Wednesday, 25 April 2012

final blog entry from Ecuador

So here I am, just with my final couple of hours in Ecuador, sat at the airport. Last year, I never thought this day would come. I thought my year in Ecuador would never end! It has been a fantastic year and I learnt so much, far too much to fit into a blog entry!

So how do I feel? To be honest, quite numb to all feelings. It has been an emotional final week, with so many highs and lows that I can’t begin to describe it. I feel very sad and emotional to leave this Country. I feel so tired that I just can’t wait to get on the plane and sleep. It would be luxury to sleep right through and wake up in London! Doubt that is going to happen but it’s a nice thought!

Hasta luego Ecuador, hello England!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Final week

Urgh, I hate saying goodbyes. This week has been full. Full of birthday celebrations, last day of school, leaving do’s in the church, cakes (one a day this week- 2 actually, on my birthday which makes 5 in 4 days) plenty of chicken and rice (very Ecuadorian) and many kind words. My friends and family here have been so kind to me. I have been very British and held back my tears through the kind words they have said. However, now, I’m sat here behind closed doors, in the early hours of the morning, feeling very tired and crying my eyes out.
The last few days hold more celebrations and goodbyes. Then Wednesday will arrive. It will be a day sat on a plane thinking of the life I leave behind in Ecuador and the life I will re-enter in England. Bizarre!

Latin Link; steppers, striders and stayers (plus token CMS-ers and other friends!)

Jovenes in the church
Birthday cake with the Jovenes

Another birthday cake in the school

My final saturday youth service, leading a workshop

With the teachers from school

And another birthday cake

family birthday party
Can't forget to say goodbye to the pet turtle!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

And the countdown begins

So my final week is here. As I began my year here in Ecuador, the end seemed so far away. I didn’t even think about it.

Now that I am in my final week, I can hardly believe it. This week for me will be overflowing with emotion. Soon I will see my family! Soon I will be able to sit face to face with close friends and chat over a cup of tea!

This final week in Ecuador will be full of many “leaving do's” (despedidas). I don’t like parties or events that are for me, having attention on me. I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to friends and family here.

How do you say goodbye to someone who you may never see again in your life?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Back to school

Great to see some speech therapy advice up on the walls

 The new school term started this week. In this region of Ecuador, we have our long holidays in the months of February and March. The past few weeks have been full of workshops, planning and getting the school ready for the new school year. Being very Ecuadorian, we had an opening "ceremony" to mark the school being open. Everyone spoke a few words and the director, Ruth, shared about how the school year would run. It was great to see so many new children. It is sad that many of the ones from last year have not come back and I did not really say a proper goodbye to them.  As I sat watching the new children with their families, I really wanted to stay and get to know them over this academic year. I saw so many of the parents struggling with their children. I just wanted to help; to work with their child and with them, to impart a little of what I know. However, I only have these 2 weeks in the school.

The first few days of school have been great. The teachers are overflowing with good ideas, the children are settling into the school (some more easily than others) and it is great to be in the school. What a joy it is to work with these children.

The children in their weekly sports session

Beautiful big brown eyes

In the opening ceremony... one of the children teaching the pastors
how to make a butterfly sign with their hands
Enjoying the paint

Plastic animals and water! Heaven... (for the kids!)

Laura Flores workshop

Can you give a workshop to the Mums of Laura Flores?

Sure thing!

So I agreed to give this workshop to the Mums. The idea was to give some ideas of communicating with their children and some activities and games for them to do in the house. This workshop would be fairly easy in England. I probably wouldn’t prepare all that much for it. I would rummage in my toy box and take a bag full of games and resources and we would have a play. I would model to the Mum’s how to play the games with their children, to communicate most effectively. It would not be too difficult. Most parents would have lots of toys and games in their houses. Most children are overloaded with stimulation since they were born.

