Thursday, 31 May 2012

Day 23 - Visit to the Waroni Tribe

Today was our scheduled flight into the Jungle to meet some of the Waroni villagers at the place they live. Our flight, scheduled to take off at 9 was delayed until about 2 because of weather. So instead of waiting around, I walked across town back to Casa de Fe, got some work done, then ate lunch, and headed back for the flight. Once we took off, I got to see another side of Ecuador that I hadn't seen yet, the view from above. It was awesome. We flew in a 5 passenger plane over all the trees and mountains until we landed in a small extremely muddy grass field right next to a Waroni village. 

Now if you haven't seen End of the Spear, watch it or better yet, read the book. It is an incredible story and today I got to meet one of the main characters. Dewey (sp?) was one of the original Waroni men that around the age of 20, killed the group of missionary men going to witness to them. Dewey is now completely different. Almost 80 years old we think, he greeted us at the plane and almost immediately began praying out loud for us. We didn't understand him because he speaks Waroni, not even Spanish, but none the less, we appreciated the prayer. He then walked us into the woods up a big hill and to the place where they lived. It was beautiful and so simple. They didn't have much at all but were overjoyed to see us and share a part of their culture with us. 

Other members of the community quickly went and changed into their traditional clothing and then came out and welcomed us. Dewey told us that he was so thankful we were there and that he couldn't wait until we were all in Heaven together and no longer have a language barrier. I thought that was awesome. The locals sang a couple songs, painted our faces, put a crown thing on our head and then took us around the village. Oh yeah, the other people that went were Darnell, my friend from New Zealand who works at Casa and an older really fun couple from Holland that I met this morning. 

Visiting with the tribe was so much fun. We threw spears first which was fun because I already kinda new how to do it. Since I threw javelin at Asbury, it was pretty easy and they commented that if I lived in the jungle I would not starve. They told me, after seeing me throw, that I would have no problem killing a wild bore. I thought that was pretty high praise from them. :) I then tried to show them how we throw javelin here which was pretty much similar. They didn't really get it but were impressed at how far I could throw (If only they new I got beat by everybody and their mother at conference this year, they wouldn't have been so impressed. haha). Then, they showed us how to shoot a blow gun. They had one that was probably 5 feet long and they were shooting it at a banana hanging from a tree. I shot twice and stuck the dart in the banana on the second one. They were really impressed with that too.

Aside from the weaponry, they also greeted us with a traditional Waroni greeting. They all huddled together then walked around in the mud chanting whatever the lead guy would make up. It was really fun to watch and it went on quite a while. Apparently, that is how they welcome other tribes too. At the end, they came right in front of us and finished the chants before backing away again. I was super impressed with how well they mingled though. They never once seemed threatened or annoyed that we were there. They were all smiling the entire time and everybody wanted to shake our hands or give us a hug. 

It was an awesome experience getting to see that. Please read the book or watch the movie because it really is a great story. One quick note about it though. When the missionaries were killed, they had a gun but chose not to use it because this is what they said: "We are prepared for eternity, but they are not". Because of those men and their bravery, the tribe I visited today is now full of believers on fire for God and sharing his word with all the other tribes around them. It was truly amazing to be able to go to a place and meet an unreached people group who are now out there doing the reaching themselves. God is so great and he used those men's deaths to save the eternal lives of so many people. I don't ever want to give God any push back or complaints on what He wants to use me for, ever. 

The other cool thing about the people of the tribe is that they really don't have much at all but their quality of life I am sure is much much better than lots of wealthier people that I know. The joy of the Lord is truly their strength and it just radiates out of them! I would count myself blessed to be as happy as they are with as little as they have. I don't ever want to forget the blessings God has given me and I don't ever want to stop giving back to people in need.

On the flight home I sat up front and got to fly the plane. I didn't take off or land but I got to fly for a good 30 minutes which was pretty fun. Once I got back, I walked home, got a salad and a smoothie from the pizza place and chowed down. Then, I did an hour of P90X  and am now sitting down uploading pictures and writing my blog. Speaking of Pictures, I know this blog can be a bit dry or boring at times and I also know that pictures make it much more readable, however, it is a real pain to upload pictures here. For this reason, I have uploaded many more photos that I would be able to load here, on to my facebook. Feel free to get on there and check those out. I have a lot more but I think I got the highlights uploaded so please check them out. I think some of them are pretty cool looking. 

Today has been another great blessing. God just keeps them coming! I cannot say thanks enough for His provisions. Thanks God. Also, I bought a blow gun. Hope I can get it back to the States.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Day 21 and 22 – One Long Day and One Short

Tuesday started out early with Zumba at 7. One of the people from the team hadn't been yet and I needed to work out anyways so we went nice and early to get our groove on. Once it was over and I was thoroughly sweat out, I headed to work. Starting right around 8 o’clock with shoveling 20lb rocks and wheel barrowing them through mud, I began to realize that Zumba in the morning was a horrible idea. What we were wheel barrowing for was cool though because we were landscaping a tilapia pond by creating a path around it. Parts of the path however were in a huge mud hole so trying to push a couple hundred pound wheel barrow full of rocks through the path proved to be rather difficult.

I was the youngest and least skilled worker on the pond that day so all the heavy lifting and wheel barrowing fell to me. I didn’t mind but I sure did get a good work out. And I got to hang out with new people from the team and talk a little bit which was also fun. They guy heading up the landscaping is awesome and super nice. He has been here multiple times and I heard him talking about coming back in the Winter to do more. I wish I could show you a picture of how far this plot of land has come since he got here and started working but I don’t have any so you will have to just imagine. It is really cool though and has come a really long way. What was once a random hole with water in it surrounded by mud hole was now a rather fancy looking tilapia pond with walking trails around it. It is really fun working on something and seeing it develop overtime.

For dinner on Tuesday after my long day, I decided to go with pizza from Homeros (like Homer from the Simpsons). I got a pizza, salad, bbq wings, and a smoothie. I ate mostly everything that night while I stayed in and watched a movie on my laptop and the rest I saved on purpose for lunch the next day. I was proud of myself for not eating it all because I definitely wanted too. In the evening, I just got to relax after a long day, skype with Hannah, watch a movie, and hit the sack. It was a pretty long day but a good one at that.

The next day, or this morning, I woke up for a different kind of work. Once I got to La Casa, We grabbed all the kids from pre-K up, paired them off with each team member and then loaded the vans for a field trip. I got Martin and Wilson. It was mostly girls that went on the trip because the guys stayed back to work but there had to be a couple guys go so they could watch the handicapped kids. I was a lucky one and got to play with Martin all day. After we loaded up the van and the truck with almost 30 people probably in the back, we headed to the Aquarium and Pool.

The Aquarium wasn’t all that special, although Martin seemed to love it. He really enjoys observing and learning. He is always fascinated with things and that didn’t change with fish. He loved stopping, staring, and showing me what he discovered. It was fun watching him. After the aquarium which was just one hallway that lasted about 15 minutes, we headed to the Pool. I helped Martin change himself and then we were ready to go. Upon arriving to the pool and noticing that it was a hot day outside with zero cloud cover, I decided to wear sunscreen. This was the first time I had worn it all trip. Unfortunately for me, I do not have long enough arms to get my back and I didn’t ask anybody for help. I also didn’t put any on my face for some reason. I guess I though since I am a little tan now that it would protect me, haha. The result of these poor decisions is to come.  

So once the sunscreen was applied and I lathered up Martin, we hit the pool. Martin LOVED swimming but he can’t do it on his own so really he just loves being pulled through the water and thrown in the air. For about 4 hours then, that’s what we did. Back and forth in the kitty pool pulling him, pushing him, holding him and throwing him. I was worn out by the end of it but it was a ton of fun just seeing him enjoying it so much. 4 hours is a stretch too because he did take one or two breaks to lay out and get warm (the water was pretty cold). I also got some breaks from him as he graciously allowed me to split my time between him and Grace who can also not swim on her own. She loved it too and I loved watching her face light up as I dragged her body through the chili water.

