Monday, March 30, 2009


This is an appropriate posting for today, I think. We were at lunch discussing the seemingly never-ending bouts with liquid bowels that we've been experiencing. Our friend Bradley...who's been here for months, said, "Oh yeah. It's just Ecua-stomach. Everybody gets it."

Apparently even those of us who will be living here for longer periods of time will just continue to randomly get this bug. There is no telling where it comes from. It presents itself in various ways, but none of them are pleasant in the least.

Today is an especially rough day in this area for both Dwight and I. Poor Dwight...he's out at the construction site with the jungle and a roll of toilet paper. At least I'm within running distance of the bathroom. :-)

Fun times. pics with this post. I view this as a favor to you on my part.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Casa de Fe Video

Someone who visited the orphanage made this video for Patti Sue. They did an awesome job! I've posted a link to this video, plus the orphanage's website and blog on the right side of our blog. The website hasn't been updated for a while...but that's on my long-term to-do list. :-)

It won't let me add the video or a hyperlink for some reason. Just copy/paste this address into your browser, and it should work.

Food, food, food…..

Sometimes we feel like all we do is eat…or buy food! Because it’s so easy to just walk around and buy fresh ingredients, it seems like we buy something almost every day. Definitely not staying within the budget right now, but hopefully it will balance out once we’re settled.

We went out last Friday night with Patti Sue and 3 of the teachers here in Shell- Tina, Melissa and Chantal. There is a really nice hotel/hostel in Puyo, and the restaurant there is awesome. Dwight had steak (2, 5 oz. filets) for about $10.00….and it was sooooooo good. Of course, I was really impressed with the presentation of the food. Check this out!

Dwight took this pic while seated, so you can see everyone but us. :-) We had a great time! If anyone comes to visit, I PROMISE we’ll take you here!!!

Yes, that is bribery.

Dwight’s Response to the Money Belt

Remember the picture of me at the airport?….. Apparently this is what makes Dwight smile like that.

We had been told about Johnny’s, a burger place here in Shell. They also have these ‘tablitas,’ which are loaded with fries and meat- 2 of Dwight’s favorite things. This is the first time since we’ve been here that he’s had this much meat at once…and he was obviously VERY pleased. I said, “Oh, I want to take a picture.” He said, “Here, I’ll hold it.” Then he proceeded to make that face….which was truly just to mock my picture from the airport.
Johnny is awesome! He knows quite a bit of English, and it’s fun to converse with him. I’ll have to take a picture of his shop, because if I call it a restaurant it paints the wrong picture. It’s just an open-front room really, and his grill is right at the front. He just stands there and cooks orders all night. I haven’t had a hamburger yet, but I hear they’re fabulous.
I feel like I painted a bad picture of what our food experience has been like thus far with my market posting. We’ve actually had Chinese food, Pizza, Johnny’s, and a really nice steak restaurant. And they’re all REALLY good! We are not deprived in the least. The best part is how cheap it all is. :-) That tablita you saw is about $3.50. That’s also why Dwight is smiling like that.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Oh my goodness! This is Ruby singing 'Jesus Loves Me.' We had to start the video over, and she started singing a different song when we started recording. :-) She came to the orphanage about a year ago, and she spoke very little at that point. Isn't she adorable!?!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Immediately after being introduced to the workmen, they decided to change Dwight’s name to something else. Dwight is very difficult for the Ecuadorians to say. They suggested Diego, and I vetoed that…..all I can think of is Dora & Diego! They came up with all sorts of ridiculous names until I suggested they just call him by his middle name. So, Dwight now answers to Jonathan from all the Ecuadorians. They pronounce it with a very soft “j” sound, sometimes almost like a “y.”

Hopefully he’ll be able to post more on his work whenever he gets a chance to spend some time on the internet. I snapped a few pictures when I visited the work site the other day. The guy in the picture with Dwight is Pedro. He’s on a salary through the orphanage, and he coordinates the building site. He and Dwight have really had a fun time getting to know each other, and Dwight’s Spanish is improving daily. There isn’t anyone out there with him who speaks English, so he’s learning the fastest way- total immersion.

