Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pictures of a school day

Morning view from our classroom window

                        Sometimes when life becomes routine, 
                            God sends me something special. 
                          Sometimes he sends them in three's.

This past week our school has been blessed to have a young couple from New Zealand visiting in Loja. Kevin Archer was kind enough to teach our students how to play rugby the past two weeks for PE. 

       Our students learned what Red Herrings are in Logic Class

And had a good time working on Pacific Island drawings and soap carvings

             John Micheal posing for a Pacific Island Totem ?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Thoughts on Green Trash

While preparing dinner Terry came in and told me about something that had just happened as he put the green trash out. Green trash is food garbage that is picked up every other evening. We normally don’t have much as I usually just put it into the black trash. Tonight we had a lot because several of us had lunch together and we had a wonderful time fellowshipping and sharing. There were a lot of scraps, mostly rice. 

Terry told me he had met a sweet older lady with a small grandchild outside the door as he was going out to run an errand. He greeted her and she in turn greeted him. He watched as she and the little girl opened the green trash bin. As he was telling me this my heart hurt, as did his. “Did she take anything out?” He said, “I couldn't look.”

This could be a story of poverty, which it is. But as I was finishing up our meal, I thought of the spiritual poverty of people all around us. We say hello and greet each other without knowing the needs they have. People are searching for spiritual nourishment while we as Christians sit at a banquet in our Bible studies and churches and don’t even share the scraps.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Boot


A First

Terry and I took off for a few days of rest and relaxation with Rebecca and her family to the city of Cuenca. I was looking forward to purchasing some cookware and other things to set up our apartment, and to enjoy the city.

 That evening I was working on the computer in bed and decided to turn off the light. My foot had fallen asleep and I thought it would wake up as I stepped onto the floor. Guess what? When your foot falls asleep it doesn't wake up when you step on it.  In fact it acts as if you have no foot at all.  The computer had sucked all the life from it.  I fell and heard some really bad crunchy noises. It was one of those "I've fallen and I can't get up " scenes.

 Terry helped me back to bed and the rest of the night neither of us got any sleep. I was in pain and knew I was heading to the ER but wanted to wait until the morning. All night between the pain, I was putting sentences together in Spanish, so that I would be able to tell the doctors what I had done. Pain and Spanish words go together really well for me.

I was able to experience ER in another country for the first time. I will have to say it was one of the best ER visits I have had.  As soon as I hobbled in they took me to x-ray. I was then taken to a little room. No reading my pulse to see if I was alive. No temperature taking, to see if I had a temp. and no 100 questions about my past medical history. I was handed the x-ray and they asked me if I was allergic to anything. I told them no. Thankfully, Becca my interpreter was with me and she was able to answer any questions that I didn’t understand. She and Terry left me to get the prescription and to pay for the visit. My interpreter comes and says “Wow that was expensive” I started to panic. I was thinking oh no, four or five hundred dollars just because a computer sucked the life out of my foot.  Becca looks at me and says, it was fifty-five dollars. 

As we are leaving they call Terry back. He has to go pay the rest of the bill. The bill for the ER, the bill that had been paid was for the x-ray. So in he goes as I am sitting in the lobby thinking oh no it really is going to cost us. The payment for ER was twenty-seven dollars. About an hour after I had arrived I was on my way back to the guest house.

For the next few days I really did relax and rest. I got my cookware and a new boot. I always wanted boots. I am thankful that it is just one boot though.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Most days on my facebook I like to post a word for the day. The word for today on this blog post is transition
a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : change
b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another 
Life as a missionary is one of many transitions. Leaving, arriving, hellos and goodbyes, language success and failures, changes and same ole same ole. 
Terry and I have had a good two months here in the States. I was able to participate with our family as a new granddaughter was added. We have visited family and friends and were able to stay in a little cabin in the woods for a few days. 
We survived four families living for a few weeks under the same roof. Thankful that Renee and Jesse have a large house and a generous hearts. I have enjoyed thrift store shopping and Sonic. I have not enjoyed the weight gain, but will enjoy the weight loss when we return to Loja. I am looking forward to walking the Loja streets again. 
I haven't spoken a word of spanish here in the States and hope that it will come back to me quickly.  There will be changes in the work we are doing this next year.
Last year we had two teachers from Canada that taught so I worked with tutoring and Kids Club. This year I will be teaching again. I am more comfortable working with younger children but this school year I will have 4th - 6th grades. 
When we left Loja we had to say many goodbyes to fellow missionary friends who will be leaving for State Side or leaving the field for other mission work. They won't be there when we return. There will be new families added to our team and we will be able to welcome them to our mission family. 
When we first arrived to Loja it was all new and exciting. Some of excitement and newness will be gone when we return. It will be home. Terry and I both welcome the new transitions that God has planned for us. Some will be difficult, hard and even heartbreaking. Many will be exciting, spiritually stretching and challenging.
Pray for us as we work with the children in the Loja Study Center. Pray for Terry as he starts his weekly Bible study up and for me as I schedule the missionary children's programs.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

