Wow, I have yet to complete a month back in Ecuador and so much has happened already. My first week back was a whirlwind. My luggage didn’t arrive with me, but I had left clothing and such behind, so I was able to make do for a couple of days.
I arrived early Friday morning and met up with the school staff in the afternoon. They were all at school painting the school desks. I arrived just in time to congratulate them on a job well done.

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The classrooms have been fitted with sheet rock and the window spaces have been fitted with windows in preparation for air conditioning units.

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They are all the same cream color, which makes them brighter and seem more spacious.

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The teachers had new uniforms made. Bummer, I missed out. Fortunately, they don’t really expect me to wear a pencil skirt, fluttery sleeves and black heels. Not a good mix with how much I sweat. On the warmer days, I’ll hear comments like, “wow, it’s so hot today I’m sweating!” Welcome to my daily life. 😉

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My first weekend back the youth wanted to hear about my trip to the States. I showed them pictures of my family and friends that I visited. I’m used to sharing what I do in Ecuador with you guys. It was an odd reversal. “And here I am sharing with the DFCC youth group… and here I am scooping popcorn for the movie night we had at church… and this is my lovely nephew that I got to spend time with… and I got to see these people… and I got to see those people…”

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Monday came and we started school. The first week are half days to review and assess that the kids are at current grade level. The director decided to not burden them with English that week. Samuel offered for me to accompany a group that was going to the earthquake site where they were going to break ground on the IDES houses. So Tuesday we loaded into a van and travelled all day to the coastal town of San Vicente.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an earthquake devastated area. In the largest city we went through, Portoviejo, the whole downtown was blocked off, at least 6 block radius. It’s been several weeks, so the rescue efforts have come to an end, but there are so many bodies still buried. The government has declared the zone as burial ground and had priests consecrate it as such. They won’t be rebuilding there. Hopefully, they’ll come up with a suitable memorial to commemorate the lives that were lost.

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We finally arrived in San Vicente. It’s a humble little town across the bay from high-end tourist destination Bahia de Caraquez, which has become a ghost town because all the buildings, though still standing, have been classified as unsafe. Many of the San Vicente folk worked in the tourist town and are now without jobs.

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Samuel and other IAM workers have struck up a relationship with the mayor of San Vicente to rebuild homes that were lost. Lots have to be cleared and flattened before pillars can be dug and foundations laid.

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Evelyn and Alfredo, the young couple receiving the first house, pitched right in. They have two children and take care of her handicapped grandfather. They’ve both accepted Jesus since we arrived and continue to help as we build their neighbors houses.  The wreckage to the right is what’s left of their house.

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While the men worked, I went around with Lupe and her friend Marta to visit with earthquake victims who are living in what they could salvage from their homes. Most were still in shock and survival mode. They are still working through what happened. Not many are ready to even begin to think about the future, yet.

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Marta is a hair stylist from Colombia. She brought clothing and other donations from friends in Colombia. She also brought her shears and offered haircuts to anyone, especially the ladies. It’s amazing how a simple haircut can dignify a person even if their current living conditions are dismal.

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Once I got back to Samborondon, we had a church leaders’ meeting and then I was off to Quito, Ecuador’s mountainous capital, for a youth workers’ conference. We had workers go from Samborondon, El Recreo, and San Jose churches. We had a blast! It was our first time to participate in such an event. Hopefully, the churches will continue to encourage the workers to attend such conferences and exchange ideas with other workers.

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Quito is a much cooler climate than the coastal region of Guayaquil. The locals had long sleeves in the evening. Our crew bundled up in winter coats and scarves.

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Another exciting thing that has happened is that we keep having occasional aftershocks. One was about 30 min before school let out. So, the government issued procedures for earthquake drills and we’ve been doing them weekly. Some of the drills are accidental because the alarm button is right next to the button to open the front gate of the school and people get mixed up. Oh well. We all get a laugh and the kids get a chance to practice vacating into the schoolyard in an orderly fashion. Since I’m not in charge of a classroom (I go from class to class), I get to be the one to sound the alarm if I feel movement. And, since I had the blessing of growing up in Chile and living the past decade in California, I don’t panic when I feel the earth move. 🙂

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I have a personal request, you might join me in prayer. I injured my back the morning we set out for the building site in San Vicente. I have scoliosis and it occasionally flares up. Boy, did it. It’s been a few weeks now and I’m looking for a chiro that’s not too far away. By bus, Guayaquil is over an hour away and that’s my closest bet. The best, and entirely plausible, scenario would be for my Ecuadorian chiro in Downey, CA to decide to move back to his homeland and live right here in Samborondon. That would be fabulous! Or God could heal me and I could be faithful with my exercises to avoid future flare-ups. That would be good, too.

Well. That’s all for now. May you continue to thrive wherever God has placed you.

Peace,

Erin

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