Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Eshes Are Leaving Ecuador

Greetings dear friends and family. We are terribly sorry that we have not kept up more regularly with our blog. We lost our computer's hard drive in late December and sending out emails is difficult when you have lost all of the addresses. So if you did not receive an email from us, please send your contact information to so that we can add you back to our list. However, that is no excuse, we apologize for not keeping you more up to date on all that has been happening here at Casa Victoria and in our lives here in Quito.

We'll keep this update as brief as possible. After a lot of long talks and a lot of prayer, we have decided to fulfill our commitment of 9 months and then come home. This means we will be leaving Quito on April 8th and heading back to Orange County. The visas we originally acquired afforded us the opportunity to stay in Quito up through the beginning of June (which would total about 11 months). However, we really felt that it was in our best interest, and the interest of the ministry down here in Ecuador as well, that we cut our time to just the original commitment of 9 months.

As we finish up our final days in Ecuador, we are excited to take the young men living in the house on a 3-day outdoor adventure retreat just outside of Quito. We look forward to a time of bonding and debriefing as we challenge ourselves on the ropes course, share meals together, and sit around the bonfire in the evening. For the South American guys, this will be an experience of a lifetime, as not one of them has had an opportunity like this. For the North Americans, we anticipate an incredibly rich time together, centered on the person and teachings of Jesus.

You may be asking, "What's next for the Eshlemans?" In all honesty, we are asking the same thing. For the last couple weeks, we have been coming to the Lord in trust, asking Him what He has next for us. We are looking at opportunities in Southern California and Washington D.C. where we have wonderful communities of friends. Anna is excited to get back into the classroom teaching elementary school and Jon is prayerfully seeking a job in full-time ministry. Though we're not in the states at this point in time, we are well aware of the poor economic situation and the lack of job opportunities. We are sure that you are all feeling this economic strain in one way or another. We covet your prayers as we seek out what we will be doing for jobs in the near future.

Above all else, we praise the Lord for our experience in Ecuador these last 9 months. What an incredible adventure He has given us! Though we experienced many difficult moments, we are already beginning to look back in thanksgiving as we see the direct result of the Lord's grace and mercy in bringing us through each day in victory. Each experience here has shaped our hearts and minds, brought us closer to one another, and ultimately drawn us nearer to our Creator. We are excited to share more of our personal experiences with you when we return to the states.

Thank you for being such an integral part of our journey here in Quito. Thank you for your prayers on our behalf and your prayers for the ministry of Casa Victoria. Please do not cease praying for this place. The 30 kids that come each day for homework club, the single moms that gather together on Wednesdays to share stories and life, the young men that are living and learning together in community, the 13 families that receive educational scholarships through Casa Victoria, the numerous neighborhood schools that visit each week - these things are evidence of God's faithfulness in this community - these things need your prayers.

Thank you also to those of you who financially support our ministry. Never once have we been lacking. Your generosity surely enables us to give of ourselves freely to the people of Ecuador and the world over. Thank you for giving of your life to make it possible to give of ours. As we return to California and look to engage our own culture as well as the work world and economic crisis, we ask that you would continue to pray for us as we make this transition back to the United States.

We look forward to times together in the future, when we can share more pictures and stories of God's incredible love for this place and all that he has done in and through us during this time!

Lovingly in the name of Jesus Christ,

Jon and Anna Eshleman

Our contact info in the U.S.
Jon cell: 949-285-1409

Anna cell: 949-280-1492

Address: 21 Hancock Street, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

You know you're in Quito when...

We've been on quite the adventure here in Quito and we felt like there was more to add to the list that we made months ago. Hopefully this will give you a little taste of what our experience is like (and maybe even convince you to come visit!).

