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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Baa Baa Black Sheep Have You Any Wool?

Week of March 21st
Ok, so it wasn't black but it did have over three bags full! On Tuesday we walked down the valley to Chilcapamba to Juana's house. We had earlier helped her wash her sheep, and now it was a perfect day to take some shears to it. We met Juana at her parents place and were fed a hot breakfast of salty oatmeal mixed with potatoes, barley flour, and a piece of beef. We ate as we sat in the building that functions as a cooking area, 'kitchen' would not be the word to describe the cement block building with open windows, no doors, and a fire on the floor. Juana's dad hurried us to finish our meal. We stepped back outside onto their cement patio where he had tied the sheep. We pushed it onto it's side and tied it's feet together. Then came the process of slowly but surely cutting the wool off of the sheep, making sure we kept it all in one large piece. We used kitchen scissors, and with two and sometimes three of us working on it we got the whole sheep sheared in two hours. Larry got there half way through the shearing. On the way back up the hill we got to talk more with Juana and learn some more culture. For example, a person only greets another person if that person is already married. Otherwise it can be taken as an insult that they should be married. This came up as I, meaning to be friendly greeted a young woman we passed along the road. She only gave me a strange, blank stare. Juana laughed and told us this custom of theirs. "How do you know if they're married?" I inquired, since in the rest of the country it is considered more rude to -not- greet someone. "Sometimes you just don't," she said. I asked, "So then you don't greet people you don't know yet?"
"That's right." It seems like it's not easy to get to know new people then, if you can't greet those you don't know. But lucky for us, the church members know are not so strict with this cultural rule and so we can easily get to know them better.

Who would have thought?!
All in day in Salasaca.

washing the sheep

Shearing the sheep

A LOT of wool!

still alive and kicking!

Week of March 28th
More youth came than expected to Jonathan's Sunday school class. We knew that more youth were showing up each time, so we printed more material than we thought we needed. We needed much more, for there were 22 students. Jonathan taught about the components of the Gospel mentioned in 1 Corinthians: Christ died on the cross, was burried, ascended into heaven, and then returned with over 500 witnesses. The spanish words for Evangelical and Gospel are very similar, so the youth previously were confusing the terms and not grasping the Gospel. I think Jonathan's message really helped-- we at least pray that it has.

After church, we left for Shell. Shell is farther south from Salasaca, and it is just right outside of the jungle. This is where Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, and the other 3 martrys lived. There are tons of missionary families living in shell with most of them working with Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) of the hospital system. Kris and Shedd, the other translator family we are working with, live in Shell because of the lower elevation for their son.

On Monday, Jonathan and I woke up to a thunderstorm with rain pelting the tin roof. This is one of our favorite sounds, so we were both in heaven. We went in the morning to the Nate Saint school for missionary kids. This is a K-5 school where most of the missionary kids attend. They did a neat little Easter program. Afterwards, we met several Moody graduates who are now serving in Ecuador. They were excited to meet Jonathan and I to exchange Moody experiences. Afterwards, Kris taught Jonathan and I a lot about the different projects she is working on for Salasaca. One of the things she does it take old Arch books (well over 100 different books that tell different Bible stories for kids) and translates them into Quicha. Other than what the translation team has done in Salasacan Quicha, there is little to no reading material available in their langauge. These books give a little easier of a read in preparation for reading the Bible.

We were also able to get a tour of the MAF hanger. This was the highlight of our time in Shell. MAF transports missionaries into the Jungle to do ministry and humanitarian project. They also fly the extremely sick and injured villagers out of the jungle to receive medical attention. While we were there, we heard something that really tugged on our heart strings: pretty soon there will be no missionary families that are living full time in the Jungle's interior. The one family who is there now, will be returning to the states soon—she has cancer. Jonathan and I both felt the impulse to jump on a plane and go to the interior and stay there. We both have the desire to serve in the jungle, but we are trying to discern wheither it is God's desire or our own. Maybe it is both! We still have a lot of praying to do about the whole subject. Plus, we are thrilled and excited about our time in Ohio with Jonathan's grandmother. So we think God is being intentionally vague right now.

