Friday, April 22, 2011
Last thoughts. Last good-byes. Here I return, USA!
As I sit here in the Quito airport waiting to board the plane, I don't know what to feel at all. This whole day has felt uneasy as I knew I would have to leave this country, leaving the things that have become so familiar. For three months, I've lived in this country of Ecuador, and I remember when it was all so new. I remember right when I got off the plane and the reality hitting me that I was going to live in a different country for three months. At that time, I didn't know what to feel or what was going to happen in the next few months or even days. Every day and every moment was a new experience and a new feeling. That's what my three months here looked like. Every day was an experience; just like our Ecua-moms would tell me and Liz, "Una experiencia!" for everything we did.
It's going to be a different concept to know what to expect on a daily basis, while experiencing the comforts of what's familiar with our loved ones around. These last few days made me realize a new thing I've learned here in Ecuador: the idea of living every day to the fullest. It's not every day to meet another American on the side of the road and be super excited, going tubing down a vicious river, or the fear or being “foamed” by Ecuadorians during Carnaval. I know those are broad and maybe even irrelevant experiences, but what I'm saying is that I want to live everyday to the fullest potential. I want to challenge myself because I've seen the beauty of life and how precious it is. I've realized that I've lived life through dry patterns and being comfortable. I think God calls us to something more; I know he calls ME to something more. As I said my final and last goodbyes at the airport, it brought memories, joys, and experiences of what Ecuador and these last three months have brought me. I hate saying goodbyes, but I know I'll be back to visit. I know God put these experiences and people in my life for a reason. And the feeling of seeing everyone and everything again will feel even greater.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Ultima semana en Ecuador
We have just finished up our last week in Ecuador debriefing and spending time together at the coast of Ecuador. The beach was beautiful! We were in an area called Same (pronounced Sa-meh). We stayed in a hostel right off the beach, so it was like we had our own private beach every day. It was my first time in my life going on vacation to a beach or tropical area, so I was blown away by the beauty of it all.
We spent time debriefing and reflecting back on our semester in the morning and at night. During the day, we spent time relaxing on the beach and swimming in the pool. We also were able to enjoy a nice lunch each day, which consisted of seafood dishes. One night, we went over to the nearby town, Atacames and had dinner there. We looked around at the shops and also treated ourselves to some delicious batidos (milkshakes). All in all, my favorite part of the whole trip was the scenery during the day and when it was time for the sun to set. As I sit here writing, it's crazy to think that many others are leaving bright and early morning as I prepare to leave tomorrow night. I don't know how to feel about everything. Although I am excited to be back home, it has been sad to say my final goodbyes to my Ecua-friends and co-workers. I'm nervous about finally saying final goodbyes to the other Semester Abroaders and the Youth World staff tomorrow. But best of all, I will be enjoying a loooooong layover in Miami from 5 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Hopefully things will work out as planned to go exploring Miami for couple hours. See you in the Estados!
Saturday, April 16, 2011
JUNGLE time in Misahualli
As I finished off my last day at my internship, which was quite sad, the Semester Abroaders and staff were headed to the jungle for a mission experience for the week. I had no idea to what expect, but I knew that regardless of hard times and good times, God was going to be there with us. We were in a more touristy area called Misahualli, so it wasn't like we were in the wild or anything. It was cool though because at the local park in the middle of town, monkeys would just hang out most of the day looking for food, snatching things off people, or fight with local dogs.
We worked and partnered with a organization called It's About Jungle Kids in Misahualli (http://itsaboutjunglekids.org/). It's an organization a missionary couple runs helping at-risk youth and started a school. They have three kids of their own, but have adopted many other children into their family. It has been really encouraging to be involved in this ministry because it kind of gave me an idea of what I wanted to do in my life. The children are from the area that have either been abused or abandoned, but under this organization, they are learning English, about God, and getting a chance to live life successfully by receiving an education. The kids are so precious and were such a blessing during the trip.
Throughout the week, we worked with cement, dug holes, hammered, and created some things with rebarb. It was helping the organization make a gate in the front of their property for the safety of their family. During the later times of the day, we led VBS at a school in the village. Many times we just ran around playing soccer, frisbee, or anything else we could find with the kids.
