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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Geimy’s Blocks

by sara

One of the many things that we did while we were at Casa de Fe was to spend one-on-one time with the special needs kids. We did what therapy we could, and gave them lots of attention.

Sometimes that therapy was as simple as playing with toys. 6 1/2 year old Geimy (Jamie) loved playing with blocks.

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The green one was her favorite.

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We were trying to put the shapes back in the right holes in the lid…

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…but she thought they fit better in her mouth.

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Then we also tried putting the blocks in the bag.

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… dumping them out … putting them in ... dumping them out…

There were some weeks where we had tons of volunteers and we kind of bumped into each other trying to find a place to serve. While it could be frustrating, it was those weeks that we had more opportunity to do play times like these.

Playing was a simple way that I could show love and affection to the special needs kids.I did not know how to do intensive therapy, and I did not see a day and night change while I was there, but I knew that the 30 minutes of play time that we had was important in helping each child develop.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Update: Greis’ hand

by sara

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update on Greis. When I left Shell she had just visited the doctor who had taken off her wrap and said that Greis did not need to wear it any more.

Her thumb healed completely.

We are all thanking God for his work and his healing.

She will be needing some minor adjustment work on her thumb in the future to make it even more useful, but we are all thanking God for the miracle that he did.

Thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Visiting Elian and his Family

by sara

On August 10th I began my trip to Santo Domingo. I was so excited to see Elian, my sponsored child who lives there with his brother, sister, and single mom. We have grown close through the many letters we have exchanged and the two other visits that we have so gratefully experienced.
His family has been through a lot of struggles. Both Elian and Yamileth, the little sister, have developmental delays and get sick easily. They live with their older brother William and their mom in a dangerous part of Santo Domingo. They were living with their grandmother, but she recently passed away. After the grandmother passed, the half brothers of Elian’s mom renewed their fight to get the house that the grandmother had left to Elian and his family. Their harassment has been especially hard on William, who at 13 years old has been taking on the responsibilities as the man of the house.
However, there is some good news for the family. With the help of the Compassion program in a local church, Elian is getting healthy meals, quick access to medical care, and the medicine that he needs. He also gets educational tutoring, Bible classes, and the one on one attention of caring Christian adults who can watch out for him and show him how much he is loved by God.
With the passing of his grandmother, and the impact that I knew that would have on his family, I was especially thankful to be able to visit them this trip. I was anxious to see them again, and I knew that Elian would be happy to see me as well. During my first visit I had been told that for two weeks before my visit Elian was telling everyone that his “madrina” was coming. He could not even sleep the night before.
So, This year I met my translator in Quito and once again took the stomach churning 3-hour bus ride through the mountains to arrive in the growing city of Santo Domingo.

The church pastor met us at the bus stop and we all hopped in a taxi and went to the church. It was good to see the familiar building come into sight.
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The pastor had told us that Elian and his mom had to do a few last minute things, so they would be along soon. We went upstairs to the office/computer room and sat and enjoyed a few minutes together learning more about the project.
While we talked I kept looking over my shoulder to see if Elian was there. After a few minutes he walked in the door and came right over to me to give me a hug. He had grown a lot since I had last seen him.
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We spent about an hour in the office visiting and catching up on all of the details of our years that don’t fit into letters. He has been doing well in his new school, but is still struggling with health problems. It was during that time as well that I learned more about the troubles that the family had been going through since their grandmother had passed away.
At noon Elian’s mom stepped out to pick up Yamileth from kindergarten and soon returned with her and William. I was so happy to see them. I had been concerned that William would have classes and not get to come.
We spent the day eating lunch at the local mall, sharing gifts back at the project, visiting Elian’s school, and visiting with the family in their house. It was a good day, but all too soon it was over, and we had to head out.
Although it was not always safe to have the camera out, we managed to get some photos:
Yamileth with the pastor of the church
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Jazmin, Elian’s mom
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Elian LOVES eggs. He kept begging his mom for some, so she sent Elian and William out to get a couple and some ladies at the church cooked them up.
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For lunch we went to a local mall. Elian wanted seafood.
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Yamileth got Chinese.
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Giving Elian and William a binder to keep all of my letters.
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William also got a Lego racing game as a late birthday present.
I gave Elian a Pound Puppies circus play set. It had been one of my favorites when I was little.
Yamileth making funny faces.
William showed us some of his Karate moves.
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This is the school that Elian attends
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He sits in the desk right in front of the teacher

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Greis’ Vacation

by sara

Greis (whose hand you have been praying for) is one of the kids who is at Casa de Fe because her family loves her and wants to give her the opportunity to get the medical attention that she needs. Her father comes to visit her regularly and check on her progress.

Greis’ family has wanted to bring her home for a visit, and because she was healing up so well they figured it would be a good time. After receiving detailed instructions about how to keep Greis’ hand clean and dry, the family headed home for a visit. The plan was for Greis to be with them for 5 days and then to come back on Wednesday of  last week (she had an appointment at the hospital).

Patti Sue warned us that there was a large chance that she may not be back, which is a consideration with any “visit.” The parents may decide that they are able to care for their child and just choose to never come back to say goodbye. It is wonderful when a child can live with their loving family, but it is also hard because you never know when you will see them again.

