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 journey...ups, 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. But...here 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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Anna and Jon