Friday, December 20, 2013

We're alive!

Hi everybody! So sorry I have not posted anything in a few days. Quite a bit has happened.  Last you heard from me we were in Cuenca visiting friends. We had a fabulous time there but we wanted to see the coast and explore what coastal living is like as well as what the needs of the congregations are.  We took a 7 hour bus ride and finally arrived in a sleepy little surf town called Olon. I may provide details in another post about our time in Olon.  But long story short, finding an apartment or rental home there was extremely difficult with our budget. After much prayer and I must admit, even tears, we decided that it was clear we would have to keep heading north for more suitable living in our budget. In just three days though, we fell IN LOVE with Olon and also the few friends we met from the congregation. Their $3 pina coladas on the beach, we fell in love with too!

So anyway we took a 4 hour bus ride yesterday and arrived in the bustling city of Manta, right on the coast as well.  We are staying with a family that moved to Ecuador in November from the states, with two little boys and all.  They are the picture of what I envision a family with Matt might be like on this side of the home schools them herself, service all the time, and a couple beach days throughout the week.  They're an awesome family putting Jehovah first and they have been so encouraging to us.

Tomorrow we are planning on travelling to the hall in Crucita, a beach town about 50 minutes  north.  It's known for its handgliding and parasailing and beautiful beach. We also hear their spanish hall has only two elders and one is just learning Spanish. (This has been the big challenge, finding an area in need of help with their territory and in a place that suits us and our budget!) One thing we're learning though, is that December is the absolute worst time for a gringo to find a good deal on a rental in a beach town. December starts their summer and holiday season when everyone flocks to the beaches. So prices get jacked way up up until about early mid January or so IF you can even find places that haven't been rented yet!

So that's that! I can't lie, the last few days have been a little rough emotionally.  It's been difficult even wanting to write about anything,  because it means having to process my stress and anxiety even more.  Matt keeps encouraging me to write though since this is, after all, a documentation of our story with all its ups and downs. Sigh. And perhaps by sharing with you all the "lows" of getting situated in a foreign country, you can triumph with us when we finally figure things out.  When I start to panic, I search deep down (usually after some prayer) for that feeling, that belief (that usually hides in the shadow of anxiety and hmm, prolly some hormones haha) that Jehovah's GOT this, he's GOT us and as long as we keep grasping his hand, He'll never let us go.

I miss you guys. You (our congregation and family and friends) are always on our minds and we really enjoy sharing this experience with you.

Here's some photos from Olon...

 What you see while walking through Olon, stray dogs and donkeys:)

Here we are with Ian, the son of a couple that was helping us find a place to live.  He is the sweetest little boy. ALTHOUGH, we had very differing opinions on spiders.  He would just stick his hand in the middle of a huge web and grab a fist of it and chase me around while trying to wipe all that spider/web goodness on my shirt. What a sweetie pie:/

Friday, December 13, 2013

A little update...

Just wanted to update you on the commenting situation. I know some have told me how frustrating it's been to add your comments to the posts because a login is required.  Well no more folks, no more! I finally figured it out in settings. So now anyone can comment freely. We hope to hear from you!

And since I'm here I'll leave you with a picture!

This picture is from when we visited the branch in Guayaquil a few days ago.

We had the privilege of being toured by Toni Toth.  Her and her husband have been at the branch for 40 years! They are Gilead grads from the 56th class.  Her enthusiasm for our plans and words of encouragement were invaluable!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shopping in Cuenca

Well this post has nothing to do with need greater work....Well actually give me a moment and I'll find a connection. Lalala..ok got it. Travelling, I find, many times goes hand in hand with shopping and when you're going to be spending lots and lots of time in the ministry, well a girl needs her essentials right? 

So we found ourselves in the perfect place to shop...I mean, to EQUIP ourselves for the ministry;) Cuenca is a mecca for little artisan shops.  They have gorgeous Panama type straw hats and jewelry and leather goods.  Their prices aren't the cheapest you'll find in the country because this city is pretty touristy but it's always fun to try and talk them down on the price. You can always knock off a few bucks doing that. 

