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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Community…

Water, water everywhere.  Flooded streets, flooded school, flooded house…Today the police were using boats to rescue people stranded in the middle of a flash flood…five blocks or so from our house.  While we didn’t need a boat, we did spend several hours bailing out the school, the principal’s apartment and our own house.  I know I was joking a little about all of the rain in my last post, but seriously friends…please pray that we dry up.  This is crazy.

On a somewhat related note, I was struck again this afternoon as I was helping to clean out our HS principals’ apartment by what an amazing community of missionaries I live in.   I don’t know if we are the norm around the world, but it’s pretty cool here.  We kind of live in a “fishbowl”.  Everyone usually knows what everyone else is doing, and, I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s kind of frustrating.  Here’s the cool part.  We kind of live in a “fishbowl” and everyone usually knows what everyone else is doing.  So when your basement floods, your neighbor knows it, and shows up to help clean it out.  When your school floods, word gets out QUICKLY, and a whole bunch of people show up to help rescue your classroom.  So even if it’s frustrating…I’ll take it.  I’ll take the community that cares enough about my kids to hug them when they need it…and call them down when they need it.  I’ll take the friend that takes time every week to meet with my teenage daughter and give her another adult besides her mom to talk to.  I’ll take the guy who took my son out to dinner every Tuesday for five years and helped shape him into the man that he is today.  I’ll take the teachers and coaches who pour into my children every day…not just their heads, but their hearts.  I learned six years ago, when Dan had his accident (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, he had a firecracker go off in his face.  Lost part of a finger and almost lost his eyesight) that this is the place to be in when you’re in crisis.  I had people sitting at the hospital with me, people taking my kids home not knowing when I could come and get them, a 19 year old guy who came to the hospital at midnight and got my baby and took him home so that I could concentrate on Dan…This is a good community to be in.

I have to close with a prayer request.  Our HS principal and his wife are really having a rough time right now.  They have three little ones-3 1/2, 2  and 2 weeks.  Their apartment has now flooded TWICE in the last three weeks.  The two little boys have had croup, and Grace, the baby, has already had one hospitalization for bronchitis, and she’s two weeks old today.  Please pray that their family can get healthy, and that Stephen and Cristina will find an extra measure of patience and grace.  They are really struggling, and while we are doing all we can for them, they really need the Lord’s peace right now.

Thanks for your prayers…they are keeping us afloat right now!

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How long can you tread water?

Seriously.  This time last year we were raising funds to buy a new car.  We have another project.  We now need an ark.  It has rained NONSTOP for weeks.  Our yard is completely devoid of grass, and as of Saturday last, is now completely under water.  Our dogs have gone from being outside to being inside.  Oliver and Chloe could care less, but Charlie is depressed.  He lays in front of the door and looks longingly at it.  He’s also gained about 10 pounds from the lack of exercise.  The playground and soccer field at the school are perpetually squishy.  We’ve flooded the entire pre-school area once already, and judging by the amount of rain that is falling as I speak, we need to get the mops out again.  I am going to go completely off my nut if this keeps up.

On the ministry front, it’s team season!  Our first team came in three weeks ago and spent the week building a soccer field for Peniel School out in Pifo.  Ramiro Baez is the pastor of the church there, and he’s a longtime partner of Extreme Response.  Ramiro is one of those guys that we just want everyone to meet.  He has this contagious enthusiasm that just sweeps you up and makes you want to be a part of whatever is happening.  Peniel started fifteen years ago with a day-care center that served 20-30 children in Pifo, which is a community about an hour outside of Quito.  Today the school has over 400 kids Pre-school through grade 12.  They are growing so fast that they routinely outgrow their building.

Last week Dan attended Leader Mundial (World Leader), a mentorship program that brings together pastors from all over the globe and mentors from the US who help them become better husbands, fathers and leaders in their communities.  There were men there from the Philippines, South Africa, Tonga, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Ecuador, Canada, and the US.  The program was started by Russ Cline, an ER missionary, who has a passion for helping leaders become better men of God all over the world.