We had a tour of the hospital on Tuesday morning. While there are medical missionaries serving in the hospital, they are slowly trying to transition it over to the Ecuadorians. Thankfully, the hospital wasn't full, but the clinic was very busy. After our tour, we helped out with the Arch books. We cut the labels that will go over the English text. We then caught a bus to take the Waskosky's son's tutor to Quito. Sadly, she would be flying out the next afternoon. It was almost a 6 hour bus ride. Thankfully, this bus ride didn't end with us being green, but we did have a fun little experience. Oftentimes, someone will get on the bus and act like the person who collects the fairs. Once he's gotten your money, he exits the bus. Generally, the conned passenger doesn't realize it until he or she is later asked for his or her fare. This happened to two people on our bus. When they were asked to pay, they got extremely mad, because they had already “paid.” We ended up having to pull over and have a cop get involved. Suprisingly, the cop sided with the bus. He said something along othe lines of “Don't you ever travel? You should know better!” Thank you Jonathan for translating the yelling.

Larry had arranged for us to meet with Rick Ashman. He is very knoweledgable of the different dialect of Quichua. He has studdied them all and is currently working on identifying their grammar system. He has also created a Quichua spell checker that will be extremely helpful for the Salasacan Bible. Rick has taken the time to identify all the different possible suffixes and combinations in Quichua. There are 19 different suffix slots that can be added to a Quicha root word. Quichua is an extremely derivational langugae, so just adding a suffix can completely change the meaning of the word. As a result of these 19 different suffix slots, there are well over a TRILLION possible Quichua words. Rick once added 14 different suffixes to one word and used it in a sentence. The Quichua man he was talking to said that the word fit well. No wonder Jonathan and I are only touching the surface of Quichua.

In Ecuador they take off a lot of time for Easter. They generally have Thursday through Sunday off. As a result, Jonathan and I caught a bus to Latacunga to spend some time with his family. It took us about the same amount of time to get to the bus station as it did to take the bus from Quito to Latacunga. They moved the station further south, so it also cost more to travel through Quito than it did to travel 6 hours—crazy!

Jonathan and I have learned a ton this past week, and we also have a lot to pray about. We have been discussing and praying whether we should go somewhere where there is an already established missionary family and help with their work or go where missionaries are not. The first option would allow us to be more “effective” early on because the missionaries experience would save us a term's worth of cultural learning. All of this in hopes that the people will be reached, and that there will no longer be a need for missionaries in that community. The second option: starting a new field somewhere where the people haven't really been reached and where no missionaries are currently working, is also necessary. The jungle situation both caught our attention. We know that this type of experience would present much bigger challenges in language and culture learning. It wouldn't allow us to be as “effective” early on. We also would be alone. Paul wanted to go where the gospel hadn't been preached, and we are more than willing to go wherever God leads. The problem with all of this is that God doesn't call us based of “effectiveness.” In fact, we can't be effective in missions! It is all God's doing in the first place. Jonathan and I just toying with these two options and asking God's eventual guidance and direction on the subject. We don't know how far away we are from the mission field, but we want to be prayerful about it now. Please pray with us as we seek the Lord's guidance. Thanks:)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We don't mean to bug you...

