minutes or so with all the other concerned citizens (funny how that just seemed to be mostly the gringos). On the way up there we were talking about our "GO BAGS" being packed and ready - but they are up in Cuenca so really not much good to us at all. Oh well - the kids would have been set if the tidal wave made it to there!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Funny field experience

Had a funny thing happen today - but first some background.

When Dad left he gave me to study with a family he had been studying with (I think it has been mentioned on this blog antes) which consists of about 5 kids. I also just started studying with another couple of kids in a different area.

Anyway todayI went off to study with the newest kids - and on my way I saw up the road a group of the kids from Dads old study - well they caught sight of me, and came running up "Aaron, Aaron! Are you coming to our house again?" "No" I had to say "I have to go and study with some other ninos at the moment" "ohhhhh" they said disappointingly - they walked and talked with me for a bit, but I had to keep going, as I was running a bit late.

Well I got to the study - 5 minutes late - and the Kids came running out all excited. The mum explained that at 4pm (the arranged time) They had been asking "were is aaron? its already passed 4!" So im glad I put the effort in to get there. They were really good kids, and I look forward to studying with them some more.

So then I started walking home - and as I'm walking along - a mum and a teenage daughter and a maybe 7 or 8 year old girl are coming towards me. I had never seen them before - but the young girl sees me and says "Mum, Mum! thats the man who tells the bible stories, I've seen him in that house over there!" Unfortunately I was rushing to get home and couldn't stop - but the mum kind of looked wierded out anyway.

Any way - its quite a pleasure to teach young children and see them excited about what they are learning. I hope to find some more young ones eager to learn!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It is a Sad Day

Today we morn the loss of a good companion. Amanda is inconsolable.

Yes, Today the Mar-mite ran out.... and we are very distraught - because it is impossible to buy here!

We Desperately need a New Zealander or an Auzzie to plan a trip here, bringing a healthy supply of the goods with them. We promise free accommodation in return!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Here's a little update of what I've been doing lately, apart from being sick - which seems to be a regular occurrence. Last week the group made a special trip to Guarumales about 3 1/2 hours from Cuenca where there is a camp of Chinese workers working on a Hydro Electric Power Plant. 
We had to get permission to enter (its good to know somebody, Fausto had some connections) and so we decided to go in casual clothes so as not to draw too much attention to ourselves. 
 We had the most success going up to the habitation areas, we stood around in a group discussing what to do when curiosity got the better of some of them and they poked their heads out the window. So a couple of us went and approached them and after a brief introduction they invited us in to their rooms (normally wouldn't seem that appropriate but oh well thankfully we had brothers with us), so we kind of split up into two or three groups. There were six of us in one room which started off with only three Chinese guys but ended up being 8 or 9. Needless to say they were shocked that we were in the middle of nowhere, speaking to them in Chinese with Chinese magazines. As well as magazines and brochures we left a Bible with one group of them, and after a few minutes they came out to ask for another one. One said how thankfully he was to have the opportunity to get to know the Bible since in China he never had time. 
We hope to go back again soon, some of them will be here for a year and a half and some will be here for longer. There is a witness family that lives in the camp and so they acted as our tour guides and showed us where to find everybody. They invited us to their house for breakfast  and the sister says - 'I'm so sorry I only have 3 plates and pancakes to offer'. It always amazes me when we go on these trips these families open up their homes to us and show us amazing hospitality. I wish I had some good photos to show but maybe next time.

Climbing up the unlit path to get to the Chinos

A bunch of workers in the truck behind quite enjoying the view of all the gringas

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Some Recent Photos - Random

It's been a while since I have posted anything - so here are a few pics from the last month or 2.....

Amanda at the Go-Karts - and she cleaned up!

Hmmmmm.... Really??? Dont get my hopes up!

This is what $1.75 will buy you - and its tasty too!

