Tuesday, 10 February 2015

2015 Ecuador International Convention (Quito)

We've had the most exciting month.  January was full of activity in preparation for the Conventions being held all around Ecuador.  Quito was the privileged city to hold the actual international event but we were able to glean the most important parts of it.... the GB talks. There was a peak attendance of close to 150,000 all around Ecuador.

Sophia and Caleb with their Otavaleno Outfits

It was such an incredible time for all our brothers and sisters, especially for those that got to go to Quito.  The stadiums here are not very big and therefore not all of the brothers in Ecuador were invited for the Quito Convention - where all the delegates would be.  The Stadium in Quito holds a capacity of about 20,000 if I recall correctly.  There were 3000 delegates invited which only left room for the local brothers and sisters and those who have faithfully served Jehovah in special full time service for more than 10 years. So you can imagine what the atmosphere must have been like.  My family who lives in Quito had the privilege to go, and their stories and experiences are just remarkable.  I'm so happy and thankful that Jehovah allowed for the International to take place in Ecuador. There were some rumors that even the President had attended one of the conventions days, but nothing is confirmed. One of the delegates told us of how serious and stern the police around the stadium were the first day, but by the end of the day they too had been given gifts from the delegates and were now smiling happily to take photos for and with those in attendance... There was such an incredible witness given, as in all places where these events are held.  I can't wait to read more about it or maybe see it in the future.

Here in Cuenca we had our convention in Azogues, a stadium with a capacity of 10,000.  The brothers worked so hard in making everything run as smoothly as possible.  Most had meetings and training sessions almost every weekend that last month. Jeremy was assisting with the sound department and his training sessions were held in Bethel Guayaquil. All the brothers and sisters did a wonderful job at getting the stadium cleaned up and ready to go.

Campaign Work Before the Convention
Media Attention about our Convention

Stage Crew

The stadiums are not as comfortable as back home. For starters, most of the stadiums don't have chairs, everyone sits on concrete slabs, the other thing is that the majority had to sit without any roof covering, which meant they had to deal with the sun and rain during the convention.  The bathrooms were also a challenge when it came to water issues. Because the stadiums are not built to be used for whole day events, the water to flush the toilets in the upper floors was non existent.  The brothers by the second day brought in a whole tub of water to flush the toilets, there was a poor brother assigned to flush the toilet for you but only for number 2's. I know it sounds awful and disgusting, but those are the compromises you make when serving here.... you get used to it.... but I mention it just to show what a self sacrificing spirit everyone showed and also to show what brothers and sisters are willing to put up with to be present at one of these conventions... makes me think how comfortable we have it back home...

It was so nice for us to be able to hear the talks for a second time and we had the privilege to participate in the program as well.  I never imagined I would have a part in front of so many people and the nicest thing was that I had the demo with my mum. We practiced for weeks, it was one of those demos where you have to memorize word for word what has been already provided for you, and I was really afraid of forgetting once I got up there. But how wonderful Jehovah's spirit works... since everyone was so far away we weren't as nervous as we thought we'd be and before we knew it we were getting off the stage... haha... my mouth was working on automatic...hahaha

Mum and I just before we went on stage...

My baby brother on the far right
Dad on stage...

After all the excitement of the convention, it was time for a quick get away, so we took a week to tour the coast of Ecuador and return through the sierra. There are still so many places we have to visit, Ecuador is so diverse and unending when it comes to all the things you can see and do. Here are some photos.

Lake Quilotoa

The road to Cotopaxi Volcano
Cotopaxi hiding behind clouds

Banos de Ambato
The tree house

Banos at night
Pailon del Diablo

Jeremy on the canopy
Me getting ready to go next...

hahaha...no explanation needed....

We've also received some exciting news, we have been given a different assignment by the branch to help with a congregation by the coast in Duran area.  We have since been for a quick visit and to meet our new CO and his wife.  The area is poor and a continual flood zone, but we keep in mind what Anita (our special pioneer sister) mentioned, "the worse it looks, the better stories you will have", we are sad and excited all at once about our move.  It's kind of scary to me that we are actually doing this... hahaha... why? I can't imagine 10 years ago when we got married that we would ever be ready or capable of a move like this.  We always said Cuenca was a launch pad for us into Ecuador and how right we've were, it's helped us get ready for what's to come, but it still doesn't feel real.  I'm sure that Jehovah will look after us and bless our work while we are there, like he always has, I have no doubt about it but for me, it's probably the hardest move I'm having to make.  I suppose its also a combination that for the first time in Ecuador I will be without my family who are also moving back to Australia. They hope to come back one day and hopefully that day won't be too long into the future but I admit its so sad to see them go, they will be very missed by the brothers and sisters and especially by Jeremy and I, they have been our support tower and our comfy blanket when we needed them and not having them around makes me feel like now I'm really making a sacrifice to Jehovah.

Cuenca has been an awesome experience for us, we have loved every minute of it, even the difficult times from which we have learned a lot. Our congregation has such a special place in our hearts, they have taken us and taught us a lot, we have grown spiritually here which has equipt us for what's to come. We don't want to let them down and most of all we don't want to let Jehovah down.... so we'll do everything we can to serve in our next assignment whole heartedly.  I was once told every move gets easier, but so far I haven't found that to be true, every move has been more difficult to say goodbye.

Before my family goes home, we are heading up with them for a quick cruise vacation in Miami together. It'll be so nice to spend a bit of time together before they leave. It will be so hard to let them go...I often wonder how those who moved around coped before there was internet and skype and all of the "stay connected" technology that we now have.... what a sacrifice it must have been for them to know that they wouldn't be able to see or speak to their family for years to come... thinking about that makes me feel a bit better...

We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has sent us messages, emails and many encouraging comments during the past 2 and a half years, especially with regards to our recent change of assignment also... We appreciate your efforts to build us up and encourage us and hope we are able to do the same in the future by means of this blog in our new assignment. We will endeavor to share any of the experiences Jehovah sees fit to bless us with.


On our 10 years wedding anniversary dinner...