Monday, June 29, 2009

Still Smilin'!!!!

Well, we now have another week under our belt and we are learning a lot from these sisters! They make EVERYTHING from scratch! Doug was encouraging more to have a share in the work this past week in his talk and he said, "The Kitchen is FUN! The sisters all talk and laugh..." and it really is true...we sure do laugh (with Beth and I it is mostly at ourselves!) hahahahaha

Just wanted to post some more pictures of the activities! Next week will be the real test, because Carina (our boss that was sent by the branch) will be leaving us on Thursday! BOO HOO!

Who needs to strap things down when the brothers can just hold onto it? hahahaha

Because the storage area is pretty far away from the KH, the members of the construction group have been using bikes to get back in forth. This brother is carrying his ladder on his bike!

The brothers and sisters all fell in love with Beth as she shows them her "pizza making skills"! They were so excited to have pizza that night...and we bought them chips and Coke and everything! They loved it!

Mark and Chad help us with the dishes after dinner sometimes
just so we can go home!
Here is mark showing off his stylish hair net!!

Saturday morning we made these "Bolones De Verde"! They were delicious! You cut up a plantain into these slices, fry them, mash them up, mix them with fried sausage. Then with your hands (and believe me it is tough), you compact them into these little balls of food (which you can see in the top of the picture), hence the name, bolones!

Saturday lunch was quite the experience! They made "guatita"! Which as you can see in the picture is cow stomach! (Otherwise known as "Tripe") In the morning I wasn't quite sure about it, because they pulled out this huge white raw stomach and were cleaning it (it stank). Even while they were cooking it it was very smelly! But, when it was all said and done, they cut it up into very little pieces, made a very flavorful sauce for it (with peanut butter in it--VERY YUMMY) and everyone LOVED it! The construction brothers especially were soooo excited, some of them had 4 or 5 helpings! I have to say that it was good! I would definitely eat it again!

Here are Mark and Chad with their new "buddies" eating the cow stomach! We have all enjoyed the many new friendships that we have made. The brothers from the construction group are absolutely HILARIOUS! (Especially the one in red between Chad and Mark). And the amount of energy that they all have! They work like DOGS all week long, and then Sunday and Monday they go out in service with the congregation. We are also using them pretty hard for meeting parts! Three of them had parts on the school and service meeting this past week.
What a pleasure to have them with us!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day of Reckoning....

Yes, we are indeed still alive...BARELY! hahaha We now officially have one week under our belt and only 5 more to go! All in all it was a good week, we all had our good moments and bad. It has been really nice getting to know all the brothers and sisters that come to work. Beth and I continue to work from 6am until 6:30pm, so as a result, there have been a few moments of COMPLETE exhaustion where I just wanted to cry (oh, wait, I think I did that today!) I came running home to clean up a few things since the CO and his wife come today to stay with us for 2 weeks and I was washing dishes. Anyway, I broke a glass, didn't hurt myself, but I started crying! Chad immediately recognized the need for a nap and made me go to bed for a little while. After that everything was just fine! Just a small meltdown! hahahahaha

Chad managed to step on a nail Day 2 of the INCREDIBLY rusty nail I might add for which he had to go get a tetanus shot and has been gimping around ever since! He should be back in action tomorrow! Mark came home today with a high fever and body aches and has been in bed all day. As I mentioned before, I had a small nervous breakdown this am for a few minutes, and Beth suffered the whole day with an intense headache...are we falling apart or what? hahahaha

Actually, I think the exhaustion just caught up with us all today, but we have really been enjoying ourselves. What a privilege to be with the construction group. They are an extension of the bethel family, so they start everyday with a text discussion, then they eat breakfast, then the read the yearbook for 10 minutes. They are very sweet! We truly are looking forward to getting to know them better!

Well, I took a few photos to share with you all, so I am going to post them and then go to bed!!!
I am officially OLD and go to bed early! hahahahah

We miss you all, and don't worry about us, although it seems like we are in sorry shape, we are doing fine and enjoying ourselves!!!