  • You have been called: reina (queen), querida (dear), preciosa (precious), mi hijita (my little girl), mi amor (my love), guapa (beautiful), gringa (white girl), mamacita... by strangers on the street
  • Queso Fresco just doesn´t cut it for grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Pizza sauce on pizza is a foreign concept
  • The tenth car in line at the stoplight is the one to honk the most
  • You´ve stopped laughing at the store names SuperMaxi and MegaMaxi...but you secretly still find them entertaining
  • You have your favorite bus vender and street vendor and can imitate them (Espumilla de Frutilla – diez centavitos!)
  • Old town Quito feels like a different city
  • The sun rises at 6am and sets at 6pm EVERY day
  • Nowhere will give you change for your $20 bill (even the bank!)
  • If the total is $5.15 expect to have the 15 cents ready too
  • The electricity goes out for apparently no reason
  • No hot water? Just wait for the propane tank truck to drive by, honk the horn, and you can run out to the street to buy more gas ($2.50 a tank)
  • You realize that Cui (guinea pig) doesn't really taste like chicken
  • Casual drinking on the streets doesn't get a second thought
  • Water and beer are the same price at restaurants
  • You can ride on the front bench seat with the bus driver
  • You’ve eaten boiled fish soup, bone soup, bean soup, and chicken head/foot soup in the same week
  • Mc Donald’s is for the upper class
  • You know the local landrones (thieves) by name – and they know you!
  • Empanadas are really starting to grow on you (Anna actually craves them now!)
  • The bus literally accelerates around mountain curves
  • You miss your friends and family more than you can express. We love you all!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

change brings rest

It's raining today - and it's become "that" kind of day. The kind of day when you don't want to leave your house. The kind of day when you eat pancakes for breakfast and lounge around in your pj's for hours. The kind of day when you just don't know what else to do except snuggle on the couch.

I'm thankful for that kind of day today. I'm thankful that no matter how far away I feel from home, a day like this in Ecuador can still calm my soul.

Jon and I have been so busy lately that we feel God's direct blessing when he gives us a rainy day and forces us to rest. It's SO like Him. He knows exactly what we need when we need it.

Our busyness comes from what's been happening at Casa Victoria.

First, I'll take you all the way back to December 16th when Jon's entire family (Mom, Dad, sister, brother-in-law, 2 nephews and niece) flew into Quito for Christmas. Add 7 people to a house of 10, and you've got your hands full! I've always loved being the hostess, but this was a whole new territory! Throughout the10 days with family here, we enjoyed everything to hiking Pichincha Volcano to going bowling to shopping at the Artisan market. It was quite the adventure. We shared Christmas morning under the Christmas tree (that we had to pot in a huge terra cotta pot - No tree stands here!), stuffed ourselves with a 32-pound turkey, and played with all our new games into the wee-hours of the night. We had an absolute blast and are SO thankful that we had the opportunity to share this part of our lives with some of the people we love the most. I would love to post pictures of our adventures, however, our computer isn't working. Once it's up and running, I'll be sure to add the best of the best.

In addition to the Eshleman Family Adventures, we've also made many changes to the internship program in the house. Upon our arrival in July, Jon and I felt strongly that there needed to be a newly-structured program instituted at Casa Victoria. Prior to this time, the guys primarily worked on the renovation of the house and were under the direction of the architect and contractors (and let me tell you, the work that happened then was incredible! We have a "home" to prove it). However, just before the summer, the renovation process had (more or less) come to a close. The guys were now desiring to grow deeper in their love for God while in community with each other and the neighbors. With broad desires like this, many of the details can get lost in the chaos; and things like cleaning and cooking get forgotten about. Hence the schedule. Well, after not working under a schedule like this for quite some time, then having a couple come in a turn things in a different direction - it was a difficult transition for the guys. Animosity came out in passive ways and the spirit of the house was not what anyone desired. We all knew there needed to be a change made. (Also, in late November, Casa Victoria hired a new director - Carolina Bueno. She is amazing and her heart truly desires to see a unified community working together for the Lord.) Come mid-December, we finally decided what needed to happen. We're trying hard to lead by example and live here as mentors to the guys (as opposed to being "in charge"). The guys are leading the programs themselves now! Ivan is creating schedules for "deberes" (homework club). Oscar is heading up the kitchen (alongside me - I just LOVE cooking for all these guys!). Esteban is leading meetings. Jon continues to teach during devotional times each week. It's been amazing. The spirit in the house is incredible. The guys are taking more ownership for the actions and are all together more excited to be here. Their JOY is evident as they get excited about the little things (taking care of a plot of the garden, teaching a new concept to some neighborhood kids, etc.) We praise God alone for the change He's made in all of our hearts and how His presence continues to make such a difference in this house. He is the sole reason we all are here. And we praise Him for making us rest, unifying us through Jesus, and giving us the greatest example of "loving thy neighbor" that there ever will be.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope you had an amazing Christmas celebration and are looking forward to a fantastic new year. As 2009 approaches, we am sure we are all thinking of the different things we would like to improve in our lives; it may be saving a little more money, eating a little healthier, exercising a little bit more, or spending more time with family and friends. Whatever it is, each of us is surely looking to become better than we were the year before.

