Because we did it so well the last time…

I know, I know.  It’s been a while.  I would apologize and go on about how I plan to keep better tabs on this blog and post witty comments 12 times a week and think ALL THE THOUGHTS and then tell you about them…but we all know that’s not going to happen.  So lets just be happy that I thought some thoughts today and managed to share them with you right now.  Living in the moment and all that.

As many of you know, Sweet Hubby and Patrick and I were in the US for Christmas for the first time in 11 years.  It was glorious.  I had forgotten how much fun it was to be with our families and laugh ’til we cry and eat…Sweet fancy Moses did I eat.  I ate like it was my JOB.  And before you all try to help me out here by telling me that it was just because I hadn’t been in the US for so long and I missed Christmas cookies and such, let me just say that we don’t do without food here in Ecuador.  At Christmas we bake cookies and have cookie exchanges and Christmas parties and office parties…and we eat.  Unfortunately, my brain forgot this convenient little fact, and so I spent the last three weeks of December eating like there was never going to be another Christmas ever and so I needed to eat ALL THE THINGS like RIGHT NOW.  And just when we got to January, and I thought I was safe…Girl Scout cookies showed up.  It’s like the food universe had it in for me.

Rest assured people…I was up for the challenge.  Ice cream to be eaten?  I’ve got this.  Thin mints?  Those puppies come in single-serving boxes.  Check.  Cheese and crackers and dips and chips and hams and turkeys and on and on and on…

Had we just been in the US through December, I might have come off a little better, but we took the month of January for a mini-sabbatical, which is a fancy way of saying “We’re not working, but we’re thinking about work, which is driving us nuts…so we’ll eat”.  Or at least it was in my case.  Plus, we were in Fresno, California in January.  There’s nothing to do there BUT eat.  And we went to San Francisco one weekend and stayed on Fisherman’s Wharf…

We finally escaped this 7-week long food fest and came home on February 11th.  We arrived back home eagerly anticipating seeing all of our friends, being back in our own home and getting our lives back to normal.  This was a great plan, until Dan walked in after work on Wednesday (two days ago) and goes “Honey, I need for you to sit down”.  Now I am not the fainting type, so I thought he was being a little overly dramatic.  Then I noticed that he was steering me to the end of the kitchen that didn’t have any knives within reach, and I started to get a little worried.  He said (and God bless him, he was cool as a cucumber) “Our landlord called today.  He’s selling this apartment and we have to move”.

Did I mention that we’ve lived here for SEVEN MONTHS?  We haven’t even unpacked everything from the LAST move yet (which is going to come in handy, when you think about it).

All I could do was sit there and stare at him blankly.  I could not have been more shocked if he had told me he was uprooting us and moving us to the moon.

I hate looking for an apartment. There has been a construction boom over the past several years, and there are apartment buildings everywhere…with the tiniest apartments you’ve ever seen.  Some of the places we looked at last time were 3 bedroom apartments with 65 sq. meters.  That’s less than 700 sq. feet.  There is more room in the backseat of our car.  The bedrooms followed a strict pattern–one master bedroom that was fairly good sized…as long as Dan and I don’t mind sharing a crib mattress.  The children, on the other hand, don’t even get that.  The other two bedrooms were usually so small that sleeping in them would have involved curling yourself into a ball with your left foot wrapped around your ear and both arms tucked under you in a football carry…and sleeping on a kitchen sponge.  The kitchens were too small for a stove and full size refrigerator, so you make due with a Rubbermaid cooler and a hot plate.  All this for only $900 a month.

When we found the apartment that we’re currently living in, we were ecstatic.  It has three bedrooms that are fairly large by today’s standards, a separate living and dining area, and we don’t have to store the washing machine in the shower.  In short, it’s perfect.

And we have to leave.

We went and looked at an apartment in the building behind us yesterday morning.  It wasn’t too bad.  Large kitchen, big living room, good sized bedrooms…crazy landlady who lives on the second floor.  Back to the drawing board.  In the meantime, our current landlord comes to the office to see us and “discuss our options”.  Our “options” turned out to be another apartment that he owns, in the next neighborhood over.  We went and looked, and Hallelujah.  We’re moving.  As apartment hunting goes, this was by far the easiest we’ve ever had it.

But we still have to move.

I am pretty sure that in the “friendship/fellow missionary” manual that they don’t give you but should, there is a limit as to how many times you can ask someone to help you carry your king-sized mattress that won’t fit in the elevator up the stairs.  Or move your refrigerator.  These are the things that they don’t tell you in orientation.  “Oh, by the way, when you get to the field you become part of the missionary family, and with rare exceptions you’re all you’ve got.  Your annoying but useful brother-in-law isn’t there to move the refrigerator, so be nice to the people you work with.  You’ll need them.”

So, in about a week, we’re going to pack up and move AGAIN.  I swore when we moved here that I wouldn’t move again until we left the field, but you know how things go when you tell God your plans.  Stay tuned.  I’m sure it will be memorable.

Because we did it so well the last time.

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Home sweet home…

The View from the Mountaintop

I know.  Two blog posts from me in the same day.  Some people might claim it’s a sign of the Second Coming.  Alas, no.

This summer, ER hosted two of what we call our “house teams”.  These amazing teams raise funds to build a house for a family from our Zambiza dump program, and then they come down here, roll up their sleeves and build it.  They learn to lay concrete block, dig trenches for sewer lines (twice, for this house!), put in tile, install sinks and tubs and toilets…

Today Dan and I went out to the house site to see the team dedicate the house to the family…and the family to the Lord.  There really are no words to describe seeing a family that had been living in a 10′ x 10′ room receive the keys to their very own house.  To see them walk through the door…

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Ummm…Hello?