I was able to see the beauty of God's creation as we went tubing down the Napo River, the smiles on the children's faces, visiting the village of Pusano, the monkeys using their opposable thumbs, and seeing the unity within the group producing fruit during the week. Hearing honest stories from the missionaries at the jungle was even a blessing. All in all, despite the terrible bug bites and humidity, everything was a blessing for me.
We leave for the beach for debriefing in about 20 minutes, and when we are back, we will be saying our final goodbyes to leave for the Estados Unidos.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Everything is an experiencia!
What have I been up to??
Well, last Friday, we had a girls’ night out to a cute little cafe/restaurant that overlooks the views of Quito. It was beautiful, and we also enjoyed dressing up and having a night out on the town. We ended the night with some McDonald’s ice cream at Plaza de las Americas. But let me just say, everyone looked beautiful.
We also played laser tag with the Williams' kids at CCI. Running around, screaming. I may or may not have gotten 500 points. Hahaha I don't know how that's possible. The kids were so cute, just precious, and we ended our hangout with watching How to Train a Dragon.
Liz and I had the opportunity to visit a friend's church in the southern part of Quito this past Sunday. He was actually preaching that day, so it was a cool experience. It kind of reminded me of what I'm used to from back home except everything's just in Spanish. We joined in on a Women's Sunday School class, which was interesting because the girl that led it was from Argentina. If you haven't heard an Argentinian accent, you're in for a treat! I would describe it the way that it sounds like Spanish infused with French. The word "yo" is not how you would normally say it, but it’s said like "jzho". Then our friend and new friends invited us over to lunch, because Ecuadorians are really hospitable. He wanted to serve us lunch, or more like have his friend cook us lunch. We had loads of fun speaking English, Spanish, and Spanglish all afternoon as we cooked, baked semi-normal oatmeal sugar cookies (we didn't have half the ingredients, so we compromised), and had deep conversations about cultural differences.
Here's a photo from today of our last Bible study at the Jensens. I'm surely going to miss the good food, Bible study, and great fellowship every Wednesday night. The Jensens have been such a blessing.
Now, as we finish up this last normal week of internships and classes, we are getting ready to head out for our missions experience in the jungle on Sunday. Then after, we head out the coast to debrief on the beach! Very bittersweet, but then as we come back from the beach, we will be heading back home to the Estados Unidos.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
After recovering from my sickness, as the rest of the Semester Abroaders were able to climb Mt. Pinchincha this past weekend, I stayed back because still recovering from a sickness plus altitude sickness didn't seem like a good idea. BUT I had an opportunity to join a team of women mostly from Alliance Academy to play in a Women's Volleyball Tournament at Cotopaxi American International High School/Academy. I showed up that morning to find out that these ladies were not playing around with this tournament. It was time to be serious! That wasn't the end of it though...we arrived at Cotopaxi High School and I was caught off guard! Every other team had uniforms on and looked like they were serious about the game...I could smell the intensity and competition in the room. Not only were we the only team to not have uniforms, but we were the only non-Ecuadorian team. Where were these women from? This was definitely a different world of people compared to the indigenous people I've encountered on a daily basis. These women were goooood. They were awesome; I give them major props. Although our team got last place easily, it was great to play competitive volleyball again and have fun at the same time. The ladies on our team were so encouraging, and we had the opportunity to get to know each other.
That was last weekend, but I can't believe we only have about 3-4 weekends left here in Ecuador. When I was sick, I did get homesick and missed what was familiar like food, friends, family, and etc. But these days, I've been thinking about the great experiences I've had here already. There's still so much more that we will be doing till the end of the semester, but the relationships and environment I've gotten to know is coming to an end. I'm not a very openly emotional person, but I must admit I've been getting emotional on my own times, thinking of the great times I've had here and the people I've met. I've seen God's greatness in my trip here. Through the awesome people and beautiful scenery, He is so evident. All the things I've experienced, I know it is all for a purpose and I cherish and will be cherishing every moment.
