Monday, August 18, 2008

They keep me busy here!

Well, here’s the deal…

I realized the other day that you all know what I do when there are missions groups here, and I think I have made several references to the fact that things here are “back to normal” and you probably have no idea what “normal” is, right? So I decided to give you a week in the life of AmyInAnaheim...InEcuador. It´s a little long. And by "a little long" I mean it puts Jason Parks´posts to shame. So...get comfortable. Or just don´t read it. It´s totally up to you.

Monday is a free day. There are no activities in the church, there is no work on the church property, the family sleeps in, chills out all day and rests (well, besides Sandra and Sebastian. They both go to school)…(not the same school)…(but when they come home from school they rest). Monday seems to be the Sabbath around here. And that goes not just for the church but for pretty much all the city. My friend Pablo says, “Everyone is lazy on Mondays in El Recreo” and it seems to be true. Businesses open wayyyy later, if they open at all, and people just hang out all day. I spend my mondays being lazy at the internet café or being lazy in my house or being lazy in some other place. Mondays are very similar to my everyday life in the United States.

Tuesday I wake up somewhere between 8 and 9, get dressed, brush the teeth and go downstairs to see if there is any kind of food available to eat. Breakfast here is coffee, bread with butter, jam, cheese, eggs, or some delicious combination of those things, and sometimes some sort of fruit or yogurt. After breakfast I wash the dishes (by hand, in the sink. There is no dishwasher, but there is running water in the house) and then go take a walk. I often use this time to go use the internet or make a phone call or two…or I will just take a walk and look around. Lunch happens any time between 12:30 and 3:00. There’s no real set time, it’s just whenever people are around to eat it. Lunch often consists of some kind of soup, followed by a plate of about 50 pounds of rice, some kind of meat (chicken, tuna or beef) and some kind of salad (peeled tomatoes and chopped lettuce, covered in lime juice, or peeled tomatoes and peeled cucumbers…covered in lime juice. Ah, or peeled tomatoes in oil with chopped onions.) what cracks me up is that absolutely no matter what you are eating, they will only give you a spoon to eat it with. Salad? Here’s a spoon. Soup? Here’s a spoon. Steak? Here’s a spoon. No joke. I originally thought that was some kind of mean joke they played on the missions groups who come through here. (let’s give them a side of beef and a plastic spoon and see what they do!) but I was wrong. At least the spoons I eat with on a regular basis are metal. Sometimes you get something to drink with your lunch. Sometimes not so much. After lunch on Tuesdays I wash the dishes and then I usually have some kind of music practice, whether it is teaching piano or singing, or learning to play drums, or just practicing some new songs for the worship services. Then around 6ish I make my way back to the house for some dinner, which is exactly the same as breakfast, and then at 7:30 it’s back to church for the prayer group. That usually goes until 10:00 and then it’s back home to chill and answer some e-mails. (no, I have not got The Wireless in the house, but I do have a flash drive that I take with me to the internet café and bring home any e-mails I may have received that day, and then once I have finished writing back to those, I take the flash drive back to the cyber and send the mails and repeat the process.) I go to bed between 11:30 and 12:30 usually.

Wednesday, I am up at the same time, downstairs for breakfast, wash the dishes, and then it’s the same thing…take a walk, read a book, work on a project or go see if a friend is at home to hang out a while…then lunch and dish-washing, followed by some kind of music rehearsal around 3:30 or 4:00. back home around 6 for dinner and dishes, and back to the church at 7:30 for a meeting with all the tios of the kids’ Bible school class (that word is pronoucned "tee-yohs" and it means uncle or aunt-depending on if you say tio or tia in the singular form. As a form of respect, children here refer to adults as tio or tia.) . At the meeting we discuss what the class will look like on Friday and Saturday, we decide who is going to be running the program, who is going to be giving the lesson, and what Bible story will be told. Last week, I had to give the lesson both Friday and Saturday. It was terrifying, haha! I just don’t like public speaking, even if my audience is children, and especially if I am public speaking in Spanish! But it went alright. I told the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Seems like the kids understood my story well enough and we even made up a little skit to go along with the story. It was fun in the end…I guess. But I hope I don’t have to do that again for a while. Haha! After the meeting is over around 8:30 or so we often walk to a cancha (a soccer or basketball or volleyball court, often a combination of the three) to play basketball. It is super fun! It is one of my favorite activities here. Everyone plays and everyone has a good time. Last week me and Ismael took on the other five people there and won 15 to 5. haha, i had so much fun! Home around 11 Wednesday night and off to bed.

Thursday morning, wake up, breakfast, dishes, working on whatever I need to work on until lunch time. Lunch, dishes, then visiting a lady named Chavela and another named Katty (pronounced kathy) in Chavela’s house at 4:00 to do a Bible study. Then at 5, some kind of music rehearsal at the church and back home for dinner and dishes after that. At 7:30, it’s back to the church for the youth worship service which goes until about 10:00. after that, I spend time working on whatever I need to work on for the Bible school class the next day (whether it is preparing all the crafts or working on some kind of drawing or prop for the Bible story) with a couple people. Off to bed after that’s done.

