Saturday, June 2, 2012

Here in Saraguro . . .

Thank you so much for your prayers for our safe travel down here in Ecuador. Making the move to Saraguro last month was difficult, because we had expected to work at Camp Pallatanga all year; we both felt that we had unfinished work there. But our mission organization felt that the move was best, and as we prayed about moving to Saraguro, we felt that God had great things in store for us to do; we felt assured that if we were there at the right time, to encourage or help the right person or people, according to God's plan, then the move would be well worth it. So here we are in southern Ecuador and we feel so blessed to be living in Saraguro. We are way up high in the Andes, at 8500ft. This morning we have our wool sweaters on, as it is about 11degrees inside and out, and raining, but not inside (yeah, no leaks!). The house that we're living in is a lovely two story home that was built for our current field director and his family, when they worked here in Saraguro 20 years ago.
looking down onto Saraguro
way up in the Andes! In the three-ish weeks since we've moved to Saraguro, we've had lots of visitors! The five of us have settled in to two of the large bedrooms, so that we have room to host guests in the other bedroom. Our field driector and his wife were here this past weekend. They were travelling with another missionary who lived and worked here in the 80s. It is really neat to visit with them and hear stories of their work here in Saraguro. This week, we had Brian stay; he is a short-term missionary who had been working near Cuenca. Our children like having him visit, as he makes a big fuss of them and gets them all riled up.
Our field director, Tom, and his wife, Susan, ready to leave Saraguro with a trailer full of supplies for a medical team. The house behind is where we are now living.
The view of the town from our upstairs window. The week prior, we had the privilege of hosting Dr Hall and his son, Steve, as well as visiting with Dr and Mrs Douce and their grandson, Joe. Steve took us hiking on trails he had hiked when he was 12. Dr Hall worked in Saraguro in the 60s, when Dr Douce was on furlough. Dr Douce has worked here in Saraguro for over 50 years. They had a very busy week here, visiting townspeople who refer to them as grandma and grandpa Douce. At mid 80 and 90 years of age, it was inspiring to accompany them on visits to people in Saraguro and surrounding villages. Their love and attention to the people here is amazing.
Dr Douce and Dr Hall back in Saraguro where they spent years taking care of patients.
Mrs Douce visiting and sharing with locals.
Dr Douce fitting a local weaver with "new" glasses.
I sure enjoyed the visits out and about in the surrounding communities!
Hiking fun! We explore a waterfall and some caves at the end of this trail. We have been very warmly received by the townspeople here, due to the amazing work of OMS missionaries in Saraguro since the 1950s. The house hadn't been lived in for a couple of years (just used now and again for an overnight), so once the townspeople sensed activity here, lots of people dropped in to see who the new missionaries were. Ethan joined the local soccer team the third day we were here; he eagerly anticipates the 3:30 practice each day. The girls have had friends come over after school each day to swing on the rope swings that they tied up into an open shed on the property. Our cat and dog love the porch overlooking the town and the fenced property around the house. So we are very comfortable here. Saraguro is a small town, with a classic central square built around a big, old Catholic church.
We meet a lot of people through Ethan's soccer.
Most of his soccer team, likes to come back to our house to play mini-stick-hockey on the front porch.
The children are enjoying getting to play with other children!
Our neighbours have been dropping by to see who is now living in the OMS house. Don describes Saraguro like this: Our house here overlooks the town and we have a beautiful view of the Andes on three sides. Within a block, we have a small corner store (which sells essentials, including large bottles of potable water), the Duragas company (for purchasing the 50lb bottles of propane that power our gas stove and water heating system), the hardware store I use for all of my supplies, an OMS church, a health clinic, a dental office, and of course the ever important internet place (great for e-mail, though it doesn't have enough service to skype). You could feasibly live in this house and not need to walk more than a block to live indefinitely. Every Sunday there is a large farmer's market that also starts at the corner of our block. It is primarily indigenous people who live in the mountains bringing their produce into town to sell. We can buy all of the fruits and vegetables we can eat in a week there and it is extremely cheap and fresh. Of course, Spanish is a must have in Saraguro, so we get daily Spanish practice.
Living amongst a lot of tradition. This neighbour asked us for some branches off of a tree in our yard. She'll boil up the branches and leaves for a foot-therapy soak.
Many people in town wear traditional clothing.
Lots of the houses here are brick or plaster on the front walls, then mud brick on the side walls. People here are still hand-spinning wool from their own sheep, and growing much of their own food.
Don hauling propane tanks so we can cook and have hot water. We've been enjoying the OMS church's services in Spanish. Its hard work keeping a keen ear and translating throughout the three-ish hour services. My Spanish is also being stretched as I attend a local womens' Bible Study. Don's to-do list here in Sarguro is plentiful. The two local OMS churches run a rehab clinic and a radio station. Both have requests for Don's assistance with wiring issues and other maintenance projects. As well, this house has lots of character, and lots of maintenance needs. Don machete-ed through the side garden and added a brick path and some tiered planters alongside the house, and now the street-view of the place is much, much nicer. Today he is staining and painting the exterior, after having spent a few days sanding it down. In between projects, he fixes leaks, replacing non-working lights and switches, and fis iguring out how to keep the gas-water-heater working. So the house is enjoying his attention! The pets are a help with the house, too, the local rat population is no longer leaving evidence in the main level of the house each morning.
The house has a cabin-feel with lots of character.
Scout and Skittles are enjoying Saraguro.
Machete-ing a spot for the laundry line that Don hung.
Sanding the graffiti off of the garage door.
The side-yard and the garage are the house's first impressions. Don is fixing them up . . .
and it is looking great!
Cleaning the attic skylights so we have lots of natural light coming into the upstairs of this lovely house. Now I'm off to homeschool our three children. They're working amongst the lines of laundry hanging to dry in the house; it is rather comical. They are progressing really well with their year's work, as well as their Spanish, and their concepts of how our lives are God's, and our purpose is to glorify Him in all that we do. We are learning lots too! Our work here is both humbling and an honour. This week our family is focusing on Philipians 4:8-9, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about these things.” This is how we have hope and peace. And we sure thank God for you and for your support! We pray for you daily.
Blessings, Amanda and crew

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