Monday, 30 May 2011

Killer Jeans

Today I received an email from an organisation called Labour Behind the Label (LBL)
They do loads of good stuff to help try and raise awareness of how our clothes are made, where they are made and the awful conditions people work in.
Their latest campaign is for people to realise the dangers many workers are in, when they make our jeans, using a technique called sandblasting.
Their website has more information and I would encourage you to have a look:



I have a book that is full of kind messages and cards with words of encouragements and blessings that I have been given. I put it together before I came to Ecuador, to serve as a reminder of what people have said to me and I could read it if I needed some encouragement. On the front is a silly photo of my 3 year old God daughter with a big piece of pink plasticine on her nose. I can’t fail to look at it and smile.
I have the great privilege and responsibility of having 2 God daughters (plus one other, un-officially) and these 3 girls hold a VERY special place in my heart. I haven’t needed to read through my book until this weekend. It has been a great help to be reminded of what people have said.
This weekend is my mum and brothers birthday and as a family, we always have a family BBQ. This year I won’t be a part of that. I would love to be there and join in however, I know that it is right to be in Ecuador. I am blessed to have a very loving family. I have the security of love from my mum. Even more than that, I have been blessed with not only one mum, but several surrogate mums too. You lovely ladies know who you are. Thank you.


This weekend, I met someone who looked just like one of my housemates from University. It was a really surreal experience talking to him as I couldn’t help thinking of my English friend!
This friend was someone who would challenge me on what I thought on different topics and questioned why I did things. I loved our conversations. It has helped shape me to be more questioning and wrestle with the best way to live. I am constantly thinking about things, my actions and the impact that may have on other people and seeking the best way to use my time, money and resources. In England I would often challenge myself in the way I shopped and used my money.
For well over 10 years I have not bought any Nestle products and tried not to even eat them, to the best of my knowledge. It is a well known boycott, mainly because of the way Nestle operates in many developing Countries. When a woman has a baby, Nestle gives the mother free (or cheaper) powdered baby milk. Once the mother has left hospital, this powdered milk is very expensive. Families will often struggle to afford this and so try to make it last longer by watering it down. The baby then is drinking the tap water, which may make them poorly and also not receive all the nutrients they need from the milk as it is watered down. Surely this is not fair. If Nestle had not had intervened, the mother would have breastfed and had given her baby all the nutrients it needed naturally, for free.
Here in Ecuador, Nestle products are EVERYWHERE. Going into any shop is full of Nestle things and therefore it is very difficult for me to avoid it. It got me thinking more and more about shopping. I don’t have the answers and I am not saying that I have lived and shopped the best way. It is a personal choice. But, what I do know is that I need to think carefully about my lifestyle. I want to do my best to help stop the exploitation of people, help look after the planet we have been given and be a good steward of the money God has entrusted me with.
In 2010 I gave up shopping in TESCO for a year, to see if it is possible to live without TESCO. That will continue this year too as TESCO hasn’t yet made it to Ecuador!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

People are people

I think people are people wherever you go. They may speak a different language, have different colour skin, or have a different culture and traditions, but they still carry the same burdens and worries. They may do things differently like:

-      Serve Rice and lentils with chicken in KFC!
-      Carry babies on their front or back rather than using a pushchair,
-      Kiss everyone on the right cheek
-      Have bananas in many forms for breakfast, lunch and tea
-      Be so relaxed about time management that watches are for fashion rather than being functional
-      People trying to sell you things on the bus
-      Giving way to the left at a roundabout is a suggestion rather than a rule

I (foolishly) thought that some of my worries or burdens wouldn’t come with me to Ecuador. I thought that there wouldn’t be space on the plane (there wasn’t much space for all the people, let alone my worries, so I am surprised they managed to fit on). I still have the same concerns and aspirations in life (possibly even more).
I am appreciating this preparation time to really focus on learning Spanish and spending time with God, searching more and more after his heart.
I am still the same. Still struggling with numbers (I never have understood them and now I am using a different currency and have to convert everything in my head to pounds, it gets a bit confusing!)
I regularly smile and laugh; at myself most of the time, when I am in a bizarre situation like being on the bus and an English song comes on or at Spanish dubbed films and TV programmes e.g.“ Ben Dias” for “Ben Ten” (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!) and can you imagine a Spanish voice over for Homer Simpson!?  This week was the first time I properly laughed with the boy of the family that I am staying with. I laughed because I understood what he said. Children are children too. I love working with children and still have that heart, especially for those with special needs.