So off and on, off and on we went swimming and playing, going from the big kid pool to the kitty pool back and forth until lunch time. It was a blast for me and them. After lunch though, it ceased to be blast for Martin. There was a slight miscommunication on when we would be leaving so I changed Martin’s closed. This was an error because I changed him about 30 minutes before some of the other kids. I wasn’t the only one by any means but that wasn’t the point. The point was, there were other kids swimming and he wasn’t. Martin did not like this and thus put on a frownie face for a while. It ended up okay though because we played on the hammock and danced around to the music and I sat with him and tried to keep him from smiling (which always made him smile). So all in all, the day was a success and even though he didn’t leave the happiest camper, I know he had a great time. It is kinda a bummer though to have a ton of fun with a kid all day and then mess up the last thing and him be mad at you when you leave. No worries though, I have 5 siblings so I’m used to it.

Once we got back and I walked home in the blistering sun which was only hitting my right arm I now realize, I quickly took my shirt off to see the damage. I first noticed the front of my body which looked like a Picasso painting of pink and white from the lazy non thorough job I did with my sunscreen. The front burns weren’t too bad though. Next, I noticed my face, neck and arms. They were definitely burnt but it was a combination of tan and burnt because they have been exposed the most over the past few weeks. In other words, they don’t look too bad. Except for my right arm which baked in the sun for an extra 20 minutes during my walk home, it is a lot more burned than it is tan. That is not the worst of it though. The last thing I noticed was my back! Think horrible Dracula music right now. It is completely red! I look like a strawberry without all the little white things around it and a head instead of little green leaves. It is awful and it hurts a lot. I have some stuff with aloe in it but no straight aloe. Hopefully I can get some before the week ends but IDK.

Once I showered, which made the burns show up more, I grabbed a ride with Dwight and Tandy to the Teams house for their last dinner here before they leave in the morning. The food was good but the fellowship we had after was even better. We all sat around in a circle and had a debrief where we each shared a little bit about the trip. It was so awesome hearing what everyone had learned or been through. I respect this team a ton and really have enjoyed knowing them. I was blessed every day being with them and even more blessed in our last night hearing some of their stories. As the night drew to an end, we sang Amazing Grace and I’ll Fly Away Acapella then began to say our goodbyes. I cannot say enough how awesome of a team they were. I seriously hope to stay in touch with as many of them as I can and I hope to see them all in the future. I might even have to visit Mississippi some time just to visit their church.

May God bless them on their trips home and I pray that the lessons and experiences they learned here will not be forgotten in a few short weeks but will always be a reminder of the wonderful service they provided to Casa de Fe and the great blessing they were to my life. Amen 

P.S. I'm heading into the Amazon in the morning and I kinda forgot to take my Malaria medicine. . . whupps. No worries mom, I'll just wear pants and the bugs wont get me . . . Hahaha

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Day 20 - Weed Eating and Homemade Southern Food

While walking to work yesterday morning, I was thinking how much fun it was going to be to play with the toddlers some more and then when I showed up . . . Wham! God said, show me you have a servants heart. Not really. Dwight met me early and asked if I could weed eat, I wanted to say sure, after baby time, but that wasn't what he asked so I decided to just say sure. I weed ate for almost 4 hours. It really isn't that bad because Casa just got this new weed eater that was much needed. It is super powerful and mounts no your side with straps. We put the metal blade on it so it could cut through almost anything. Even if it would have been hard though, I am here to serve in whatever way they need so I was happy to help. Afterwards, I was super sweaty, sticky and I had grass, mud, and cuts all over me but that just made lunch break that much more enjoyable when it came. 

I did learn something from the experience. Not the actual work but the buying of the tool. The team from Mississippi that is here saw that Casa needed one and went out and bought it for them while they were here. They have been a great team and so good for the organization. I asked Dwight a couple weeks ago if short term mission trips were actually good for the organization. He gave a great and honestly unexpected answer. He said that in some cases yes and some cases no but that isn't the point. The point is that it doesn't matter if they physically help or not because you can't limit God's power or work in the volunteers lives or the kids lives. I thought that was a great and wise answer.

With that being said, I do know that some groups are more beneficial to the company as others. This group is one of those that is a huge help. They have come not for themselves at all but only for Casa. They have diverse ages and still have fun like the other groups but their focus is to actually make this place better and not to mark a mission trip off their calendar. It has been awesome both getting to know them and seeing them work. There are so many experts in different areas that have come down here strictly to use their expertise for the Glory of God. I am very thankful for this group and think that all groups should take notes and follow in their footsteps as far as having servants hearts when they come down. 

PE was fun, I played kick ball with the older girls. They were a little more difficult today because one of the tias (who is like 40) told the girls that I was cute. Because of this, it is now the only things the girls can talk about. They never take a breath and are constantly saying how me and the tia will get married and fall in love and she thinks I am so cute. The tia is awesome and hilarious and in no way annoying but the girls are the opposite. None the less, we accomplished PE and got back just in time for school to end. 

I headed home briefly after and got to skype with the family for a good hour. It was good to see and talk to them. Once skype was over, a much needed shower followed and then the long walk to Gringo Land commenced. The Mississippi group invited me over to eat dinner with them which was a great idea and one I am very thankful for. I got there right around 6 and dinner started shortly after. I had peas, corn, fruit salad, potato salad, carrot salad, broccoli salad, meat loaf, cake, and homemade peach cobbler. YUMMMMYYYY! It was so good and they made so much so I ate a lot. It was equally awesome just sitting around getting to know all of them too. They were super welcoming and showed the true meaning of Southern Hospitality.

After dinner and about an hour of talking, we started playing games (which I haven't played in a month). We played banana grams where Sara spanked us all and then Spades. I played with the younger of the group and it was a lot of fun. By younger I mean like a 12 year old, 18, and 20 year old. It was nice playing with people closer to my age that also spoke English haha. We played for probably two hours before I left to walk home. And after my 20 minute walk home, I went right to bed thanking God for a wonderful day. It felt like home again where I had people to hang with later into the night. I didn't go to bed until about 1130 but that is okay because I was up hanging with people  until then. This was a much better alternative to going to bed at 830 and not hanging with anybody. I wasn't doing P90X in the morning which is why I could stay up later. 

It was a super fun day and I am very thankful for the Mississippi team for both being so nice to me but more for being the hands and feet of Christ to La Casa de Fe! Thanks guys.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Day 19 – Fun with the Mississippians!

I decided again today that I didn’t really want to go to church for two reasons. One, I don’t understand anything they say or sing, and two we kinda had church last night at the talent show. In between acts they gave a message and sang worship songs so it was good. I did have a pretty good quiet though just reading my Bible. I just finished reading through Acts which is an awesome book by the way. I felt like the whole time I was reading an actual story or book.

After a little bit of sleeping in, some Bible reading and breakfast, I packed a quick lunch and headed to Gringo Land (the fenced area where all the white missionaries live), and got ready for a day in Hola Vida or something like that. We loaded a bus around 11 and drove about 45 minutes to this place in the Amazon. Eric, one of the missionaries here, told us that the place we were at was called the secondary forest because it was what was left after they leveled the entire place. This was cool because there were a ton of huge trees and bushes. It didn’t look like anything had been cleared out.

We paid a small fee to a man standing there, (not sure if he was really legit or not but we paid anyways) and then we headed on a 45 minute beautiful hike into the woods. After the hike, we settled down at this beautiful really tall water fall. This one was different than the one I went to Friday because this one you couldn’t climb but it also had a lot of water at the bottom that you could swim in. I swam under the actual water fall several times which was really cool. I even tried to stand directly under it for a few seconds but never lasted more than 2 because it was super painful. It was a ton of fun seeing another part of God’s creation though. I had never really seen waterfalls before this trip and now I have seen two in one week. It was beautiful.