Here are some pictures of our visit to the President's House, an awesome outing, and a family dinner we had last night:
Thursday, March 24, 2011
milking cows THEN muy enferma
It's been awhile! I've been suffering from a bad cold like I've never experienced.
Anyways, back tracking to what has been happening since the Backstreet Boys concert. Our time with our host families was finally over, and we were settled back into our humble abode in our dear apartment. In order to celebrate the time spent with our host families, we had a big fiesta at a hacienda far from the city. We arrived and were pleased to be breathing in clean, fresh air.
It was a great time to get to be with all the families and spend time with everyone. It was a great day of eating great food, kabobs, and doing several different activities. Alyse and I took a stroll down the road riding horses followed by milking a cow for the very first time. In order to make the event even greater, we took a sip of the milk that came straight out of the cow. It was a great time enjoying beautiful scenery and surrounded by wonderful company.
Coming back into the apartment was a great time. A huge celebration for us it seemed. There was great song writing, laughter, and cheering on our first night back at the apartment. That night, our social work professors from Trinity came for the week to check up on things for Alyse and my internship as they also looked for future opportunities. This week was craziness as it started out with me starting to get sick. Considering that I only get sick every so often and that I don't stay sick that long, I was caught off guard to find that this cold was severe and lasted over a week. I am still recovering as I type, but I am a lot better. Thank you for everyone that has taken care of me and also for your prayers.
But a week ago, for my internship, we had a huge celebration with the community we're working with. It was a great turnout. They do know how to party here! It was great! I went with my professors and Christy, which they were all mentioned for special guests. They were quite special and also considering they were the only non-Korean-or-Ecuadorian there. I also at one point had to run up to the front to bow; just for like one second literally. There were performances like the local police crew coming to perform with their trained dogs, the Tae Kwon Do team, Ecuadorian singer, and performances by the staff and teachers at the school. It was a great time and I'm glad everything went well.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
“I want it that a way…”
GOOOOD OL' CARNAVAL WEEKEND.....First, Otavalo with the homestay fam and extended family (like Liz's homestay fam). Then, BANOS. Finally, dun dun dun, was Backstreet Boys Concert.
Otavalo...first of all, I wasn't even planning on going, so I planned on sleeping in. In the wee hours of the morning, not really, but for a Saturday...yes. I hear several knocks on my door by my host mom telling me Liz wants me to call her. This is what was up...my homestay madre has changed her mind and wanted to go with Lily & Ivanho (Liz's homestay padres) to Otavalo. So she was wondering if I was willing. How could I reject such a request? Otavalo is about a two-hour drive, and it is known for their open artisan market that sells all types of Ecuadorian goods. We were ready to get our shopping on. BUT in the middle of our great trip, it starts pouring and actually, doesn't stop this time. So we did as much shopping and bargaining as we could in pouring rain, while our homestay families are getting drenched from head to toe waiting for us. On our way back, we stopped by Cayambe and had some of their famous cheese and biscuits with some coffee. It was a great day.
Next on the itinerary was Baños! It was quite an adventure to get to this marvelous place. We walked over in our backpacks to the Trole for which we travelled for an hour before we reached the bus station. As the big group of ten of us walked through the terminal trying to find the right bus, we were finally on our way. With all the traffic of Carnaval weekend (refer to last post), a 3.5-hour trip turned into a 5-hour trip. BUT, we finally arrived in this great town of Baños. Its scenery was beautiful. This town was surrounded by green mountains on all sides, which was accented also by few waterfalls. After getting food to fill our stomachs, we decided to check out the live music playing on one of the streets. To our surprise, OF COURSE, us, gringoes, were sprayed allllllll over with the Carnaval foam spray by all the locals. This is one of the joys of Carnaval...water balloons, foam sprays, and anything else to throw/spray. It was one of those "I don't care anymore" moments where you just get sprayed in the face, ear, neck, and etc. Then, at night, we booked a trip on a chiva (Usually, it's a dance/party bus, but in our case, ours was like a double decker tour bus) up the mountain to see the volcano at 11pm.