Below are some goodies Matt and I found.  The brown bag is for Matt to use in service. You can smell this leather from a mile away. It's a little bit smaller than a large briefcase, cost $50, so take that Wilson's leather.

Oh and the earrings were $3!

So we attended our first Spanish meeting here. And well I must say both Matt and I left overwhelmed and feeling, gringo.  There was really only one brother who's Spanish I could follow pretty well.  But I guess today's meeting made me realize that we will not learn this language by osmosis (sadly I think part of me kinda believed that) We will need to devote time everyday to learning and practicing.

I did give a bible highlight though! The ispeech app helped a lot with that. If you're learning a language check it out. You can either type or speak what you want translated and it will write out the translation AND dictate it to you too!

So tomorrow we're all going for a hike so hopefully if it's a clear day I'll be able to share some nice pictures of the mountains here.

I'll leave you with a selfie I took with my hat.  These hats SAVE you from the sun. It's the strongest sun I've ever felt. You burn it 2 seconds flat.

Oh yeah and and my husband! So handsome drinking his cafe americano con leche. Sorry he's been a little MIA from the posts so far but I'll try and make him more of a presence on the blog for those who miss seeing his face:)

Nos vemos! Ciao:)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Peaks and valleys

The camera will never quite capture it but the mountains here are gorgeous, like nothing I've ever seen in person. They have these incredible green peaks that shoot down creating a steep cliff and finally land in a beautiful valley with orange tile roofed houses collected in the shadows of these mountains.  We drove up to a higher elevation today to check out property that our friend's (Joel and maria) family is building on. The house is being built on the side of a mountain overlooking Cuenca. The picture above is part of the homes view. Amazing!

Here are the guys climbing through part of the property.

So this morning I accompanied Maria on her study before meeting the group for service. I was focusing so hard on trying to understand everything, that I actually got a little dizzy haha. Started seeing spots and everything.  So I was thrown a bit of a curve ball at the end of the study when Maria asked if I wanted to say the closing prayer. A ya yay! But I just took a deep breath and I did it, I did it guys! It was so exhilarating! And I really do appreciate that Maria just threw me in there, I know that's the only way I will gain some confidence.

So taking the bus back to meet the group was interesting.  You board the subway type bus from the front but the rule is you must get off from the back.  So when we got on it was packed alllll the way to the bus driver, and as we made more stops we kept getting more and more squished as people kept boarding. When it came time to move our way to the back, I literally slithered past every bump and curve of ecuadorian body you could imagine...Well maybe don't imagine:) I kept waiting for reactions, i mean I was all UP in everywhere! But no one even flinched or even tried to move over...I guess we were all in this together. You simply check your personal space at the door!

That's it for now. Ciao!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Don't need to be J. Lo to have a glow!

This is me and my glow. I made sure Matt captured it with my iphone. I have been on a high the last couple days because I am just loving this whole letting Jehovah direct us thing haha.  The picture above is from this morning after our amazing breakfast at the bed and breakfast owned by a witness family.  The night before when we had explored the city, the sister we were with had started talking about a town on the coast named Olon. My ears immediately perked up because I had read and seen pictures on it and had already fallen in love with the town. She told us that a new Spanish group is being started and that a couple there own a bed and breakfast too.  They're a young couple from the states and she asked if we would like their yeah! So I put that info in the back pocket of my mind as something to pray about later. So we pray that night specifically about Olon...

Next morning at the b&b! We sit at the dining room table with this couple from Canada.  They just had a house built right on the coast overlooking the sea in a town called Puerto lopez.  Well again my ears flinch because I had read about Puerto lopez and how it was such a quaint cute fishing town (right up my alley).  Well next words out of her mouth are "but I think you would like olon, really nice town nearby, it's clean and easy to get around".  Cue glow! And I pretty much spurted the scrambled eggs i had just eaten from my ears! Who knows what will happen for sure, but at least we have a direction and a connection to the coast. Yay!