I got to know several of the team members from Mississippi better too which was cool.  I walked back early with an older gal, (80ish) that just talked the entire time complaining about everything, all in good taste though. It was funny walking and helping her back across all the skinny rickety bridges. Then, once we got back to the gazebos we started at, we all sat around and laughed as her and this other younger lady, (50ish) just talked. They weren’t trying to be funny necessarily but they were hilarious just being themselves. 

We had a lot of good laughs and then headed home around 4. Once we got back, I took Taylor who is a guy on the team that just graduated high school, to play basketball. The locals loved it because again, they had two Gringos to play with instead of just one. Also today, a younger guy came out and played that was lot better than the others. He must have played for the high school team or something. I got to guard him so it was a bit more competitive than other days which was nice. It was more than just me and the one big guy this time, much more like a more evenly spread game. We played until about 7 when I walked Taylor back to Gringo Land. We got to talk a little and he seems like a nice kid. He is in a group of a lot of very diverse people and no other guys his age so it was good he got to come. It was good for me too because I love company. I think I am going to go tomorrow to eat dinner with the group and hang out some too so that should be more fun. 

Once in Gringo Land, Taylor left, and I headed back for more basketball. I played until about 8 trying my hardest to not get frustrated at the differences in play style (with not the best success). Again, I let my competitiveness get the best of me. I didn't say anything this time but people definitely knew I was frustrated when they did dumb stuff. That's definitely not how I want to be because one, it's not Christ like and two, I do dumb stuff all the time. To receive grace, you must give grace. 

Following basketball and the walk home came a quick snack, shower, blog writing and then will soon end in bedtime. I haven't got a hold of Dwight yet but I assume he is getting up for another 5 am wake up. This time I don't have an alarm clock though because my phone is broken so we will see what happens. God is great!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Day 18 - Rest and Relaxation

Wakeup came a couple times because for some reason here, I have to use the restroom a lot more. So after my 6 o'clock restroom break, I didn't wake up again until around 11 which was glorious. I ate some breakfast, did a couple P90X workouts in my underwear (inside my house of course), had some devotion time, and then went and ate lunch. Alexanders was closed today so instead, I hit up this hole in the wall place and got their lunch. It is always awkward ordering because again, I can't speak Spanish but I think I am getting better at it.

After lunch, I put on a movie on my computer and just sat doing emails, playing minesweeper, and checking facebook. It was very relaxing. All I had for a movie was Milo and Otis which is a kids movie about a kitten and a pug dog. It wasn't the best but I borrowed if from Casa to watch with the boys the other night so it was all I had. Later in the evening for dinner, I just ate the rest of my left over Chinese food along with yogurt and granola. It was pretty good too. 

After a fairly short day of doing nothing, which was fun in and of itself, I headed to the girls house to pick up more girls at Casa and then go to a local talent show some church was hosting. It was me and 11 girls going to a Spanish talent show, what a fun time haha. Now I am trying to be very positive this entire trip but I am also trying to be honest. The talent show was a little difficult for me to sit through. It was all in Spanish of course which means I understood nothing that was going on and there were only 5 acts that were all pretty bad at best. They had three rounds and the event lasted over two hours so I had no choice, I left. 

I went and got a second dinner at some local burger place. I got French fries with chicken on top and a coconut milk drink. It wasn't bad but I probably shouldn't have eaten all those French fries. I then was able to catch up with the girls and walk them all back to Casa. Don't get me wrong, it was a fun night and especially hanging with the girls was a plus. They don't get many young guys around here so several of the girls like to hold on to me when we walk places and talk in Spanish giggling because they know I can't understand. They always talk about how one of their 11 year old friends like me or they will talk about my girlfriend back in the States. It is always slightly annoying but I guess kinda fun too. Sometimes I'm able to pick out what they are saying about me but most of the time I have no idea. Mostly, it has to do with me stinking, needing to shave, or them wanting me to dance.

After going to the dance classes, the girls found out that I was capable of cutting a rug and then to make matters worse, now I am teaching them dancing in our PE class. This means that anytime we are anywhere, they are trying to get me to dance or mocking me by laughing while they sarcastically do the moves I have taught them. Pretty much every time they talk, I just smile and not my head. Sometimes I through in a Si here and there but for the most part, I just smile (this also helps sometimes in the States when talking to women . . . and sometimes it backfires horribly) haha. JK, It always backfires. 

I forgot, when I was walking around killing time during the talent show, I also picked up a couple movies for a dollar a piece. They probably aren't good quality but it beats Milo and Otis. haha. I think I'm going to watch one now before I go to bed. I got Kung Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2. Tomorrow, the team here has rented a bus and is going to another town somewhere to a waterfall. I think I might join them but I'm not sure yet. Thanks for reading and sorry today wasn't all that eventful.

Day 17 - Adventures in Banos!

Yesterday was a long and very eventful day. It started by waking up with the boys, Martin and Gilmar and taking them back to Casa de Fe. We stopped by a bakery on the way and I got them a pastry. After we dropped them off, it was a quick breakfast and then myself, Melissa, Kelsey, Powell, and Abby all hopped on the bus for a one hour ride to Banos which is the third most visited city in all of Ecuador. When we got there, the first thing we did was run to the bathroom where it cost 10 cents to go number one and we saw people swing jumping off a bridge. I immediately wanted to join but was talked down by some others there. I have always wanted to go bungee jumping but this apparently was not that. This was more like jumping off a bridge with a rope tied too you that didn't bounce hence the name swing jumping. It sounded very painful and not as fun so I declined and will wait until another time. 

We started out the day by walking through the market which was a bunch of cool overpriced touristy stuff. It was fun walking through but I didn't get anything this time around. For lunch, we stopped in the most random restaurant ever as far as menus go. They had everything from mexican food to pizza to pasta to seafood to sandwiches to french fries to soups. I got fajitas that were super good. We then went to rent some go carts which was awesome. We got two go carts and one four wheeler for two hours and headed off through town and out up this big mountain. We were trying to go to a water fall that was up the mountain but the go carts couldn't make it up the hill. That was an adventure in and of itself. I had to get out and push while Melissa drove, haha. And then, the other go cart with Kelsey and Abby in it shut off and wouldn't restart. Melissa and I drove all the way back into town to tell the guys. I was really frustrated but couldn't speak Spanish so that was useless. Melissa told them what was up and then we traded for a four wheeler (because they were faster) and took an employee out to the place where the other cart was stalled. He finally got it to work, scolded us for going up to steep of a hill (which they didn't tell us not to) and then he left. Powell and I were super annoyed that we couldn't argue with the guy, get money back and stuff but that's what happens when you aren't bilingual. 

It all worked out fine in the end. We didn't get an extension on our time but we did trade the employee for his four wheeler so now we had 3 four wheelers that could all easily make it up the hill. We blasted up the hill to this gorgeous huge water fall. It was so beautiful and amazing. I quickly hopped out, rolled up my jeans and started climbing. I felt like I was in my element climbing. It was so much fun except for the one time I fell pretty hard. There was a huge steep rock that I saw was wet and I was bare foot so I just though it would be a little slick. Wrong! It was a lot slick. I leaped from my place to the rock with all my weight going forward and down and right when my feet hit the rock, they slid right off. I banged my leg, and arm really good, got several cuts all over the backside of my arm and then got up and kept climbing. 

Once I got to the top, I could see all the surrounding land. I was surrounded on all sides by green forest on mountains and I could say way down into the valley where the city was. It was so high and beautiful. I couldn't help but just stand and look as I said a little prayer thanking God for how magnificent he is for making such a beautiful creation. All I could think about was how amazing it was and how much I wanted my friends and family from back home to see it too. There is something about being bare foot in nature, climbing up a waterfall and then basking in God's beautiful creation. There are not many better moments in life than those. The only thing that would make them better is being able to do them with the people you love and miss. 