I have never seen a Rainbow in a circle around the sun before - and the photo does it no Justice

The grass is always greener on the other side

How unappreciative I was of Cuenca and all its conveniences! We have just gotten home from grocery shopping and it took us about the same time as it took Aaron and Amanda to go back to Cuenca (7- 8 hours)! We left at the same time as them this morning (8.30) but  at Jipijapa (pronouced Hippiharpa) they took the bus to Guayaquil, while we went the other way to Manta. 
Here is our itinerary:
5 minute motorbike taxi ride to bus stop
30 minute bus ride to Jijijapa
1 Hour bus ride to Manta (closest decent supermarket)
30 minute walk looking for a money machine
30 minute walk looking for a bathroom
5 minute taxi ride to Supermaxi
15 minute pitstop at KFC
Grocery shopping but only for the amount of stuff we can carry in our hands
5 minute taxi ride back to bus station
1 1/2 hour bus ride back to Puerto Cayo
5 minute motorbike taxi ride to la Casa Blanca!
All this is not counting the waiting for buses to go - we walked back in the door at 4pm! One thing we are quickly realizing here is how great a car would be - dreams are free! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

The kids came to visit us this weekend and it was great to have their noise in the house. Wasn't the nicest weather - in fact it was even quite chilly out on the beach.
So to update you on the land - we are hoping to close the deal this week -  just waiting for the call to say the papers are ready to sign. Meanwhile we are settling in well, there is a rather large gringo community in this congo - but at least we are no longer the newest Spanish speakers on the block!

Friday, November 4, 2011

awh ain't that romantic!

I know there is now only the two of us but we weren't getting all romantic - it was because the power went out! It was out for all afternoon until about 6.45pm! The thing is here - the water works on electric pumps - so there was no showers to be had either - bit sad because it was meeting night with a part on cleanliness - thank goodness for the pool!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

another beach - but it's the one we call home!

So what do you think - awesome sunsets or what in these parts? Have to say the beach here is really pretty so we are very spoiled.

Have been out in service twice now since we arrived - the heat is not as intense (as yet anyway) as I thought it would be - there is a pleasant breeze rolling off the beach so it has been lovely. Yesterday in the territory, we both had a good time and got ourselves some calls to go back on but today was a different story for me. The first house we went to, the sister I was with said to me to start, which I dutifully did. The women agreed with everything I said and was super nice. Well when we came away, I commented that she must have family that are witnesses or something, and the sister said " Oh yes, her husband is a witness" Something that I really would have appreciated knowing at the start!! I was even more embarrassed when I was recounting the story to April, and she told me that the woman herself is actually is an unbaptized publisher! Not a good start - and it didn't really get any better for me as I didn't really trust my companion after that incident! Oh well I suppose I gave them a good laugh!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We're here!

This doesn't really show just how many people were at the
border crossing - it was the safest place I could find to pull
out my camera - it kind of gives you an
 idea though how crazy it was!
Ok heres what happened on our trip back from Peru. It started off a very leisurly morning because we had asked the Hotel reception to call our friend Washington to -pick us up, Had a nice breakfast, one final peek at the beach and then when we went outside to get into the car - what do we find but another guy waiting for us! Apparently they had tried to ring Washington but he didn't answer his phone - yeah right, whatever, I could tell they were making that one up and were using their own favorite! Ok well it was too late to do anything about it, so we explained to Jorge where we needed to go. First of all he tried to drop us off at a bus station - he must have been thinking that this was the easiest $40 he had made, but we insisted he take us to the immigration in Peru. When we got near to the border town, low and behold the streets we shut off for a parade to some saint or other, so we had to drag our baggage through the streets (and I meant literally drag one of our bags because the wheels had collapsed in protest by this stage). When we had covered quite a distance, we realized that we were nearly over the border and had not exited Peru as yet. Stop! Jorge had no idea and even argued with us that we were going the right way. Thankfully there was a bunch of taxi drivers standing there and they joined in and backed us up. One of them, although he looked really dodgy, suggested he take us and we dubiously said ok as there was really no other option. Well looks can be deceiving, its true, because, this young fellow turned out to be a gem. He looked after us a treat, even carrying the sad suitcase for me (which believe me was very heavy - remember we were moving house as well). So now we got across the border and had to go to the Ecuadorian Office to be let back in the country - no problems there and after another taxi ride back into town (because we had been told we could get a van service to Guayaquil, which was quicker, but it turned out there was only one seat available) we finally got on a bus. Not the end of the story because back at the border - the guards wanted to check through one of our suitcases - Mark had to open it up for him, while I sat in the bus a little worried because in that bag was a container of rice flour - I was sure they would think it was cocaine or something and we would be detained in a seedy prision until they tested it!
We arrived in Guayaquil at around 5.30pm - thankful that we had booked into the Bed and Breakfast for the night, I really couldn't have faced more bus travel without a good sleep under my belt - however that wasn't to  be as the neighbors decided to karaoke all night and one particular lady thought she was a great singer so hogged the microphone, but let me tell you she would have been booed off Ecuadors got talent in a heartbeat! Anyway we had no choice - we had to tackle the bus ride to Puerto Cayo and so to the Bus terminal we went - bought the tickets and made our way to where it was leaving from. The conductor of the bus said that our bus was the next one leaving, which we knew was not right and insisted he read our ticket and let us on. Then we had a fight with him because our seat numbers were 24,25 and he was trying to put us on 44,45 - we realized later that was why he didn't want us on the bus at all because he had let someone else have our seats. Well we finally sat down in 44 and 45 grumbling because it was at the back of the bus, and not very comfortable etc - when of course the person that was assigned to those seats comes along and wants us out. Time to play the - we don't speak spanish card - because by hook or by crook, I was not getting out of that seat and standing all the way to Jipijapa (2 1/2 hours) - so we let her fight it out with the conductor and it ended up with a young fellow standing (for just part of the way) - phew!