I’m amazed at the ways they adapt different materials to make things we take for granted. They keep everything they’ve used once, and they can find so many uses for them over and over again! Construction here is quite different in the states, so it’s interesting to watch them work. If you’ve never worked with concrete like this, you should come down and give it a try.
It’s quite humorous to watch Dwight with all of the guys. When they’re walking down the street, it looks like a man with some kids. Ecuadorians are generally much smaller, so Dwight looks like their Dad. One of the first days on the work site….Dwight picked up something heavy on one end by himself, and a couple of them grabbed the other one. Their eyes got big, and they kept saying “Grande Americano!”
These are the other 3 guys that work them pretty regularly. They love to joke around with Dwight....I mean- Jonathan.

Patti Sue took this pic of the Grande Americano at work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig....

Sorry for the delay in postings!!! We have been having internet issues, but I hope to catch up soon.

This past Sunday we got up and went to the market with Patti Sue and Inez. Inez is kind of like the ‘head Tia’ at the orphanage, and we’re going to start doing Spanish/English lessons soon! So, the market…. There is a huge outdoor market in Puyo, a town larger than Shell about 10 minutes from Shell. They go every Sunday morning around 6:00 to buy the majority of everything they will need to feed 50 kids for one week. It’s an interesting process.

We probably won’t go on a regular basis, but it was fun to go this first time. Dwight took this picture up high for me. There were about 4 more areas this size, all connected. It was craziness. Some people go to the closest ‘big city’ to buy fruit, and then they re-sell it at the market. There are others who grow it themselves and come from all over to sell there.

Oh man…this was great. This guy saw that I had my camera, and he told Inez that he wanted me to take a picture of him to take back to the United States. assured him I would share the picture. I It was hilarious. Here he is posing with his goods….. When I showed him the picture on my camera, he was VERY proud.

Oh my… These are some kind of massive worms that they cook and eat. You can't tell by the picture, but they're about an inch or more in diameter. (gag) No, thank you.

I love this picture as well. Patti Sue wasn’t impressed with the size of these chickens. I wish I had a better picture, because the heads are still attached…you just can’t see them in this one.

Hence the title of this blog entry. :-) Apparently you just walk up…pick whatever chunk you want, and they machete it off for you. So simple.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We're finally here!!!

Wow! I (Tandy) can’t believe we’re here, and this is real! We wanted to do this blog to keep our family and friends updated and also as a type of journal for us to keep in the future. I apologize in advance for the incredibly detailed accounts….we just want to remember everything!!! Also, please excuse the appearance of the blog for now….I just wanted to get the basics up, so we could start posting.
I’m going to start at the beginning, Tuesday, March 10th, when we left home. – God’s just been so good, and everything has fallen into place at just the right time. At the last minute when we were packing, we found out that we would be able to qualify for “military baggage allowance,” which is 3 bags, each up to 70lbs., per person. Apparently, Continental was not aware that their website stated this was applicable for military personnel on personal travel. :-) I wouldn’t be surprised if the policy is changed because of us. Their hands were kind of tied, because we had the printout from the internet! Anyway…we were able to bring ALL of the donations that people have given us!! We thought we were only going to get to bring a few books and toys, but we brought it all. Thank you so much to all of you who donated things for the kids at the orphanage. I’ll try to take pictures of the kids with the items and post them later.
Dwight’s parents and my mom were great and helped us make it to the airport on time. Here they are waving to us through the window as we checked in….(They were really just waiting to make sure we got through with all of our extra baggage. Ha!)

We were also fortunate to get the only non-stop flight available to Quito, and it just happened to be the cheapest one as well! Thank you again, God. ~ I was so giddy at this point I was being obnoxious. Poor Dwight. Here’s a couple of pics of us while we’re waiting to board the plane. Take note of the difference in our expressions. I made Dwight wear a money belt under his pants, and this is the face he made every time he tried to get something out of it. (When I say I ‘made’ him…you know that just means I ‘asked’ him to, but made it clear that I would be really upset if he didn’t comply.) It still makes me laugh out loud to think of it! He had to keep getting his passport out, and he was not amused. My favorite time was when we were on the plane, and he was in the middle seat and couldn’t get his passport out of the belt without arching his body up in the air. Fun times…I was laughing so hard. –If you notice my picture, I didn’t mind the money belt one bit.
So we arrived in Quito around 9:15 pm on Tuesday night, and Patti Sue (who runs the orphanage) was there to pick us up. It was so good to see her again! She had a taxi van waiting, so we loaded up and headed to the Mission Guest House. There is a couple who runs the guest house, and they provide lodging for all sorts of groups and individuals who are traveling through Quito on missions. It is so nice to have somewhere to settle in right after you get off the plane! Our room....
We got up in the morning and had a wonderful breakfast, and we were able to meet a few others who are involved in different areas of mission work. I’m always so fascinated to hear everyone’s stories about where they’ve been and where they’re going.