So when Greis left with her dad we said a quick good-bye, told her to have fun, then we snapped a photo and walked back into the house.

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Greis and her dad along with some other relatives.

We went on with our week and got busy the next week with VBS. Because of the craziness of the schedule I was so surprised to turn around one day and see Greis! She had gotten back a few minutes ago and jumped right into the VBS. Our smiley Greis had come back after all.

I gave her a big hug and told her how happy I was to see her. I know that sometime soon she will be headed home for good, but I am happy that I get to spend at least a little more time with her.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

From Shell to Quito

by sara

On Tuesday I said my final good byes to everyone at Casa de Fe and headed by bus up to Quito. It was hard to believe that my time in Shell was ending, and even harder to say goodbye to everyone. I will miss them all very much.

Israel, the driver that works for Casa de Fe was able to take me to the house to pick up my bag and then to the bus stop to wait for the bus to Quito. Just as we were leaving CDF Pablo, one of the special needs boys came running up. He hoped in next to me and accompanied us the whole way. He insisted on helping with the bags, and wanted my arm around him whenever we were in the van.

I had a pretty uneventful trip up to Quito. It took about 5 hours to get to the southern bus station, then I changed busses and rode for about an hour to get to the north bus station where a friend came and picked me up.

While I am here in Quito I am staying with the family of Christian, a Ecuadorian student who had come down to volunteer at Casa de Fe. His father is a builder in Quito and they have a beautiful apartment on the top floor of the building they are working on. After living in the jungle climate of Shell with all the housing considerations that come with it, Christian’s house feels like paradise. 

While I am here for this final week I will be keeping busy visiting the children I sponsor through Compassion International. On Wednesday morning I headed out for Santo Domingo, a 3 hour bus ride from Quito. I spent the day with my sponsored child Elian and his family.

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Then that night I headed to Esmeraldas where I spent the next day visiting with Yami and her family. Esmeraldas is on the coast, and we had the chance to play on the beach.

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I will write more about those visits later.

On Monday and Tuesday my other children will be coming to Quito to spend a fun day in the park, or some other activity. I will have the two girls one day, and the two boys the other day. After visiting on Monday and Tuesday I head to the airport early Wednesday morning. While I am looking forward to seeing family and friends, It is hard to believe that my time in Ecuador is almost over.

Construction day #3

by sara

I am actually in Quito now, enjoying my last few days before I head back home. I now have internet access again, and a little more down time, I will be posting some stories of things that happened in the last few weeks.

After a busy week of VBS we got to help pour cement on Friday. This was our third concrete day this summer, and we got to finish up the stairs and the rest of the floor for the second level of the school.

It was supposed to be a nice short day, but like many things in Ecuador, the time table was a little off. We got there at 8 am, started work at 9 am and did not finish pouring till 10pm. It was a really long day, but it felt good to finish the floor that we had helped start at the beginning of the summer.

During the down times when we were waiting for supplies, or lights that we had thought we did not need, we had the chance to talk with the maestros and get to know them better. Luke had been working with the crew all summer, but this was my first chance to sit down and learn all their names.

Here is how we made the cement: First we filled three of the patihuelas (buckets) with chispa, small jagged rocks

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Next we filled four patihuelas with tamisado, a sand/rock mixture

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After all the buckets were full of the right ingredients, we dumped them into the mixer along with cement and water.

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After the concrete was mixed we either used small buckets to pass it to the person pouring the bottom steps, or poured it into big buckets and lifted them to the second floor with a small crane. 

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It was a lot of work, but it was also rewarding. And to make it even better we finally had a nice dry day to do the work.

After working all morning we ate a typical Ecuadorian lunch (soup, rice/meat, juice).

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And yes, the juice did come in a bag.

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The Maestros (Geimy, Edison, and Flavio) and Ana

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Me, Cheralyn, and Jack

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Taking a break

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vacation Bible School

by sara

Last week was really busy with VBS every morning, and a new afternoon schedule that let us get in all of the reading tutoring as well as fun activities with the kids. 

Here are some photos of what the kids have been doing at VBS

They started off with singing and an intro to the theme

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One of the stations was story and activity time

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Tatiana (missionary’s child) and Anthony were good listeners

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The youngest group in story time

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Then they had verse time

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The kids loved to learn the verse, because they also got a treat

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Games time was one of the favorite stations. We had sunny weather all four days – rare!

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In craft time they made all kinds of neat things.

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Rubi making her cross

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Nicol had to pick out just the right shaped pieces

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The blue group with all of their crosses.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Maria’s Art

by sara

Nine year old Maria is one of the sweetest, quietest girls at Casa de Fe. She is also one of the most artistic.

For the past couple of weeks she and one of the babies have been separated from the other kids (they got chicken pox). To keep her company the other volunteers and I have been going in to read books, play games, and do art projects.

We have been bringing in the preplanned crafts that the VBS team brought, but we also have been leaving Maria with supplies.

She is so artistic!

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She did all of the quilling (twisted paper) without any instructions!