Thursday, December 27, 2012

Welcome to our house! Come on in......!

Hey guys!!! I just had a great idea to get me back on track with blogging! I often think about it, but can't really think of what to talk about. I know, it's hard to believe that I have a shortage of conversational topics. :-)

So, I decided to post some pictures of our house! We have been here for almost a year now I think! I know you are thinking that this is a huge place for just the two of us.. and you are absolutely right.  But, remember that when we moved in here, our family was much bigger! In fact, the first month or two there were 6 of us! The whole James family, and us.  And it was a perfect size! haha  But, as you know, very slowly they have all gone there various ways.  Mark and Beth returned to NZ to help take care of some family issues. BUT!!! a little birdie told me that there are some plans in the works for a future triumphant return!! YAY!! Here's hoping!!  Aaron and Amanda decided that it was time for poor Amanda to move closer to her congregation and the Chinese group.  So, they found a cute apartment much closer and have been enjoying the congregation over there.  

So, here we are, all alone in this big house!! I am not bragging, but maybe trying to convince some of you who are pondering the idea of visiting, or even moving here...our small, humble abode consists of 4 bedrooms, 2 offices/very small bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths.... I took some pictures for you guys...Hopefully it gives you an idea.

On a congregational note, things are going really well.  We have about 120 pubs and 13 pioneers right now.  Quite a few bible students are attending the meetings.  I think we have a few going over questions for baptism on our Special Assembly Day in January.  It seems like every other day Chad is heading out to go over baptism questions with someone! lol  Chad currently has 12? bible studies and I have 8.  But, the number keeps growing!!

They did a very interesting thing here in Cuenca in June.  The branch redivided all of the territories of the congregations.  They made some territories bigger and dissolved some congregations.  Then, they took all of the publisher record cards and just automatically sent you to the congregation that you belonged to!!! It was awesome.  It took some getting used to for many brothers and sisters and, of course, we were sad to see some go.  But we had a HUGE problem with this here in Cuenca.  They growth has been so fast that the congregations divide almost every 2-3 years.  Anyway, what happens is that you then have about 5 congregations meeting in the same KH and so some brothers were just picking the congregation that had a better schedule of meetings according to their jobs.  I think Chad said that we lost about 30 brothers and sisters that did not live in our territory, and we gained about 60!!

The branch sent out a very kind and encouraging letter to all of the congregations prior to the change, with a detailed list of why this adjustment is beneficial, and why it is in our best interests to be obedient.  One of the reasons was to cut back on costs and expenses.  We had 5 congregations meeting in our KH, which, as you can imagine, meant a meeting in the hall everyday of the week.  But they merged us into 3 congregations, which is less use of the hall and also means a larger and stronger elder body in each congregation.  The branch also personally chose the coordinator, the secretary, the service overseer and the WT study conductor!!!  It has been nice to see the brothers be submissive and to see the blessings that have come from the new arrangement.

You never do know.. maybe this is arrangement is coming to a city near you!!! hahaha

Well, that is about what I have for today! Oh, and we did indeed find jobs now.  We are teaching English online for a company called OpenEnglish.  I work 15 hours a week and chad works about 20.  It is a nice job, the students are nice, the management is nice and there are a ton of witnesses who are working there! Mostly need-greaters trying to support themselves also.  But, they don't care where we live, they are very flexible with the schedule and we can work from home!!! So, as always, Jehovah has arranged everything for us and better than we could have imagined!! 

Welcome!! Come on in.....
 As you can see... we unfortunately do not have very much furniture!! lol 
but it makes it a lot easier to set up for the big congregation dance parties!!! 


 So as you come up the stairs we have this open area with 2 bedrooms on the right, 2 bedrooms on the left and the bathroom is straight ahead.
 Master bedroom

 Official guest bedroom

 Not-so-official guest bedroom ;-)

 The 4th bedroom, which is my office!
The commute to work is such a headache!
 The back patio of the house (the kitchen is on the left and an outside room with full bathroom is on the right) 
The outside room is Chad's office/ man cave!
 Chad's man cave!!

Ok, NOW I am done I promise!! haha We send big hugs!!!  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thanks for the gentle nudge Sally! :-)

Well, she is right, it is time for an update. So, yet another post of changes.  Is our life ever going to settle down? :-) Things are going well here.  We are loving the congregation and being back with the friends and in the ministry again here in Cuenca.