The next day, we trekked over to the waterfall, which wasn't what we were expecting. First of all, we were told we were getting soaked, so we should wear sandals. It ended up being a good 15-20 minute hike to this waterfall. Something else that I wasn't expecting was the beauty of the waterfall. My pictures don't even do justice to how beautiful it was. We even climbed through this very narrow tunnel/cave to go right behind the waterfall, which was even more stunning. What a great experience!
The next day, a small group of us, got on the early morning bus to make it back in time for BACKSTREET BOYS! Honestly, I'm not even a big fan, but I really just went for the experience. I don't even know half the songs and I was more familiar with NSYNC while growing up. Tickets were pretty cheap compared to what it would be in the States, and I knew some loud old school music, great friends, and screaming/dancing girls would all equal to be quite an experience. It was quite cheesy with 90s music, cheesy videos, a bad opening act, and not knowing most of the songs, but I made the most of it. I attempted and I think I succeeded at being one of the fans, but it was a great time. All in all, that was my great Carnaval weekend, first one too! Oh Ecuador, how I love thee!
Friday, March 4, 2011
Liga and now Banos!
Internship is going well and weeks have been going by quickly. Our homestay is over in a little over a week! Last night, our semester abroad team along with few others had the chance to go to a Liga de Quito soccer game. First of all, it's my first time at a professional soccer game ever! It was a great experience. It's not every day you see fireworks being lit in the middle of a crowded stadium of people with constant singing and dancing for their national pride against the Argentinian team. My favorite part was whenever we made a goal, or we were close to making a goal, the whole stadium would stand up with such anticipation. When we actually did make a goal, in this case there were three goals, everyone jumped up, screamed and started chanting in unison! What an experience! It was a great time to spend with the group and also breathing in the Ecuadorian national pride and culture.
And to top it all off, it is Carnival weekend and we are off to Baños. Carnival is a week-long celebration/festival leading up to Lent. In Ecuador, it is common to throw things at others that may be messy like water balloons, eggs, tomatoes, but mostly water balloons. So we are going to Baños to embrace this weekend festivities. From what I've heard, it's more of a nature scenic area where there's hiking, horseback riding, hot springs, and etc. So we are living up our dreams by "Going to Baños!"
Liga and Now Baños!
Friday, March 4, 2011
My internship is going well and weeks have been passing by quickly. Our homestay is finished in a little over a week!
Last night, our semester abroad team, along with a few others, had the chance to go to a Liga de Quito soccer game. First of all, it's my first time at a professional soccer game ever! (which are rarely even went to school games) It was a great experience. It's not every day you see fireworks being lit in the middle of a crowded stadium of people, with constant singing and dancing for their national pride against the Argentinian team. My favorite part was whenever we made a goal, or we were close to making a goal, the whole stadium would stand up with such anticipation. When we actually did make a goal (in this case, there were three), everyone jumped up, screamed, and started chanting in unison! What an experience! It was a great time to spend with the group, breathing in the Ecuadorian national pride and culture.
And to top it all off, it is Carnival weekend and we are off to Baños. Carnival is a week-long celebration/festival leading up to lent. In Ecuador, it is common to throw things at others that may be messy, like water balloons, eggs, or tomatoes, but mostly water balloons. So we are going to Baños to embrace the weekend festivities. From what I've heard, it's more of a nature scenic area where there's hiking, horseback riding, hot springs, and etc. I'll let you know once I check it out. It's interesting because we had this inside joke that Baños was this promiscuous place, when in reality it's not. So we are living up our dreams by "Going to Baños!"
THE Greatest Trip Ever
Monday, February 28, 2011
The greatest thing about Ecuador is not that I'm surrounded around such loving people, or that I get to explore Ecuador with my internship. It's the fact that this whole trip is not about me.
A great friend mentioned that she loved this semester abroad program because it's where you live a life with your eyes off yourself for three months. During these three months, we are challenged to live in intentional community with one another, serve at an internship, and see missionaries' lives amongst us. It's different than the "Me, me, me!" lifestyle we are so used to living in the States, taking everything for granted. Sometimes, having to experience bad travel days on the bus, where you are breathing in someone's sweater because you are so jam-packed into the bus, is okay because it has reminded me of how I've taken my car for granted. Getting hands smeared with poo and having a numb arm from holding a baby in the hospital may seem heroic to some, but it’s really an experience that has taught me the act of servitude and love.