I'm glad to see that the "Gringo's" aren't the only ones starting to feel tired!!

"The Kitchen Crusaders"
(the sister next to me is the one the branch sent to help us for 2 weeks)

The current state of our KH! It should be done any day now! hahahaha

Chad...trapped! (pre-hole in the foot)

We had our Special Assembly Day on Sunday, and Chad, of course had a slight limp in his walk due to the fact that he has a 1 inch hole in his foot. Anyway, I see this brother also limping around. So, I jokingly ask Chad, "What happened to him?" And Chad replies with a grin..."He stepped on a nail at the remodel!" So after laughing uncontrollably about the irony of the whole situation...I decided to take a picture of the first 2 members of the "Hole in your foot" gang!

This is Chad's hand after the first day of the remodel. Can you tell that after all those years of a nail gun and cordless drill, the good old-fashioned "hammer and nail" was causing him a bit of difficulty!!!! I jokingly told the brother in charge today that he was slowly killing all the "gringos"!
As our friend Doug says, "The motto here is kill a gringo, save an Ecuadorian!"

Just a lovely photo of one of the "whole" chickens that we get and have to cut up into little pieces for the food!! Doesn't he look peaceful? hahaha

Thursday, June 18, 2009


They always say that a picture is worth a thousand words...well, need I say more? We now have Day 1 under our belt. We were in the kitchen from 6am until 8pm...and so Beth walked in the door last night and flopped down on the chair. It actually was a very good day, although tiring! So, here we are at 5:00 this morning getting ready to head back to the kitchen! We did survive, although we really realized how little we know about Ecuadorian food! I have a feeling that will soon change! One day down, only 41 to go!!!!
We miss you guys! I hope to post more pictures when we have time...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Let's Get This Party Started!

Well, yesterday the contruction group arrived at around 2pm. They have quite the caravan of trucks and equipment. Our seemingly HUGE bodega (storage shed) that Chad and Mark built, suddenly seems small! They bring ALL the tools for the build and ALL the equipment, because the brothers here really don't have any. So, the brothers were basically like pigs in a pig-pen, because the bodega floor is just a mudbath! Chad and Mark came home covered in mud! Chad later went up to the house the brothers will be staying in to help them unload their stuff there, while Mark stayed down at the bodega to finish up a few things with the brothers. Oh, and by the way, we had our meeting last night, which Mark HAD to be there, he had the keys to the KH, and 2 parts since Doug had to spend the evening with the construction crew. So, it's about time for Mark to leave to get ready for the meeting and the construction crew is like, "Um, where are you going? We need to have a guard here at all times!" So, since Mark had to leave...enter Chad! So, Chad and another brother stayed the evening at the bodega while we were all at the meeting (and since the bodega is just some wooden planks nailed together, it isn't very warm!) But they played guitar and sang the night away!

So, we get to the meeting, and Mark realizes that they haven't given him the keys for the sound box! (we are meeting in another kingdom hall since ours is completely torn up) So, he starts the meeting leading us in song (he had to hum the first part for us) and then conducts the bible study without microphones! Finally 1/2 way through the meeting the sound kicks on....

Today started out a little shaky...we discovered that Chad's wallet must have fallen out of his pocket last night and is no where to be found...our Ecuadorian identity cards, bank cards, his drivers just know there is some Ecuadorian out there trying really hard to look tall and white so he can pass as Chad!!! Oh well, what can you do right?

Then, this morning, I met with the brother in charge of the cooking for the remodel, and guess what is the good news? Beth and I are in charge!!?!?!?! What were they thinking?! Our main job is to be trained in sanitary techniques and to make sure that the sisters are following them. But, in the end, we are the bosses! So far, not going to panic TOO much!! But, then he pulls out the menu for next week! I think I knew what about 1/4 of the items on the menu are! So, here I have been at home, doing my homework, looking online for an idea of what the different foods are and an idea of how to prepare them!! Can you hear the circus music playing now? I can...
So, basically, starting next Wednesday, Beth and I will be in the kitchen from 6am until about 6pm 7 days a week for the next 6-8 weeks! I had a brainstorm though, my dear old friend Nataly (you know, the cuy slayer). We are having them over tonight after the meeting so that she can explain the foods to me and basically how they make them....