Patti Sue had driven her van to pick us up, so we loaded that up and headed to Shell. It’s only about 150 miles, but it takes about 4.5 to 5 hours. It’s quite the fun ride. ~ We stopped at a ridiculously huge store in Quito to get some groceries….they have everything that Super Wal-Mart has, PLUS what a Sears Home Store has. It was crazy…. I’m attaching a picture because it’s kind of surreal to me.
We got to meet Tracy as well, whose husband is an MAF pilot. Mission Aviation Fellowship is a pretty big ministry, and some of you might be familiar with Nate Saint, who was an MAF pilot that was killed along with 4 other missionaries. ~ Tracy rode back from Quito with us, and we had a blast getting to know her. About half-way we picked up Kris and Joy…Dwight now had 4 women in the car with him! :-) Kris and her husband, Shedd, are our landlords. They live on the top story of their home, and we are renting out the bottom floor. They have been living here in Ecuador doing mission work for a long time, and we can’t wait to get to know them better. Kris has been so sweet and accommodating as we’ve been trying to get settled. They have 2 grown children in the states and their son, David, still lives here with them. David has Down’s Syndrome, and he is awesome!! We got to meet him last night, and he was so much fun.
I mentioned that Joy was with her as well. Joy is 18, and she’s currently living in another city in Ecuador working on her Spanish in language school. She’s just visiting Shell right now, but she’s already fallen in love with this community. Hopefully we’ll see her again in the near future! A group from her home church in Minnesota is visiting here in Shell, so we were able to meet some of them as well.

Back to the van ride....So,all of us talked our heads off until we arrived in Shell. We dropped our bags off in our house and headed out to the work site with Patti Sue. We are so excited, because Jim (a contractor from Canada) is still here!! He’s been down for 3 months, and we thought we were going to miss him by a day. We met him at the site, and he took us on a little tour. He is awesome about explaining everything to Dwight, and it’s such a gift that they’re getting to spend a little time together! Dwight met Jim at the property this morning at 8:00, and he’s going to try to get all the info. he can for when Jim isn’t here! Construction is completely different down here, so there is so much to learn. Dwight said it’s a good thing he doesn’t know anything about construction to begin with, because now he doesn’t have any habits to break. ha! I’ll be sure to take some pictures of the site next time I’m out. So much has been done since I was here in July!
We visited the orphanage briefly after we got back, and I just can’t even describe how good it felt. There are just no words for how beautiful these little ones are. The big kids loved Dwight, and he could barely pull them off of him when we had to leave. Don’t worry…I know there will be tons of pictures of the kids as time goes by. :-)

We spent our first night in the house we’ll be staying in, and it is awesome! We are so blessed, it’s unbelievable. This house is so big for the two of us, and it’s very nice. I haven’t taken any pictures, but I’ll do so once we get settled in. I have a lot of unpacking to do!
We had breakfast this morning before Dwight headed out, and then I was able to sit and have some quiet time. I had a hard time then, and I’m having a hard time now trying to put into words what I feel. Everything just feels right….like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. It is such a freeing feeling, and I’m so glad we’re finally here. I’m also just overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness! I turned to the Psalms to try to find something that could put words to what I was feeling…..

“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” Ps. 119:32

“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!” Ps. 47:1-2 This one just made me think of where we are…in a different nation, but one where we’re still surrounded by people who have a heart for the Lord. He is the great King over all the earth, and that truth is never clearer than when you are in a foreign country.

Thank you for bearing with me on this incredibly long first entry! :-) I hope Dwight will get a chance to write soon, because I’m sure he will have a rebuttal on the whole money belt thing.