I swear, we have not dropped off the face of the earth.  Allow me to catch you up. 

We are moving.

Those three words have pretty much consumed my every waking thought since we arrived home at the end of May.  We knew that we were going to have to find another place to live, and we had pretty much decided that it would have to happen this summer.  When we got home, we had a talk with our landlord, who told us that we had until at least December to find a place, and not to worry, because he would give us at least two months notice if something happened.  Hold that thought.

After looking at about 20 of the smallest apartments we had ever seen, and one apartment that we really liked…but it included a crazy landlady (within five minutes of meeting her she informed me that I was a terrible person for “abandoning” my three older children in the US, I don’t need any more children and I need to get rid of my dog).  Ahem.

AHEM.  As my mother will attest to, I don’t like being told what to do.  Especially not by complete strangers.  And I certainly don’t need anyone else in my life to heap on the guilt.

ANYWAY.  We ditched the crazy landlady and eventually found a wonderful, delightful apartment that is literally right next door to Extreme Response, has a lovely view and is within our price range.  After praying about it and measuring our giant king sized bed to make sure it would fit in the master bedroom, we signed the lease.  We had been holding off on telling our landlord that we had a new place until the lease was signed, just to make sure everything was copacetic.  The day that he came to get the rent, I was opening my mouth to tell him that we were moving when he said “Sra. Cynthia, I have bad news.  The house has been sold and you need to move by September 1st.”  I had two issues with that (Yes, I know we had a new place already, but allow me my issues).  The first was that instead of two months, we now had about five weeks.  The second (and I didn’t find this out until later) was that the house has not ACTUALLY been sold.  We think that he wants to rent it for more money.  I hate being lied to. 

ONWARD.  We have spent the last two weeks frantically getting rid of excess furniture and STUFF that we have accumulated over the past 10 years.  I know that once we are moved and settled I will be very glad that it happened, but right now I am spending an awful lot of time looking around anxiously and trying to figure out where to put stuff in the apartment when we don’t even have the keys yet. 

I PROMISE that once we are moved and settled (we are officially starting the moving process around August 7th) that I will do a real update, and tell you all about the teams that we’ve run this summer (it’s been a GREAT summer), the ministry that is happening, the sewing ladies and our family in general.  Until then, here’s a smiling giraffe.

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The Missionary’s Prayer

The View from the Mountaintop

This morning I have been going through some things that I wrote way back when we first arrived on the field.  Things have changed so much since then.  This one particularly stuck out to me, for two reasons.  One, I wrote it in July of 2004, when we had been on the field for only seven months.  I wasn’t jaded or cynical at that point.  And two, I need to be reminded in my current jaded, cynical state that we are here for a reason, and it really has nothing to do with my own personal comfort.  Even after 10 years, I have so far to go…

The Missionary’s Prayer

   Father, help me to love these people as you love them.  Remind me that “Their ways are not my ways, nor are their thoughts my thoughts.”  Forgive my selfish pride in thinking that my way is always the best way…

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Love in action.

The View from the Mountaintop

For some time now, our dream at Extreme Response has been to extend our vision to the women and children who are connected with the Quito City dump.  Our daycare has been functioning since 2006, and all of the children that have gone through our program are now in public school.  For the first few years our children were doing quite well, however as the work at school has gotten more difficult, they have started to fall behind.  The parents of our students have a high illiteracy rate, and therefore cannot help their children with schoolwork.

At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, we identified 12 children who were in “crisis”–in danger of failing or dropping out.  When we opened our Women’s Center, we intended to start an after school program for students where they could come and get homework help, tutoring and a hot meal.  These children would…

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Truth

This post is written in just five minutes, with no editing. It’s part of what we call Five Minute Fridays. #FiveMinuteFriday wordprompt this week is ‘Truth’.

 

She reaches for his hand in the dark.  It’s stuffy tonight–no sleep.  He’s there, solid and dependable.  He’s always there.  When the money runs out.  When the present is dark and the future is unknown.  He’s been there for over a quarter of a century.  They have learned to dance together, the same rhythm, to the same song.  They find joy in each other and in what they have created.  This life, with these children, this crazy existence…it’s good.  He holds her hand there in the dark–he’s almost asleep, but awake enough to know she’s there–she needs him.  He rolls onto his back and she moves into the shadow created by his warmth.  Her head rests on his chest, listening for the beat of his heart.  He’s there, his arm around her.  For the moment all is right with the world.  She sleeps, the truth of his love wrapped around her like a cocoon.

A Different Kind of Christmas…

The View from the Mountaintop

A Different Kind Of Christmas

“The lights around the Christmas tree don’t burn as bright
And all around the world it isn’t a silent night
Outside I hear the voices sing the sweetest sounds of caroling
But somehow there’s a sadness in the song
In our hearts we know that something’s wrong

It’s a different kind of Christmas
In a different kind of world
Even though it looks the same

Everything has changed
It’s a different kind of Christmas…”

 

I love Christmas.  It is hands down my favorite time of the year.  As I type this, it is the 27th of October, and by the end of this week at least one of my Christmas trees will be up, the mantel will be decorated and Christmas music will be playing all day (at least until the Sweet Hubby gets home.  He’s Scroogey.)  I love the lights and the decorations…

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