Friday morning, wake up, breakfast, dishes, finish any last-minute stuff for the Bible school class. Then a quick lunch, dish-washing and off to church at 2:00 for prayer before the Bible school. At 2:30 we head over to a place called Invasión (which, as you might be able to guess means Invasion) because it is basically a squatters’ village. It is the land that nobody really wants because it’s not good for anything to grow on. It floods during the rainy season which begins in December, and they say the water often gets up to about 4 feet deep and stays that way until the rain stops around April or so. So all the houses there are built on stilts and the majority of the people there are the poorer people. Invasión technically is not a part of El Recreo but it is a sector where Marcelo feels very strongly that we need to be ministering to. He says that when the rain comes, we are going to be faithfully ministering to the kids there every week, whether we have to wade through the flood to get there or not. I love the dedication to ministry that he has. We spend some time inviting parents to allow their kids to come to the Bible school and at 4:00 we begin the program which includes games and singing and dancing, exactly like what we do with the missions teams, followed by a Bible story often with some kind of skit and then a craft. Then we feed the kids a sandwich and some juice. Who knows if they get to eat every day? At 5:30ish we head back to the church with all our sound equipment and stuff and then it’s back home for dinner and dish-washing. And after that is fun time! Friday nights in the church there is an adult small-group and since I am not quite an adult yet :-) I don’t have to go to that. Haha! We go play basketball or we hang out and watch a movie in someone’s house or go on some kind of outing (like to Guayaquil!) and then it’s back home to bed.

Saturday morning I wake up, have breakfast, do dishes, and hang out doing whatever...often taking care of some preparations for the kids´Bible school class. We do the same Bible school class as we did on Friday but for a different group of kids. This one takes place at the church but it is more or less the same. Back home to eat and do dishes and at 2:30 it’s back to the church for the kids´stuff. Back home at around 4:30ish to take a nap or just hang out doing nothing with some friends because I am super exhausted by this time during the week, thank goodness Monday is just around the corner, and then i come home or I wake up at dinner time to eat and do some dishes. At 7:30 I go to one of the youth small-groups. There are four different groups in four different houses. I have been to all four different groups now and plan to continue rotating through each group as the weeks go on. Last week all the groups met together at the cancha to have a basketball tournament. Last week I went to Ismael´s group and our team won the tournament! It was awesome! I couldn´t believe we took the trophy! hahaha. it was super fun playing, but it was even more fun heckling in the crowd when the other teams were playing. we laughed so much! Usually, after the small groups are over, everybody seems to find each other at the church or at the house of the group that is running the latest and they all hang out together. Back home around 11 or so and off to bed.

Sunday I wake up at 7:30 to get to church at 8:00 for another band practice before the service starts at 9:30. I am the first one up in the house and so I usually just skip the breakfast (which means I also skip the dishes…I feel it’s a fair trade) The service goes until about 12 or 12:30. They are really into the singing part of the service. We will play 8 songs in the first set, then another song for communion, then another song for offering, then another song to kind of dismiss the service. What I really enjoy is that during the communion time they pass out the little cups and the crackers (ritz…mmm!) and then they read 1 Corinthians 23-26 and then they say something about what it means to take communion and then they pray and then sing a song and then all together they take the bread and all together the juice. It’s the same every time…I don’t know, I really like that. There’s something beautiful about it, and there’s something special in holding on to that cup and that bread through the Bible reading and then the prayer and then the song…I don’t know, I feel like I have a lot of time to take it all in, what I am doing exactly. I like it. After the service is over every single person there hugs every single other person there. I think that is pretty cool too. Also, the greetings here between guys and girls and between girls and other girls include a kiss on the cheek, which I just absolutely love. We don’t do that where I live, and it’s something that I think makes the greeting personal and genuine. I like it a lot. After church, we go out to eat, me and Marcelo’s family. (no dishes!) and then at 3:00 the band meets for a Bible study together. This is something new that we are just starting as a group. This was one of the goals I had before coming here: to begin a Bible study for the band. I am really excited it is working out. We will be starting our study This week on the book of James. Hopefully it will go well. After we meet, there is just some hanging out until dinner time. Then…dishes, haha. And after that, we go play some more basketball! Sundays I come home from the basketball maybe around 11:30 or 12:00 because I don’t have to wake up early in the morning and neither does Marcelo so he is usually up until around 1:00 or 1:30 watching the news.

And that, my friends is a week in the life.

