Monday, December 26, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Wow, it seems like time has gone so fast since we returned from Ecuador. We have settled back into the busy routine of life on this side of the equator. Erin is full swing into another year of her ballet company, Sara is still working as a sign language interpreter, Emily returned to a job offer from a local restaurant and now works as their head pastry cook, and Luke started his first year of full-time college courses. While we have been busy, we also have been reflecting on our experiences and we wanted to thank you for your prayers and financial support. While it would be impossible to share all of the stories from our time in Ecuador, here are a few.
Three times a week we led a Bible class for all of the kids. We sang songs, acted out skits, read Bible stories, memorized verses, and played games. I enjoyed preparing the lessons for the kids and teaching them about topics like prayer, trusting God, and how each person is a wonderful creation of God. I also got to practice my Spanish as I would teach in English and then translate so that the younger kids would be able to understand. One of the kids’ favorite things to do was to learn the new Bible verse each week. They got to make up songs, learn sign language, play leap frog, put together puzzles, and race to see who could put the verse in the right order first. At the end of the week each child recited the verse by themselves and received a piece of candy.
As you can imagine when there are 60 children under one roof it is hard for the Tias (Ecuadorian care givers) to have enough hugs and attention to go around. That’s where we come in! One-on-one time with the children is my favorite part of visiting Casa de Fe, and its so important for the emotional and social development of the children. It’s time that we use to encourage the child, let them know that we love them and that Jesus loves them more. Sometimes it’s just an opportunity to hold their hand and walk quietly down the street (maybe to buy a special ice cream treat).
One of my favorite times was when Luke and I took Sheyla (3yrs) and Nila (4yrs) out to the park and to dinner. You would have thought they won the lottery, they were so excited. They drank in the attention (especially from Luke –there aren’t many guys working at the orphanage), loved the food –even licking the bottom of the bowl, and thought potty breaks (8 of them) were a blast. From then on whenever Luke walked into the orphanage Nila would sound the alarm and Sheyla would come running. They would attach themselves to him by wrapping their little arms and legs around his ankles and staying close to him as long as possible.
Last year I worked hard with the construction team to get the big, multipurpose building ready for the kids. When we arrived in Shell this year our first stop was to see the kids who are now living in that building! It was so good to see them all again and to see the building finished and being used. This year I helped prepare for and pour the concrete for the second floor of the new school building. When we arrived in Ecuador Dwight and maestros (skilled craftsmen) had already partially setup the wooden form and were beginning to make the rebar supports. In shell there are no cement trucks so we had to prepare the concrete in a small mixer then lift it up to the second floor one bucket at a time. We poured the floor in three sections, each time it was an all day event involving all the volunteers and maestros. It was good to see the floor completed and Lord willing the entire school will be done and ready for school next fall.
Before this summer I had never been to outside of the continental United States so the idea of traveling to foreign country with its own culture and language was a little bit daunting. When I got to Ecuador I found that many things were different. For example, you couldn’t drink tap water and toilet paper did not go down the toilet (that took some getting used to). All the houses had tall fences and barking dogs for security systems, small motorcycles were family transport vehicles, and the rules of the road consisted of “there really aren’t any” and “he who is most determined wins” (maybe not so different). Also, like most tropical locations, cockroaches were small rodent sized roommates. There were beautiful orchids that grew by the side of the road -they were simply considered to be wild flowers. And the culture was laid back and focused on relationships.
Along with the differences, I was also surprised by how many things were the same, especially the children. While each child had their stories and struggles, they still laughed, played, fought and loved like any other kids. It instantly made my fears of “what strange things will I eat”, “how will I cope”, “will our house be clean” and “will I be comfortable, healthy and safe” seem unimportant. As I looked into their faces –some mischievous, some silly, some worried– I could see that they needed the very same thing that we all do—hope, love, and a Savior who will never, ever let you go.
At the end of the trip I looked back on my time in Ecuador and saw how well it had gone and how safe and comfortable I had been and it felt like GOD was whispering “I told you so. I said I would take care of you didn’t I?”
One of the special projects that we were asked to help with this year was tutoring. All of the kids are taught to read in English and Spanish, and the school teachers asked that we spend 15 minutes a day reading with each of the older kids. This turned out to be one of my favorite times of the day. We each worked with two or three kids, and were able encourage them as we worked with each child individually throughout our time in Shell.
One of my kids was Julisa, one of the older girls. I worked with Julisa last year and at that point she had just barely started reading in English. This year she was able to read whole story books. I think that the most important part of reading together was that I had a chance to remind Julisa that she was loved. Through reading books together and discussing the storyline, I was able to encourage her to never give up. She had come so far in the past year and I cannot wait to see where God take her in the future.
One day two of the special needs kids decided that they wanted their turn to be read too. Edison and Pablo do not usually get along, so the fact that they sat together while I read to them was a miracle. The funny thing is that Edison, who was listening very intently, is deaf! The two of them just wanted the attention.
This year I wanted to do more with the kids so I came up with some crafts which weren’t pink and glittery. Their favorite was a mini catapult made from popsicle sticks which fired rolled up pipe cleaners. When we got the kids sitting at their desks and paying attention, I showed them what we where going to make. Their eyes got huge. They enjoyed making the catapults, but they liked shooting them even more. There were pipe cleaners flying every which way!
Thank you once again for your prayers and financial support while we were working in Ecuador. We were so privileged to be able to minister to the children and none of it would have been possible with out your partnership!