God Is This For Real

As I started trying to pack up some stuff before I leave for the states for a few weeks, I spotted my diary that I started before we left the States the first time, two years ago. As I was reading it, I was able to see that God is faithful. He has blessed Terry and I over abundantly. The last two years have been the most satisfying time in our lives. The grammar and sentence structure is bad, but it is exactly what I wrote.

July 5
 God is this for real? Was this all in our heads. Did we really hear you say go. The House is empty. I am feeling that way. Scared ,hurting for Nae. I can’t be with her. I have to take on faith that what we are doing is God’s will, sitting at Moms house for dinner, thinking this may be the last time we see them or grandma. The wildflowers are growing. Will the renters care for our home, will there be renters? So much stuff so little room in suitcases. Leaving family, friends, church house kids, dog, job to what? God has plans for us not to hurt us but to give us joy. If this is a crazy idea, God will make it good, right? So tired, want to cry. House not rented, medical insurance denied, my glasses not in, Renee hurt in accident, no house insurance. Going anyway. God help us.

July 7
Packed two times and finally got all in car. Hard to leave my babies. Went thru airport ok. Had to remove my money belt. I said bye to Nae and family. Lots undone but will have to learn to make do. Good time with the Mintons. They met us at the airport in Altanta for lunch. Twenty ones years didn’t make a difference, like we had been together all the time. Starting to get excited. Feel like I can relax now. While sitting in airport tram was thinking that pole dancers must practice on the tram.

July 8
Went to Center of World. Nice walk mostly crashed. Going to Loja in the morning. This is my new normal. House may have a renter.

July 9
Culture Shock! Got to Loja- Came to apartment. It is really small, not sure how we will live here. Spoiled. I think we can make it nice for us. Went with Becca to see her apt. My first thoughts were Chicago Ghetto, but Becca helped me to see that it was good upside of what the norm is. I need to see that my normal isn’t always normal. First day here was scary. Odd man out. Shopping prices were high. Cleaned cabinets and washed some walls down. Hoping I find paint, to paint Apt. God use us here. Make us your instruments.

July 10
Domingo went to church, good service. Didn’t understand but a few words. Want to be able to greet people better. Market Day. Lots of vegetables I never heard of. Lunch at Beccas, Dustans meat was great. Came home late afternoon. Smell in kitchen is getting worse.

July 11
Rainy morning. Getting rest of luggage. Tile floors are slippery when wet. Got look at classrooms. Was overwhelmed. Stuff everywhere, don’t know where to begin! The next two months will be putting school in order. Started sorting books. Went to Sendero for lunch and worked most of day in the school. 

July 11
A man kept banging on front gate. Terry answered. Man wanted to speak to a pastor. Becca was helping me so Terry got Becca. Terry, Becca and man disappeared for a long time. Got several calls on phone but was too scared to answer because I don’t speak Spanish. It was Becca. - She told me that the man wanted to speak to a pastor ,so she and dad went to Sendero, on the way to Sendero Becca got call from David to say someone needed her. She said she was on way with someone who needed him. When they got there she met a friend she had not seen in a while who needed help with English. Terry helped with the English, Becca renewed a friendship, and David counseled with a man.

It has been two years and our little apartment we live in is perfect for us. Our house was rented to good renters, and insurance taken care of. The wildflowers have come up in the yard in Hillsboro twice. Renee’s injured leg healed without me, glasses came into Ecuador later that month with another person, and we will be seeing mom and dad again when we get home. Grandma went to be with Jesus, but God gave comfort to us during that time. I am able to understand much of the sermons now and I am even helping in children’s Sunday School. We have had two wonderful years working with the school and God has opened up other ministries for us.
In a few weeks I will be back in the States watching a new lamb become part of our family and seeing my little lambs that aren’t so little anymore. 

Some of the concerns that I had before we left the first time, the house renting and insurance and maybe seeing some family members for the last time will still be there, but I can look back and see that God was and is in control. 