So, Chad just ran in the door, changed out of his muddy clothes in to dress clothes because he has a meeting for the attendants for the special assembly day! That is pretty much how the whole last week has been. OK, a quick run-down of the upcoming month...REMODEL...CO visit during the remodel (which by the way, they are staying with us)....Special Assembly day also during the remodel! So, the brothers are running around like chickens with their heads cut off!!! Lots of excitement! Mark said this morning that he is already tired and the remodel hasn't started yet!

I am sure we will have tons of stories and mishaps to share over the next few weeks....but on the positive side, we should learn lots of recipes for Ecuadorian food!

I attached a few pictures of the KH before the tear out, the brothers building the bodega, how the brothers moved the rows of chairs to the other storage unit and the kitchen where we will be cooking the meals (a very generous family in another cong. are allowing us to basically LIVE in their kitchen and livingroom for the next 6 weeks).

Where is the safety officer on this one? Yes, he is actually holding up the ladder!
Yes, this is how we moved the rows of seats to storage....
you should have seen them driving down the middle of the road!


We still have a lot to tear out, we are really excited about getting tile instead of carpet, since no one in Ecuador seems to know that vacuums exist! So, after the meeting they sweep the carpet with brooms (you feel like you are in the clouds with all the dust!) or, even better, they have recently started to WET the carpet before sweeping it to cut down on the dust! (can you imagine the mold growing under it? It recently started to smell like wet dog....

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Joy From the Ministry.....

Beth and I had a really good experience yesterday morning (which most of you already know since she is a SUPER blogger and stole my thunder!!hahahaha) But, I am going to relate the experience anyway...We had a study to go on at 10:30am so we asked for some territory for an hour beforehand. The brother sent everyone else to another territory, but he gave us a different one in the other direction towards our study. Anyway, we were going to work the territory block by block as usual, but we saw just 2 houses on the other side of the street and thought, "Well, we minuswell work them while we are here". A young girl called out from the 3rd floor apartment window, and Beth started her presentation. The girl looked hesitant, so Beth asked if she could leave a tract in the door for her to read later and the girl said that she was coming down. While we were waiting, a woman came out the bottom door, she was on her way out. I thought she must have belonged to another apartment, so I started my presentation with her. She was NOT very friendly and immediately told me that she didn't believe in God. That is SOOOO rare here in this territory, so of course, I thought, "there must be more to this". I asked her if she has always felt that way, and she begins to relate this huge, sad story about how her husband has been in the USA for 4 years, and she has been raising 5 children by herself. Recently, her husband has been out of work, so she has no money coming in, and she is trying to pay off debts by herself but she only earns $200/month cleaning and she begins to cry...Then she also relates how she has been a regular Evangelical church attender, and there was an older man who is very high up in the church who was helping them out financially and spending time with the family, he is even the God-father of her 5 year old boy. He was basically part of the family. Well, come to find out last week, that the reason he was helping them is that he wanted to marry the older daughter (who is 18)! So, the woman became very angry and said that she would not "sell" her daughter for any amount of money! He became enraged, told them they were a wicked family, God could not possibly love them and that the shouldn't bother to come back to church! Can you imagine? So, of course, she feels she never wants to set foot in that church again. And, as a result, has lost some faith in God. She sees the hypocrisy, the suffering, the wickedness in this world, and it made her start to think that if there were a God, he would do something about it. Anyway, we spent some time assuring her that God loves us all, and would never approve of someone acting that way. We shared her the scriptures about the future, and what he is doing to help us right now. She just listened, and I still wasn't sure what she was thinking. So, I mentioned to her that the one way we can find some inner peace and comfort in this horrible world, is to study the Bible and build a relationship with God. Still thinking that she wasn't interested, I asked her if I could stop back another day to show her how to study her Bible. To our surprise, she asks," How about right now?" Sure! So she takes us up to her apartment, calls out the 2 older daughters, and there we all sat...the mother-n-law, the woman, her 2 daughters and Beth and I and we had our first study!!! It was such a wonderful feeling to help her to see how God DOES care for them, and will help them. By the end of the study, she said that she did feel better, so we set up the next study for Sunday morning. When it was time to leave, she left with us to walk to the bus stop, since she was also on her way out. We all got on the same bus, but her stop came before ours. When she walked past us she handed me a piece of paper that had her phone number on it and said, "See you on Sunday! Thank you so much!" WOW!!! It just seemed to us, that the angels had maneuvered things that we would knock on that very door since this poor woman has been "skinned and thrown about"! It gives me goose bumps to think about it!