Monday, 16 May 2011


Whenever I meet up with my University friends, we spend the vast majority of our time talking about and consuming food! We love it! I love trying new foods. Well, just so long as I know what it is! I have tried many new food combinations here in Ecuador and I have mostly known what it is! Ecuadorians eat a lot of rice:
Rice and meat,
Rice, potatoes and meat,
Rice, meat, potatoes and eggs
Rice, meat, potatoes, fried bananas etc etc. The dad in the family I’m staying with loves rice with pasta. We had chips and chicken nuggets the other day. Such a reminder of an English “beige” food meal.
On the other extreme, I went to a really posh restaurant on Sunday. I laughed several times, as it was totally one of those situations where you think “how on earth did I end up here!”
There are so many new and exciting fruits here. They don’t seem to have an English equivalent. They are really delicious. I have also tried things that aren’t so delicious. Top of the list is probably cow’s stomach and chicken stomach, (which actually wasn’t as bad). I have eaten haggis before (I am not fully aware of what that is exactly, so don’t tell me) so I thought I could handle the other new things! I am not so sure I am keen on trying “Cuy” here (guinea pig) as these were very fond pets of mine!
Talking of pets, where I am living has so many dogs running wild. (I have not eaten these… to my knowledge anyway) Sometimes I walk past them without considering they are there and other days they seem to bark ferociously at me. I wonder if it is true that they can sense fear? The days I am more fearful of them, they do seem to bark more! My mind goes into overdrive and I become scared that their barks will become more vicious, they will jump down from their rooftops and they are going to go for my leg and start gnawing on my white flesh. I think this is all in my imagination!
Anyway, I wonder what we will have for lunch today….

"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" Psalm 34 v 8


Last weekend I visited a waterfall with another English girl who is in Quito until June. We had a very adventurous day; starting off on a bus, but that then terminated so we had the choice of a 8km walk or getting a lift with a passing car. These should have passed by frequently, however today was voting day so everywhere seemed very quiet and there were no cars! We started walking any way and eventually after several people offering us lifts and not coming back for us, we did eventually get a lift to the falls. Well, not exactly to the falls. We walked for another 30minutes and then were offered a 20minute cable car ride and a 20minute walk to the biggest falls. This sounded good. This cable car was started with an old engine, looking a bit like Dad’s boat engine and this engine didn’t start first time… always fills you with confidence that it is used regularly! As we began this 20minute journey, no sooner had I got my camera out of my bag, were we at the other side. So began the 20minute walk, along a non existent path through water, over rocks and through trees. We walked for an hour until we arrived at the falls. It was really pretty. Not quite Niagara Falls, but amazing to be able to get so close.

I thought a lot about how close you get to experience something. I was happy to stand at a distance and look at the falls. I could say I experienced it. However, when I went closer and felt the spray of the water, I got a greater experience of it. What stopped me going even closer, as the others did, to really get soaked by the spray of the water? Was I afraid? Would I have gained a greater experience of it? How is this similar to my relationship with God? Am I happy to just see God at work, hearing stories from other people of how he is at work in their lives and the miracles and blessings that he gives? Or do I want to experience these for myself? Am I afraid to submit more of my life to God? Am I worried what might happen if I give everything and then I am not in control? Or do I trust him and give him control over where I work, what I do? How much do I really want to see him at work in my life?