There are pictures but I don't have them. Kelsey took them all on her camera so the will probably show up on facebook later.

After a while just standing in the puddle of water at the top of the water fall, I slid back down all the way to the ground and mounted the four wheelers to head back into town. We got back just fine, returned the four wheelers then went to this beautiful old Catholic Church. It was huge and just filled with another kind of beauty. It was still God's creation, just a different kind this time. It was the creation of God's creation, man and it was also stunning. We walked around for a while and then needed a snack so we at a guinea pig. Yep, you read it right. In Banos, they roasted full guinea pig, face, teeth and all. They take the hair off and everything then stick a metal rod through their rear and roast it over an open flame. They are expensive too, like 18 dollars for a whole one. We just bought a piece to try some and all shared. It was actually really good. Tasted a little tougher than chicken with tougher skin and a slightly different after taste. It was all in all a good experience. 

Following the guinea pig appetizer, we headed to a local ice cream store where I got some fruit topped ice cream. It was also really good. I got some flavor called guanabana which I still don't know what that is except that it is some kind of fruit. After ice cream, some sight seeing and more walking around, we finally got a cab around 6 and headed up the mountain to this beautiful restaurant overlooking the whole city. It was a hotel and restaurant and the view was breathtaking. Luckily, we got there in daylight so we got to see the whole city in day and then by the end of dinner it was pitch black dark so we got to see the whole city light up which was also really cool. I got a smoothie, a salad, and steak filled crapes. Yummy.

After dinner, and a long cab ride back to the city, it was about 8 o'clock. Powell was catching a bus to Quito airport at midnight so we had 4 hours to kill in Banos night life which is very big here. We went to a restaurant that the girls new of that had karaoke. Of course, all the songs were in Spanish so that was no good but as luck would have it, they had a couple english songs. Guess which ones the girls picked for us to sing. . . Yep, you guessed it. Hit me baby one more time by Brittney Spears. I fought so hard for them not to do it but they did anyways and then shoved the microphone in my face. I couldn't back down and by that time, it was well past my normal bedtime here so I was a little adrenaline happy so I accepted. Yes, on Friday night, I was in an Ecuadorian bar singing Brittany Spears karaoke to a bunch of non English speaking people. It was a really good time and I have no regrets . . . except that I think Kelsey filmed it. Not ok, I really hope that doesn't show up somewhere because it is probably really embarrassing. Haha. 

After that, we headed to this really big restaurant/club place that had a really big fire pit in the back with a ton of seats. We rounded out the night there just sitting and talking and meeting people. We met two Ecuadorian girls that allowed us to sit at their table, a French guy who is traveling all across South America for 7 months and a girl from Finland or something like that. It was super fun just hanging out and hearing their stories. We got to share Christ with them too. We didn't convert or baptize any of them but we did get to be good examples and let them know about our relationships with Christ which was really cool. They were all really receptive and it wasn't awkward at all because we were all just getting to know each other and let Christ come out of our stories and lives. 

It was a fun night and around midnight, we headed to a street where we knew the bus would pass and waited for about 30 minutes. While we waited, Melissa bought some pure sugar cane. I had never had it before but it was really good. It is bamboo looking plant that you cut in pieces and suck the juice out of by chewing it. Once Powell's bus finally came, we helped him on, loaded his bags, and sent him home to Alaska. It was great meeting and getting to know him but crazy that he had been here for two weeks. Time is flying by. After his bus took off, we then waited about an hour for our bus back to Shell. We tried to hitch hike and flagged down several taxis trying to get a ride for under 15 dollars but it wasn't happening. When the bus did arrive, we loaded, paid our 2.50 and fell asleep. One hour later and around 2 o'clock at night, our day was finished and we were home. 

I walked home, and thought about all the cool stuff I had done that day. One quick negative note, somewhere along the way, my phone stopped working. It isn't dead, it just goes white when I click anything. I can tell it is responsive but it doesn't show anything on the screen, just a slight light that comes on. That is a bit discouraging but other than that, the day was great! All in all, I had a ton of fun but the one thing I wish is that my family and friends could be here with me. It is so beautiful down here and so much fun but it only makes me think of how much more fun it would have been if Hannah was here. (My family too) Okay, sappy moment over. 

A wise guy down here told me that when you are here, you will always miss home but when you return home, you will always miss here. I agreed with what he said and really want to try to grasp that while I am here. As I noted, time is flying and I do miss home but I need to thank God for the time I have here and live in the moment. It is such a blessing to be here and I don't need to forget it because soon it will be no more. 

What a blessing it is for a three day weekend and a Friday of no work and all play. It was a great day and I am sure there is more to come tomorrow! Praise God!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Day 16 - Fun Stuff and Pictures

For dinner last night, in case you were wondering, was awesome. I got a smoothie, two huge calzones that were pretty tasty and a salad. Quick note on the adventure of getting to dinner though. We took a cab to Puyo and back because it is about a 15 to 20 minute drive and the cab ride was crazy. We were in a small pick up truck taxi and if you know anything about Ecuadorian driving, you know what is coming. The cab was full so Powell and I, being the gentlemen that we are, let the ladies sit inside while we took the bed. (On the way there, we rode inside and the ladies sat in the bed so we felt guilty on the way home) Anyways, in the bed on the way back, driving on roads that are super windy, curvy, and hilly (not as bad as KY roads but close), our driver was going 100 km/hr. That is crazy. Ecuadorians pass everything by the way whether it is a bus or car and whether it is a blind curve or steep hill, they don't care. This made the ride really fun as we sat in the open air bed going 100km/hr zooming past huge buses over super steep hills that we couldn't see over. We got in saying if it is our time, then it's our time. Praise the Lord, it wasn't.

Here is that Italian restaurant that is so good
in Puyo. It is so good and still really cheap.
They also have real smoothies. The kids
were just there and wouldn't get out of
my picture. haha
Now on to today. Morning routine was same old same old. . . except for an hour and a half of P90X yoga. That was awful. Once work started, I had toddler time and today played with Eddison and Angel. It was a lot of fun and both boys were pretty good. I started out with Antony again but he was so bent out of shape that we had to put him back with the others. Most kids like going outside to play with me but Antony just really wanted to be inside with the rest of the pack. I don’t blame him, it was hot outside. So yeah, me and the boys played for a while and then I went down with all the toddlers and a couple of tias to the basketball court where we played for about 2 hours. It was a lot of fun but really crazy trying to keep 25 kids all in one area. Haha. They kept running off and we had to keep going and getting them. By the time we got one kid to not do something wrong, we had 2 other kids doing 2 things wrong. It was great fun though.

In all my time playing with the kids today, I got to see the tough love side of Ecuadorian child raising. I kinda liked it. If a child got hurt, fell down, or scraped something, we would just stand them back up, say you are fine and then keep going. If the child was crying, once you picked him up, they were fine and kept playing. This is completely different than babies in the States where at one extreme, if a by cries at all, we don’t stop until they get what they want. Babies are so much more tough and self reliant down here which is great. I know too, when the kids get older and are pretty tough young men and women, they will look back on this and be thankful. Kids that get coddled and held and swung and things given too every time they fall down and sniffle, never learn to pick themselves up. These kids know how to pick themselves up and I am sure that will serve them well later in life.

