Today is Laundry Day...it's a long day after Baba.
Definitely not me. After a month and a half of having to flush our toilet with three pitchers-full of water and a plunger, our landlord decided to do something about it for us. (I wonder if it had anything to do with us letting him know we were going to hire a plumber and pay the plumber out of our rent money). The landlord’s brother-in-law came over to take a look. He removed the toilet and after weirding around with the toilet in my shower for twenty minutes, decided there was nothing stuck in the toilet, and that it must be that the inside of the toilet plumbing has got enough built-up gunk that the poo can’t get through easily. So, Aunt Julie, if that's what you meant by "toidy bowl ring" then you win the prize...which was going to be an Ecuadorian chocolate bar, but I don't know how well that will ship...so it might be something else.
Brother-in-law told the landlord that he needs to replace the whole toilet. So here’s the new contest: When will the landlord replace the toilet? The person who guesses closest to the actual toilet-replacement date wins a prize. Bonus points if you can guess how many times we’ll need to ask him to replace the toilet before he does!
In other, less complainy and much less poopy news, we have had an awesome time this past month working with the missionary groups that have come to El Recreo! The first group, from El Paso, Texas, came to give out water filtration systems to the people of El Recreo. Ismael and I were among those given the responsibility of choosing 4 of our neighbors who would receive filters for their homes. It was very cool being able to give something like that to our neighbors. Besides being a way for them to have clean water without having to spend all their money on bottled water, it was also a way for us to build friendships with them.
The group gave Ismael and I a water filter as well, which is AWESOME! I love my filter! I wasn’t convinced at first because look at it…it’s basically just a bucket, a hose, and a black thing that they say gets rid of all kinds of junk. But then we had the opportunity to go with a couple people from the group to visit a university class at ESPOL in Guayaquil where Shane Walker, a professor at the University of Texas in El Paso, gave a guest lecture on the water filtration system they were giving out. And after hearing all about what’s inside the black thing and how it works to filter out the bacteria and parasites, I’m sold.
After the group from El Paso left, another group from Newbury Park First Christian Church came for a couple of weeks to work with the Iberoamerican churches in Samborondon and Baba. Ismael and I were invited to go to Baba with the group and help them out there with construction and VBS (and translation, which I found out after we arrived to Baba).
Let me tell you something about Baba. It is dirty. The word “baba” actually means “dog drool”…so there you go. I mean, I love the people at the church in Baba. They are some of the most welcoming, hospitable, kind people you will ever meet. But they live in some of the grossest conditions imaginable. And I don’t really get it. It’s not because they have to…the grocery stores around town do sell bleach and brooms and mops and toilet bowl cleaner…for cheap! I don’t know…I think it’s just because everybody’s used to things the way they are. Yuck. So Ismael had the pleasure of sleeping with all the boys in the church building (also, the added bonus of begging one of the gringos to share his air mattress). The hard part for the boys was that they had to deflate their air mattresses and pack up all their bedding every single morning and move all their bags to another part of the building and then re-inflate their mattresses and redo their beds every night since they had to do construction work in the church building where they slept every day. So that was tough on them. Oh, also…there were fleas. All over. A lot of the guys got bit up by fleas every night. So it was definitely a tough trip to Baba. Not to mention we did that for a week. I have never seen them take a group to Baba for that long. The longest I’ve ever heard of them taking a group to work in Baba has been three days…so…it was a long time in Baba.
I had the pleasure of sleeping in the living room of the house next door to the church, which the pastor of the Baba church had rented for us ladies for the week. The living room of the house next door (along with the rest of the house) belongs to a sweet little old man whose wife had just passed away a month before. He was very kind to us and very welcoming. But I don’t think the poor guy had cleaned his house in years! The kitchen was covered (seriously) in ants, grease, chicken poo (not kidding), and whatever else had made its way into that kitchen to die in some corner in the last 20 years. The bathroom was crazy. The tile in the shower was a kind of orangey-brown color. Originally, it had been white. I think I scrubbed the tile with bleach and steel wool for two hours and got it down to a nice beige. But that’s not the worst of it. I can handle dirt and gunk. What I found most revolting was the cat-sized rat that scrounged around in the kitchen every night. Man…and here’s the kicker…the last night we were there we were all in bed with the lights off and I heard some noise in the kitchen down the hall. I shine my flashlight down the hallway into the kitchen and there’s the giant rat. I know people say that rodents are generally more scared of humans than humans are of rodents. But this rat was not so much scared as it was irritated that I was bothering it with my light. It stopped what it was doing when I shined my light at it…looked up at me, stared for a second, and then continued to rat around in the kitchen. Haha! I can laugh about it now that I’m home and can see no evidence of rodents. But at the time, that was just wrong. Oh yeah…and the next morning there was rat doo on top of the little table right next to my mattress.
I’m not even going to tell you about the bathrooms in the church building. I won’t do it.
So, that was good times. No, but really though…it was a great time bonding with the Newbury Park crowd. We did lots of VBS programs for kids in the different schools in the area. We (the boys…not me) did a lot of construction work. We did lots of preaching and teaching. And I translated a ton of it! Even Ismael got to translate some, which was pretty cool.
After Baba, we got to go with the group to the beach in a place called Curía (pronounced like Korea) which, after several miscommunications and the terrible possibility of more construction work there, ended up being mostly relaxing. No fleas! It was a nice trip. We had a lot of fun hanging out with Geovanni too, who was our trip leader. He is one of the two men who Marcelo has been "training" to take over the church when he goes back to Chile. Geovanni is a good guy.
Now the Newbury Park group is gone and we’ve had several days of sleep which has been great! But it was sad to see them go. We made lots of great friends who we look forward to hanging out with again next time we’re in the U.S.A….which reminds me…Happy Independence Day everybody! Hope you enjoyed some great legal fireworks (and illegal firework…Burkhardts)! Man, it’s been forever since I’ve been in the U.S. for a 4th of July! Someday…