We have news!! Do you want the good first or the bad?  The bad? Ok, yeah, let's get that out of the way and move on, eh? haha  Well, our jobs have come to an abrubt end :-( The company we work for has always had a little policy on working outside of the USA, but about a year ago, Chad explained our situation to them and they told him to just keep working until he heard from them. Well, last Tuesday we heard from them....and it appears they have decided to hold to their policy and not renew our contracts because we are living outside of the USA. Soooooo... we are trying not to panic, as Jehovah has always come thru for us before, but it is still a little stressful as you can imagine.  We have enough savings to stay here for another 2 or 3 months, but that is about it, so here's hoping for the best!!! If anyone out there happens to know of any online work that CAN be done outside of the USA, please let us know :-)!!!

Ok, enough of the depressing stuff... on the bright side we have been approved for our Residency visa!! YAY!! We still have to tie up a little bit of paperwork and actually go to the capital for our ID cards to be official,, but yay!! We can stay!! That also means that we are able to work here if we find work, so we are exploring a few options working here with tourists or something.  Any good ideas? Let us know!!!

Also... we are moving.. I know, I know, AGAIN!!!  Well, as everyone in the house is working on a limited budget ;-) we have been considering for a while finding something cheaper. But, we didn't want to just settle either, we still wanted to have a place adequately large so that we could also have a guest room.  About 2 weeks ago, a sister told us about a place near her that was for rent.  We went to look at it and although not nearly as nice as what we have, it still has enough rooms for us to be happy and the best part is... it is $100/month cheaper!! YAY!! We were undecided at the moment... but when news of our job loss arrived, the little things I didn't really like about the house suddenly were not any problem at all!!! :-) And it is a nice house, we will be happy there.  So, the big move will happen the end of the month. Anyone want to come and help us move? haha

The great thing about being forced back into retirement for now is that we are able to get back out in service even more!! Our contract ended on Tuesday.. and it just so happened that night we were starting the visit of our CO, so it really worked out nice that we could go out in service with them all week.  Just from the increase in service that I have put in the last 2 weeks, I have started 3 potential bible studies!! (I just love Ecuador :-)  Anyway, have to tell you what happened to me today... Chad and I were working door-to-door and we see a woman and her daughter approaching us.  I thought they lived at the house where we were knocking, so I asked her that. And she says, "no, we don't live here. But, are you Evangelicals?" I let her know that we were Jehovah's Witnesses and she says, "Ahhh.  Do you teach people the Bible?" Do we ever!!! haha So, I explained that we do and showed her the "Bible Teach" book.  But she gets this worried expression on her face and kind of looks down and says, "but I don't know how to read".  Awwww, cute! I explained that that was no problem, I would love to help her study her Bible.  So, we exchanged info and she explained to me where she lives (I had to control the cringe when she pointed to a house waaaaaaay on the top of the mountain and tells me that is where she lives haha) But, I think Jehovah has been wanting me to test out my mountain climbing skills lately because almost all of my new potential studies are on that same mountain!!! (at the top, of course haha)
Anyway, so we parted ways and Chad and I still have to sit and marvel, although this has happened to me I think 4 times that someone here has approached me and asked for a bible study.. But you just never get used to the thrill!!!  The hilarious thing is that tonight I was redoing my return visit book, adding my new visits and also going thru my old book from 2 years ago before we went to kichwa.  I thought if I saw anyone in there that I would put them in my new book, revisit them and see if I could get their study going again.  Guess who I found in my old book, written down with about 10 attempted return visits to start a study, but I never found her!!!! The same woman from today!!!!! I had only talked to her once, so I didn't recognize her, but there she was in my book!!!  Two years later and SHE made the return visit!! and informally at that!!! hahaha
Ahhhh, it is hard to stay depressed about lack of work when you are out in the ministry!!!!  

Ok, well, sorry there are no photos.. I keep forgetting my camera, but I am going to make a concentrated effort to start carrying it with me in service so I can give you something to look at!!!  I also have pictures of the visit from "the cousins" that I just have to sort through and I will upload. We had a blast with them and miss them terribly!! Thanks guys for such a fun visit!!!

We love you all and miss you terribly!!! Thanks for your patience and for the kind reminders about my lack of blogging!!!! ...