Our adventures keep on going. I will be flying out of Ecuador without Terry, sitting in the Quito airport for 14 hours before leaving for the States, than going thru Atlanta and customs by myself. I can do it, I am a big girl now. Two years ago I would have been put into the hospital just thinking about it.

God is this for Real? Yes Patty it is for real, it wasn’t all just in your heads. I was just waiting for you and Terry to obey and trust me. I have more real waiting for you.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Censo Adventure: Guest post

Becca has given me permission to use her blog post. I have one in the works but we have been ultra busy the past few weeks. Here in Ecuador something as small as losing your censo can become a mountain. 

Censo Adventure

I lost my censo (identification card) a while ago, and because there is a hefty fine for not having it, I decided to start the 500 part process today. I took Maria with me to help translate.

First we took a taxi to the police station at the top of town. We had debated walking and I am glad I didn't. It was quite a ways away.

When we walked into the building there was a very long line. If you look up "line" in an Ecuadorian dictionary you will find the following definition:
"has no meaning; zilch; nada"

So, like good Ecuadorians, we walked straight to the front of the line and asked how to go about getting a censo.

Woman at the desk: "What's a censo?"
Us: "It's an ID card for foreigners"
Woman at the desk (looking at me suspiciously): For who?
Us: For foreigners.
Woman at the desk: What is it for.
Maria: To identify foreigners.
Woman at the desk: I don't know what you are talking about. You can't get that here. Ask upstairs.

So, we walk upstairs.
Us: We need to replace a Censo.
Them: A what?
Us: A censo. It's an identification card for foreigners. Like a cedula. (a national id card)
Them: Oh, you need a cedula.
Us: No, we need a censo. It's for foreigners.
Them: For who?
Me: It's for me. I lost my last one. I need a new one.
Them: Never heard of it. You don't need it.
Us: Yes, we do need it. It's very important. We were told to come here to ask about replacing it.
Them: Go to immigration. It's very near. Two blocks down and then left on the corner.

So we walk. Two blocks in spanish really mean 12 blocks and up the side of the mountain. NO exaggeration.

We arrive at immigration exhausted and completely soaked in sweat. Through our huffs and pants we have the following conversation.

Us: We need to get a censo replaced.
Him: You have come to the right place.
Us: faint with pure joy
Him: Do you have a letter from the police station?
Him: You need a letter from the police station saying your censo is lost. Like this one. (and he shows us one)
Us: We just came from there and they had never even heard of a censo.
Him: You need to go to the office in the center of town.
Us: Ooooohhhhhh. Do we need the letter signed from a lawyer?
Him: No. of course not.

So, we take a taxi to the center of town to the government office where we find out we must first go to ANOTHER office to buy a special piece of government paper.

We buy the piece of paper (3.00) and find out we DO AFTER ALL need a letter and signature from a lawyer.

So we walk around until we find a lawyer who is not busy.

Us: We need a letter saying we have a lost censo.
Him: A what?
Us: BIG SIGH. It's an identification card for foreigners.
Him: You lost your passport?
Me: No, I have my passport. I lost my censo. It's a card like a cedula.
Him: Okay, I can help you. Let me see your passport.
He looks at my passport and raises and eyebrow
Him: This is for you?
Me: Yes. It is my passport. The letter is for me. I lost my censo.
Him: When did you lose it.
Me: I am not sure. Maybe two months ago.
Him: I need an exact date.
Maria: Just make one up. It's not important.
Him: (raises the other eyebrow) Okaaayyyy. But, THIS is YOUR passport?
Me: yes. It's mine.

He prints the letter on the official 3.00 paper along with three extra copies we have been told that we would need.
Cost: 10.00

We then walk back to the government office.

Her: These copies are not valid. They are made on regular printer paper. We need copies of the official government paper.

We walk to a copy shop and have copies made.
We walk back to the government office.

Her: These are perfect. Can I see your passport?
Me: Yes.
Her: Whose passport is this?
Me: It's mine.
Her: This does not look like you.
Me: It is me.
Her: It does not look like you at all.
Me: I have lost a lot of weight since being here.
Her (squints her eyes): Yes, it's you. You look really different. I don't mean anything bad by that- just that you really look different
(Because only in Ecuador does losing weight become equivalent to a put-down)

She stamps all of the paperwork. Then she sends us to another lawyer, who thankfully was in the same office. He signed the same papers as the first lawyer. He never asked to see my passport.

