Come with us as we return to South America this summer to volunteer at La Casa De Fe, a home for abandoned and special needs children in Shell, Ecuador.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~Mathew 19:14

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grace’s Hand

Just wanted to give you all a quick update. At Grace’s appointment today the doctor said that the thumb is looking a little better, but he is still concerned about the part that is black (no circulation). He said to come back again at the end of the week, or on Monday to get it checked. Please pray that the thumb will continue to heal and that Grace will not need to have another surgery.

This is Grace during the kindergarten activities today.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Praying for Grace and Martin

By: Sara

Last week a surgeon who specialized in hands came to Shell to work for a few days at the HCJB missions hospital. While he was here he was able to do surgery on the hands of two of the kids at Casa de Fe.

Martin was born with some paralysis and short tendons that limited his movements. An earlier surgery allowed him to learn to walk, and this surgery was to move a tendon that was keeping his wrist in a bent position. The surgery went well and will hopefully allow him to fully straighten his wrist and use his hand properly. He will get his bandages off in a few days.

Grace was the other little one who got hand surgery. She was born with some paralysis and she has a several fingers that are either missing or malformed. She had surgery to take one of her fingers that she was not able to use and attach it in place of her missing thumb. The hope was that she would be able to use her new thumb to clasp objects and hold them more easily.

However, her surgery did not go as well as planed. There were some complications and after the super long surgery, the doctor was not very hopeful that the new thumb would take.

A few days later the doctor checked and concluded that the new thumb would indeed need to be removed because the blood was not circulating correctly. An appointment was scheduled for the second surgery. However, at the appointment as the surgeon took off the bandages in the operating room he was surprised to see that the finger had improved. He said that we should wait until Monday, tomorrow, and at that time decide whether or not she will be able to keep her thumb.

Grace’s appointment is tomorrow at 11am Central Time. Please pray that even now God is knitting together all of the vessels and arteries and that everything is working correctly. Pray that when the bandages are removed the doctor will find a fully healthy thumb and that Grace will not have to go through the ordeal of surgery again.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tie Dye T-Shirts

By: Sara
Last week a team came to work at the orphanage and one of the girls knew how to tie dye shirts. We decided to do a project with the big girls and they had so much fun.  It was neat to see their personalities and their choices on designs.
Gaby and Maribel were so focused on getting the colors just right
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Anna liked the striped shirt idea and started dying right away
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Gaby wanted all of her colors to be strong and was meticulous in putting on the dye.
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Maria didn’t want to do a traditional design, she really wanted a heart t-shirt
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The whole process was a little bit chaotic
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But it turned out well. After letting the shirts cure for a couple of days we opened them up…
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For Grace and Martin (two of the little ones who had surgery on their hands)
Ana’s Stripes
This is Gaby's
I even got to make one
It was a really fun project to do with the kids. After we got the t-shirts washed and dried the girls wore them for the next few days. They were so proud of their handiwork.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Planning Our Days

By: Sara

So far in our time at Casa de Fe we have gotten to do a lot of fun activities with the babies and kids.

We have taken the kids swimming in the river

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Played in the backyard park with the preschoolers

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Played Card Games with the big kids

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Played with the bikes

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And spent one on one time with the babies (which unfortunately we do not have any picture of yet)

We have enjoyed spending time with the kids, however, it has also been a little bit of a free for all, with us never quite sure of what we are doing next, and the kids burning off a lot of energy and enjoying their summer break.

Tomorrow however, we are going to start the summer schedule. It will be nice to have a structure in place to guide us and make sure that we are using our time wisely, allowing us to let the kids have free time and some organized games and activities.

Every morning the schedule will start with a couple hours of reading tutoring for the big kids (the request of their teachers), organized play for the pre-k kids, and well as one-on-one time with the babies. After that we will do some outside play time with the big kids and therapy/play with the special needs kids.

After lunch we are planning a wide range of activities from coloring and reading, to playing outside, and swimming in the river. Afternoons are also going to be our time for doing big activities with all of the older kids. Some of our ideas include going to the local pool, walking to the big park in town (20 minutes each way), and a huge game of capture the flag with team shirts and face paint.

Everyday we will finish up with songs right before dinner. The kids know tons of songs in English and Spanish and they love to sing.

In the next few days we also will be finalizing plans for night activities. We want to to take the kids in 2s and 3s to our house for crafts and baking, and we also want to do movie nights, story nights, and pajama parties with the kids at their house.

We are excited about starting up the schedule tomorrow and being more purposeful in our activities with the kids. Please pray for us that we will have patience and flexibility as we start up tomorrow. Please also pray that the kids will enjoy the activities and not feel like they are back in school.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Concrete Day! ;)

By: Erin

Yesterday, all 10 of the volunteers and a small work team joined Dwight and the Maestros (master construction workers) for a day of shoveling, mixing, and pouring concrete. Wow, is it hard work! Of course poured rain and it was freezing, but the show must go on Smile

This is a before picture of the soon-to-be school building that we worked on. We poured the concrete floor for part of the the second level.