Here in Ecuador there is a very unique and powerful tradition. Every year at this time you will see giant dolls lining the streets. These dolls are basically pants and shirts sewn up and stuffed with hay or paper and a stuffed head with a mask on it. These dolls are called the “old man.” Every year in Quito, on New Year’s Eve, people gather around and literally burn the “old man.” It is a powerful symbol of getting rid of the past/old and embracing the present/new. The disciples and followers of Jesus had a similar way of talking about what it was like to be “in Christ.” There is a dying that takes place - a losing of one’s own life in order to find new life. Behold, the old has gone, the new has come. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

We hope that this year, more and more that you will find yourself “in Christ.” You are the new creation! You are a temple of the Holy Spirit! What an amazing thought that is! You are a place where God dwells, a place where heaven and earth overlap! This is such a tremendous responsibility, but also a tremendous privilege. We are the salt of the earth, the city on the hill, and fountains overflowing with water that brings life. May our New Year’s Resolution be that we would all find ourselves “in Christ.”

As 2008 comes to an end we have so many things to be thankful for. We have seen God moving in so many ways here in Quito. We are so blessed to be a part of the work that he has been doing here for several years. Casa Victoria has been growing in so many ways! Each of you is a vital part of the body of Christ and your prayers, love, and support help us to be able to be a part of the growth here. We cannot thank you enough. Please know that we are so very grateful for each one of you in our lives and for all the support that you give us.

God has been taking such wonderful care of us and our needs throughout this year, and we lack for nothing. However, we are finding ourselves with some added expenses and could use a little extra financial support at this time. If you have already been giving, the please don’t feel obligated to give more, we understand very well the issues of the economy. However, we would ask that some of you prayerfully consider a one-time gift of $25, $50, $100 dollars or more. We would love to send some pictures with this email, but our computer isn’t working now, so all our pictures are locked up until we can find someone to recover our hard drive. Please pray that we can recover all the data on the computer. To participate financially in our ministry you can make your tax deductible donation to “The International Foundation.” You may send your donation to : The International Foundation, PO Box 23813, Washington, DC 20026-3813. If you send a check, please write in the memo: 876001 "Ecuador Volunteers" to ensure the donation goes to our account. We also attached a direct deposit form if that's easier for you. (Note: If your check is dated for December 31, 2008, it is tax-deductible for the 2008 fiscal year.)

Also, we covet your prayers as we transition into 2009 with the Casa Victoria community. Please continue to pray for unity amongst our “Casa Victoria Family” and for the leadership of this foundation to continue to meld together in the name of Jesus.

Once again, thank you for every ounce of love that you pour out onto our lives. We are so grateful for each of you and wish the very best for you and your family in 2009.

Grace and Peace,

Jon & Anna Eshleman
Casa Victoria
Quito, Ecuador

Jon and Anna Eshleman

Fundaciόn Casa Victoria

1124 Loja y Imbabura

Barrio San Roque, Quito


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The latest...

This is a video from Charlie of the guys living with us in Casa Victoria. It captures moments from his family visit and Thanksgiving. The video is too good not to post. 

To see more of his journey (and ours) in video form, check out (blog).

Lots of love! More blogging to come...

Thursday, November 20, 2008's been a month.

Where do I even begin? It's been WAY too long... Jon and I have been in Ecuador for coming up on 5 months. It's unbelievable! It's been quite the, downs, joy, frustration, and lots and lots of learning.

Nov. 15 - 19: Montañita, Ecuador

From under our umbrella...

Jon and I have been dreaming about the ocean since the day we left it in California. It finally got the best of us and we splurged on tickets to the coast (a 45 minute flight and 3 hour bus ride). Only after having to cancel our original "Anniversary" trip in late October (due to my health), the airline was incredible and agreed to switch our flight without a problem. So, we packed our bags and made our way to the airport.