One thing that was a little hard for me was that even when the kids are normal and happy, the tias don’t like me picking them up. It’s not just me, they don’t like any of the kids being held for a few different reasons that are all good. It is just hard sometimes when an affectionate kid like Samuel walks up with hiss arms raised just wanting to be held and you have to say no. But again, these are tough kids so they don’t go cry about it, they just move on and do something else.
                                                                                                                                        (Horrible pic quality! I'm sorry)
After play time and lunch at Alexander’s, Powell and I hiked up to the water tower and took a few pictures of the land. One of them is below. It was beautiful being able to see the city, the river, Casa de Fe, and the Forest all from one location. Following that, I took the young ones out to the walking trails where I got another workout playing freeze tag with all the kids. They cheated a lot but in the end, me, Nicole, and Gilmar got them all tagged. Once work was finally over, I was feeling really tired and didn’t really want to do anything else. At that time, I really felt a tug on my heart to take some boys home with me even though I didn’t want to. I felt that taking kids home and spending personal time with me is the root of what I am supposed to be doing here, so I did. I took Gilmar and Martin this time who are two of the cutest boys here. Martin is 8 and has braces on his legs so I carry him most places. Gilmar is perfectly healthy, quiet around strangers and always happy. He is 6.

I brought the boys back to my house and plopped down to watch Scooby Doo which Gilmar’s older brother Javier said he liked. He was right. We watched the movie, ordered some pizzas, then chowed down. Then, we headed back to the Casa de Fe for the all famous 2nd annual art show. The upstairs of the multi purpose building was covered in all sorts of different kinds of art created by all the kids. The kids were all excited and there were lots of community members that had different connections in attendance. At that time, I hadn’t decided if I would keep the boys for the night so Martin was a little sad because he wanted to spend the night and I kept saying I don’t know yet. I tried to get him to talk to me but he was pretty sad. A little while later, I decided to do it so I told the boys and they were super excited, as was I.

This is the 2nd floor of the multi use building. It is fully
decorated. The next picture is an awesome bug display
the older girls put together. (Sorry for the horrible quality,
it does that when I upload it to the website. I have better
pics on my camera, no worries)
Once the art show was well on its way, the young kids were told to go downstairs. I carried Martin down and he started to cry as I put him down.  I assured him I would come back and get him before I went home but I don’t think he trusted that yet. He just kept crying as I left him and went back the show. A little while later, I came down to his smiling face as he called Gilmar right after he saw me. He was so happy and ready to go. I grabbed the stroller, loaded him up and took the long walk home. It was a good calf workout pushing him up the huge hill. It totally mad up for the 10 pieces of pizza I ate for dinner. (BTW, the pizza is good here but it has nothing on Sims).

After we arrived, I sat the boys down and got to skype with Hannah. They said they wanted to meet mi novia en Estados Unidos as Martin kept saying. We got to skype for about 10 minutes which was really fun. I’m glad they all got to meet each other. Martin was especially happy and talked quite a bit. He was really amazed at technology and the idea of talking to a person on the computer. Gilmor was amazed too but very shy so he didn’t really talk. After skype, I switched on Hook and they intently watched as I cleaned all the dishes, wiped off the counters, took out the trash, sprayed all the bugs, vacuumed the carpets and swept the floors. Then Powell showed up so I was able to take a shower and do some much needed laundry. I was finally able to sit down for the last 30 minutes of the movie. By that time though, Gilmar was so tired that he wanted to go to bed. So after a quick prayer and some tucking in, Gilmar was asleep and Martin and I finished the movie just the two of us.

He really likes to talk during movies. He pretty much gives a play by play of everything that is going on which would be super annoying if he wasn’t 8 and really cute. Also, side note, I had my shirt off so Martin wanted to take his off too. I told him he could since it was just guys. That reminded me of my brother William from back home. So we cuddled up on the couch and finished out the movie. By the time it ended, Martin was pretty tired although he said multiple times he wasn’t. I put him in bed, said a little prayer and now I am writing my blog. Good thing I’m skipping the P90X tomorrow cause it has been a long day and a late night for me. Today was an Ecuadorian holiday so we moved it to tomorrow to get a 3 day weekend.

Two really cute and very smart boys. I had a blast hanging out with them.
(Again, sorry for horrible picture quality)
Powell leaves in the morning so we are all going to go with him to Banos for the morning to hang out and do something fun. Then, he will head from there to Quito and I will return with Melissa for another wonderful Friday only without the work. I will take the boys back after breakfast and I am really hoping that they don’t wake up at 6 like Wilson and Javier did. Who knows though. If they do, it will be more time to hang out which is always a plus. J I said it yesterday but I will say it again today. It is such a blessing to spend time with these kids. One on one time especially makes me see and feel God’s love for his children. There is not much better out there than knowing that you are making a kid happy and seeing him first hand show that. I love it. Tthanks again for reading. I hope the pictures made it a little more enjoyable. Until tomorrow then . . .

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Day 15 - Baby Time Galore

Today's P90X session was arms and shoulders if you are keeping track. For all the other normal routine stuff, it has been 2 weeks now and I have continued doing the same thing so I will not bore you with a detail of my mornings. After I got to work today, I waited for the team to get there and then started baby time. I got lucky today and got to hang with Eddison and I cannot remember for the life of me the other kids name. They were both three and Eddison was great. He was content doing anything but the other one was not. He only wanted to be held in an upright position while I stood. If I even started to sit down, he would throw a fit.

So I stood, and stood, and stood until finally he went to sleep. Even then I was unsure if I could sit down but he was heavy and I had already worked out my arms that morning so it was tiring holding him for the hour and a half that I did. Fortunately, I was able to sit down without him waking up so we just sat outside in a chair for about 30 minutes while he slept. When he finally woke up, he quickly noticed that I was sitting down and immediately got frustrated kicking off both of his shoes. I stood up again. 

Then, all the other 3 year olds came out and the tias took them down the hill to the basketball court to run and play. He finally decided that he wanted to join them on a walk but I assumed he wouldn't want to get down and play because up until this point he hadn't wanted to. So I walked all the way down to the court slowly while holding him with one arm and holding someone else's hand with another. It was a long walk and then he told me without words that he wanted to play so I had to walk with him all the way back to Casa to put shoes on. He let me sit down to put his shoes on. How nice of him right? Immediately after the shoes were on though, the fit started. So I hopped up again and started walking some more. By this time, I was long past my baby time allotment and ready to get to the much needed weed eating. My plan was to walk him down to the others and leave. This did not go as planned. 

As I was leaving, Samuel who is a 4 year old with the huge tummy and cheeks had stayed back too so I took him as well. At first I tried to carry both but I was so tired at that point that I let Samuel walk. He is very short, under 2 feet so it was a slow march holding his hand with one hand and holding the other guy with my other. It was a beautiful day though. It was sunny all day with no rain in sight. Today for the first time, I actually got a little sun burned. Not bad for two weeks down here. 

Once we made it to the others, I let them down and tried to turn to leave but upon arrival, 3 other boys came and jumped on me to play. I weighed out my options, noticed the tias were way outnumbered and decided to stay and play. I spent another hour and a half throwing kids in the air, chasing them around, and twirling them over my head. I learned a lesson too. If you do it to one, you will have to do it to all. I got even more tired playing with kids than I would have doing construction. It was fun though and I got to see a lot of little kids laugh which is such a blessing. John Paul and Samual were probably the ones I played with the most. I also spent some good time with Boris, a new 7 year old and Johnny, a 3 year old. Mainly though, Samuel did not leave my side. He is the one that started the twirling over my head which brought John Paul and others too.

Samuel and I had a great time though and I didn't have any problem entertaining him because he is easily entertained. He can talk a lot and understands what I say so that was fun too. In fact, on the way down, he kept pointing out all the water he saw. He would point and say 'es agua'. We were walking right next to a stream the whole way so he pointed a lot. As we played and hugged and made funny noises, I really got a satisfaction and payback for what I am doing down here. All the long days and hard work are worth it to play with the kids. Samuel is so loving and sweet and a lot of the time just likes to be held and squeezed which I can do well. He is so trusting of me too. When I swung him over my head, he would return to a step that was taller than he was, climb up and then jump off into my bent over hands. He would jump sometimes before I was there with this total and complete trust that I would catch him. I always did and he loved it. The only kid more trusting than him that I know is my baby sister Jordan who I miss along with all the rest of my family.