Gary met us at the bus stop and took us back to the house, but on the way showed us a property that we could buy. We met with the owner today and tomorrow we are going to the Municipilidad to see if it's value can be raised. It is just a little piece of land, not anything like the Paute property, but it is on the beachfront and so it could increase in value over time. Of course all we want it for at the moment is to get our residency so lets hope it works this time.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just to let everyone know - we were permitted back into the country and we are now in our new home in Puerto Cayo - I will post a detailed account of our trip (which was a bit crazy) when we have unpacked and settled in. Chao for now!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Well our forced vacation is nearly at an end - one that has been very tranquilo - nothing to do but walk on the beach, get to know the wild life and veg out by the pool. As it turns out we didn't need to have quite so much time here (our visa expired today as noted in our passports but our censo's or Ecuadorian ID cards, expired on the 25th) Everytime we have left from the airport, we have had to show our censo's or risk a fine, so we thought that would be the case at the Peru border, but no- they didn't ask for it at all. So we could have only spent 2 nights out of the country instead of 4! Oh well, thems the breaks. 
So it's back to Ecuador tomorrow, we stay the night in Guayaquil and then go directly to Puerto Cayo, our new home - well that is if we are let back into the country - vamos a ver!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Much ado about Peru!

Well here we are in Peru - Zorritos to be exact - the beach is gorgeous
The Hotel - Los Balcones de Zorritos - is real cute - little noisy at night from the waves crashing right outside our window but there could be a lot worse noises though aye?

Out the otherside of the hotel is miles and miles of barren looking land - I don't think they have seen rain in these parts for awhile!

Our taxi driver filling up his tank with the gas he brought from a little old lady on the side of the road - he told us it was contraband fuel
Coming down to Peru was a bit of an adventure and a little nerve wracking. I had imagined that we would go through the immigration, exiting Ecuador and entering Peru in the same location however what really happens is you exit Ecuador at one spot, grab a taxi (the one we got had me a little worried but it was alrgiht in the end) for a 10 minute ride; then a ten minute walk across the actual border (along with thousands of other people coming and going in both directions);find another taxi for about a 5 minute trip to the Peru immigration office. When we got dropped off by the bus at the exit point, there was a huge queue so it took us about an hour and half to get through. As I said before the taxi we got into first seemed a bit dodgy - another fellow was in the front and we didn't quite understand that we were sharing the ride with him so when we started going a little off the beaten track, I thought we might have been hijacked, however it turned out he was dropping front seat guy off first.
I really think we were being looked after though because a super nice guy approached us and told us he would take us through to the Peru immigration office - we were sitting targets for bad dudes and it was getting on to dark by this time, so Washington became our new BFF and took us over the border to his car, helped us with the immigration and then on to our hotel (about and hour away). I think it was a good deal for $40, so we are going to get him to come and get us on Friday for the return trip.
Its been a relaxing few days here at the hotel - nothing to do but walk on the beach, or fall asleep on the deck. Definately something Mark has needed after the huge month he has had.
Anyway I don't think I am as nerveos about crossing back into Ecuador, now that I know what to expect, oh and the fact that the guy at the immigration office in Ecuador said to us "when are you coming back" and he didn't seem too worried when we said Friday! Here's hoping!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Well we are just about to leave for Peru - a little scared but it's gotta be done! Hasta Pronto todos!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Para Paola

Paola, one of the girls in the group left us last week to serve in the Quevedo's Chinese group. She plans on being there at least for a year. I'm told its not the prettiest of places but there is a real need. So I made a farewell video for her but I'm not sure if it worked so now its on the blog she will have an opportunity to see it. Sorry about the bad quality, I had some trouble uploading it.