The new bible study that we got from a sister in the cong. (you know, the one where all 5 of us were standing in front of the door) has been an AWESOME study! They have studied every week and are really enjoying it! Last week they were supposed to be starting a new business in the mall, so they asked us to come a 7:30am before they had to leave for work. We went, but it turns out that the grand opening was pushed back a week, so they didn't have to get up so early and were still in bed when we got there! But, they didn't mind, they got up, changed, got their books and with sleepy eyes, but smiling faces, they sat down in the living room for the study! They are SOOO nice and LOVE the study! They really pay close attention and have sooo many questions about what they are learning! I hope to have more good news about them in the future!

Maria and Maria had their study again yesterday! Although their kids are little tornadoes, they pay close attention at the study. We studied the paragraph yesterday about how well-intentioned people might try and tell them to quit studying, so I asked them if they have experienced that. OF COURSE! they said. But Maria #1 proceeds to tell me that she just tells them, "You know what, Jehovah's Witnesses are the only ones who come and knock on our doors without shame. Even though most of us slam the door in their face, they continue on with smiles on their faces looking for people who want to learn. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't know anything about the Bible, not even how to use it, and I have been Catholic all my life!" She is so cute with her righteous indignation. A few times, I have had to mention to her that we should never judge others, or criticize them for their religion, even when we think they are wrong. We have to defend ourselves "with a mild temper and deep respect". But her heart is in the right place!

So, that is just a few of our good experiences we have been having! We are anxiously preparing for the BIG remodel of our KH that will officially start tomorrow! So, we hope to have pictures and stories for you all!

Oh, and Hello to Iritza Perez from NH, thanks for your comment! As a matter of fact, we haven't seen Aron and Adriana here in Ecuador, but they were in our Spanish cong. in PA when we were in Hazleton! Please tell them hello when you talk to them, and can you get us their phone number eventually? Thanks again for the comment! What a small world!

We miss you all very much! Keep out of trouble!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"Hi! I'm Maria, and this is my sister Maria"

Remember how in my last blog I mentioned my bible student Maria? Well, she did indeed move this past weekend. Anyway, she gave me her new address and told me to call her this am to make arrangements to meet so she could show me where she lives. So, I called her this am and she answered right away, "Hola Michele! When are you coming today?" So I made arrangements to go at 10:30. When we got there, she was waiting for us! And not only that, but her sister was there waiting, too! They had set out little stools for us (as is very common here, they have no furniture), they had made juice for us (although it was probably "death in a glass" made with tap water...) and were waiting! Oh, I forgot to explain that she and her sister are identical twins...oh and there's more...they are both named Maria!!! Talk about confusing! So, try and imagine sitting directly across from Maria, and her twin sister Maria for the study! ( I was having flashbacks to "Hi, I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl!) I had to say, Maria #1, can you read this paragraph...Maria #2 can you read this scripture? You had to be there...(as a small, and insignificant side note, they both paint on their eyebrows with the same color!) But, we had an AWESOME study! They both paid close attention, took turns answering, and told me that they really wanted to make progress in their understanding of the Bible! As I was leaving they asked me about 4 times if I was going to come next week to continue the study. They wanted to make sure... I skipped down the street on the way home. The only bummer is that I have to turn them over eventually because they don't live in our territory...hmph.... But, just wanted to give you the update! Hope things are going well... We miss you all lots!