Please keep the children and the orphanage staff in your prayers. For more information about Casa de Fe, and specific prayer requests, go to: www.laCasaDeFe.org
Thank you so much! Erin, Sara, Emily, Luke
Monday, December 5, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
So, every Monday from now until we run out of clips, we will post a video from our time in Ecuador. Our goal is to share some of the everyday moments and give you a peak into life at Casa de Fe.
So for week #1 we have ……
Lunch Time Prayers
Every day the children gather in the dining/living room and pray for their food. One of the children leads and all of the other kids repeat the prayer. It is always a loud and boisterous experience, but it is so precious to listen to all of their voices and to hear what each child chooses to pray about.
Friday, November 11, 2011
This journal is the last of my stories from visiting my Compassion children in Ecuador. I had over 400 photos to choose from, so warning, it is long :)
After visiting with my Compassion sponsored boys in Quito, I went back to my friend’s house, got a good night sleep and woke early for a visit with two of my girls. The plan was basically the same, meet at the office, go to the park to play, then go out to eat.
I managed to catch the right bus that dropped me right in front of the Compassion office. I got there about 45 minutes early, and so I sat and waited for my children to arrive.
Both girls got there at the same time. It was sooo good to see them again! It was a happy reunion with the girls, their parents, and their project workers. Pamela’s cousin, Angelica had also come along for the trip. We had all played together at their house last year, and she did not want to be left behind.
Pamela Angelica Angela
I had brought a stuffed animal for each of my girls, and I rearranged some of the gifts so that Angelica would have something as well. After the greetings were out of the way, the three girls and I hopped in a taxi and along with the adults we headed to the park.
We spent the morning playing in the park, and chasing each other all over the place. The girls were amazed by all of the different play equipment and kept running from one play structure to another, I think they wanted to try everything out.
Their favorite part was playing on the old airplane that had been converted into a playground. When they first saw the plane it seemed to be closed, but as soon as they saw other kids climb through the fence they were running toward the plane and dragging me as fast as they could. “Hurry Madrina! We need to get there before it closes again!!”
The girls climbed out the window of the plane and posed on the wing… Can you tell this is not in the USA…
The airplane had been painted and on the left side was the huge slide.
The girls were a little nervous…
but their smiles said it was not too scary.
All of us in front of the plane.
Saying hi to the adults
Posing on the wing
The inside of the plane was all empty except for the benches at the back
The girls had a lot of fun… and I did too :)
Afterward we found a vendor who was selling snow cones…
When we were all worn out from playing we went back to the pavilion where the adults were resting. We posed for a ton of photos, then played jump rope.
Angela, Angelica, Pamela and I with their teddy bears
The whole group (Pamela’s project worker and great aunt “mom.” Angela, her mom, Angelica, Pamela, and Angela’s tutor)
Angela and her mom (also named Angela)
Pamela and Angelica are actually niece and aunt, but since they are the same age, their family calls them their twins.
Jumping doubles with Angela
And with Pamela
Pamela tried to turn the rope….
..but she couldn’t quite figure it out
Angela knew exactly what to do
Watching the expert
Then we headed out of the park for lunch. Because it had taken so long the day before to order in the food court, my guide and I decided to go to a local Burger King instead. When we took the order, we had to explain to the girls what a hamburger was. We asked each person if they wanted a roll with beef, or a roll with chicken. All three girls wanted burgers.
While we were waiting for our food, we got to open the “surprises” that we had been teasing the girls about all morning. I had to do some creative shuffling because I had not counted on having Angelica with us, but in the end each girl looked happy with her gifts.
Angela and Pamela got new binders to hold the letters that I send to them and all three girls got clothing, school supplies, toys, candy, and headbands that I had made for them
Then the food arrived and we all dug in…..
After they finished their burgers the girls begged me to go with them to the playland. They had so much fun running in the tunnels, but they were sad that I was too tall to go in with them.
Pamela and Angela had to bring their bears with them
I don’t know how Angelica did it in her skirt, but she was one of the fastest up the playground.
After playing for a while we realized that they were supposed to have taken their shoes off
Pamela said something and Angela thought it was the funniest thing! (no, I don’t remember what it was)
The netting made it hard to take photos, but this is Angela and Angelica in the playland
When they were all worn out again, we all had ice cream as a special treat…
Then the girls saw the vendor who had set up in front of the restaurant…
First you get in ….. Then they close up the opening most of the way
Then the leaf blower fills it up………. Till it is full!
The girls had a hard time getting their balance and spent most of the time either laying down, or crawling
But they did manage to get up on their feet a few times…
They seemed to have a lot of fun
All too soon it was time to say goodbye so that the families could make it back home. First we dropped Pamela, Angelica, and their family off at the trolley station. It was so hard to say goodbye.
Then we took Angela and her mom back to the hotel to pick up their bags, and we had a few more minutes together before their taxi came to pick them up. We were both out of words by then and so we just sat and smiled at each other. She sat on my lap and I reminded her that I would write her many many letters, and that I was always thinking about her and I loved her very much.
When the taxi came we took one last photo, then said goodbye.
Out of all the visits that I had with my Compassion children, that was the hardest one to see end. I love those little girls so much and it had been such a joyful time to see their smiles, hear their laughter, and feel their little hands swallowed in mine.
Every time I think of that visit I thank God that he gave me the opportunity to be a part of the lives of those two precious girls and by extension, their entire families.