Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Encouraging Experiences from the Week...

Hello! How are you all doing? Things are going well here. The weather is continuing to cooperate and we haven't had hardly any rain for the last 2 months, but that should soon come to an end. I think that January starts the rainy season. We're keeping busy in the ministry and continuing to find interest. Of course, we deal with the worldwide problem of having difficulty finding them again. But, all we can do is try!
We are continuing to study with Carina and her kids and they are really enjoying it. She started working at the Dental Clinic again, so I thought, "well, this is it". But, I was wrong. One day I was passing by their house on the street and the boy saw me and came running down the street after me! He kept telling me to come back to the house because they had to talk to me. I thought, "Great, this is it..", but they actually wanted to tell me that since she started working again, they couldn't have the study on Tues, but could we switch it to Sunday? So, this past Sunday we went at 4:30 and she was waiting for us. Miguel (the son) wasn't there, he was playing with some neighbor kids, but she said that he gave her strict instructions to call him when we got there, and sure enough, he came running right away and got his books!
She had a few questions this week about 144,000 and Hellfire. We just showed her a few scriptures about each subject and she completely understood. It is amazing how it can be so clear to some people, and then others you have to reason and reason and reason and they still never get it. I guess it shows she has the right heart condition. She has a Catholic background, but sees too much hypocrisy in the catholic church so she doesn't go. For instance, there is a HUGE catholic church across the street from her and they usually have the doors open so the whole street can hear the sermon on Sundays. She said that the priest was asking for extra donations so that he could go to another country for some mission work. She was so mad! She said, "He eats 3 full meals a day and lacks nothing. How dare he expect these poor people, who don't always have food to eat, to give even more money so that he can travel!" Boy, was I glad that we had already explained to her we were here with our own savings, our church doesn't give us any money!


Chad has been having some really good calls also. One of the sisters in the hall asked Chad to start studying with a young man in his late 20's. (The above photo is a picture of him studying this afternoon. I had to be really "sneaky" to take the picture, so as you can see by Chad's big yawn, he didn't know I was taking the picture either!) We are sitting on the only chairs they have (3 rubbermaid chairs.) He brings them outside for us because he, his wife and his little girl all live in one room. That is all that they rent, they share the bathroom with others. He apologized today for their "pobreza", for the poor conditions that they live in. It almost broke my heart.
The sister who has been studying with him is a wonderful sister, with good intentions, but as Chad says, "All of her cylinders just aren't firing", if you know what I mean. But she does the best she can for her abilities. She had been studying with this man for quite a few months, taking a different person with her each time. The interesting thing is that if you go with her on the study, you WILL conduct, because she doesn't read well. So, she counts the study, but never conducts it. So, I guess that a few of the pioneers had been trying to persuade here to hand the study over to a brother, but she refused to do it. When Chad realized what was happening, he decided that although he couldn't count it, he would try to go with her each week just so that someone "a little more capable" could consistently keep track of this man's progress.

So, things have been going well, the man actually attends the Sunday meeting with another cong., because he works evenings and our meeting is on Saturday evening. So, given that he has been studying with this sister and having pretty much no consistent guidance he is doing really well! About 2 weeks ago the sister told Chad (with a very sad expression on her face) that he could have the study. So, Chad has been going weekly. Then last week the sister told him that she had changed her mind, because this was the only study that she has, and so she would continue to count it. Either way, Chad continues to go and conduct, both for the sake of the student, but also for her sake. This past week, they were about to start Chapter 12, the section on practices that Jehovah hates. So, before they started Chad asked him if he thought he had anything that he needed to work on. So, the man thought for a moment and said," Yes, actually. A few weeks ago I drank a little too much with some visiting family members. And also, I have given blood in the past." This surprised Chad because they hadn't studied the section yet, so he asked the man, how he knows that Jehovah doesn't like these things. Evidently, he read about the drinking in one of the magazines that he had read. And someone in the past had given him a yearbook. So, he is reading it. He said that there was an experience in the yearbook about a brother that had refused blood and he learned from that experience that servants of Jehovah shouldn't accept blood. (Doesn't that make you feel bad if you haven't read the yearbook yet?) haha Anyway, he is making good progress and is a real source of encouragement for Chad (although he can't actually say that it is his study!) Never a dull moment here in Ecuador!
Well, I believe I've rambled on enough for one day. We have to head back out in service!
We think of you all often and miss you terribly! Keep up the good work up North!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Final Snack Night!

I think that bookstudies the world over will be having "Snack Night" this week after the bookstudy! We had ours last night, and it was a little sad! I'm not quite sure why, it's not like we aren't going to see each other again! haha But, it sure does seem like the end of an era... how old do I sound?

