Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Jungle Experience.

    Wayusinsa from the air

Last week Tuesday my dad, his co-worker and I took a trip to the Jungle. After climbing into the plane we flew for 15 minutes and landed in the community of Wayusinsa, and also in a mud puddle, which decorated the plane nicely.We then met the community leaders and “drank” some Chi-Chaw.        

One sip of Chi-chaw, just to appease curiosity . A drink consisting of chewed up Yuca root, and spit. The Shuar people drink it in gatherings of any kind.
Two buckets of water to haul up the hill. I didn’t come with a particular purpose, but dad quickly gave me tasks to do, hauling water from the spring, holding things, and writing things down. I dubbed myself the “secretaria”.  The first day was very very hot. Luckily the heat didn’t last too long, and the day ended with a cool swim in the river.
Two and a half breakfasts on the third day. Two soups, from two different women, consisting of Wanta (an animal like a big raccoon). It still had hair on it! Plus two different teas from two more women, lemon grass, and banana (maduro).
Three bug huts.  Single tents made out of screen that we slept in, and got very good at putting up and down in a short period of time.
Where we stayed in our bug huts.
Four fish soups. For dinner we ate fish soup, meaning water, with a fish in it. An entire fish. With skin, bones, a head. Thankfully I’m relatively used to fish looking like that, or else I might have freaked out a bit. The next morning what turns out to be for breakfast, but fish soup ! Both of the  chief’s wives made us breakfast, meaning two more fish soups, with lots of plantains, and Yuca root.
Five pieces of chocolate to fill in the missing meals (where the people forgot we existed ).  Oh how wonderful chocolate is after eating the same thing for several days !
Six Kilometers to walk from Wayusinsa to Iwia (about 4.5 miles ). It took us 2 hours, through lots of mud. Boy do I love rubber boots now ! We carried backpacks with all our gear, tents, water filter, and sleeping bags. My backpack was the lightest, at 25 pounds. 
Seven wide open mouths each time I told them I was only 15. They assumed I was 27…. had a job…. went to college already... and was married.. Yeah, they assumed a lot. 

Eight conversations in Shuar, making fun of the white gringos. FYI: Its not very subtle when you use names when speaking about someone, in the same room as you. No matter the language.
Nine thousand stars on a cloudless night, we could see Mars and the Milky Way ! It was awe-inspiring.
Ten sticks I put in the ground to help with surveying in Iwia, only to have them kicked over and re-done by the fellow behind me.. But a young girl named Karla slipped her little hand in mine, and walked the airstrip with me several times in the blasting heat. Quite the dedication ! She continually pinched my skin, almost to see if it was real !
Karla (left) and her buddy

All-in- all the jungle trip was a great experience. We got to eat what the Shuar eat, be with the people, and help them with the process of achieving clean water. No access to the internet, no phones, no distractions. Sometimes its nice to get away and realize just how much I don't really need. But its also nice to come home again :)


   El BaƱo. This is why its nice to come home again :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A child and a baby.

A few days ago Eric and I found ourselves sitting between a 16 year girl, her current caretaker and a young Christian Ecuadorian couple who are hoping to foster and then adopt the infant daughter of this 16 year old.

 This young girl, whom we will call, Anna gave birth one month ago to a beautiful, healthy daughter.  A daughter that she knew she could not care for. She opted to give the baby up for adoption.

Here is where it gets complicated. She is not of a legal age to make that decision. Her guardian can, however.  This is what necessitated the meeting. The guardian signs papers and the adoptive parents can then begin the process of obtaining legal fostership.

Anna sits with her head down, twiddling her thumbs. She does not look up nor speak.  The caretaker who is sitting next to her gives her story.   Anna's mother died when she was a small child.  Her father remarried - her stepmother did not want her so they sent her to live with her aunt and uncle.  Her uncle died when she was 10. Her aunt did not want her - she sent her away. That was 6 years ago. For 6 years Anna wondered from house to house in the jungle - no one wanted her. Remember the caretaker is telling this story - in - a - matter-of-fact- voice. No emotion - just facts. I am watching the face of Anna who has yet to lift her head- but I begin to see tears, I begin to see her lower lip protrude - it trembles.  Her caretaker continues...