If you were reading carefully, you may have noticed that it seems I do not bathe. I want to assure you that I do…every day…but it is a little different here. When I am in my country, I always shower in the morning. But if I shower in the morning here, a) the water in the cistern on the roof is still freeeeezing cold (every day, they have to hook up the electric pump and pump the water up to the cistern on the roof from...well i don´t know. i guess i prefer not to know where the water i bathe in here comes from) and b) I am gross and sweaty again by 10:30am…so it is kind of pointless. Most people here shower after the hottest part of the day passes…and that depends on the day, so often I shower in the evening before dinner. This is something I find interesting. Where I am from, you shower at night or in the morning (or both) and put on your clothes for the day in the morning. And if it is not necessary to change clothes (for going out or after work or whatever) you wear those same clothes all day and wear different clothes the next day. Here, you often see people wearing the same thing in the day that they wore the night before…that’s because in the morning, those clothes are still clean and sweat-free. They don’t get dirty until the afternoon and so the clothes-changing happens mid-day here. So, there’s a little bit of information that you may not have known before.

I will leave you with that since that was a lot. Next time, I will try to share some more of the little differences that might surprise you about the way of life here. Take care, thanks for your prayers and support!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

haha, the nightlife!

Well, Friday night, I had the most fun ever! Ismael says to me, "hey, what are you doing tonight?" and I say, "nothing." so he says, "let´s go to Guayaquil!" and I say, "yeah, that sounds fun! do you know your way around there pretty well?" ..... ", not really. i hardly ever go." hahaha, so we got a group together (so we wouldn´t get lost) and went. We left at about 8:00pm and when Marcelo asked what time we would be back, they said maybe around 10:30 or 11:00 and Marcelo says, "well that´s dumb. you´re going to get there and immediately have to come back. enjoy the city, guys." so...we did!

We walked through some plazas, took some pictures at a fountain. I went with a really fun group of good friends. (from left to right: Jennyfer, Ismael, Me, Gabriel and Esther. Not pictured here is José...because he is taking the picture. you will see him later. he is in an orange shirt.) While we were taking this picture, a man walked up to us and started passing out little booklets of poetry that he wrote. Then, right there on the spot, he made up a really funny poem about Jennyfer and we all laughed. So we bought one of his little books for a dollar.

Then we walked through the boardwalk by the river to the Malecón, which is where we always go with the missions groups during our free day. It was much prettier at night. We laughed and laughed! There were little girls selling roses and one of the little girls was so persistant. She would not leave without us buying a rose. While we were trying to take a picture together, she actually stuck the rose in Ismael´s pocket and wouldn´t take it back. He kept trying to give it back and she would not have it. She only wanted the money for it. It was hilarious. We finally had to just set the rose down on the ground and walk away. We couldn´t stop laughing at the fact that she actually shoved it in his pocket.

We went up to the lighthouse that you have to climb about 400something steps to get to. It was so beautiful up there. There is a little outdoor museum a little bit below the lighthouse that is dedicated to the Santa Ana which is a ship that something happened to at some point in Ecuador´s history apparently. I don´t know, I didnt read any of the plaques since I was too busy goofing around with everyone. We kept taking pictures in places where we weren´t supposed to be. There were these pirate statues all over the little park area and they were behind the chains that you weren´t supposed to cross. So everywhere we´d go, Gabriel would look around for the guards and then go,¨one, two, three" and we´d all run as fast as we could to where the pirate was and snap a picture and then run back. It was a blast. We were acting like kids and it was so much fun!

We climbed up this little rock-wall to a tree that was growing half way up it and took a bunch of pictures there. Ismael actually climbed the tree. I am pretty sure that wasn´t allowed. On the way back down the hill, Ismael thought it would be hilarious to push me down it. Turns out, it was hilarious.

After the museum we walked down the stairs but went around the back way this time and found a little park. We played on the swings and the teetertotter until the guard came and kicked us out of the park. She said, "hey, this park is for little kids, not for big jerks like you." and Ismael says, in complete seriousness, "maám, with all due respect, we may be big, but we are not can still play here, right?" (because she is short. her nickname is enana which means midget. i have yet to figure out if that bothers her or not. haha) We all roared out in laughter and the guard just walked away. We left after that still laughing and went to eat a late dinner at KFC. The funny thing about restaurants here that we are familiar with in the United States is that the combos automatically come with rice. So we had fried chicken with rice and beans and it was a great time. We were so tired after all that that most everyone fell asleep in the taxi on the way home. We got home a little late (1:00am...oops) and the boys got a talking to from Marcelo for keeping the girls out so late. haha. Next time we will be a little more careful about the time.

I had a blast! You know, this is going to sound of the tiny worries I had before coming here was that I was not going to be able to laugh nearly as hard as I love to laugh because I thought I wouldn´t understand the humor here because of the language barrier. But I am glad to know I was so, so wrong.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Happy 5th Anniversary!

last thursday night marcelo asked me if i would make a video for the following sunday morning. this past sunday, the church celebrated its 5th anniversary. it was pretty cool, there was lots of music and special presentations. i made a video using a lot of the pictures that sandra gave me from the last five years. i wish they had given me a little more time to work on it ...but that's how they roll here, i guess. haha. anyway, here is the video. my favorite part of it is seeing all the different baptisms they have had. you will notice that they have about three options when it comes to a baptistry. they go to the water park, they go to the river, or they set up a kiddie pool in the street. hopefully there will be more opportunities for video projects like this, and hopefully with more advance-notice (it's ok to dream, right?). enjoy...