Friday morning, Jonathan woke up at 5:30 with a stomach ache. It was so bad, that he had to stay in bed all day. We really don't know what it could be from, but we are guessing that it either has something to do with the Ecuadorian Pizza or water. Considering Jonathan was out for the day, I had quite the experiences. I had to take our bike--which has a permanently flat tire and the chain comes off the gear every 5 minutes-- into town to make copies of our language lesson. I'm proud to say that despite the embarrassment caused by the bike, I was able to get the copies I needed and a Sprite for Jonathan with my Spanish skills. It was quite an endeavor because I had to follow directions to another copy center because the place we went before was closed.
In addition to using my Spanish there, I also met with Bertha, our Language teacher, for an hour. I had to communicate instructions to her with my mad pointing skills and Spanglish. Somehow, it worked out. I was rather happy about it, so I had a huge smile on my face when I walked into the other room in the translation center. The two co-translators, Nacey and Juana, asked Larry how I could be so happy when my husband was sick. It made me laugh.
After doing some translation things-- going over Idioms in James-- I was able to spend some time taking care of my sick husband. Then we had Kid's Club. 14 kids from the community showed up. We played boardgames, soccer, kickball, read a Bible Story, and handed out vitamins. It was a lot of fun. Half-way through Kid's Club, though, my stomach started aching... Not the BUG! Jonathan and I went to bed soon afer Kid's club to kill the thing.
Saturday we celebrated our one month anniversary by drinking this nasty, chalky medicine to help our stomachs. The place we are staying lacks comfortable seating, and we were tired of laying in bed. So we decided to go to his house in Latacunga. This meant hitch hiking to the center of town. It was my first hitch hiking experience, and I was so happy! We then tried to catch a bus, but they are doing construction on the major road by Salasaca. So we ended up paying a truck to take us to the next town to catch a bus there. Crowded, stuffy buses was not the best idea for our stomachs. For some reason, Ecuadorians believe that if you open your window to have a draft that you will get sick. Not having the windows open made Jonathan and I even more sick. Once we reached Ross's and Mary's, it took us a while to lose our green tent. We spent the rest of Saturday catching up and playing Ticket to Ride.
Today, Sunday, was another full day. We went to the Quichua church here in Salasaca. Last Sunday they were complaining that no one had prepared "special music." This week, Jonathan played a Spanish song that is similar to "Better is one day in your house." After worship, Jonathan and I met with the youth for Sunday school. There were 16 teens who showed up. We went over the Gospel, and how it is something that we need to be really familiar with. They had a lot of questions and were very interactive. After the lesson, one of the girls asked if we could have a Bible Study on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. She wanted to learn specifically about dancing in the Bible. We agreed to Tuesday and Thursday, and we said we would see about Friday. Dancing is a big issue in the church right now. Teenagers are discouraged to go to social gatherings that include dancing. Please pray for Jonathan and I to be able to clarify what Scripture has to say but to not go against the church leaders. This could be very complicated, so we would greatly appreciate your prayers.
After church, we went with the Salays to the country side. My stomach was still bothering me, and I really debated going. We hiked for about 2 hours to see these beautiful views and lakes at 13,000 feet. It was really fun, but my stomach isn't too happy now. Tomorrow is a whole other full day, so hopefully both of our stomachs will be better.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Where are you going? This standard greeting in Salasaca is rolling around in my head with about a dozen others like a song that, no matter what, you can't get out of your head. Language learning has bee really good and my comprehension and speaking abilities have jumped an enormous amount since we've been here in the past less-than-a-week. Maggie and I helped wash one of the Co-translator's sheep in a ditch so that they could shear it in several days. We each held a leg, and one man held the sheep by the ears, and there it was, laying on it's back as we scrubbed it with laundry soap (Which I reflectively thought appropriate). That was a very neat new experience. I have been working on a study to give to the youth on Sunday--we'll be going over basics of Christianity, starting with what the Gospel is all about. I feel like this is an ambigous term for so many people, when it is the core of our faith! So we will be covering Rom 1:1-6 this week, and probably part of 1 Cor 15 next week. I'm looking forward to it, but am nervous as well.

In other news, Maggie is NOT pregnant, contrary to comments on my facebook wall. My old buddies from work (and I usually with them) tend to spread rumors about people's single/married/engaged status quite boistrously (if thats a word) and this is my friends, well, being my friends. Love you guys. That's kinda what's been going on here and all I really feel like writing tonight. God bless and tupungachi!