Paola si estás leyendo esto, gracias por todo el apoyo que me has dado,te extraño mucho - nos vemos en la playa!  

Posted by Amanda  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just had our last meeting with the Arenal Congragation - I had promised myself I wouldn't cry and I did good! Maybe that is something to do with we will still be living in Ecuador- if we were going home to New Zealand, I know I would be a blubbering mess! As I kept telling the brothers and sisters - we will be able to visit lots and they can even visit us! 
Mark has 2 more days of elders school and then we can seriously pack up - we leave for Peru on Monday morning, have 4 days there vegging out beachside then come back into Ecuador as tourists. 3 months to get our residency sorted - lets hope all goes to plan.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cute little clip to watch

I have had the privilege of studying with these three kids and the other day they acted out the story we had been reading - the parable of the unforgiving slave. I thought you might enjoy seeing it too.

I had to say goodbye to them today as we are on countdown for sure now - it's  sad and exciting (and nerve wracking) at the same time - well I guess it is time again to step out of our comfort zones!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pioneer Meeting

So I just went to my first pioneer meeting in Ecuador on Friday.

For some weird reason I had thought it was supposed to start at 1:30. I wondered why dad left the house early. It actually started at one.

But I was still rushing to get there on time (1.30???) as I had been helping Chad with some technical stuff at home to make sure he was all good for his work. When I finally got there - its like a 15 minute walk - I could hear the speaking from round the corner, and that when I realized I had the time wrong. How embarrassing. It was made more embarrassing by the amount of people there.

Now in my last circuit we had around 30 (from memory) attend the pioneer meeting, and in the one before that, it was about 80 or so. So imagine my surprise when I walked into an over full hall! There were an extra two rows of seats put in and the two back schools were full too - I was ushered into one of those. Later it was announced how many were in our circuit - 230! yes that's right two hundred and thirty regular pioneers! That is so many - and a privilege to be part of. I wish I had a photo - but I don't. So oh well how sad

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Persistence pays off!

I've been wanting to tell you about a study Mark has for awhile - but I was waiting till I got a photo to go along with the story. Sadly the day I did take my camera with me, the rest of the family weren't there so I just have to go with what I've got. Pictured from left to right is Antony, Mark, William, Darwin and Grandma (have no idea what she is called). Usually there are 4 more kids and Darwin's sister hanging around too. When Mark arrives at the door - all you can hear is "El señor, El señor! (The Mister, The Mister) - and all the kids come bowling out the door to hug him - so cute.
Now all in this family seem to have the same problem - a short attention span! Mark has persistently worked with them and now they take turns at reading instead of clamoring to read over each other. Darwin seems to be the biggest kid of them all, so Mark decided to have him sit in on the kids study in the Bible Stories Book, and only do a couple of paragraphs of the BT book each week with him. And the Grandma has been quite difficult (she looks fierce in the photo doesn't she) - coming and going during the study and often making distracting comments. Well for the last couple of studies (they study twice a week), all seems to have changed - Grandma sits quietly, listening, asking appropriate questions and generally behaving herself. Darwin is concentrating more and actually getting through more paragraphs in the book. William though is the greatest joy to see. He just loves what he is learning and sits in rapt attention through both studies. 
The two boys came to the meeting the other night for the first time - (Darwin came the week before and attended the memorial this year) and William asked if he could come again next week. So I take my hat off to Mark for the progress he has made with this lot, hopefully when we leave they will continue progressing.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I made sugar cookies for the party and as evidenced by the next photo - they went like hotcakes!

So the congregation had a farewell for us last night and thankfully people showed up for it. It was actually lovely and I only cried once (when little Cinthia, 6 years old, gave me a card she had made saying I was the most important person in her life -adorable) - so I did pretty well.

I made a video for the occasion of some of the friends we've made and a few highlights. Some of you may  feel like watching it even though it is of people you don't know. Be warned though it is about 8 minutes long - maybe you want to grab a coffee and put you feet up while you watch it?

(By the way - I plagiarized Aaron's cool trumpet music from the video of Brendon going to his study - it really is the coolest music, so I just had to use it again)