Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You know you have been in Ecuador for almost two weeks...

Lately I have been thinking about all the things that I have learned while in Ecuador these almost two weeks. Some of these things have even shaped my behavior! So here is my list...
You know that you have been in Ecuador for almost two weeks when...
1) You find yourself being very frugal. "No I don't want to pay a few centavos extra for food or for copies, or for anything... that 50 cent bus ride home is expensive! No way am I going to pay $3 for lunch... I can eat for $1.50."
2) You are becoming increasingly adept in your real life Frogger (car dodging) skills. In Ecuador, they just passed a law giving pedestrians the right of way... let's just say that many times it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
3) You are getting accustomed to having a stomach that is not fully able to take on any food.
4) You realize that you should never tell someone that you rode the most crowded Ecovia or Trole... inevitable your next ride will be even more crowded. The definition of full on an Ecovia or Trole is when faces are smashed up against the window and you can barely breathe. Think of it as a moving flesh pile or bearhug if you will.
5) You are learning a lot but "come se dice" are still your favorite words.
6) You are still doing the funny touristy things such as straddling the equator line at Mitad del Mundo and bragging that, at that moment, you are in two places at once. (do not take offense... these things must be done and pictures must be taken)
7) You are used to waking up and seeing the mountains of Quito all around you... for some, they never cease to take their breath away.
8) You are jingling because of all of the change that you now carry. (I am just thinking of all the pennies that I left in my car back home and all that I could buy with them)
9) You are still slightly miffed when people are late... but it is starting to faze you less and less. After all, you like the grace every once in a while when you are late.
10) You are used to the piropos (flirtacious comments, compliments, whistles,etc. ... in Latin America these are not offensive and are completely harmless) as you walk down the street. In fact, you are somewhat disappointed when you don't hear the whistles.
11) You are ready to settle in... ready to explore, see, experience... ready to do life here... be here...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Small but significant joys...

Well, I am almost one week down. This week has been one of the hardest of my life but I know I will look back on it as being one of the most important of my life as well.
It began with being completely overwhelmed and scared. Everything scared me and at one point I had not been out of the house in 29 hours. For those that know me... I am not a sit in my pajamas all day kind of girl... I think the idea of it sounds romantic but after a few hours, I get antsy. So that time was a long time. But thankfully one of my friends rescued me and showed me around the bus system here in Quito. I still do not know much of it but I know enough to get me to school and back and I am learning.
I am also learning how to deal with fear. This has been hard for me over the past week and I have been reading a lot of Scripture. This has comforted me but also convicted me of how fear is a sin. I can have confidence in my Holy God. Thank you for all those who have been sending me Scripture to read... It means more than you can ever know. I am constantly praying for God's peace and protection.
I have met many new people which has been wonderful and I like my classes so far. I especially enjoy the family that I am staying with. They are so generous and patient with me as I struggle for vocabulary. "Como se dice?" is my new favorite phrase...but I am learning many new words thanks to their patience. I so enjoy sitting and talking with them about all kinds of different things... it is great that my Spanish is improving and we can talk about deeper things than my favorite color or my likes and dislikes.
They have introduced me to several new foods...some that my stomach is tolerating and some that it is not. One such food was tripe (cow intestine) which I actually liked. Another food was choclo, which was delicious as well. I have tried everything here...just not everything agrees with my stomach. A friend and I did stumble upon a panaderia (bakery) today and we just could not help ourselves. The sweet breads were so good. I will definitely be going back because this blows Panera out of the water!
Right now I am tired... it could be that 13 minute run this morning that completely took it out of me. The altitude is high and breathing is hard... but it was so nice to go out and stretch my legs.
Overall, it has been a hard week. But I am excited for the weekend. God has given me small but significant joys over the course of this week and I am so grateful for these. I am learning more and more as each day passes.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


That is about how I feel right now...overwhelmed. However, this is a double-sided coin...this overwhelmed feeling that is.
Sure, I am overwhelmed by the vastness of this city and how I have absolutely no idea where I am. Sure, I am overwhelmed by the language and how little I understand and how much less I can communicate. I feel reduced to a mere yes and no answer for everything. Sure, I am overwhelmed by the fatigue my body is feeling due to lack of sleep and the altitude. Sure, I am overwhelmed that this will be my home for the next four months. Sure, I am immensely overwhelmed with feeling helpless and humbled. I am indeed overwhelmed.
But I am also overwhelmed with God's grace. He has been so abundant to me! He has provided beyond my desires. He has provided a beautiful family who is so gracious to me including a precious little girl who deemed me worthy to play with her this afternoon. He has overwhelmed me with their hospitality. He has given me internet at the apartment where I will be living and even provided a free way to call home. I am astounded by all that He has orchestrated. I am overwhelmed by His good gifts. Indeed, they are very good but it simply points me to the infinitely good Giver of these gifts who satisfies more than these gifts themselves. He is my joy and satisfaction. "How He loves us...Oh how He loves us..." those were the words that were playing on the drive to the airport yesterday. Those are the words that Jon softly sang in my ear. And those were the words that I could barely choke out. But they are also the words that are echoing in my mind right now. God's grace and love are abundant. They were abundant on the cross and they are abundantly displayed in my life right now despite being overwhelmed in the other areas.
Please pray for me. Pray that I would rest in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as I feel overwhelmed. Please pray that I would be able to better understand and communicate. Please pray that God would comfort me as I struggle to combat loneliness and tears on this first day apart from my family. Please pray that God would use this experience to mold me.
I love you all!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

One week, several doses of nervousness, and a handful of excitement away...

6:44 am. That is the time that my cell phone displayed when I first opened my eyes this morning. 6:44 am. I immediately thought that in exactly one week from that moment I would be boarding a plane destined for Ecuador. My head fell back on the pillow and I took a deep breath. One week away...
As I have been preparing for this trip, I have shopped for all of the necessities. Research on Quito is continuous. Closed toed shoes have been purchased (which is a big deal for this flip flop loving female). Webcams have been tested. Candy orange slices hope to make it to Ecuador...who knows...they will be lucky not to be eaten before then. And, I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying.
Most of my preparation has been mental preparation. I am so excited to get to return to Ecuador. It is such an amazing opportunity. I am nervous yet excited to be able to study in the city of Quito. I am preparing to see another beautiful part of the world. I am looking forward to being back in the mountains. I am ready to smell the smells of Quito again and enjoy the colors and rhythm of the city. I cannot wait for the new experiences and interesting foods. I am curious to see what relationships form. I am preparing myself to be overwhelmed...
I am readying myself to feel small as I realize, yet again, that the world is so much bigger than I am. I am going knowing that I will feel lost at moments. I am praying to be humbled, which I am sure is inevitable. But I am preparing to learn and to share.
I am most excited to share the message of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have often failed at doing this while on the comfort of my own campus. I have often been caught up in indifference. I am looking forward to meeting people to listen to their stories as well as share mine and the difference that the Gospel has made in my life. I am even preparing for those lonely moments, knowing that those might be the sweetest moments of walking with and trusting in my God. I am so blessed to get to see God's creation in a different part of the globe.
One week...
Therefore we labor that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him.
2 Corinthians 5:9