And I go home, because it's noon and all the offices shut down at noon.
But, before leaving, we were told we need to go to a THIRD police office for MORE paperwork before we can return to immigration.

So, lessons learned:
1. Don't wait in line.
2. 2 blocks really equals 12
3. No one has ever heard of a censo so therefore NEVER EVER EVER LOSE YOUR CENSO
4. If you lose weight you will have a lot of questions to answer. Try to look like your passport picture.


6. Make sure you block of a week if you ever actually do lose your censo. Because it is going to take a VERY LONG TIME to get a new one.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Math

Before leaving for church this morning, I  had to find change for the bus. I put one dime and three nickles in one pocket and just to be sure I had extra in case I needed it to come home, I put two dimes and a nickle in the other pocket.

 I caught the bus and took out my change as the man came to get the money. I counted out my change and something was wrong.  I only had a dime and two nickels. The man passed by me seeing I was still trying to find my change. When he returned I was still counting my change as I had reached into my other pocket and took out all my change. I must have had a mind blimp because I now was trying to find five cents to make it fifty cents. I was about ready to call Terry who was at church to meet me at the bus stop and give me five cents, when the bus guy returned. I had forty-five cents, I was a nickle short, I handed him all my change and dug around in my purse again. I found a nickle and said, "Necesito cinco centavos." He smiled waved my nickle off and went on down the aisle.

On arriving to church I was telling a friend about my money problem and she said, "Patty, the bus is only twenty-five cents." I flunk at bus math.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Working vacation

Terry and I are making strides with our language classes. My teachers told me I had done well with my negative imperatives. I don't have to practice to hard with that. I  am now able to say more than “where is the bathroom” in Spanish. Sometimes I am able to carry on a short conversation and understand bits and pieces of what one is saying. I have learned not to say si and nod my head yes to everything that is said to me. This had gotten me the wrong medication and made a doctor think I understood every word he was speaking. 

Terry and I were able to take a trip to the coast. We worked with a group of MKs (missionary kids) while their parents were on a retreat. We traveled thru Guayaquil and memories of Arkansas in July hit me in the face as we stepped out of the car for a bathroom break. The heat and humidity is about the same except I think in Guayaquil it is that way all year long.


 Memories of the beaches in California came back to me. I had always wanted to run into the waves of the ocean like the movie stars do, so I did. I came back to land like a shipwrecked victim. Gasping for air and crawling in the sand. The waves did not welcome me. They also stole my prescription sunglasses.  I didn’t get enough of the ocean so the next day went out snorkeling with the group. 
After the ocean nearly killing me the day before I should have known it wasn’t going to be welcoming me again. Sitting on the boat waiting to dock at the diving area, I wondered how the snorkeling gear was being cleaned as we had jumped on the boat as another group had just jump off. So that meant that we were using the same gear of the group ahead of us and the group ahead of them. I was holding back gagging as I watched everyone else put the gear on and jump. I was thinking maybe when they handed me my face thingy I would just rinse it off with my water bottle. No one else had, so thought maybe that would look rude. 


My mask jumped out of the water and on to the boat, it was on one of the boat guys who was returning to the boat after a swim. He took his mask and snorkle off and handed it to me. It was disturbing to me to put on a mask and snorkle someone else had just used. I am a missionary, I must not offend  by refusing to share with someone.  That is a missionary rule. I can’t break that rule. I put the mask on and jumped into the water. All the thoughts of how many mouths were on my mask went away as I hit the water. My only thoughts were on survival.

I wasn’t able to wear my glasses so I was now blind in the ocean with my feet not touching ground. I looked under the water with my face thingy, seeing nothing but sand and more sand, there were no Nemos or mermaids. The next thing I know I am being pulled into a current, the boat and bobbing people in the water are far away. Terry comes to rescue me and he too is having a hard time with the current. I held on to his toes because I had heard all the stories of people drowning causing the deaths of their rescuers by panicking and pulling them under. Terry was getting tired. I was too tired to care.

I'd heard stories of how boats left snorkelers in the water so I pictured both of us floating around in the Pacific for days with me still hanging on to his toe.  Finally a little yellow boat came out and pulled me to safety. I hung on to that little boat as it took me to the big boat. A couple of guys pulled me up on the boat just like they do in the movies when they are rescuing survivors of ship wrecks. The next day everyone headed out to a new beach, I stayed in our nice restful little room.

I think there may be some deep thoughts and spiritual teaching in the current story, but I will leave that to another blog post.