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10 things you might notice on (a very wet) construction day in Shell

  1. Mud puddles become pristine sanitation devices.
  2. Wiping your face on someone else’s armpit becomes a reasonable option. (it’s the only dry patch of clothing left).
  3. A circle of people squeezing as close together as possible in an attempt to warm up.
  4. Hot towels right from the dryer feel like heaven!
  5. Baseball hats become a highly prized item (keeps water and sunscreen from making rivers through your eyes).
  6. Workers warming themselves in front of the cement mixer.
  7. Looks of fright on workers faces when they spot the CDF van coming (that means more bags of concrete powder).
  8. A reemergence of sign language and charades as workers try to communicate across large distances and over the noise of the construction equipment.
  9. The “one hour more” that takes about three hours to complete.
  10. The sinking feeling when lights are mounted at the construction site.


After working at the site from 8am-7pm we have a lot of respect for Dwight and the Maestros who do full-time construction work for Casa de Fe. While our day of concrete was hard (we have the sore muscles to prove it) they once did a 36 hour concrete pour!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our first few days in Shell

By: Sara

Time has flown by since we arrived in Shell and between the busyness and some trouble with the internet we have not been able to post for a while. So we decided to do a long recap Smile.

On Saturday we traveled by bus from the capital city of Quito to Shell, a small town on the edge of the Jungle. We shared the ride with a few other volunteers who were coming to work at Casa de Fe and at the local Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) base. The 5-hour trip was full of beautiful mountain roads, waterfalls, and sheer cliffs.

When we arrived it was raining, of course, but after a few calls we were able to meet our contacts and get to our new house.

We spent the first day settling into our house, unpacking our hopelessly scrambled bags, eating a late lunch, and visiting with the kids. (More about our house later). When we got to the orphanage we were amazed by how different everything was. In the new property the kids have a safe place to run and play. They seem so different with all that space. Instead of just having a small cement patio to play on, the kids have a backyard with toys, play equipment, a bike path, a stream that can be dammed up into a pond, and just a ton of space to use however they want.

Our first view of the new property

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On Sunday we got up early to go to the market in the next town over and ended up catching a ride with the Patti Sue (CDF director). The market was huge and we had fun wandering through the aisles, and buying a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables. We had been eating kind of random meals for the first few days of our trip, but now we are excited about really being able to cook.

Our produce from the market

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When we got back to Shell we spent a few hours helping with Sunday School at the orphanage, and playing with the kids in their back yard and on the bikes. My favorite part was seeing Tatiana and Martin playing together with a tricycle. They both have some mobility challenges but they were having so much fun together.

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Monday was training day and we spent time with Tandy, the volunteer coordinator, going over plans and expectations and getting ready for the summer. We ate a yummy lunch and enjoyed getting to know the other volunteers with whom we would be working.

On Tuesday morning we got to play with the kids and do one-on-one time with the babies. We also helped move furniture and clean out houses so that everything would be ready for the summer. The rain slowed our progress, but we will finish the moving later.

Today, Wednesday we were at the orphanage spending time with the babies, setting up the rooms for summer activities/tutoring, and playing games outside with the bigger kids. When it got really hot we took the kids to the creek to swim. They had so much fun, and did not want to get out when it was time for dinner.


Here are some photos from the last few days:

Burgers and tea at Johnny’s

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Erin and Martin watching the carpenter ants “!mira, grandote! – look, a huge one!”

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Rosa walking on water

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Rubi has such a big smile

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Rosa had fun playing with the clay that the kids found by the pool

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Josue was off to work

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“Mister Luke” with Alejo

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Angel thinks dirt tastes yummy Smile

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David decided the swing would be a good place to nap

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Visiting My Valeria

By: Emily

Sorry this is a little late, we just got our internet working here at the house in Shell. More stories to come soon.

On Friday Erin, Sara, Luke, and I went to visit Valeria, one of the girls I sponsor through Compassion International.

Early in the morning we met David, our interpreter, and took a bus to the city of Ibarra where Valeria lives with her family. The bus wound around mountains and lent some breathtaking views… and the opportunity to take a little siesta.

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I was so happy when I finally got to meet my sweet Valeria! Her mother and a tutor from the project were with her.

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We met up with the project director and another Compassion worker at the church where the Compassion project is located.

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We took a tour of the project and got to see Valeria's classroom.

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Then we all drove up to Valeria’s home in a pickup truck. Her family’s farm is located on a mountainside at about 8,300 ft. There were spectacular views of the mountains all around and the volcano behind the house. 

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I gave Valeria the gifts we had brought for her and she really liked them. She looked so cute in her new hat, shirt and sunglasses.

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We played hide-and-seek (her favorite game), frisbee, jump rope (another one of her favorites), tag, and football (soccer to us North Americans). Valeria and I were on the same team and we won! She scored at least two of our goals-she is quite the soccer player even in her sandals and long skirt :0)

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Her little sisters, Diana (6) and Alexandra (9), came home from school and our whole group went out to lunch in town.

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Then we played in the restaurant's playground and had a blast!

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And we got ice cream.

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Then everybody piled back into the truck and we dropped Valeria and her family back at there home. We prayed together and got one last picture with some of her cousins.

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Everyone was very sad when it was time for us to go. It was so hard to leave! It was a wonderful visit and I am so glad for this awesome opportunity to see my Valeria.