Wednesday, 20 July 2011


There are a few things that really make me smile here in Ecuador. They might give you a bit more of an insight into what my life is like here:
This happens very frequently! People often ask about my family which is great although explaining that my Dad is semi-retired and makes Car turn tables is a bit difficult to say in Spanish. I resort to saying he is an engineer and has worked in hospital, on boats and now with cars. I also say he likes to go out on his boat. I then explain he likes to go fishing and we sometimes eat fish and I do wonder if people think he is a fisherman!
The other funny mi-communication was when I thought I had arranged to have a chat with the director of a school about Speech and Language Therapy. I turned up for our meeting to find that she had arranged for me to actually see the children! I had to run a drop in clinic for these 8 children. Fortunately her expectations were just for me to meet them and not actually do an assessment, but I did feel very unprepared!
I am loving going swimming in the evenings however, I often laugh during the lessons! Partly because my friend always starts a conversation with me just as soon as I am beginning another length, or because other people laugh at us! My friend and I have certainly made ourselves known, as the 2 white girls with our silly hats and goggles.
-Being English:
There are certain things that I do which are so English! For example, wearing a raincoat when it is raining. I have learnt that Ecuadorians don’t wear coats and they still don’t seem to get wet! My friend and I got many funny looks when we wore our coats!
-Things breaking:
In the last couple of weeks, all my things seem to be breaking: my flip flops, laptop, watch, MP3 player, my headphones (which only work when I hold them in a certain position etc etc. It isn’t really funny, but it seems to be happening to everything and that makes me smile!
I have found a new perfume. It combines as a lotion to make your skin shiny too. It is called “OFF!” I wear it daily. It is actually a repellent for the bugs and everyday I coat myself in it, nearly passing out for lack of air. I now know that bug spray on your face is not nice, especially in your eyes!
Growing up, I don’t really remember having many rules. Here, I now have rules I have to follow. For me it is very strange and I’m not sure how I feel about it! For example, my family here tells me how to make my bed and when I can and cant have a shower and for how long (as we have a water shortage.) I have to lock certain doors at certain times of the day and there are certain rules about who I can and can’t speak to on my own.
- Keys:
For me to walk to the school each day takes about 25 steps. It is just across the road, however I have to unlock 2 doors and a gate and then the school doors to get in! That is a lot of keys. The padlock to the school breaks when you open it and always takes me ages to put back together. It is so annoying!
I have been called many names here: Young person, child, Miss, Emily and even “mummy” in the school
There are certain things I have done here which I didn’t expect I would do for example, unblocking toilets, mending sinks, plugging in telephones, teaching English to people in the swimming pool shower, and helping in a maths exam (My maths skills are quite poor so it was a struggle for both me and the children!!)
I am quite a punctual person. I think I get that from my Dad. I think I am quite like my Dad and I miss that here, people don’t know my family, so there is never those comments “You are so like…” which I often get in England. My watch has broken, because when I was changing the time, I pushed the button so far in that has disappeared. My watch is 50mins slow, so to tell the time I have to add an hour and take away 10 mins. It takes me a while!
A concept I still haven’t grasped here is that people like to warm up their cars before driving! If people want to do that, that’s fine, but when my family go to their early morning, 6am prayer meeting, I wonder why they have to run it for so long at 5am, kindly waking us all up!
- Cold:
People don’t like being cold here. I have been asked if I miss the cold English weather (clearly they don’t know me very well. I do love not having to wear a jumper) and the grandma of the family kept asking me if I was cold when I was wearing only a t-shirt, whilst she wore a t-shirt, jumper, poncho and blanket!
- Being tall:
I get many funny looks from local people, I think, because I am white and tall. I keep walking into things e.g. I have to make sure I duck under some low dangling electricity cables or on the bus, I hit my head just walking down the aisle. So many things are not designed for tall people!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A four-fold Franciscan blessing

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Speech and Language Therapy

Today I started doing some Speech and Language therapy assessments with the children. It was really good to do something that is familiar to me. Even though it was different from being in the UK, not having many resources at my fingertips or having ALL the words I need, I got by. I began doing a simple language assessment to see how much the children understood, beginning at just single words. Some children could show me a picture of the word I said, others could understand up to 2 words in a sentence. Some struggled to find the right picture that I was talking about.
I had a really great morning. I like to feel I have a purpose. I like to have a role. It challenged me and I had to be resourceful with what I have got, which of course was hard but good to develop my skills.
I translated the Derbyshire Language Scheme into Spanish, (only the 1 and 2 Word Level so far) and worked through that with the lower ability class. Many of the children in that class only speak 1 word utterances (or possibly 2 words on a good day.) One boy has Autism and is pre-verbal. He is such an interesting boy. He makes fleeting eye contact, obviously prefers to be on his own but is getting better at tolerating being with other children, for example, when prompted he will eat his snack at a table near the others. He obviously does not handle change well, for example if we do something that is not within his routine. He really enjoys touch and holding or stroking his hands will help calm him down.
The children in the other class are quite verbal. A few of them are able to hold a conversation. Some conversation style group work would be of use to them. Working on; making and keeping friends, conversation skills and some attention, memory and listening games. Being here has helped me appreciate all that English schools have and take for granted. Many special schools are well resourced, even if it does not feel like it.
I am so challenged being here, working in the school but it is exciting and good to finally be here. 