So today we boarded a bus to Cuenca, a beautiful colonial looking city in the mountains.  The big picture behind my blog title is of Cuenca.  We are visiting Joel and Maria Hudson, friends from Matts earlier bethel days.  The bus ride was four hours and took us on a winding road literally inches from the edge of the mountain. Kinda scary! The bus was really nice though. Cost us $8 per ticket and this was a nice bus, similar to Peter Pan with a TV and everything.  I'll keep you posted on our stay here.  We'll be here for about a week and then I think we'll head to the coast.  Our plan is to figure out our final destination with in our first month.

I'll leave you with a blog feature that I will call "now get to the point!"


Most dominant feeling at the moment: giddiness and a slight headache probably from The 9000 ft elevation.

Favorite thing so far: how cheap everything is!

Least favorite?: getting noticed everywhere, thanks to my giant of a German husband:) puts me a little on edge, because i know it makes us targets for theft or higher price tags.

What do i see a lot of: tight tight jeans on women and low low shirts and breastfeeding everywhere! They do it while they walk, impressive!

until next time, ciao!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

day 1 in Guayaquil

Well everybody I can't believe we are here in Guayaquil. And on top of that, we have already made friends! Of course this is Jehovah's organization so that shouldn't really surprise me but ya know:) 

First of all, flying could not have been more of a breeze. And don't even get me started on how easy it was to get our luggage when we got off our flight.  Of course I was convinced that someone would throw our luggage onto a cart and sneakily wheel away with all my neatly packed tropical wear and blow dryer. Nope, all three pieces of luggage were taken off the conveyor already, nicely placed together and in excellent condition, i mean not even a smear of dirt. 

So exiting the airport was interesting. I felt like a Celebrity. There's this long corridor that leads you to the exit doors, and seriously at 1 in the morning there were a couple hundred people leaning over the railing of the corridor watching us "cat walk" out of there. It was nice to see all these families reuniting after who knows how long.  Kinda funny feeling though too, I had done just the opposite a few hours earlier and now I was waiting for a stranger to come pick us up.  

So anyway I was kinda excited to see a big sign with "Matt & Damaris" in bold held up high by the family that the ecuador branch had set us up with. So that didn't happen. We spent the next hour wondering if somehow we miscommunicated and they actually weren't coming.  So I wandered through the crowds as Matt stayed by our luggage, holding a pretty crumpled watchtower magazine, hoping the family would recognize we were their people! So anyway after figuring out how to use a payphone (ya know those thingys with a spiral cord that have buttons and tons of germs?) we finally got in touch with our people.  Turns out the sweet older sister coming to get us had fallen asleep waiting for our plane to arrive. So a few minutes later we were off in her van to her bed and breakfast!

Next day consisted of sleeping and ordering pizza hut, yes I know I know. Well never again I tell you never again! It's just not the same, something about the sauce... so just as i was feeling kinda bored and lonely and a little like "oh gosh what have we gotten ourselves into?..bad pizza has that effect I guess) we hear someone at the door. It's Ivon, a petite beautiful sister who is the daughter of the B&B owners.  She invited us out on the town to explore the city! We stayed out til midnight and had so much fun, and we met with another group that had need greaters with them.  Of course I attacked them with questions.  But more on our night later. I'll leave you with two things I learned: 1) don't leave food on the counter, these teeny bugs come out of no where in seconds..and really like bad pizza and 2) I'm tall! Here, I should add. Most women are around 5 ft. but that just kinda tickled me:)

Our really long plane

Daddy, Cristina and jonathan, Jeff and Kay came to the airport to bid us farewell!

This is me about to board the flight to miami, i highly recommend this airport bar. This vodka cranberry almost knocked my socks off:)

And this is Ivon on the left and shamyra. Our first friends here!