10 months ago Anna is found in a nearby town, pregnant.  The father is a 30 year man who lives deep in the jungle- he does not want her either- nor does he want the baby.  This caretaker is found, a relative of a relative. She contacts Anna's biological father.  He does not want his daughter nor the baby either.  Anna is crying harder now - silently shaking.  The caretaker continues in her matter-of-fact voice.  I move to sit next to Anna, she leans in, curls up her legs and cries on my shoulder.

Anna is not capable of caring for her baby, she is an irresponsible child herself. She does not even know how to care for a dog much less change a diaper - the caretaker continues to give a long list of Anna's "deficiencies".  Anna continues to sob on my shoulder.  Eric, myself and the adoptive couple all have tears in our eyes.

Finally, mercifully, the caretaker stops her story.  The Christian Ecuadorian couple step in - May we spend time with you Anna? May we invest in your life? May we take you with us to church so that you can meet your Saviour who knows your suffering and can free you from your many past hurts? May we just love on you?   Anna lifts her head - just a little- for the first time. A quizzical look on her face..  The care taker begins to cry.

"Really" - her eyes plead
"Yes - really"
She nods slightly and wipes her tears  - we all wipe our tears.

We pray; for Anna's baby daughter, the adoptive couple, the process, but most of all we pray over Anna - to feel the love and protection of her heavenly father.

The tears are dried, hugs exchanged and yes, a small smile appears Anna's face.  I think - no I'm pretty positive- that she walked out with her head held a little higher.  Oh precious girl I can't wait to see your face when you come to the realization that you are a princess - princess of the KING!

Monday, June 24, 2013

End of the school year in photos.

Presidental fitness fun.

 End of the year school program.
 Joshua receiving the Spanish award.
 School choir.
 End of the year science presentation.
 Adrianne and her BFF, Lydia who graduated from 8th grade.
 End of the year pool party was too much for Jacob!
 Autographing T-shirts.
 Nate Saint school JUMP!
 Kevin saying good-bye to his good friend Joseph.
 Joshua saying good-bye to David who returned to South Korea.

 Saying good-bye to the Egberth family who returned to Sweden.
 Dance lessons in the kitchen.
 1 of 3 kittens that survived after mom abandoned them.
 Took a trip to the local zoo.

 This naughty monkey kept trying to steal our hats, earrings and backpacks.
 The officer had to climb the fence to retrieve Eric's hat which the monkey took off with.

 Baby monkey whose mom died.

 Our house guest was jumped on by the monkey!
 Kids working the week after school got out.

 Jacob hanging out with David and Ainsleigh at the school Olympics.
 Jump rope competition.
 Adrianne is apparently not impressed with Ryan's tattoo.
 Watching the Olympic games.
 Soccer shoot.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

1 team, 2 team, 3 team

 It all started about 6 weeks ago with the arrival of a great team from Nebraska.   The team was from the home church of one of the doctors.  Nine Jesus loving servants of God came with an incredible heart to serve here at the hospital.  Four of them, over the age of 63.

Team Nebraska

A job well done - a new roof area for the medical caravan truck
The list of projects included raising a roof for the arrival of the medical caravan truck from Quito, preparing sidewalks for concrete, installing new brakes on the old tractor, painting and remodeling the small houses for jungle guests who cannot afford housing and more.  They worked incredibly hard and finished the entire list! We had the pleasure of the team living right next door to our house and really had a great time interacting with them.  
Team Holland Christian in Papallacta
With barely enough time to prepare for the next arrival, we had 2 teams arrive at the same time.  The first team was a Spanish class from Holland Christian High School in Holland, Michigan.  11 students and 4 adults arrived in Quito,  had a couple of days of touring in Quito and arrived in Shell ready to go.  The team painted 1 mission house and part of another house located on the compound.  The paint was peeling off in sheets and in places was down to the bare brick so the work was appreciated.  If you would like to read more about the trip, please check out the blog they posted every day at:
 Please take time to read the last page with notes from the students about what God has showed them while they were here.