I had written a post 2 nights ago that was quite detailed, but somehow it is forever lost in cyberspace. Our time in Salasaca has been anything but boring. We have learned a ton since we have been here. Quichua learning is going extrememly well, but also slow. We are using a different approach called the "Growing Participator Approach." This approach focuses more on comprehension than speaking. Jonathan and I now have around 100 words that we can recognize and comprehend. It is kind of funny, because we can pick up a couple of words in people's conversations about sheep, coming, going, cows, and a couple of other things. I have a terrible memory, and there is no way that I could have learned 100 words by using my rote memory. I'm happy with this new approach despite all the ambiguity it brings.

Jonathan told you about washing the sheep, which is one of my favorite activities so far. I have also enjoyed all the linguistic elements. We have learned all about all the changes in the Salasaca Quichua dialect. I have also learned the Quicha alphabet and some of its suffixes. Quichua words tend to be really long because they put suffixes on everything to add to the meaning of the word. It has been fun trying to figure them out.

Tonight we went over to the house of the missionaries we are working with. We had a lot of fun eating pizza and playing Ticket to Ride. It has been really neat to see another missionary family that deals with a whole other area of missions.

Please be praying for us to develop relationships with the people. Linguistics isn't always as interactive as Jonathan and I would like. Please be praying for the Salasacans who are working on the translations. They have an important task of communicating God's Word. Also, please pray for Jonathan and I to find jobs when we return back to the States. I was sent an email yesterday about interviewing for a job that saw my resume posted online. I told them I am out of the country and won't be back till May 1st. I don't know yet if they will let me do a phone interview. Thank you for your support and prayers through this learning experience.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Honey, I'm home!

At last, we are finally in Salasaca, Ecaudor. I have been waiting to do my internship for quite a while, and it officially started today. We left Latacunga Saturday afternoon to drive down to Ambato, where the missionaries we are working with live (they are the Salay family). We had dinner with them before heading over to our little place in Manzanapamba Chico area of Salasaca. Manazanapamba Chico means "the small apple valley". It is so beautiful here; as far as you can see are little fields of crops and little homes. It is great.
Today we went to the Quichua church service. Shedd and Chris Waskosky, two other missionsaries, took us to church. It was suppposed to start at nine, but when we arrived at 9:05, we were the first to arrive. The service actually started about 20 minutes later. I'm glad I will never be late. More and more people arrived as the service proceeded.
We sang several songs in Spanish and Quichua. Jonathan and Larry did a good job of letting me know some of the lyrics. We clapped a lot, and I was glad to have some means of participating. There was also plenty to see-- a man with a large stick was chasing out the dogs roaming the sanctuary. Back to a spiritual note, they also had 2 long times of prayer, and it was so neat to hear so many Quichua voices being raised up to God. One of the missionaries read a passage from the Salasaca Quichua Bible. It was so neat to later hear the pastor say how much easier the Bible was to understand when it was in his own language. Then came the sermon, which was lead by a Quichua pastor. He is an older man, who just completed his high school diploma. His sermon was about Jesus choosing His people and providing for them. Larry kept us up with most of the points.
After the sermon was an offering and announcements. Larry stood up and introduced us. He told them what we would be doing while in Salasaca. He also gave Jonathan a chance to speak. I honestly don't know what Jonathan said, but I smiled really nice and laughed when I though appropriate. Hopefully I will learn some of the langauge soon in order to avoid being oblivious. The service ended with some more worship time in both Spanish and Quichua.
After the service, Jonathan and I met with the youth in the church community. There were about 12 of them, and they said that they were interested in doing some type of Bible study. The church is currently in the process of trying to build up a youth program. They have an out-of-town pastor meet with the youth leaders to train them. Right now they only have four of the six leaders they need. The whole conversation with the youth was another one of my oblivious moments. Jonathan spoke in Spanish, and Guillermo, the worship leader, clarified in Quichua. I could understand about half of what Jonathan was saying... I think my Spanish has improved in the past couple of days.
After church, we went with the Salays out to eat and to the grocery store. Ecuador has amazing prices on food. Jonathan and I spend just under $20 and got most of what we will need for the next several days. Yeah for being able to afford food! After the grocery store, we went to a park and played with the Salay's two kids for two hours. It was such a beautiful day.
I write you now after having a wonderful dinner of pancakes and eggs. It is great to have a place of our own. I can't wait till tomorrow when the linguistic part of our internship starts.