The Mums and children working together
Giving this workshop in Laura Flores was much more of a challenge. The fact it was in Spanish did not bother me. I would get by. I know I do not speak well in Spanish but there would be people there who could re-word things so the mums could understand. I found it difficult to prepare for because the culture here is so different. Laura Flores in itself is different. I had visited several people’s houses in LF so knew the sort of lives they lead, what they had in their houses, had spoken with many parents before and worked with their children. I knew that they did not have much in their houses. I don’t remember seeing any toys. I know that the children play outside, in the streets. Young children. Really, as soon as they can walk, they are outside “playing” with their brothers and sisters. They do not have anything to play with. Occasionally the boys find a ball and play football. Sometimes a girl might have an old dolly. Normally they just run around, go into each other’s houses, pop into the church if something is happening, eat, sleep, and watch their mums. There is not a real time of “play”.
So I had all this of what I know about LF in my head as I planned the workshop. It would be a waste of time to show them nice games and toys when I know they do not have them. I had to be resourceful. So using toilet roll tubes filled with rice as instruments, collected bottle tops to colour sort, recycled paper to make a counting card game and a few other things I had collected along the way, I set off to LF. It was a particularly hot LF afternoon. The sun was beating down on the aluminium roof, the sun’s rays were streaming in through the “windows” and as the workshop progressed, it got hotter and hotter. It wasn’t the best workshop I have done. As it was so hot and I was so tired, I seemed to lose all my Spanish words. It was a funny mix of playing games with the children, talking to the adults, trying not to touch the flea ridden stray dogs wandering in and out and trying not to overheat. The joys to Ecuador!

God's creation

“This world is God’s creation. Nothing is objective; everything has personal value attached to it. God is the creator and therefore has personal feeling for everything he has made. Every atom, molecule and neutron is his artwork. He values every centimeter of space that he has brought into existence. As we wander through this universe we are not encountering meaningless stuff, we encounter a chipmunk, a river, a child that is God beloved artwork. An art gallery filled with objects of meaning, expressiveness, revelation of Gods heart, intelligence, humor, compassion and whimsy. We are not on public property, nor privately owned property. We are always on God’s property, on loan to us. Everything has some amount of value, not to us, but to God.” – McLarren

Completly unedited photo of this evenings sunset. Amazing.

Friday, 6 April 2012


Today, randomly on the TV, was a documentary about London. I sat and watched it. Surprisingly it brought tears to my eyes. That was my Country that I was watching. There were rainy/grey days, black cabs, red telephone boxes, buses, glimpses of England! It made me realise things I had missed.

Today, I had a special Easter lunch with the family. Fanesca is a soup with lots of grains and beans in it. Followed by mashed potato, eggs, cheese on lettuce. Whilst the girls were preparing it, they had some pineapple on the side, next to the cheese. I asked if they would eat the cheese and pineapple together. It seemed a strange combination to me. They said they had heard that it tastes quite good, but at that moment, I thought it sounded bizarre. It wasn’t until about an hour later that I realised in England, we do that! We eat cheese and pineapple of cocktails sticks at parties. I had totally forgotton!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

El Coca

Family boat trip down the river
Last weekend I went to visit some of my extended Ecuadorian family in El Coca in the Jungle region of Ecuador. 4 of us took an overnight bus up and over the mountains and headed into the jungle. We arrived at 4:30 in the morning, had a quick game of Jenga (which became the game of the whole weekend, with the loser having to wash the plates of the next meal!) 

Wild monkeys in El Coca

It was a great time to visit family and I feel very blessed to feel included in this 

family. We went for a walk into the town, saw the monkeys in the trees,
 ate some worms, had a river trip and swam in the river. We ate lots of yummy food and shared lots of laughs. It was a great time.

Cooking the shellfish and maduros on the BBQ

Improvising...parasole for the rain, dodgey wiring for the lamp whilst cooking the BBQ

Very yummy dinner...

River Napo

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Today has been a good day. I helped finish off the last few jobs that needed doing to make the school ready for the kids on the 9th. It has been painted, cleaned and tidied. Whilst the teachers and other people in the charity held a meeting about the future of the charity, I did some cleaning. Having a good imagination is vital in using the resources available. I did contemplate cleaning the floors and toilets with washing powder until I sought out some bleach! I had a few minutes to think about being here, cleaning toilets and wondering why I was doing it willingly, for free!? I wanted it to be nice and clean for the children and wanted to serve them.
I was able to spend time talking with my parents today. It is always good to hear news from home, even though recently, news always seems to be sad. Still, God is good and is definitely my strength.
In the afternoon I spent time with one of the teachers, going through Language Therapy resources and helping her with her planning. It was a good time together. She was very patient with my Spanish and I was very patient with her as I explained some tasks.
Despite hearing sad news, today has been good and surprisingly full of complements and encouragements. I think they were God given.