After about an hour of play time, I walked with the tias and the rest of the children back to La Casa carrying Samuel in one arm and the other guy in my other arm. By the end of the morning, I think I had gained more muscle in my arms than the P90X workout that morning. We finished about 1140 and I ran up to the construction site to help before lunch. It was a quick 20 minutes and then I headed to Alexanders for lunch again. For a drink today, I got this yogurt drink that was made with Mora berries. It was huge and had a ton of sugar in it but was soo good. It was like a really yogurty thick smoothie. Yummy. No where near as good as Hannah's smoothies which I also miss greatly. I don't miss her smoothies near as much as I miss her though. :)

After lunch, I headed back for some inside work then took the younger kids back down to the basketball court for PE. Today we did kickball which went over really well. We had boys vs girls at their choice and the girls won. I played both ways and may have helped the girls out some. : / Javier and Wilson weren't too happy about that but they got over it. Finally, school was over. After saying bye to all the kids and workers, I took off for the long walk home, plopped down on the couch, played a little minesweeper then typed this blog. I took a shower too in case you were wondering. I do that from time to time down here. haha. 

I am now heading to Melissa's and Kelsey's to help them bake for the Art Show tomorrow at La Casa. We are going to bake some stuff then head to Puyo for that really good authentic Italian restaurant. I went there with the girls the first week I was here but I had already eaten so all I got was a salad and smoothie. This time, I am excited to get something really good. And yes, we are skipping dance to eat. That sounds horrible but I don't care, I am worn out.

All in all, today was really tiring, I am pooped, and I had a blast. Different sugar drinks, kids smiles, and texts from Hannah keep the day fresh and exciting no matter how tired I am. I am so blessed to be here and today, I got to see a lot of that as I got to positively impact a lot of kids lives by just playing with them. I couldn't ask for anything from God because he has blessed me more than I can even comprehend. Thanks God! Thanks for the opportunity to be here and see all these beautiful children. And thank you for the beautiful people that support me and pray for me back home (that's you). I am so blessed. Thank you. Amen

I just remembered. The other kids name is Antony.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Day 14 - I've Got A Routine

Wake up at 5 and P90X, then shower, breakfast, quiet time and head to work. Baby time for an hour, today I got Jacob, then off to the harder labor. I worked for a few hours doing a ton of random construction things and then headed to Alexander's for lunch. Ate all of my food plus the extras of everyone else then finished off with a coconut ice cream bar thingy. After lunch, its work in Casa doing inventory or whatever else needs to be done, then PE time with kidos. Today I had the young ones again. They were having a hard time listening so we had to run laps for a while. Once they cooled down . . . (they actually did not cool down), we did some basketball drills then played knock out. Once class is over at 3:05, I stay and play around more with the kids, then head home fully exhausted. 

I always get home, take off all the dirty clothes and usually hang them up to dry, then plop down to relax and type some blog. When dinner time rolls around and if I am not napping then I eat. Today, I cooked some more of the left over Chinese food. I had a mixture of white rice, noodles with shrimp, and some type of red sauce beef with broccoli or something like that. All in all, it was pretty good. During dinner, I popped in the movie Hook on my laptop and had a little entertainment while I ate. Powell joined me part of the way through but we only got about half way into the movie. It will be a good dinner entertainment tomorrow too.

Here is my lovely dinner I had. It just looks like a mix
of everything . . . because it is. 

Post dinner, I headed to dance. We picked the girls up as usual and headed over for dancing and laughs. I was not feeling super perky today so I only decided to stay about 45 minutes. Yes I looked like a wimp leaving while 200 women and 4 other guys stayed to keep going but I didn't really care. If they can't insult you in your own language, then why care. That's what I always say (first time). Anyways, after I left, I hit the ATM, talked to a random Warrant Officer in the Ecuador Army named Silas for a minute in the middle of the street. He said he wanted to talk about religion so I invited him to my church . . . I mean the church I went to once right down the street. It was convenient that I could point it out. I don't really think he will come either because I really think he just wanted to practice his English. Nice guy either way.

From Silas to ATM to store where I stocked up on milk, juice, yogurt, and lunch meat for breakfast. The first store I went to didn't have mustard though so I had to go to another one to find that, and I did. Then I stopped in at a local bakery because all the grocery stores seemed to be out of bread. I have heard the bread around here is good so I wanted to try it anyways. As a result, I got gypped for the first time here. 

I walked in and told him I didn't speak much Spanish (first mistake). Then I pointed out what I want and told him I wanted two. He bagged them up and said cincuenta. I totally knew that was meant 50 cents but all I had was a dollar coin so I gave that to him expecting change. He paused for a second then realized he could take advantage of me since I couldn't speak Spanish. He said okay, thanks and then helped somebody else. I knew exactly what he was doing especially since the next costumer paid him a 50 cent piece which means he definitely had change. I stood there for one second then said hold on as I pointed at his calculator. When he rung me up, he put in the number 25 for 25 cents each. He didn't get to multiply by two yet because I stupidly handed him the money before he could (second mistake). He then turned his calculator around so I could see it, he erased the 25 hoping I wouldn't have seen him put it in and then he proceeded to put in 50 twice which made one dollar as if I did not know how to add 50 plus 50. To make a long story short, I totally knew what he was doing but didn't have the vocabulary to dispute it. So instead, I praised the Lord for the experience, said God bless that man and came home with my doubly priced bread. :)

Well that's it for today. Now, its off to bed ready for another glorious day like this:

This is a picture taken with my phone from Megan's balcony.
The mountain on the left is an active volcano and so is the
one on the right just in the opening of light in the clouds.
Also, to the far right of the picture that you can't see all of
is the Nate Saint House. Watch End of the Spear if you
don't know what that is. 

Day 13 – First Day of My Second Week

Starting out with a 5 o’clock arms and chest workout surprisingly gave me more energy throughout the day than I thought it would have. I was still tired after work but while doing the actual work, I was fine. I started off working in the new school building doing everything from sifting sand from rocks to sawing boards, to hammering cement.

A new team came in too from Brookhaven church or something like that. Most of them are from Mississippi with a couple from California. They are from a church rather than a college this time so they are a lot more diverse when it comes to age. The oldest is a grandmother and the youngest is probably 12. It is a rather large group too at 17. One of the cool things about this group, beside the fact that they speak my southern American language, is that several of them have been here multiple times and have very needed skills for construction. It is completely different than the college team that was here recently.

I am no longer the go to guy for construction needs of the team because now they all know more than me too. The Maestros still go to me for some reason for translation. I guess they figure since they know me a little better, they can communicate better with me. This is false. Sometimes when they need to tell someone to do something, they will come tell me and then I will tell them. I feel like a translator except that I can’t speak either language that well. Haha.

For lunch, I’ll bet you can’t guess where I ate. . . Yep, Alexanders again. It was really good and I got this coconut ice cream stick thing they have. Yum, it was so good. After lunch, I finished up the ridiculous inventory of all the PE equipment. All in all, they have like 400 balls. It is ridiculous but I did finally get it all counted. Then came PE which is getting to be more and more enjoyable as I get to know the kids better. Today we did dancing. I have about 7 classes left with the older girls so I have decided to teach them the Evolution of Dance. They really like dancing and it is an aerobic exercise so I thought why not? It has started out well. We only finished one class but got about a minute and a half into it which is impressive for an American song among 7 Ecuadorian girls. I will try to film it when we actually do it so you can watch.