I love learning. It is a good feeling when you know you are properly using your brain. Presently, my brain feels like it can’t take in any more Spanish words, verb conjugations or irregular verbs. I wonder if your brain reaches a capacity? Or does it just store new information in your long term memory and leave space for new information. I wonder if the brain defrags like a computer does, to store information in useful chunks, freeing up larger spaces of memory?
I am enjoying learning Spanish and getting to practise with the family I’m staying with and the students at the nearby seminary. I walk there every morning to do my homework and complete practise exercises on the internet. It is an exciting place to be, knowing that these people are studying the bible and many will go on to be pastors of churches, leading many people to know God and grow as Christians. It is a very tranquil setting to work. In the afternoons, my lessons generally go well. I love learning new words and practising. However, I would not be telling the whole truth if I did not say it is really difficult, frustrating and at times, upsetting that I can’t remember it all. I want to do well and have been disappointed in myself for not remembering everything. I also am fearful of failing, making mistakes and embarrassing myself.  I have made many mistakes (one of the funniest was asking the mum of the family for a kiss, rather than a glass) but I am fortunate that I am staying with a very patient family with a sense of humour.

Friday, 6 May 2011


I realised that I have written a lot about what I have been thinking and learning but nothing really of what I am doing here, so sorry!
My time for the next month or so is to do intensive language study. I am living about 40minutes from Quito, so it is less busy here than the Captial City. I get up around 8 ish, to guaranteed sun (lovely!) and have breakfast with Elvira. I then walk up the road to a near by Theological College where I can sit and do some Spanish homework and chat with the students (well, I do more listening and smiling but it is good to practise my Spanish!) I talk to some of the children too, who help me with my homework!
I walk back to the house for lunch (lots of rice!) and then go to my Spanish lesson all afternoon.
In the evening I spend time with the family, talking or we may go somewhere. I am reading a Psalm a day, in Spanish, to Elvira, to help my reading!

Where I study

Thursday, 5 May 2011


I love this song. It was sung at my baptism in 2004. I love the challenge of the lyrics; to surrender all, but in all honesty, sometimes I am not so sure that I am “glad” to do this. Surely it is easier to go your own way, staying in your comfort zone? But surely not nearly so exciting! God is a “Rock” and I am sure he blesses us for desiring to follow him?

“May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
Bless Your name, bless Your name, Jesus
And the deeds of the day and the truth in my ways
Speak of You, speak of You, Jesus

For this is what I'm glad to do
It's time to live a life of love that pleases You
And I will give my all to You
Surrender everything I have and follow You
I'll follow You

Lord, will You be my vision, Lord, will You be my guide
Be my hope, be my light and the way
And I'll look not for riches, nor praises on earth
Only You'll be the first of my heart”

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my RedeemerPsalm 19 v 14


I love the sun and it makes me feel really happy. I love wearing my sunglasses. Sometimes I wear them purely to keep the sun out of my eyes and to stop me squinting. I am sure I will end up with loads of wrinkles around my eyes and “crows feet” like my Dad, without my sunglasses.

I also love that my sunglasses are big and cover a lot of my face. When I wear them I feel like they protect me, as if they are my armour. It feels like no-one can see me when I wear them. I often wear them and switch off from the World. I can do my thinking. I can be alone. No-one can see me if I cry. I often wear them when I don’t feel confident.

Sometimes I just wear them on my head as a reminder that I have my armour.

I have lots of opportunities for wearing my sun glasses here, not only because I am on the Equator and the sun shines a lot, but also because I don’t feel confident here and I have a lot of things to think about!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; for the Lord your God will go with you wherever you go” Joshua 1 v 9

Monday, 2 May 2011


A friend recently told me I was brave for going to Ecuador. I don’t feel brave at all. I am just following a prompting from God. Let me tell you how I have seen bravery in my friends and family:
Bravery is:
Smiling when you are going through Chemotherapy,
Rebuilding your life after your husband, wife, Mum or Dad has died,
Living with a hearing impairment,
Become a Christian and having the courage to write songs about how God has changed you,
Coping with life after your husband has had a head injury,
Leading a pioneering, organic church,
Re-starting your life after a divorce,
Supporting your dad whilst he lives with Alzheimer’s

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” Ephesians 6 v 10

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Glimpses of Ecuador

In a village in the Countryside, about 1/2 hour from where I'm staying, surrounded by mountains. These buses seem to be everywhere!

 My wet clothes drying! ALL my belongings got wet in the rain. When it rains, it rains!
A parade through the street.