Back to the States and Good News!

So most of you know what the States look like so this post has no pictures and thus is quite short. Awww……anyway yeah we had to leave earlier than we thought so we landed  in Washington, D.C on Tuesday. We went to the Ecuadorian Consulate on Wednesday walked in the pouring, driving cold rain and….voila! Granted a 6 month 12-IX Visa! Also got our FBI fingerprints redone. Yay!

So, thanks to all of you for your kind words and prayers. We are now in Alabama visiting my Dad, just came from Chet`s daughter who has 2 studies getting baptized this weekend! We leave the States from Washington Nov. 6, a whirlwind tour plus picking up some of the stuff we had to jettison.

We’ll keep you posted…Hasta Luego

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“The sun did not shine it was too wet to play so we sat in the house on that cold, cold wet day” or Coping with Discouragement

First, pictures from the English circuit assembly last weekend in Quito (peak attendance 385) and a shout out to Wendy, I met the Gunns!

The day after the Assembly we visited Mitad Del Mundo, the Middle of the World, although they say it’s directly on the equator the actual location is up the street and around the corner…nice shops and cute little dancers from Loja province though! On the way we met some friends at the bus station engaged in public witnessing.

Ofelia bus station, Quito
Ofelia bus station, Quito
Ofelia bus station, Quito
Ofelia bus station, Quito
Middle of the World, Mitad del Mundo
Middle of the World, Mitad del Mundo
Too cute, huh?
Too cute, huh?
Young hombres of the Loja province, ready to dance.
Young hombres of the Loja province, ready to dance.
Young mujeres of the Loja province ready to dance.
Young mujeres of the Loja province ready to dance.
A beautiful young Loja province dancer.
A beautiful young Loja province dancer.

Dr. Seuss describes the past week I’ve had literally and figuratively. I am not even sure I wanted to write this post lest I sound like a Negative Nelly. The changes here are a bit (and a lot) overwhelming and stressful at times for both of us. Everything is different, the weather, the food, the language, the culture, my hair (yeah, my hair has been shedding like crazy and yes I am a bit vain about that…all my sistahs know what I’m talkin’ bout!) and just the systems to get things done. And although I embrace change and I love it here overall, at times all the variables get to me and at times they get to Chet. Watch out when life here gets to both of us at the same time but thankfully that’s not often.

This week was hard as we found out our visa requests have been denied  and we have to get most of our paperwork ( ALL OF IT!!!) redone. I won’t bore you with details but the long and short of it is we are coming back to the States for about 3 weeks so I can get fingerprinted by the FBI, (No I am not a thug) and all our documents can be apostilled. Again. If you don’t know what that is…Count your blessings! We are actually looking forward to being in the States. A chance to see family, some friends perhaps and accomplish our paperwork in a timely fashion. And go to the consignment shops in Philly! Yay! Retail Therapy! We will fly into Washington, DC. the middle of November if not sooner.

Today big crocodile tears rolled down my face when the brother visiting from the branch told a joke during his talk and Chet and I just looked at each other…I knew it was something about a TV. It was like the straw that…you know. I wondered again, what are we doing here? Our fluency in the ministry, in the meetings and with most of the friends is very limited.  However, after the meeting I met Brother Costa and his wife Betty. They have served at the branch in Guayaquil for 20 years. He is from Boston and she is from South Dakota. He said to me, “It is so good you are here! There is work to be done in English, but there is more work to be done in Spanish!” I said “Really??? I don’t feel like I’m doing anything!” He said “You’re already doing it! Smiling and hugging the friends goes beyond language…besides you are getting a taste of missionary life!” He went on to tell me that as missionaries 20 years or more ago he thought his transition to the language, culture, etc.  would only be 6 months because they had classes before they came…not so, it was more like 3 or 4 years! He said they spoke “Tarzan/Jane Spanish” for a while! He encouraged both Chet and I in separate conversations not to give in or give up! The friends need to see our example, there is much work to be done here and it is vital to step up our personal study program, to make sure we feed ourselves spiritually. Hmm, I had just started my increased study program this week. And the new TV channel and JW language App are also blessings, huh?

Another encouragement is the wonderful circuit assembly in Quito we enjoyed last weekend. So as I think about transitioning for 3 or 4 years it seems daunting. I believe what will help me is to keep thinking about one of the talks the brother gave during the recent Gilead Graduation, “The Fruitage of the Spirit is Patience”. Yes, patience, taking one day at a time and being patient with Jehovah and myself!

Public Witnessing & the “Valley of Longevity”

Two Friday afternoons ago Jennifer asked me to accompany her to Terminal Terrestre (the large main bus station)  in Cuenca for public witnessing as Eric was not going to arrive until 6pm. Yay! I had wanted to have a share in that work but the C.O here likes to approve all the applications. It took us about 30 minutes to walk to the bus station, not really that far from us but we also witnessed on the way.

The bus station is quite large, with buses going to various locales throughout Ecuador. There are numerous tiendas (little shops) throughout selling lots of goodies and snacks to make your journey a pleasant one. There are even tiendas selling DVD’s and stuffed animals. Whatever you want it seems you can get it here. We relieved a special pioneer couple who have been serving full-time for 40 years. She was a classically trained opera singer and dancer. Very neat couple. The picture is of Jennifer and another special pioneer couple (Mario and Jennifer Vitores) from Guayaquil who stopped by to say hello to us. They have been serving for the past couple of years in the Amazon jungle. The need in their congregation is really great with only a couple of brothers in the congregation. So if you like the jungle you may want to consider….anyway, we had a couple of very nice experiences including one with a young woman who asked why we did this work and called ourselves Jehovah’s Witnesses. She stood with us for about 15 minutes or so while Jennifer shared a couple of nice scriptures with her and reasoned with her on them. I am looking forward to the C.O coming in November so I can submit my application.

The 2 Jennifers and Mario at Terminal Terrestre
The 2 Jennifers and Mario at Terminal Terrestre

This past weekend we celebrated our 9th anniversary by going to the Valley of Longevity or more commonly known as Vilcabamba. Vilcabamba is south of Cuenca and very close to the border of Peru. Some people have compared it to the north shore of Hawaii, and although it did remind me of that, minus the ocean of course, it was extraordinarily peaceful, lush and breathtaking in it’s own right. There are numerous gringos in Vilcabamba, (some have been here for 40+ years after following a spiritual guru called Johnny Lovewisdom), including hip young backpackers making their way through South America and lots of retirees seeking their eternal Fountain of Youth. I swear some of them were at Woodstock back in the day! We stayed at Hosteria Izhcayluma (Oh-steer-ee-uh Ish-kay-loom-uh). A unique inn run by a German couple with accomodations for backpackers and those who don’t! Restaurant on site that overlooks an amazing mountain vista and the green valley below. We stayed in one of the cabins, complete with hammock on the veranda again overlooking mountainous terrain. $49 a night and very cozy.

The first day we arrived I was sick from the 4.5 hour van ride over very curvy roads. The views off the side of the road as our driver passed on double lines were to die for, literally!  I tried to catch up on some of my reading but made the fatal mistake of sitting in the very back of the van. Who me? yeah, I don’t ever get car sick. No bueno! Ugh, I was so sick all I could do was lay my poor head down for the rest of the afternoon and evening when we arrived. I awakened refreshed at about 2 a.m, timidly made my way thru the inky darkness to the veranda and was greeted by a vast array of stars as far as I could see. I couldn’t help but grin, and then laugh into the night. Have you ever done that? Have you ever seen something, even the tiniest thing of Jehovah’s creation that is so beautiful it makes you gasp and fills you with such joy!?