These situations may not be what you think of as ideal situations during a semester abroad, and may not always be fun and games, but all in all, they have taught me to take my eyes off myself. When I find myself complaining about little things, I am reminded that these are situations that people actually live in. And when I take my eyes off myself, I am able to focus on God's beauty in the scenery here in Ecuador, and focus on the many blessings God has provided in my life.
The Words of L.B., “Una Pichanga!”
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Earlier this week, Melba (my host mom) tells me that we are going to La Ronda with the other church ladies for a Valentine's Day night out. I had no idea what to expect, but boy, was I in for a surprise.
After class, Liz and I waited until our host moms met us up by the Youth World office. What we thought was that we were driving there, but to our surprise, we were taking the Trole.
Apparently, it is best to avoid the Trole at all costs during rush hour, which is around 6:00 p.m. Remember how I mentioned that normally the Troles are packed like sardines? If that was being packed like sardines, I don't know how to describe this situation. The Trole platforms were packed to capacity, and Liz and I had to be the only non-Ecuadorians during this phenomenon. There's a great deal of pushing and shoving, and I'm sure pickpocketing in between, as well. We were blessed to get a Trole that was empty, which meant we had seats! Never thought I would see the day I would get a seat on the Trole. We probably rode until it was close to the end of its route, which meant this thing was packed more than capacity! Women were getting stuck between the doors, people shoving people around, and I don't know how children were able to breathe. It was even an adventure making our way through to exit on our stop. There was a lot of pushing and shoving.
We finally completed our journey to La Ronda, which is in the old part of Quito. The buildings are beautiful, and it was just a cute, little-town feel. I imagined this is what Spain or Europe must look like. We walked down the streets while we waited for everyone to arrive. To our surprise, there ended up being about 15 girls/women coming out for the evening. We tried empanadas de morocho, which were delicious, from one of the restaurants. Then we were on a journey to find a restaurant for have cheap, Ecuadorian food because they wanted us Americans to have the full experience. After three restaurant attempts, we found a great little hole-in-the-wall after climbing a narrow stream of stairs. The ceilings were quite low for Liz and I.
We enjoyed great conversations over our long dining table and many laughs. These women know how to enjoy themselves. There were many sing-alongs, joking, dancing, and getting serenaded by two gentlemen with guitars. We also discovered an interesting favorite of Ecuador, which is hot juice. It's like your average fruit juice served hot, as if you were drinking tea. We tried great food and enjoyed every moment of it.
BUT, let me tell you, after we ate, which was at about 10:00 p.m., the night wasn't over for these ladies. We headed over to the karaoke bar. Disappointingly, we didn't end up singing our songs, but had good times regardless drinking our virgin Pina Coladas while listening to sad love songs for couple hours.
Our night became complete as we headed back to the Trole, when we encountered a group of young Argentineans causing a great scene because they didn't agree with the policy of paying an extra quarter after midnight. It was craziness with the Trole security and staff as there was lots of shouting, throwing hands up in the air, and disappointed looks from our host moms who were upset with the Argentinians for disrespecting Ecuador.
All in all, the whole day was an “eventura,” as Lily and Melba would say. It definitely was one experiencia cultura we will not be forgetting.
Carmen Bajo and Korean Peace Corps
So as I mentioned before, I was in the transition of moving internships from Carmen Bajo, which is a great ministry and opportunity, but I didn't feel like I could help out with my best with my limited Spanish skills. As the great Youth World staff members were in search for my new internship placement, I had some time to visit Carmen Bajo couple more times to say my goodbyes and leave on a good note. I returned to visit Carmen Bajo on what happened to be Valentine's Day. As I was playing with the kids, one of the ladies from the kitchen invites me to go upstairs because the ladies have all prepared a special breakfast for all the staff and helpers. They were too cute by having their nice tablecloth, fruits, bread, and coffee. It was a great day to spend Valentine's Day.