So, they were all excited that we were going to have "Cuban Sandwiches". I was interested to see what these sandwiches were, too! It turns out that a "Cuban Sandwich" (to them anyway) is a ham, cheese, tom, lettuce and mayo sandwich! OOOH, the excitement! It was very funny to see how excited they were about these sandwiches. But, they were good, and everyone enjoyed themselves. I took a photo of the group to share with you.

Yes, Chad is indeed on his knees, and is still almost as tall as everyone else.....


Hope you all enjoy your "snack night"!




Gringo Getaway Part 4

Here's some more photos of our trip to Otavalo!
Hope you enjoyed traveling with us on the Gringo Getaway Train!
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gringo Getaway Part 3

Finally, it worked! This is the next segment of our trip to Otavalo. What a beautiful area! Hopefully you aren't tired of pictures of our trip because we still have more to show you!

Hope you are all doing well!

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We're Still Alive!

Hello! How are you doing? Sorry we haven't blogged in a while. We had our CO visit last week which kept us very busy. It was an encouraging visit, as always. Their names are Peter and Elizabeth (Pedro y Isabel) Johnston (? not sure about the spelling). He is Canadian, but his parents moved here to serve where the need was greater when he was 1 year old. So, although, technically he isn't Ecuadorian, you can't tell from his accent. He has practically lived here his whole life! She is Ecuadorian, but also lived in the USA for a few years, so speaks fluent English. They are really sweet. They were special pioneers here after they got married, and they have so many interesting experiences. They have been in the Circuit work for 20 years here.

We really admire them because the circuit work here is even more challenging than in the US! (In my opinion!) The brothers and sisters, of course, are much more poor, so some of the houses that they stay in are very interesting. She was saying that they went to Canada last month for some medical check-ups and she thought she better go see a doctor about her allergies. So, he did all the tests and found out that she was allergic to dust mites! He asked her if she had any cats or dogs. So, she just looked at him with a grin on her face and said...."WE don't have any pets, but the familes we stay with every week have cats, dogs, chickens and guinea pigs in the house!" Of course he had to ask her about that and she got to witness to him. He was so impressed with what they do that he gave her about 2 years worth of sample medicine for her allergies!

There is also a problem here with "bed bugs" as a general term....I am not really sure what they are....they are similar to fleas I guess. I guess we pick them up in the rurals, they come home with us, somehow get in our bed and then bite during the night! I have had a huge problem with them here, they have not even touched Chad. (I guess now we know who is sweeter! or dirtier?) haha Anyway, we have to sprinkle flea killer on the mattress, or Eucalyptus leaves, or whatever. How annoying! Well, the CO's wife, of course, has to deal with all sorts of things like this. Usually the critters are already in the mattress when they get there! So, she very discreetly brings a plastic mattress cover and plastic covers for her pillows and puts them on the bed when they arrive. There are just so many things that we take for granted in the US! How I miss my bug-free mattress!!!! haha But, anyway, they will tell you these stories if you ask, but they are very positive, non-complaining people and we really enjoyed being around their positive attitude and hearing all of the blessings that they have received from their life of full-time service to Jehovah.

Last year they had a really difficult year. If I got this correctly I think he was teaching a Pio. School or something and just went blind! It turns out that he had a huge tumor in his brain that caused him to lose his sight. So, because he is a citizen of Canada and can get his medical bills paid for there, they went and stayed at the Canadian Branch for quite a few months while he was being treated for this VERY serious condition. The whole time he was waiting for his surgery up there, he couldn't see. How discouraging! But, he did eventually have the surgery, and although very dangerous, it worked and he regained his eyesight. And the tumor was not cancerous as was previously thought! As you can imagine, it was such a challenge for them in a foreign country, away from their friends, and dealing with that. But, the brothers in Canada were wonderful and they finally were able to return to Ecuador. Despite all of the challenges, they continue to faithfully serve in their assignment as CO.
As you can see it was a very encouraging week!

We have a few videos from our little trip that we have been trying to put on the blog for the past few days, but we are having some trouble. I don't know if it is the internet, or the blogsite, or what....we will keep trying!

Things are going well here, we have had about 1 month straight with hardly any rain, so we have been getting a lot of service time in! They say the rain should start up again in January! Boo hoo...But, I guess we shouldn't complain, I hear you guys are having quite the winter so far! I am soooo sad that I am missing all the snow and ice! I love it!