After work ended, I got to come home and take a quick nap. It was wonderful and short. Post nap time, I went up to Tandy's house and grabbed a ton of left over Chinese food they had. Apparently the team had ordered Chinese and given the extra to them. I now have like 5 lbs of cooked rice in my refrigerator. Needless to say, I stayed in and ate dinner at home. It was a little difficult however because our microwave is broken. It runs when you shut the door whether you have punched in number or not. Then, if you don't open the door back quickly, it starts sparking as if there were metal in it or something. We think some cockroaches got in there and messed with the wiring some. So instead of the handy dandy old microwave which I now know that I take for grant it, I just mixed all the food together and put it on a pot on the stove. It wasn't too bad and most importantly, it was free. 

After dinner, I got my shoes back on and headed to dance. Again, all the girls were there and laughed at me the whole time but there is really nothing else to do that late at night and I eat so much food that I have to do something athletic. It always wears me out so when I came home, I quickly took a shower and crashed in bed. Luckily, I was asleep before 9 ready for my 5 am wake up.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Day 12 - Day of Rest and Basketball

Today, I got to sleep in until about 630 but then after a quick restroom break, slept more until 9ish. It was good rest. I then took my time making breakfast, read my Bible and prayed a little bit. Afterwards, I watched Robots the kids movie on my computer and then just relaxed a little more before lunch. I was going to watch the movie with Jonathan but he was in trouble and not allowed to so I watched it by myself. For lunch, I walked around town to see what was open. Most stuff was closed but thankfully, Alexander's was open. I am pretty sure in my 12 days I have been here, I have eaten there at least 12 times. Haha. It is really good. 

After lunch, I took a nap/watched the Little Rascals. After that, Powell and I headed to the basketball courts and started to play. This whole event was a little sour and sweet. It was a great workout and really fun but it brought about my competitive nature a little too much. In the States, I have been working on getting less aggressive when it comes to my attitude while playing basketball. I have gotten a lot better at not getting frustrated, not trash talking and just playing for fun. Today however, I digressed. It is really hard not speaking the language and getting taunted. 

There is a guy here that is kinda the big dog around town. He is probably around my age, maybe a little older and he is bigger than most others here. Because of his size and his pretty good athletic ability, he pretty much gets his way in everything. I have watched him play volleyball and every time there is a close call, he argues and gets his way. If he does something good, he taunts the other people to the point where he stands, points, and laughs at them. It was kinda hard to watch him do that but I was not about to interject in a different language. Haha.

Anyways, he is one of the best players on the basketball court too which means we are never on the same team. They always put us on opposite teams and he always guards me. This pressure combined with the fact that American basketball and Ecuadorian basketball are so different, it caused an intense rivalry. I let it get the best of me. Basketball is not really the main sport down here and since I play it so much, I am able to get lucky and score a lot. Because of this, this guy tries harder and taunts me every time he scores whether I am guarding him or not. One of the only things he can say in English is in your face which he yells at me every time he scores. When I score, he says nothing and I try not to either (also, I can't say anything he will understand so I don't). 

Later on, after my team had won several times, his team went on a winning streak and he began standing, pointing, and laughing at me every time he scored. Now up until now, I was trying to not get a bad reputation with the locals and just play for fun while being a witness of Christ. This did not happen once the pointing and laughing didn't stop. I had been trying to pass a lot and let everyone score and just play but I got frustrated. I started playing harder, fouling harder, and talking a little. By the start of the following game, he was talking so much stuff and coming up to me to say he was the Champion. This is when it went down hill. I basically put together the little Spanish I knew, bet him 5 dollars we would win the next game to which he happily agreed. We beat them 7 to 1 and in the process I hit him pretty hard going for a loose ball. In America, it would not have been a foul at all because we both jumped for a rebound and I caught him in the throat with my elbow. I showed no class or sympathy and simply kept playing. 

After the game, I felt so bad, I went up to him and tried to apologize but I don't know if it translated. I told him he didn't have to pay me but that wasn't the point. The point was, I am down here to learn how to serve and be a witness, not do the opposite. This is a problem that I have when it comes to any sport. If you remember last week, I wasn't above talking Kelsey to catch a Frisbee. Haha, just kidding, that was in all fun. In all seriousness, to those that read, if you could pray that God would teach me how to be a witness in all situations. I know and believe that I do not need to speak the language to be a witness. Sports are almost a universal language and love definitely is. Thank you so much for reading and I really appreciate your prayers. He must increase, and I must decrease. . . in sports, social life, and everything else.

After basketball, I got cleaned up and headed to Kelsey and Melissa's house where they were making tacos. Samuel was there and as cute as ever. I wish you could meet him. He is super tiny, has a huge tummy and really big cheeks. I will try to get a picture up some time. Well, now we are about to eat and then I will head to bed ready to wake up at 5 for another week. There is a new team in town too that I will meet tomorrow. This means new friends, more dinner outings, and more stories to hear. I like meeting people and hearing their stories. I don't mind telling them either. haha.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Day 11 – Nope, They Didn’t Sleep Until 11

In fact, they didn’t even sleep until 630. That’s right, I was rudely awakened after about 5 hours of sleep to the knock of two hungry little boys. I told them to go back to bed but Wilson was too awake. Javier said Wilson kept waking him up and thus, he could not sleep anymore either. I still insisted and finally Javier wd started a movie for them. Remember the Titans this time. Then, when Powell left around 8, Wilson came and woke me up again. I had never fallen back asleep because I could hear them playing around so I quickly got up and got their breakfast on. I made them each 3 hard boiled eggs, two pieces of toast and ham. Neither one of them wanted their ham but they did want peanut butter on their bread. I made it all into a sandwich which they then pulled apart. Wilson ate the bread and peanut butter by themselves and Javier put the eggs back on the bread now with peanut butter and ate it that way. They both ate all their food along with a couple glasses of juice.

We had a blast, can't you tell?
While we ate breakfast unfortunately, Powell’s computer that we were using to watch the movie locked us out and I couldn’t get the dvd out so we had to switch to a different one. We pulled out my computer and put in Coach Carter. The watched the whole thing while eating more of whatever I had in my house and then afterwards we packed up to go. It was still raining hard so we went up and asked Tandy to call us a cab (because I don’t know how to communicate over the phone to taxi people yet). From there, I took them home then came back ready for a nap. Instead, I ate lunch, talked on skype with the coolest person in the world, Hannah, and then wrote these blogs. I love it here but it was nice to talk to a familiar face. Skype is pretty cool. Well that is enough sitting inside for me for the day and it is finally sunny outside so I think I will go do some parcore and basketball. Wish me luck, but don’t say break a leg, because that is highly probable. Lol.

The above paragraphs were written early in the morning and the day did not pan out quite as I thought. After my lunch of granola and juice, I headed to do parcore with the boys but could not find them. I didn't go until 3 which was an hour after they said to meet but I thought with Ecuadorian culture, I would be on time. In their defense, it was raining really heavy right at 2 so I think they probably just didn't go. So instead of parcore, I decided to go shoot some hoops. I was the only one there so I just shot around for about an hour. The boys said they would meet me at 4 but in true Ecuadorian fashion, this time, they didn't come until probably around 430 or 5. I did not want to wait that long so I just headed out instead. I went back to my house, grabbed the waffle maker and then went by the store. 

After arriving at Megan's house, I cooked my waffles, eggs, and bacon for everyone (I ate way too much). They were pretty good and a nice taste of home. Once dinner was over, we sat around and watched Clash of the Titans on Megan and Sheri's TV. They are fun to watch movies with. They talk during movies which I don't do at all but their commentaries are pretty funny. It was nice to watch a movie and just relax finally. After the movie, I am going to bed for sure and will sleep in as long as I can in the morning. 

