He has shown you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to walk justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Leaving Round Two

As I flew into Guayaquil, now over a month ago, I felt like I was coming home. The plane lowered to where I could identify buildings, stores and streets that I knew better that any I know in New Jersey. I couldn't hold back the huge grin that spread across my face as we glided into my well-known city. I thought my departure would be as sad as my arrival was happy, but, thankfully, it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. Leaving round two meant I was actually going home; going home to a home I was ready to establish and invest in. This quick but important visit taught me that my life in Ecuador was full of contrasts: easy (to jump back into good relationships), hard (hard conversations/decisions), comfortable (back in my old room), uncomfortable (too many cockroaches), full of friends (always easy to find people) and lonely (everyone has their families); and while I could appreciate these contrasts and live in the moment, I knew that the moment was momentary. So, in conclusion, I'm thankful for my queridos Ecuadorian friends who will always have their doors open to my visits and I'm looking forward to what the Lord has in store for me in the United States.

So thankful for good friends

These music students :) 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Afternoon Tweets

I'm going to try to write about my afternoon as if I were tweeting - So that's little snippets of info in less than 120 characters. I'll start with an actual Tweet:

After-school Christmas choir practice @HopeofBastion School led by former student @Alfredo_villon

Great trumpet practice after choir! Now time to walk kids home.
It's really hot! Aw, the sweet girl just bought me an ice-pop. Frozen sugar water has never tasted so good!
I stopped for a visit! Doors are always open to friends #dropins #hospitality #noschedule

#Conversation #Stories #Prayingtogether #Confianza

Walking home #ScaryDogs Walking faster

There's the town drunk. I'll walk quietly. Please don't turn around.

Hmm maybe the town drunk will protect me from those 2 guys. They look bad. I'll call out to him if they try anything. I teach his daughters at school.

There's a car slowing down beside me. Do I look?

It's my best friend's husband! Hi! Sure I'll take a ride. #GodProvides

I'm really hot and sweaty. #SecondShoweroftheDay #BlogFirst #RemembertheMoments


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Felipe's Prayer

The busier I get, the more things there are to write about... but less time.

  • I wanted to write about Jimmy, a man who was/is scraping by an existence collecting plastic bottles in the street. Felipe, an elder at our church, told me that he had always seen this man in the street but was convicted to talk to him one day. Felipe started to talk to him and promised to pray for him consistently. Little by little, Felipe began to talk to him more, pray, and invite him to church until he came! Jimmy has been coming to church for about 2 weeks now, never missing a meeting. On Thursday, him and his friend came early to Bible study to set up the chairs!
  • I also wanted to write about the subject of poverty. Sometimes it seems wrong to say people are poor. Aren't we all poor in some sense? As Christians, we realize the blessing that being poor can bring: "Has not God chosen the poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom..." (James 2:5). But how many of us have actually experienced poverty? How many people in my circle in New Jersey have ever looked through garbage to find enough plastic bottles to trade in for $1? Maybe that's too specific. But I know a Christian brother (or 2!) who does this. What about living in a house without walls, underneath a tiny bamboo house, situated between two other houses who generously lend their walls as protection...? And this space houses a family of 7 plus 2 young uncles (total of 3 beds- do the math). Poverty exists. It exists even when I'm far away from it, enjoying hot showers, coffee creamers and the illusion of safety. Poverty exists while I'm right across the street to it, but comfortably writing about it on a laptop in an air conditioned room. What is my responsibility? What is the church's responsibility?  Pray? Give money? "Come quickly, Lord!"??
We should probably do what Felipe does. Pray, pray, pray, and show that man how valued he is by his heavenly Father. Invite him to church, counsel him during the day and give him a job to do before Bible Study on Thursday night... and keep our eyes open to what other real needs surround us and how we can be His hands and feet.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

2 Mangoes, Flutes and Friends

A boy from our school was recently semi-adopted by one of the teachers. She now has legal custody since the boys' parents have passed away and he was being mistreated by the family members he was with. He is one of my music students- a very talented flute player. I was able to rescue his flute from his old house and we had lessons today. He and the other girl were a joy to teach.

After music lessons, I headed up and down the hills to Block 8 to visit my dear friend Noemi. Scary dogs and not-as-scary drug dealers always keep me on the lookout, but I also passed many former kids' club and youth group kids from years past on my way. The memories kept coming as Noemi's daughter brought out her photo album for us to peruse. I spent a lot of life in that house. When I first visited, almost 6 years ago, it was a bamboo structure with an outhouse out back. While the outhouse is still functional, the house is now cement, with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. We got caught up on life and reminisced of old times. Lunch was delicious (estofado) and my 2nd mango of the day was superb.

I met many friends and kids all the way back to my house and had a nice time with another friend in the afternoon. Then I had the privilege of judging a youth group talent show. Ecuador's Got Talent!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Good Life

Another late night with friends out in the street by the church. The country of hanging out, always social. Ahhh, I love it. Also the country of D.R.A.M.A. Tonight a friend of a friend burst into my house like a whirlwind saying it was the end of the world that she couldn't find a friend who had some of her important papers... blah blah blah... an hour of high drama. Pretty hilarious. It all worked out in the end. Whew.

I met with some of my music students this afternoon. Pretty good after 4.5 months without lessons :)

Then they worked on a dance routine that this guy was choreographing...

Life's good.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Listening on Thanksgiving

Coming back to Ecuador involves a lot of listening. From listening to family drama and a mom who wonders if her son is in danger, to teenage loves, sensitive middle-schoolers and harsh financial realities, I'm reminded of the what the daily life of a missionary entails. I daily encounter so many friends who love so generously as well as overwhelming problems that many of my American friends will never imagine: family members in jail or threatened with jail, young girls leaving home with men, money that doesn't stretch to print out homework at the cyber and take the bus to school. And I've been back 3 days. 

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. I didn't notice that in the excitement of booking my ticket for 3 weeks in Ecuador, so this Thanksgiving was spent teaching English (subbing for a sick co-worker) and eating at a friend's house.

Our delicious Thanksgiving meal consisted of rice, beans, chicken, potatoes and salad.
I made the fresh squeezed orange juice and picked away at some ice to cool us down.

Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Erin in Ecuador - Home of Hugs

As my blog is so titled, I want to write while I'm here. After 4.5 months at home, I am back home. The joys and trials, blessings and confusions of having 2 homes continue on. My flights were easy and uneventful. Funny details reminded me that I was going back to South America. You know those moving sidewalks that help you get from one side of the airport to the other faster? Well, in Panama, they were just a sidewalk to stand on and from which to watch the scenery pass. I arrived at my connection as the last boarding call rang out over the loudspeaker, impossible to scurry right along those moving sidewalks jammed with sightseers.

I arrived in Guayaquil, moved quickly through customs, baggage claim and out the doors to my 3 waiting friends, the longest best hug ever, and a teeny-tiny car to bring us home. The taxi service didn't think that "with space for luggage" meant we needed a trunk. So we stuffed 1 suitcase in the back, 1 suitcase in the backseat with Jessie scrunched up next to, Kenia on my lap, and Becky in the front with my carry-on. It's always an adventure and there's always enough room.

Today was a day of hugs and good conversation. Hugs and kisses from crowds of school kids, teachers, and a steady stream of friends all day. All my lack of physical touch and people staying out of my bubble for the past 4 months was remedied in one afternoon and evening- and I'm ready for more! Bring it on!

On a side note, today was a hot & humid 2-cold-showers-day and I was greeted by 2 cockroaches in the house last night!