Thanks for your patience with this blogging thing....I hope to have the videos uploaded for you in the next few days, then you don't have to read my rambling messages! haha
Miss you guys!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gringo Getaway Part 2

Just a little video of some more of the interesting things around Quito. We really did enjoy ourselves and we were educated also! Hope things are going well for you all! We miss you!
The final segment will be of Otavalo...stay tuned!!!
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Carina

For those of you who feel that we have been spending too much time playing and not enough preaching..(you know who you are) haha ...we got right back into the swing of things this week in the ministry. Yesterday, we went to visit Carina, the woman who owns the little store and who was excited to see the Bible Teach Book. She had a huge smile on her face as she said, "Hola Michele!" She was ready for us! She got her book, a table, and 5 chairs. Her kids were so excited and kept asking her if they could study too! So, there we all sat in front of her store. She didn't mind that her customers would come up and see what we were doing, she would just take a minute to wait on them and then come right back and sit down. We discussed pgs. 4,5 on the promises (and the little girl just kept staring at the pictures with a big smile on her face saying, "I want to live there!")
The boy was excited to show us that he knows how to find scriptures in his Bible! We had already been there about 30 minutes and so I asked them if they wanted to continue or stop there. So Carina looked at the kids and said, "What do you think?" They both said, " We want to continue the study!" So,we did the next 5 paragraphs together. They really are adorable. It really is so exciting to see how happy some are to study the bible. And the kids really have a spiritual interest. Hopefully, they keep up the good work and we can keep you posted.

I do still have some more pictures of the trip to post, so I will hopefully do that in the next few days. Keep in touch, we would love to know how you all are doing!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We're Back!!

Hello again! How are you all doing? We had a WONDERFUL time on our "Gringo Getaway". We visited Quito and Otavalo. What a beautiful area. It is really interesting how although Ecuador is a relatively small country, each region has its own personality and culture. We particularly loved Otavalo. I came home with so many pictures that I have to divide them into a few blogs. This first video is just some of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The population is 1.5 million and the altitude is 9,350 ft above sea level, so again, it is a very mountainous city. It is home to at least one volcano, which I am told is dormant. The climate is about the same as here in Cuenca, mid 60's to mid 80's, the advantage of Quito is that it seems to have less rain! The city really is beautiful, I tried to take pictures to show you, but a picture just doesn't do it justice! I hope to have the other pictures put in our blog in the next few days.....


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Until Next Week!

Well, the last 2 days have just been plain depressing due to the viewing and the funeral for little Joanna. But, we are leaving for a short trip tomorrow morning until Sunday evening. Just because we are in Ecuador doesn't mean we can't have Thanksgiving vacation, right? haha

Since this might be our last trip here to Ecuador for a while, we wanted to see some of the other cities. We are actually going to Quito, the capital of Ecuador for some sightseeing and then will take the bus to Otovalo, which has the highest concentration of indigenous people here in Ecuador, so we hope to have lots of cool pictures, videos and stories to share with you when we get back!
Until next time....behave yourselves and miss you lots!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Joanna

We received some very sad news this evening. Our little sister Joanna passed away tonight. Last week her parents told us that things were looking very positive, as the chemotherapy seemed to be working and her cancer count had dropped. But her father came to the meeting last night with her little brother and sister and he told us that she had taken a turn for the worse. Her blood count had dropped to 2 on Thursday and she had contracted bronchitis due to her weakened immune system. She had stopped eating. But they were hopeful that the medicine would help her fight her infection. Unfortunately, we received the news this evening that she passed away.
It has to be one of the most tragic things ever. But, at least she is no longer suffering, and Jehovah will certainly keep this little sister in his memory. She fought the fine fight until the end. The blood issue, as I said before, was a huge problem. The Doctors continually gave the family a hard time, treating them as criminals for refusing blood. When the parents weren't around, they would pressure little 9 year old Joanna to accept the blood transfusions. But, she took a firm stand, even telling the Doctor that she would rather die than take blood.
Her father told us that before she would go to sleep she would plead with her mother to please defend her stand on blood while she was sleeping in case the doctors tried to give her the blood while she slept. She, as well as her parents, have been such a fine example of faith and endurance under trial. We look forward to seeing her again in the new system.
Thank you to all for your prayers and donations, which will continue to help this poor family greatly during this extremely difficult time. They will still be stuck paying a months worth of hospital bills, as she was in the hospital the whole time. So, thank you again to all for your prayers and monetary help. Please continue to keep them in your prayers.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Dreaded Friday Service Group!!!!

Well, not all of it is horrible...we enjoy being with the brothers and sisters. But, it is the most exhausting of our days in service. Each day of the week the meeting for service is at a different families house. This is because hardly anyone has a car, so once we get to the meeting for service, we then will work the territories around that area so as not to kill ourselves. This particular family lives up the mountain, so it takes us about 30 minutes of climbing just to get to the meeting for service...and then from there, guess what type of territory we work?
Yep, you guessed it...MOUNTAINS!!
But, it has proved to be one of the most exciting territories for us...it really makes you FEEL like you are serving in a foreign country!
So, I added a short video segment of some of the excitement of the day....the music is some of the traditional music from Ecuador...let us know what you think...I think it reminds me of Polka!