Through connections and as people were looking for a possible internship, we got connected with what is called the Korean Peace Corps. I didn't know such a program existed in Korea, but they took the same concept as the American Peace Corps to send Korean citizens into underdeveloped countries all over the world to serve for two years. Bryan, Christy, and I had a meeting with Joe, who is part of the Korean Peace Corps to see if it was a possibility for me to intern under him. The project he has been working with has been under the Ministry of Education here in Quito in a special department focusing on schools in indigenous neighborhoods. He and his group go to a community called Cotocallao and have been doing community development/social work type work in this community. There aren't many resources in this community, so Joe and his team have been working to bring necessities to this community.
I have officially started interning under Joe and his team. The first two days I started, we went to the community that they were working with. They were waiting on a team of doctors to come check the health of the students at the school, but the doctors were involved with some news media of some sort. With the nurse we had on staff, we took the height and weight of every student in the school. I also sat in on a computer class for the teachers and joined in on a community meeting with the locals. The main goal is to help this community be sustainable without the help of outsiders, which explains the computer classes and community meetings to try to brainstorm. All in all, it seems that God had greater plans with my internship that, of course, I wasn't aware of. ;]
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I like to believe I´m a pretty independent person, but God has been challenging me to depend on him and to fully trust. Since being at homestays, I have dreaded getting on the bus, trolley, or taxi because of the long distance it seems to take to get anywhere. I can´t depend on my own time and safety anymore but only on Ecuador´s culture and transportation system.
Also, with my internship situation kind of being complicated, I´ve had to depend on people to help me find another. I´ve had to learn to be dependent on people that God has put in my life, while I also am learning to trust in his plans for me. A friend shared, "The more fear I tolerate, the more the Spirit contaminates." It´s been a good reminder for me to let go of my own plans, and put it in His arms.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails."
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Today was the day all of us (Semester Abroaders) were on our way to the home of our host families, where we will be staying for the next month. As we lugged our huge suitcases over to the Youth World office, finally seeing the presence of our host families, I found myself to be fidgety. Can't speak for all of us, but most of us were nervous for what was to come in the next few moments. I finally met my host mom, Melba. She has one daughter, who I have yet to meet.
The house I'm staying in is more north from where we were staying in a little gated community. It's pretty seguro, as Melba told me, that I can go running, walking, and play in the little park. My room is on the third floor, where it's the only room up there. It gives me a little privacy, and I'm blessed to have my own bathroom. One thing is that internet only works on the first floor, but I can work with that.
Not too long after arriving at Melba's home, we took a walk to the market to do some grocery shopping. It was like half a grocery store and half a store of random things, from dolls to dishes. We stopped by at a little store filled with vegetables and fruits. For lunch, she cooked rice and a dish that consisted of ground beef and vegetables. Muy rico! Hours later, we walked to a small store to purchase more minutes for my cell phone. For dinner, we had humitas, which is similar to a tamale. Muy rico tambien!
Conversations are going a lot better than I thought. I am able to understand Melba, and she helps me out with grammar whenever I try to say something. She knows very few English words, so it is kind of difficult. Surprisingly, with my limited Spanish and her limited English, we've had some meaningful conversations already. It's great.
If you have time, pray for her and her family, as she is one of the few Christians in her family.
God’s Plans, Not Mine
Friday, February 11, 2011
So almost a week ago, our team participated in an annual flag football tournament at Alliance Academy, which is a Christian international school here in Quito, Ecuador. The Semester Abroad students joined the Youth World team in this tournament. We got pretty sweet yellow CUY shirts to match and also started off with some unity nasal strips on our noses. It was a beautiful day, with meeting people left and right, and Youth World was dominating the tournament. Sadly, during the first game, I ended up bumping into someone and falling, while hearing my right ankle go *CRACK*! Despite the pain, I was blessed to spend a beautiful day with some adorable kids while relaxing under a bright blue sky.
This week was also the week I started my internship at Carmen Bajo, which I was quite excited about because I was excited to serve and get some hands-on experience. Carmen Bajo is a community organization in the poorer area of Quito that is a church, while it also has ministries like a preschool, an afterschool program, Bible study for the women, and many more. I was able to get exposure to the ministry in the beginning of the semester.