So I went swimming this evening with a friend here. We paid our monthly fee and sat down, waiting for our adult swimming lesson. Soon after we sat down, we got called over to speak with an instructor. Had we done something wrong!? We were like naughty school children being called into the headmaster’s office! We were called over for our warm up training session. How embarrassing. We were not prepared for that! Fortunately for us, the lady who led the running took us at a slow pace! We got changed, learning along the way we had to take a freezing cold shower first, we should have worn swimming hats and that we may have needed to wear a wetsuit (yes seriously, someone wore a wetsuit in the pool.) We jumped in, received our instructions and got on our way. It was so amazing to swim at night. It has its good and not so good parts! It was amazing to swim on my back, looking at the stars and moon. It is so peaceful and tranquil. I was thinking of bible verses that talk about the moon and was reminded of the verse in Psalm 121 which says “The Lord watches over you, the Lord is your shade and your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night”. On the negative side, I definitely knew I was in Ecuador, as I swam to the side, held on to listen to the instructor and down my arm crawled a cockroach which swam off in the water! I also put loads of bug spray on before I swam. I put lots on my face and I now know that chlorine and bug spray when mixed together is not nice, especially when it gets in your eyes!
All in all it was an eventful evening but really enjoyable.   It has cheered me up and energised me for the week ahead.


I just feel sad this evening. It just happened. I just started crying. I was trying to compose an email to my friend thanking her for thinking of me during her Morrisons shopping trip and just felt sad. I felt sad for not being able to spend time with people who I want to.
I also felt sad because I felt stupid today. I didn’t understand something someone said to me in Spanish. They tried to repeat it in a different way but I didn’t get it. When this happens, people look at you and give up as if you are really stupid. I wanted to say that I wasn’t stupid, I just don’t understand your words and I don’t know those words in Spanish.
I want to write and say that I am having the time of my life. That I feel so happy, doing what I came here for, helping lots of people, making a difference, changing the World, fulfilling dreams, BUT I don’t really feel like that today. I know it is just a feeling for today. And also because I have just moved to a new place, I am in that “settling in time”. I am getting to know people here, getting to know the City and people are getting to know me. There are many more people for me to get to know. Part of me feels really reluctant because I just don’t feel very strong. I don’t have any more space in my heart for any more people. I don’t want to get to know new people because it will hurt too much to leave, however I do love having new friends!
I read this amazing quote on the Order of Service for the funeral of an amazing 99 year old woman…

“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you will see in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight”

I am thankful that I have got so many great people in my life and they are a “delight” to me. I know deep down that I am in the right place for now. I know that in my weaknesses, I have to rely on God’s strength and hope something of him, shines through me.

Well, I guess I will wake up with puffy eyes in the morning and have to go to school and face lots of energised children. Often working with children is a great cure for when you feel sad. They do bring great joy!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Safely in Santo Domingo

3 buses, $3 and 3 hours later and I arrive in Santo Domingo. Life in Santo is going to be very different to life in Quito, but I eagerly await the challenge.
It has been an interesting day, full of mixed emotions. I had my last breakfast with my family in Quito and felt sad to leave the family who had been so kind to me. Then my journey began. My last bus, which is the longest part of the journey, was crammed full. I thought I was going to have to stand the whole way but this mum let me sit in her child’s seat. I felt so guilty as her 5 year old son stood in the ailse, looking at me with sad eyes, as I took his seat. He sat with me and his mum and also his Aunties too, so he did get somewhere to sit. It was nice to chat to the mum and she invited me to her house when I was next in Quito, to try her cooking! The journey down to Santo Domingo is literally downhill. Quito is very high up. As the journey goes on it gets hotter and more humid as we wind through the roads down the mountain. For some reason today there were people being sick, people complaining they didn’t have seats and generally having a moan. It is good to finally be here!

My postal address is:  

Casilla 17-24-351
Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas,

It is good to be here and I go to work in the school tomorrow. Such a big challenge but I am excited as I totally know I can not do it in my own strength but will have to rely on God and I hope to glorify him.
I look forward to sharing the rest of my journey with you…

Friday, 1 July 2011

“Through the shadows still you shine on.”

What is my reaction to hard times, difficult days or struggles? Continuing to shine on or hiding in the shadows? After a difficult Spanish lesson I just don’t want to talk. I want to go and hide and put on an English DVD. What about other people I know? What do they do in difficult times? What about having chemotherapy every day? How do you react? She keeps going, meeting up with her friends and praying against the Cancer. God is evidently her strength when the poison has taken away her physical strength and virus defences. What about after your husband has died? What does she do? She fills the house with people, making sure she is not alone. She spends time with friends and family, makes a new routine. He is not there physically, but certainly not forgotten as we all talk about him and laugh about his socks and sandals combination and filming his feet when on holiday!

"Thinking of me"

Before I left England, this was the title of a popular song. It was always on the local radio station, in-between the traffic updates, as drove to work. I think about my friends and family so much of the time. I am encouraged and reassured to know that people think of me too. Thanks!
I have an awesome friend who thinks of me every time she brushes her teeth. Now fortunately for me, she is a very hygienic person who brushes her teeth often. (There is a reason she thinks of me at that time!) I think of people really fondly and my heart is so full of people I love.
I wonder if this is a little bit of how God feels. He thinks of us fondly, actually more than that. He loves us. He loves us as his children. The bible says he has “lavished” his love on us. (1 John 3 v 1) Not just given us a little love, but lavished; plentiful, abundantly, generously.  He just loves it when we think of him, talk to him and give him our troubles, worries and our lives.

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” Zephaniah 3 v 16