Oh, by the way, we do have a phone number here that we can be reached at: (570) 245-6849. It is a PA number, so you shouldn't have to pay very much, and it comes here to our computer in Ecuador via Skype! (or you can just Skype us like before: pacman.78) Hope to hear from you!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Been a Very Good Few Days!

Like any territory, we have our good days and bad days....but, it just so happens that it has been a very good few days for us. Tuesday, Chad placed 3 "Bible Teach" Books and has 4 potential bible studies. Yesterday, I placed 2 books and now have 4 potential bible studies. The one young woman, Carina, owns her own little store and so she is always there. She was really excited to learn that we were Jehovah's Witnesses and to see the Bible Teach Book because she said she used to work in a Dental Office and one of her patients witnessed to her, but they never could find a good time to actually study. Since she no longer works there, she lost contact. She was really sweet, and since she has the store at her house, hopefully she will be there when I go next week!

Our friend, Beth, who is serving here from New Zealand, asked me to go along with her yesterday morning on a return visit which turned into a very good bible study. The woman ran right into the house to get her book and followed along, answering every question. She seemed comforted to know that God does care about suffering. She was mislead by her minister who tells everyone that when something bad happens, it is because God is punishing you. What a sad misrepresentation of God. But, by the end of the study, she felt better knowing that God is not indifferent, and does not cause our problems. We'll keep you posted on her progress!

On another note, we met in the center of the city yesterday for lunch in between morning service and afternoon service. The other "gringos" in the city have established a regular Thursday "Gringos Anonymous" Meeting. There are usually between 2-5 families that eat there. It is just a nice time to actually speak English and share crazy and good experiences had by all for the week. I hope to formally introduce each family to you all via blog in the next few weeks as each one of them has had there own struggles and challenges, as well as wonderful blessings from serving here in Ecuador. It is always very encouraging to be with them.

I have enclosed a few pictures of the food that we had there at the restaurant. The juice is "jugo de mora" which is basically berry juice. The mora berry is a name for blackberries/rasberries that are very common here. It is sooooo good! The green soup is split pea soup, but the interesting thing is that here they put popcorn in their soups! I guess it is like us putting crackers in ours! It is very good! The other picture is of our dessert. It is a slice of "queso fresco" which is cheese that is basically unpasteurized, but very good, and then they drizzle it with cane syrup...it is syrup that comes from a sugar cane (I think). It was the first time for us to try that dessert, but it was delicious! And the great thing is that the meal costs $2.90 per person, for soup, lunch, dessert and juice!





Our Apartment!

So, I know that I already emailed photos of the apartment to some of you. But, some of you mentioned that you either didn't get the photos, or you couldn't open them. So, this is just a short video tour. Visitors are always welcome! (We'll even take the moldy bedroom, just for you!) haha

We searched and searched and searched for a dehumidifier, to no avail. Finally, yesterday, we found one...of course in the most expensive store in town...Do you want to know how much it would cost us? Wait for it.........a mere $416.00 for a normal size dehumidifier!
Now I guess we know why everyone puts up with the mold!
Suddenly it doesn't seem that bad to us either!


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Monday, November 17, 2008

Field Trip!

Our congregation had completed our tract campaign, so we offered to help out a small congregation about 45 minutes from us, in Deleg, with their campaign. They live way out in the rurals and live up even higher than us in the mountains. ALL of their territory is climbing hills and bad roads. They have 27 publishers and one elder. They did not even have a Kingdom Hall before, but one of the brothers built a new house and built a small Kingdom Hall onto the front of it for them. It, of course, is very small. So, when our group of 80 people showed up yesterday to help them with their territory, they were shocked!
We had 13 cars and 2 buses that traveled up there to Deleg. If you did not have your own transportation, you had to put your name on a list with the Service Overseer and he had the exciting task of assigning each person to a car! Needless to say, the morning was a little bit chaotic. Our friend Doug (who is serving here from Georgia, USA) likes to call it the "fruit basket turn-over"....it's like a fruit basket tips over and there is fruit rolling around everywhere! But, we made it there, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the special day with the congregation.
It was a great witness for the locals because they never see such a big group of witnesses and I think we covered the territory by 2pm!
We loved it! Although, we were exhausted because of the altitude....
there is even less oxygen there than here! Cuenca has an altitude of about 8500 ft above sea level, Deleg is about 10,000 ft above sea level. Just to put that in perspective, I think Mile High Stadium in Denver is about 5200 ft above sea level.
But all it all it was a VERY good day!
We have also attached a short photo segment of some of the pictures from the day.
Hopefully you should just have to click on play and it should play!
(But you never know with our crazy skills.....)

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

And So It Begins.......

Hello everyone....we are about to try something different and attempt a blog! We think it might be a little bit more convenient to keep you up to date on our adventures and mishaps!
Please be patient with our very small knowledge of blogging......it shall prove to be interesting and show just how lost we are!
Hope you enjoy the ride!!!