Well, I feel like I've been out of touch with the blogging world for the past few weeks with our trip to Ecuador and limited access to high-speed internet (which makes blogging very difficult). And it has taken me a week to finish this blog - mostly due to the fact that I wanted to include so many pictures - and for some reason, they would only let me upload them one by one! But we are home now - and thankful to be here - although we had such a wonderful time with Josh's folks and sisters.
As always, traveling in S. America is full of 'experiences' for lack of a better word. Our travels to Ecuador included a delayed flight, lost hotel reservations and trouble in immigration, not to mention traveling with 5 children (Josh's sister, and her 2 kids accompanied us to Quito too, as a surprise to Josh's folks). But it was definitely worth it when we arrived, to have all the cousins/grandkids in one place!
The Pan Am annual lectures took up the first week of our time in Ecuador. We enjoyed a variety of speakers (in English!) and were able to see a large number of friends and acquaintances. Josh spoke on being priests of God and also gave a presentation on the work in Cochabamba. It was encouraging to be there, although this mom felt like I spent the majority of my time entertaining kids and taking them to the potty! Oh, well. The life of a mom.
Sunday morning at the lectures
We took a few days the next week to visit Jauna, Justin, Kaidan and Kaleb and their home/workplace at the camp in Tabacundo. We really enjoyed our time with them (it had been 3 years since we last saw them!) It was good to see where they live and work. They are very busy and do a great job of both hosting camp sessions and running a children's program during the week. I don't think I could do what they do! Kaidan and Michaela had a wonderful time playing together. And Kaleb is a speed crawler - and so smiley! We also went to some hot springs a couple hours drive from the camp and really enjoyed the thermal pools. Josh preached the Sunday we were there, and did a good job with a different sort of audience, seeing as the majority of their church body are children - thanks to the children's home and children's program.
Cousins Jana and Kaleb
At the hot springs
Michaela loved holding cousin Mia.
Playing cards with Justin and Amanda Snyder
Josh was very busy while we were there with the new course he is teaching on Revelation. He is trying something new this time and networking with his dad. The course is being offered both here in Cochabamba and at the Quito school via internet conferencing (don't ask me how it all works!). Josh taught the first class here before we left, and then taught 3 in Quito, and will finish the course here while students there follow via camara/internet. Anyway, Josh ran into a multitude of technical problems and spent a lot of time trying to work that out as well as prepare for his course. Once we get it all worked out, it'll be a great resource for us here, as our church members will be able to take classes offered in Quito and vice versa.
We also spent quite a bit of time working our some immigration problems. As we were leaving Cochabamba, they told us that we didn't have the appopriate seal in our passports and that we would have to get another objeto determinado (a type of visa) in order to get back into the country. I told Josh I've come to the conclusion that every time we leave this country, there will be some sort of problem in immigration requiring us to spend lots of money - because that's how it's been so far! Every time I get so mad and upset. I guess I've just got to come to terms with this fact of life. Anyway, we spent several days and quite a few phone calls getting the paperwork we needed (luckily we had brought copies of our yellow fever shots!) to the Bolivian embassy there. We got our passports back the day we left Quito!
One of the higlights of our time in Ecuador was a 3 day trip to the beach with Josh's folks - part of their Christmas present to us. We enjoyed visiting in the car on the 7 hour trip down to the coast. We stayed in some beach front cabins where Josh's folks always stay. It was wonderful to introduce the girls to the ocean - although after getting knocked down by the waves, Eliana didn't think too much of the sea! It brought back lots of memories for me of Kenya and my family and made me a little homesick. We had perfect weather and spent a lot of time swimming and sunning, exploring the beach, and ate some great seafood - Michaela loved the clams!
Michaela ate more than 20 clams!
Jana's first ocean experience
James and Michaela
Reading with Nana
Playing in the sand
The beauty of the ocean
Swimming in the ocean with Daddy - Michaela said she liked the salty waves!
Nana and Papa and Jana
The love of my life and I
My girls and I
The rest of our time was filled with eating (we celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving together early!), shopping (Quito is much more modern on this count than Bolivia - I really enjoyed going to the mall!), Christmas from Nana and Papa, playing with the cousins, time with the grandparents, riding horses, and taking care of animals. This included feeding the pigs, feeding the ducks, and collecting eggs. Kent has 100 egg laying hens and so the girls had fun egg-hunting most mornings. The first time Michaela found an egg, she went over to the bucket and threw it in! Hard! We then had to explain that you have to place the eggs gently in the bucket : ) On a side note, Josh and I even went on a date - we got to see the James Bond movie with VIP service and eat at TGI Fridays!
Reading with Papa
Nana and her grandgirls
At the mall - look at all those grandkids!
Michaela and Kaidan had so much fun playing together!
Cousins Kaleb and Jana
Collecting eggs and feeding the pigs with Papa
Thanksgiving dinner - yum!
Coffee time with Nana
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. Thank you, Nana and Papa and Jauna and Justin, for such a wonderful time. Our hearts are full of wonderful memories and we will look forward to the next time we can be together.
Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13
But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.... “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”
Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13