The traveling went off without a hitch and we arrived in Montañita in record time. The town is SO tiny and SO sleepy and the most perfect place to relax - there's nothing else to do except that! We slept in, took naps, surfed, ate and enjoyed Jon and Anna time.

Jon - back in his element.

It was difficult to return to Casa Victoria. Not because we don't love this place - just because we had a taste of what life was like without living with 5 young guys. we are. And it is here that God is teaching us what community looks like and how He wants to see it lived out. We're in this - for better and for worst - and we have incredible trust that, through this experience, God is forming our hearts and lives to be more and more like His. And for this, we give Him praise.

Random Funny Story...

One of my (Anna) biggest pet peeves here in Ecuador is this: faulty English translation! There are thousands of proficient English speakers, readers, and writers living in Ecuador. Really, it's amazing. Yet, time and time again, I find misspelled words, grammar mistakes, and incredible screw-ups in the written English language in Ecuador. For example: a permanent sign reading: Seuweteres (sweaters). Seriously!?

While in Montañita, however, I met my most favoritest mistake yet...

We went to a small little restaurant one night to grab some dinner. While looking at the menu, I noticed that the owner had obviously used Google Translate to create a bilingual menu. So thoughtful. I immediately recognized the grammar mistakes, as Jon and I often use Google Translate to ROUGHLY translate long emails. It's NEVER perfect. So, translated on the menu in Montañita, on the coast of Ecuador was...

ChocoBanana: I Collide Banana

So, if you're not a Spanish speaker, this might not make any sense to you. Let me explain. Chocar is the verb meaning: to collide. When conjugated to choco, it means: I collide. What they MEANT to say was... ChocoBanana: Chocolate Banana Shake

October: The month of the hospital

So...this needs some explaining. Near the middle of October, I found a small bump on my lower back. A few days into it, the bump really started to hurt. I couldn't sit comfortably, lie down, or do much of anything. So, Jon and I went straight to the clinic. We found out that I had a cyst on my lower back that had formed an abscess. Gross, right!? Just wait.

The doctor gave me some pain meds and sent me on my way to the hospital. After much anxiety, I finally laid down on my stomach and let the doctor do his thing.

"I'm going to give you a couple shots to relieve the pain." (Thank God!) 4 shots of Novocain in my back and he felt like he was ready. The incision was small, but let me tell you...Novocain should only be used by dentists. The pain I felt with this incision was ridiculous. I was screaming at the doctor, squeezing Jon's hand purple, and using all my Spanish to plead with this crazy man to stop the pain. "Tranquilo..." was all I heard. Relax! Relax?! You've got be kidding me!

He worked on this cyst for 20 minutes...packed it with gauze and taped a huge bandage around the entire thing.

5 hospital visits, 2 weeks, and ONE shower later, he removed the final bandage and sent me on my way. They found a Staph infection and E. Coli in the culture of the cyst. Oh Ecuador...I love thee.

I'm feeling great now. He said not to worry. For some reason, I trust this man that tortured me for 2 weeks. My husband was by my side the entire time...helping the doctor, calming my anxiety when the 5 interns came in to watch, and nearly fainting right alongside me.


So, it's been done. I've cooked my first Thanksgiving. The menu was as follows:

Gingered -Butternut Squash Soup
I couldn't find Butternut Squash at the open-air market, but I did find a pumpkin looking thing. I made do.

Canned Cranberry Sauce
Can you believe it!? They imported this to the stores just for all of us Americans here!

Homemade Stuffing
Made with fresh rosemary from the Casa Victoria garden, bread from the local baker, and left over stock from the soup.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
When I shop at the Smarket up the street, I bargain with the vendors for whatever fruits and veggies I'm buying. I bought 35 pounds of potatoes. They literally were JUST pulled out of the ground - mud and all. The guys washed and peeled ALL of them. Oh, I love cheap labor.

Sauteed String Beans
Again, fresh from the market.

Lemon-Rosemary Turkey
A 20 pounder! She made it out nice and toasty...even though my oven is calculated in Celsius and really just cooks like a stove in a box.

Mora Berry-Apple Cobbler
So Yummy!

Edwin the baker and his family (Cecelia, Cesar, Camila, and Sophia) shared Thanksgiving around our table. They brought a FABULOUS cake along with them.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Bernardo (a CV Board member) and Chiqui, his wife, also shared this meal with us. They brought along a scrumptious pie to share. Thanks!