That needs paint!  Preparation is always the hard part
Our final team for the rest of the summer but not the rest of the year,  was a 21 person team from the home church of another missionary doctor. This team was from Waco, Texas.  This team took on the big project of painting the hospital and we knew the job could not be completed before they even started, but the goal was to get as far as possible.  They also took on the task of installing a store room for the LP gas tanks used by the hospital.  The painting crew was able to complete ½ of the outside of the hospital and nearly all of the courtyard area. 

Don't let him fall....
The rest of the crew was divided into a cement crew, metal crew and tube installation crew.  The crews were able to pour all of the required concrete, install nearly 500 feet of tubes, and cut all the metal for the grating.

It should be noted that the weather was less than stellar throughout the week both teams were here.  God provided just enough sun on Thursday morning to pour the concrete, and other than that it rained the entire time both teams were here.  What saved the painting project were the large overhangs on the buildings that allowed everyone to continue to work. 

We are thankful to those who came to serve and those who helped to fund them. We pray you continue to serve wherever God plants you.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Receiving my Rainbow.

The last time I blogged - I was praying for a rainbow.  Rainbows remind me that God's promises are true and everlasting.  I KNOW that fact but sometimes in the midst of bad news after bad news after more bad news - it is really nice to  see visually the Promise.  Well - the day after I blogged while I was outside washing our borrowed car, and contemplating the death of our friends little girl I looked to the east and there God provided me a rainbow - in its full splendor.  I had to kneel down and cry.

Later that day I received an email from Christa, my dear friend and the mother of Christianna who suddenly passed away.  This is part of what she wrote:   The day before Christianna died she was the first to see a brilliant rainbow at the namwianga orphanage. She said to Acacia- " I want to fly on that rainbow". Just after she died God sent another rainbow over our home where she died.

God is in the business of answering prayers- period.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Looking for a rainbow

  I went outside today looking for a rainbow - today I needed a rainbow.

Yesterday a 6 month old boy died of meningitis. This 6 month old was the son of a co-worker of mine. My co-worker lost her mother 3 months ago when her uncles used a machete to stab her to death over a land dispute. Her father was brutally attacked as well and lost both hands.  Last week my co-workers husband left her. Today was the funeral. My co-worker held the little coffin and begged for her son to "wake up"!   

This morning began with an email that held some pretty depressing news. I needed a rainbow. Work consisted of trying to provide some/any therapy to a group of little ones with diarrhea, runny noses and fever. Little ones that need to be held and rocked by their parents who for the most part don't have the resources to take care of them. I needed a rainbow. Mid morning I received a phone call that one of my kids was sick and needed to be picked up from school . Rainbow anywhere? 

 10 minutes later we received an email that I had to sit down in order to read.  I needed a rainbow!  Dear friends of ours, serving in Zambia as missionaries, had sent out a message that their 10 year old daughter, Cristianna, had collapsed and died.  I really needed a rainbow.

This afternoon we had a light drizzle while the sun was out - a perfect opportunity for a rainbow. I was in the middle of the menial tasks of daily living, while trying to organize and process my thoughts-  I ran outside to look for that rainbow.  I wanted that rainbow to be there- I searched for that rainbow, I longed for that rainbow to appear.  There was no rainbow.

We can talk about looking on the "bright side of things" or giving thanks that Cristianna and my co-workers son are now with the Lord. But sometimes life just hurts and it's painful. Sometimes we need to feel that pain and work through it before we can move on to see the "bright side of things".  Somedays there are no rainbows.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Workin' for a'livin...

Over the past year we have been talking about, debating, discussing this question,  " How do we instill the value of work and a dollar into our children, (they actually WANT to work) when they are not allowed to secure paying jobs here in Ecuador?"