All in all, let's just say, it's been a very interesting week. A lot of emotions, but God never fails to teach me lessons through all that. A friend reminded me that my plans are not always God's plans. Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." Although I didn't plan to sprain my ankle or get lost, it was a nice reminder to have full trust in Him for whatever journey He has prepared. I've also been blessed to be surrounded with loved ones and a great staff to support me here through everything.
Now, here I am off to living with an Ecuadorian family for a month starting tomorrow. Nervous, yet excited! Keep me in your prayers for my ankle, internship, and growth. :)
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
We have started intense Spanish classes from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. every day. Starting 8 a.m. classes means leaving our apartment at 7 a.m. to walk to the trolleys. The trolleys, or called Trolle, is an experience. You know in those movies where people are packed into buses like sardines? Well, that's what it's like here.
Spanish class is a good challenge for me. We are supposed to only speak in Spanish, so there is very limited talking involved during class. We do a lot of grammar lessons and engage in conversations. Our professors are pretty laid-back and make Spanish easier to learn.
In action throughout Ecuador
Sunday, January 30, 2011
The last few days have been a journey of adventure.
So, the Semester Abroad program is part of a branch of a mission organization called Youth World here in Ecuador. One of their other branches is a place called El Refugio, which is a retreat center on the outskirts of Quito in a town called Calle Calli. We as a group went to El Refugio to do some team building activities. Some highlights from this trip/day was:
Jacob's Ladder, a huge ladder which you can only use yourself and your partner to get up without using the ropes.
On our way back, we visited the equator (Mitad del Mundo)
Yesterday, we went on this great adventure to the Cloud Forest for zip lining. It was an exciting idea, but we got there, and it was still pouring rain. Were we prepared with rain jackets and shoes for hiking? Nope, not at all. We zip lined 13 courses over hundreds of feet above the forest with rain slapping our face going through the clouds. This day consisted of three hours of being drenched while enjoying this great experience. How many times can I say that I zip lined in pouring rain over the forests of Ecuador?
Today, we went back to El Refugio to have worship and fellowship with the staff and families of Youth World. We met the other missionaries, their children, and former street boys that live in a ministry home called Casa Gabriel. We attended a service that consisted of both Spanish and English. It was a blessing to be amongst missionaries and their families, and I had a taste of community and the life of a missionary.
All in all, I am having a great time here in Ecuador. I mean, we only had orientation and fun adventurous activities this week, but I like what I have seen and experienced so far. The staff here is amazing and cares for us in every way. That is a blessing in itself. Soon to come is intensive Spanish courses, homestays, classes, and internships. Here I come!
Only in Quito…
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I've only been here about four days, and it seems like forever. Today we went on a scavenger hunt around Quito, Amazing Race style, and had many interesting moments. The best part of day was having a taxi almost drive off while I was about to get in, and the driver still kept going while we were yelling, "ESPERA, ESPERA!" I'm going to have to get used to this. But, I do love every encounter – the culture, the people, the scenery, and maybe even the smog blowing in my face as I walk the streets.
As I've spent the last few days here, here are things about Ecuador I have learned from observation and advice from others:
Pointing is not a good thing. I keep catching myself doing it!
With this traffic, there may be many life-and-death experiences. Not really, but I can't apply my Chicago jaywalking skills here, or I am out in a heartbeat!
People are very friendly, and I appreciate their patience with the lack of Spanish skills I may have.
The greeting here is not a handshake, but a beso. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a kiss.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sending my greetings from Quito, Ecuador. We just arrived a couple hours ago, unpacked, saw the view, and even had an adventure with some interesting fruit. And yes, one of the things I am doing in the few hours I've been here is writing in my blog.
The weather here is awesome. They said it gets to the 70s in the daytime when the sun is out but cools down during the nights. The apartment we are staying in is awesome. It is all the girls, seven of us including an intern, in one very spacious apartment. There's a roof that we are able to go on top of, and the view is great! That's really all I can tell you about Ecuador right now.
Also, I had to add that I have the greatest friends and family! First of all, thank you for the many encouraging words, blessings, and prayers for me and my trip. Secondly, I am so blessed to be surrounded with loved ones that have given me gifts and letters for coming to Ecuador.