All in all, the meal was fantastic. The kitchen help was incredible (thanks Ang, Robyn, By, Syd, and Seth). But above all else, the sharing around the table is what we'll all remember.

There really are no words to fully explain what happened that night, but we're all in agreement when we say, "God's grace is good and His spirit was present". Every member of our "family" (of 25), rich and poor, young and old, shared what they were thankful for. Simple enough. Yet His spirit was so evident that I've never experienced a family meal quite like this one. There were tears, indescribable JOY, love, laughter...

My wife and kids. I love them. I don't tell them that enough.
Casa Victoria.
My family around this table. My true family.
Thank you (In English from a Spanish speaking 6 year old girl. The most precious heart.)
My husband. His patience. For how he loves me.
Our friends - near and far.
The money to provide this food for this family.
This moment. This journey.

A moment remembered always. This night, this moment...this is the mission of Casa Victoria. This is why we are here.

Thank you to each one of you for your prayers and support. We love you, are thankful for you, and wouldn't be here without you.

Love well,
Anna and Jon

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Family and Fun

October started out on one of the best notes possible. Family showed up on the 1st. Perfect.

With my birthday on October 3rd, we had LOTS of fun things planned.
(Please view the previous post for a full rundown of the day's events.)
I was completely blessed by all the thoughtful gifts that were given to me.
Some of the most indulgent:
1. My favorite Licorice from Trader Joe's
2. Magazines in English
3. Candles that smell like Salt Creek Beach summer days
4. New clothes (I haven't gone shopping in over 3 months.)
5. Incredible perfume (thanks to the hubby!)
6. A beautiful white Alpaca wool coat (that I'd been eyeing) that the Casa V boys pitched in to buy me. (The one gift that brought tears to my eyes. Thanks Boys.)

I decided that bowling would be the perfect birthday activity. Being the bowling is just right under soccer in popularity here, we settled for the only open bowling alley in Quito (of 2 in the city. The first was having the National Bowling Championship!)

Look at that form!

Since family was here, we also had a great excuse for some amazing tourist activities throughout Quito, and beyond...

First - ride the bus. It's always an adventure, and unbelievable that they only charge you 25 cents for such an exciting ride!

Second - Pinchincha Volcano. This volcano is located just to the west of Quito. A few years back, the city hired a French company to build a gondola. Now, you can RIDE to the top of the mountain for only 3 dollars! It's gorgeous, cold, and full of open land for the boys to throw the frisbee around. Also, as a birthday gift to me, they had LLAMAS at the top of the mountain. These are currently my favorite animal - it was a special treat. How thoughtful of them.

Jon at the top of Pinchincha Volcano.

Can you find the frisbee?

As yet ANOTHER birthday gift, Russ and Janet (aka. the fam) took Jon and I out of Quito for a few days. This was a bigger blessing than we had imagined. Being out of Quito was (literally) a breath of fresh air. Being with family was just what we needed.

Russ braved Ecuador's roads and rented a car for the 3 hour drive to ARASHA. After an hour of "the scenic route" we finally drove out of Quito, through the middle of the world (where Russ and Janet thought they were the village chiefs), and DOWN, DOWN, DOWN into the jungle. Remember, Quito is located at nearly 10,000' elevation. We ended up at 2,000'. It was quite the drive. The flora and fauna that we drove through was breathtaking and unbelievable. We found leaves bigger than umbrellas, treetops that reflected the sun to look white, hydrangeas multiplying along the highway. Incredible.

We arrived at Arasha just before dark, checked in, and made our way to our personal cabana. What a gift. With dinner being all-inclusive, we ate like royalty. Steak one night, shrimp and salmon the next. We were truly indulged.

We hiked through the jungle (day and night), discovered glowing tree roots, swam in a river, hunted for frogs and GIANT ants, mini-golfed, and endured hour-long massages. This place allowed us to breathe deep and allow every thing of joy penetrate our souls. It was an experience we will not soon forget. Thank you to Mama and Papa.

After 3 days, we made our way back into town. We enjoyed one last dinner in La Ronda (5 minutes from Casa V) and sent Russ and Janet on their way back to California.

Thank you to everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes. It was truly one of the best yet.