Friday, 21 December 2012

De la Costa a la Sierra...

From the Coast to the Mountains... that's what we've done in the last two weeks...

We've had a fantastic time with Danny and Vanessa, although short we managed to fit in a lot of things... It was sad to see them go, however we know it won't be the last time we'll see them... To be honest although it has only been 4 months since we arrived we have done so much to settle in and had so much on - it already feels like its been a year, so it was great to see them.

Here's a few things we did, first of all we picked them up from Guayaquil, the port city of Ecuador.  As most port cities its busy, lots happening, its actually a big city with lots to see and do, the traffic is crazy - if you think Sydney peak hour is bad you haven't seen nothing, imagine a 4 lane road with 6 cars running on it alongside instead of 4 and no one obeying road rules or showing any kind of road manners! We stayed with a Witness family who run a BnB from their home, was pretty economical at $10.00 per person, per night.  While here we visited Bethel, since we were last there a lot of building has taken place, a water plant was built, took them almost 3 years from what I remember but now they have their own water system. 

Guayaquil City
Ecuador Bethel
Progress of the Preaching Work

We then drove to Salinas about 2 hours from Bethel, its one of the quietest beach spots in Ecuador, a lot of development here, lots of high rise apartments.  Really nice place to relax, we hired some jetski's here for $25.00 per hour (though word of advice, be careful who you choose to hire from, they tried to blame us for previous damage to the jetski and ended up paying an extra $30 to make them go away). The best Ecuadorian Ceviches are found here, no joke they're amazing, especially the prawn ceviche it's so good, Vanessa and I ended up having it for breakfast and lunch one of the days we stayed here... so good!!

Cuenca City
Cajas National Park
After Salinas we drove back to Cuenca, and showed them Cajas National Park.  Its amazing!! you wouldn't think you were in Ecuador, the mountains look more like the Scotish highlands, they're so beautiful with its lakes and walkways.  We stopped at a local restaurant where they served fresh rainbow trout from the lakes found here and the best Canelasos ever... (a warm light alcoholic beverage made from herbs and cane alcohol).. Perfect for the cold weather up here. The temperature outside ranged between 12-14 degrees.

While in Cuenca, we took Vanessa and Danny to our Rv's and studies, they came out witnessing with us and loved it.  We took them to Shoray (my family's rurals) we had a great time and were able to start 2 studies. Danny also gave an English talk in our cong and my parents cong which was translated into Spanish, the brothers and sisters loved it, the last time they had an english talk translated was for the dedication of the Bethel expansion years ago... So they really appreciated his effort. 

Our Kingdom Hall
Guinea Pig Restaurant
My family's Kingdom Hall
We showed them around the city, took them to a Museum to see the shrunken heads that the Amazonian tribes used to do (although a local brother from those areas we met said they still do it, although it is now against the law), we ate cui (guinea pig) at their request, went to the zoo (funny story: Danny was hassling a Lion who patiently got up and went to sleep somewhere else, Danny then proceeded to follow him and we followed Danny to see what would happen, the Lion annoyed at Danny turned around and proceeded to relieve himself, now we didn't know Lions pee backwards, his aim was actually quite good, he only missed us by a tiny bit, poor Lion, he was probably thinking "that's what you get for waking me up!"...hahaha....). Took them to the fruit markets, the Panama hat museum (not from Panama at all, they used to get exported to Panama where a US President bought it and from then on it became known as the Panama Hat..) and also to the hot water springs close to Cuenca called La Piedra de Agua, this place was amazing, they even have different types of mud you can apply on your skin as mask treatments.  It was fantastic and so relaxing!!

Entrance of their Kingdom Hall
On the way to Shoray

Fruit Markets
Amaru Zoo - the annoyed Lion

Before they left we were able to throw a proper Ecuadorian style party as an anniversary present for them, after all its the first year since we've known them that we've been in the same place as them during their anniversary...  it took place at an Hacienda of a brother we know... the brothers also cooked up a Pig (Ecuadorian style)... and we planned a whole heap of little dances for them, a traditional dance from Cayambe and a coastal dance. After all the acts the dancing started...

As you can see two weeks packed full.... full of fun and laughter. Thanks for the great memories Danny and Vanessa...

Out in the field recently we also found a couple who have not studied for the last two years, but they have been wanting to restart and finally the study is on its way and going really well, they're a young Peruvian couple, so lovely and as usual eager to learn and change... Hopefully in the next month we'll also be able to start a study with their uncle who showed a lot of interest in the truth.

We currently have our CO Visit, their schedule is a little different than back home, afternoon group starts at 2.50pm and no dinner is arranged for them only lunch.  The culture here is so different even their schedule needs to adapt to the locals.  The CO mentioned that lunch sometimes doesn't get served till 1pm, as hard as the brothers try to serve it on time for some reason it never works out that way hence the time for the afternoon groups get pushed back and no dinner is arranged for them as dinner here is not really a main meal, they tend to have light servings of bread and a juice... lunch here is the big meal of the day... The visit has been fantastic and we're enjoying every day of it, we finally had our first pioneers meeting and have found out there are 8 pioneers in our cong.

Jeremy's appointment as an Elder came in a few weeks ago so Jeremy can now really start helping the congregation a bit more than before. The CO visit is also helping things get fixed that have slipped through the cracks which we are both really happy about.

We've been healthy and funny enough we feel like our tummies are doing really well, haven't been sick in a while... it's starting to settle and get used to the eating times and the local food :) The Armendariz's are all well busy as usual, they send their love to you all, their message is "Come and visit!"...

Till next time...