The kids have started their final quarter of the school year, and Daniel is finished with his freshman year of college on April 28th.  I have a very hard time believing that!  We are not coming to the US this summer, as it is not a furlough year for us.  Both girls are teaching English for the month of July, and Dan will be busy running teams all summer.  We have a new missionary family arriving on August 13th-I’m looking forward to welcoming them to Ecuador!  I’m also looking forward to being at home this summer and hopefully cleaning out closets and getting rid of some of the stuff we’ve accumulated.

Thank you for standing with us in this ministry.  We are so blessed to call you friends!

17 The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Coffee beans

I’m reading a book called “How coffee saved my life” by a missionary to Uruguay.  In the book she talks about mate (mah-tay), which is a tea that they drink in many parts of Latin America, including here in Ecuador.  One of the things about mate is that it serves as an appetite suppressant, which is essential when you don’t have enough food to eat to begin with.  The author talks about the social part of mate.  You don’t drink it alone.  It’s a part of a very social culture.

I started thinking about coffee, and how coffee “works” here in Ecuador.  I am an avid coffee drinker.  I take my travel mug with me to work every day-Starbucks, of course.  I collect Starbucks travel mugs, much to the frustration of my loving hubby.  When we were packing to come to the field, before I had started my travel mug collection, I had a bunch of $.25 mugs that I had picked up at Goodwill along the way.  I decided that I didn’t need to bring them, since they surely would be available here.  Or not.  When we came in 2004, travel mugs were almost unheard of.  In fact, the regular coffee cups were miniature-made for Lilliputians.  I was quickly initiated into the “coffee culture” of Ecuador…and it may have been the most culture shock that I went through.

Coffee here is a social event.  It’s not about the coffee itself.  Which is good, because “good” coffee here-at least to my Ecuadorian friends-consists of Nescafe (instant) poured into hot water with copious amounts of hot milk and sugar added.  It tastes like what I would imagine motor oil sweetened with sugar would taste like.  When we first came, and after I made it clear to my sweet hubby that I DON’T drink instant coffee, and that in the interest of marital harmony and staying on the field for longer than three days, we needed to find a coffee maker and real coffee, we discovered that “real” coffee was just as bad.  Prior to about 2006, Ecuador exported all of the good coffee and left the dregs to those of us who lived here.  Fortunately for all involved, the country has seen the error of it’s ways, and we now actually have really GOOD coffee.  Although most of my Ecuadorian friends still prefer motor oil.

I mentioned that coffee is a social event.  You don’t really see people here carrying travel mugs, or driving around with a mug of coffee in their car.  Coffee is meant to be shared.  Every day around 10:00 in the morning, most places have “cafecito”, or “little coffee”.  For about half an hour, they share their coffee and their lives, juntos (together).  When people get together socially outside of work, it involves coffee.  We have Juan Valdez and Sweet and Coffee, both of which are coffee spots.  You almost never see people get a coffee to go.  It involves sitting down at a table and being a part of the world around you, even for just a few minutes.  At Starbucks, in the US, you see people sitting in a corner with their coffee and their computer.  Here that doesn’t  happen as frequently.  In this culture you don’t “disengage” yourself from the world.

This has been quite a challenge for me.  I am painfully shy, and very introverted.  I need to be able to disengage on a regular basis in order to be able to engage.  Coffee for me represents solitude, tranquility and peace.  I love the way that it smells-the aroma itself is refreshing.  I have learned however, to appreciate the social part of coffee.  I can go to cafecito and enjoy the company of others.  I usually take my own mug and it’s often filled with my own coffee.  (OK fine.  I’ll admit it.  I’m a coffee snob.  No motor oil, no Lilliputian cups, no styrofoam (NO STYROFOAM) cups, no artificial creamer.  And no percolated coffee.  I’m a snob.  Admitting it is the first step to healing, although I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.)  I’m still not likely to contribute too much to the conversation-I’ll just listen, Thank You.  But I’m learning.  After 7+ years here, it is amazing how much I still have to learn.  I’m glad learning involves coffee.  It makes the journey that much sweeter.