Last year our boys wanted to build a fort (which is now completed - see previous post). This, of course, cost money and in order for them to appreciate how much money we told them they would need to work for it.  OK- now to come up with paying jobs.  Hmmmmmm........  Our kids do not receive an allowance per se but in the states if they wanted to buy something non essential we found extra tasks to pay them for OR they asked relatives or neighbors for paying jobs. Here that task is much harder.  No relatives to hand out jobs and the neighbors are either fellow missionaries or lower income locals. The amount of upkeep on our rental house is less than our house in the states required, plus a local worker is hired to take care of the lawn so even the number of "made up jobs" has decreased considerably.

Well- the boys were pretty determined and focused, so they asked several other missionaries for jobs and were given a few, mostly washing and vacuuming out cars. This earned a small amount and they bought enough wood to put in the floor. We as a family came up with a couple more jobs that earned them enough to buy the nails and spikes- then they decided after scouring for work and not finding anymore that they would write a blog about their "dream fort".  That blog secured the remainder needed to complete the roof.  Their goal was accomplished-after cutting and dragging bamboo a 1/2 mile for the posts! No cost for that!

Great experience for them, however now they have other, bigger goals - like eventually buying a car or saving for college.  How does one tackle that?  Eons ago when "we", the parents were 13, 14, 15 years old, we picked blueberries, babysat and ran little businesses so that money could be saved, bank accounts opened and expenses related to owning a car or college paid with our own hard earned cash. That was a different era AND our home country where we were legally allowed to work.  So the question still remains.......... for long term savings/goals and steady income for teenagers, what to do?

We are open to input!  :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kevin's hike

Today I was up at 5:30 am to go on a mountain hike with  my dad, my friend Dane, and his dad. The hike was up to the radio and radar stations at about 4,150 ft. We then drove to the beginning of the trail, and started hiking at around 5:45. The trail up to the station was about 3 miles and it took 45 minutes to walk up. On the way we saw the sunrise, a volcano, and a blanket of fog covering the city of Puyo. We arrived at the top at 6:30 and took lots of pictures of the landscape. We stayed up at the top for about 15 minutes, then started down because my friends dad had to get to work at the Hospital. We got to the bottom at 7:30 and went home for some breakfast. That is how I spent my Saturday morning.

 Sunrise over the Amazon jungle
 The city of Puyo blanketed with a layer of fog.
 El Altar - the snow-capped volcano to the southwest.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

At long last completion of the "fort".

New tree fort with chicken coop in front - note Joseph on 2nd floor in the tree!

Hello All,

With great expectations and lots of hard work, the boys and I have finished the new tree fort.  We would like to thank all of you who help with the boys fund raising.  The boys also did about 25 hours of community work each to help raise money.

We bought the materials, dried the wood, and installed the roof.  The boys spent days hand cutting and carrying materials from the surrounding jungle to make the post and roof structure.  We all had a great time and although we still lack a nice ladder, its done. 

Kevin and Joseph in the new tree fort

On a side note - not 1 week after completion, a tarantula moved onto the fort.  The kids were thrilled.  Everyone needs a pet tarantula.

Our new tarantula home on the fort
We put it all together with rope and drywall screws.  If you look closely you can see an extra floor the boys built over the tree fort from bamboo and rope.  It is very creative and works as a spy place.

Kevin and another missionary kid, Joseph slept in the fort last week and broke it in.  They put a tent inside of the fort to fend off the bugs. They had a great time.

I also included a couple of perspective pictures of the fort, the two chicken coops (we have 8 chickens now) and the house.  If you notice you can see a car in the picture.  Another missionary couple has left for 2 months and we are borrowing their car - its only been 5 days, but we have really been enjoying the freedom.  Might have to give serious thought to a car of our own.

Our home from the side - note chicken coops and new fort
Thank you for continuously praying and supporting us here.  Tree forts are not a necessity of life, but we are thrilled to be able to provide a place to play for the neighborhood kids.

Blessed to be a blessing,


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