Day 10 – Too Much Exercise = Too Much Food

So the Zumba thing was pretty fun I must admit. Immediately upon arrival, everyone in the building (98% women) turned and stared at us. They began pointing at us and laughing to themselves, then giggling as they pointed us out to others who hadn’t seen us yet. Once we started, we got even more looks as some of the moves required several hip thrusts and butt movements. Oddly, I kept up and was pretty good at them which only made the other participants laugh more. It wasn’t too demoralizing either because Powell was there right beside me doing the same thing. We were doing it for the little girls so it didn’t hurt my pride too very much. Haha.

We danced the night away, or for at least an hour and a half. Afterwards, we were beat and ready to go to bed so we went home and did just that. We got to bed probably around 10 and woke up the next morning at 5 for some P90X. As luck would have it, the session for the day was legs and back which meant we would be using a lot of our already exhausted dance muscles. We did though and then sleepily began our day. After my morning routine, I headed up to Casa for some baby time but instead started weed eating.

I missed baby time but the weeds needed to be chopped and since it has rained every single day this week, I have not been able to get it done. Now I have though. I finished about a third of the project I was working on because the weed eater kept messing up. I don’t think I have ever used a weed eater that didn’t screw up at least once while I was using it. Someone invent a perfect one please. Anyways, the weed eating job was fun and but it had me standing in knee deep water weed whacking waist high weeds. I had made it my whole time being here without getting eaten by bugs but this task proved different. My arms are now covered in little cuts and bites so much so that it looks like I have chicken pox again. No worries though, I got all my shots . . . I think.

For lunch, I went to Alexander’s again. The son of the owner always serves the food and now has come to be my friend. He doesn’t speak any English but he recognizes me because I go in every day. After about the 6th day in a row, I would see him and give a big smile as I greeted him. We kinda have an unspoken inside joke because I go every day and I always eat so much. It makes him smile when he sees me because he has probably never had someone order two whole meals before. So this time, I went in he smiled, shook my hand and I asked him his name. Now, every time we need something I address him by his name, Javier. He likes it I think. I think next week when I see him again I will try to get enough Spanish words together to invite him to youth group.

Speaking of, after PE where we played basketball, Powell, Kelsey, Melissa, and I all went to dinner at Johnnys, followed by Youth group for the first time. At dinner, the Spanish Jurassic Park was playing on the TV so it was hard for me to focus haha. Powell and I split two whole pitchers of this juice stuff. It was basically like a really liquidy smoothie but it was so good. We got a mango one and a mora one. And yes, if you know me at all, I did make a joke about the mora juice and how we could never run out because there is always mora. I got a courtesy laugh, nothing more. After dinner, we went to Young Life youth group which was awesome. There were probably 30-40 local youth there and I got to meet all of them.

At the hang out, we basically just hung out. We played a huge game of rock paper scissors or as they called it, wizard ogre elf or something like that. We also played their version of American football which was an odd mix between football, ultimate Frisbee, and rugbee.  It was pretty fun but mostly it was good to get to know some of the local youth. Afterwards, a couple of the guys invited me to go do parcore with them today at 2 and then basketball at 4. I said yes to both but it was raining at 2 so I am not sure if they are still doing it. I will go when the rain lets up and see where they are at.

After youth group last night, we took the younger girls we had picked up from La Casa to the park. Powell and I went and got some much needed groceries along with a couple bags of chips for the boys. Then, we all shared a cab, went to La Casa and picked up Javier and Wilson to come spend the night. When they got over here, we cracked open the big bag of Cheetos which they went through in about 5 minutes, next we opened the big bag of chips which they also ate all of. They were some tanks. We ended the night by watching Pirates of the Caribbean on my laptop. We stayed up late because they told me they always sleep in until 11 on Saturdays. That made really happy because I would love to sleep in after a full week and a couple of 5 o’clock wake ups. Stay tuned to see if they really slept until 11. . . 

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Day 8 and 9 - Hard Labor

I was not able to get a post for yesterday so todays will be extra inclusive. Titled "Hard Labor," this post starts with the description of the work we did yesterday. We started out working on the school by shoveling big barrel full of rocks and then carrying them to the second floor of the new school building. I don't know if you have ever shoveled rocks before, but it is not the easiest manual labor to do. The only thing I would say is harder when it comes to shoveling would be shoveling rocks out of dirt and mud which is what we did after. 

Essentially, there was a road and that road was getting flooded every time it rained so to fix the problem, the road was dug out and a big concrete tube was put in to let the water go through. Mine and the teams job was to put all the dirt and rocks back in the whole to recreate the road. This is very difficult when all you have is shovels and no bobcat or tractors. We could get one of those but they are expensive, and why do that when you have a team of college students to do it for you? haha. So it was fun shoveling rocks back into this whole that was probably 30 feet long, 6 feet deep, and 10 feet wide. The rocks we were shoveling were some of them even to big to pick up with just one person. Since there are only two guys in the group, all the heavy lifting naturally fell to myself and Zach. 

It was a good time though. All in all it wasn't that bad either because after lunch, I was done and got to go teach PE. The team was not so lucky. After their lunch, they start working some more. Now in my defense, I have been here longer and will remain about 7 more weeks after they leave on Saturday so I don't feel too bad. I do feel a tiny bit bad though leaving them after lunch to teach PE haha. However, as any mom will tell you, wrangling 10 elementary age kids that don't speak your language and trying to teach them a sport is not the easiest thing in the world either. 

Also, since I have been here a while and know all the maestros, Freddie, the head construction worker, told me to be in charge of the team. It felt good that he trusted me to "steer" as he called it (He was looking for the word manage which I taught him). So that was cool kinda being the go to guy for questions that the team had. I was really just keeping them from asking Freddie all the questions and in truth, I probably don't know much more than they do but as the weeks go by I will know more and more. I am seen as having a little more experience, even if it is only one or two days. I have learned a lot too and am actually thankful for the hard work. It builds character as my parents say. The rock digging went on yesterday and today and now I think we are finished. It does feel nice to step back and look at the road now and know that we accomplished something so that is really good. 

For dinner last night, all the longer workers went over to Meagan's house for pasta. I swung by the store to grab some noodles then headed over to help cook them. They were really good. Meagan made homemade meatballs, marinara sauce, pesto sauce, and alfredo sauce, all of which were amazing. I ate way too much. Dwight has a calorie counter on his phone that he uses and he figured that he ate about 1900 calories for dinner. I had 4500 hahaha. So much for loosing weight and getting in shape huh. I have already gained the reputation of the guy that cleans everyone else's plates. . . just like back home. Lol (especially with the group of 7 girls, I get lots of extra food).

Tonight for dinner, Kelsey, Powell, Melissa and I are going to grab some food somewhere here in town and then you cannot wait to hear what we will do next. We are going to do Ecuadorian Zumba. hahahahaha!!! Every day from 630 to 830 pm and am, a lot of the females in the town, and a couple males all meet in this big gym and do a form of Tyboe like stuff or Zumba. I have not gone yet but a few of the little girls at the Casa want Powell and I to go. Melissa told them we would so now we are stuck. It should be interesting and slightly embarrassing but who cares. I have done worse stuff and I'm alright, right? Haha, no it will be great. 

Last thing to tell you is that Powell and I started working out with Dwight early in the morning. I am now waking up at 5 o'clock every day to do P90X with Dwight in his back yard. Today was our first day and he forgot his computer so we just did our own arms and shoulders workout. It wasn't too bad except that it was so early. Actually though, because I worked out this morning, I think I have been less tired throughout the day so that is pretty cool. We plan on it again tomorrow. So in short, with 5 o'clock workouts, work all day, and dancing at night, I think I'm just fine to eat at least 10000 calories a day which I think is about where I am right now. I like food here. . . and everywhere. It is so cheap here too which is part of the problem. I am very blessed. 

Well, we are about to head out for dinner. Ecuadorian's normally don't eat until around 8ish every night but when I wake up at 5 in the morning, that calls for an early dinner. I'll let you know how the dancing goes and how many little girls laugh at us tomorrow. Thanks again for reading.