Last night when we got in to the translation center (where our little apartment is) I was pleasantly surprised to find that it has a decent amount of room. Though, after living in Culby for 4 years, that not necessarily saying too much. When you walk in the door to the building you come right into the translation room where Larry works. A curtain separates this from the rest of the apartment. Going behind the curtain you would find yourself in a small kitchen with a small fridge and a full size stove with a broken oven-- but all four burners work! Who's complaining? This opens into the sitting area with a couch, two chairs, and a tiny tv and dvd player where we could watch movies if we had any. Against one of the walls is a bunk bed which is functioning as a storage shelf for other missionaries. The bathroom and bedroom are off of this room.

Church this morning was pretty much what I have experienced in a typical Quichua church service, although the speakers weren't blared too much, and pastor Carlos smiled a lot when he preached. Everyone, even the older folks looked me in the eye when they said hello, which is not typical, as the Quichua people have a long history of being more servants than equals until 50 years ago, and looking someone in the eye was considered more of a challenge than courtesy.

I must say I was nervous when Larry handed me the mic after introducing us in church. I wasn't sure what I should say. Only an hour ago what I had thought meant "God bless you" in Quichua I had found out meant "May God not bless you." Oops...........

So I said hello in Quichua (which is about 1/7 of what I know) and told everyone that we were really glad to be there.

Speaking with the youth after the service was great, although I was quite nervous. I don't know much about these students and what they are facing at all (Although Larry and I talked about it later in the day). I could't speak their first language (Someone had to clarify what I was saying a couple times), and I only had another 5 weeks to do something with them. In one of our youth ministry classes we wrote out a Description of a Discipled Person (DDP) which is pretty much all the things what we invision a person we've discipled learning. My DDP would probably take around 2-3 years to complete. What can I give in 5 weeks? I might just be learning their names! We meet next Sunday for a Bible study (on I don't know what yet--Please Pray!), and I hope that by the time we're done here I can at least have everyone's name learned!

Friday, March 12, 2010


Salasaca is located South of Ambato on the way to the city of Banos. According to The Joshua Project there are 16,000 Salasacan Quichuas, and we know that there are only two evangelical churches. The majority of the area is syncretistic Roman Catholic. For the linguists out there, Salasacan Quichua is lexically distinct from Chimborazo Quichua (who already have a Bible in their language). For the rest of us, this means that the vocabulary of the two dialects of Quichua is different, resulting in the need of a Bible translation specific to the Salasacan Quichua people.

The Bible translation project began 20+ years ago, and it is this project that Maggie will be working with. The two missionary families in the translation team are the only missionaries working with the Salasacan Quichua people and the church.

Maggie and I are excited to work with these missionaries in the translation project and the church. We hope to learn a lot about a new culture, new language, and the same God who loves them, us, and you.


Are We There Yet?

Jonathan and I have now been married for 20 days, and we have been traveling since we left the Church. First it was to Florida for the wonderful honeymoon, then to Georgia to pack up the rest of my things. Then it was a trip up to northwest Georgia to explore a cave. Then 6 hours later, we were in Ohio for a few nights... just long enough to unpack from Georgia, pull or stuff out of storage, and pack again. Finally, we made it to Ecuador on Tuesday evening.
We are so thankful to be here in Ecuador for me to complete my internship. I am just 6 weeks away from graduating and couldn't be more excited. We are both ecstatic about doing my internship in Salasaca. I will be able to do some linguistics work, and Jonathan will get to work with the church. It couldn't be a better match. We can't wait till Saturday when we actually get to settle down for a little while.
We hope that this blog will allow you to be a part of our trip and allow God to teach you as He teaches us. Thank you in advance for your prayers and encouragement as we enter all these new experiences... newly married, new to Salasaca, new to the Quichua language, and Ecuador being new to me.


My Spanish was rusty last night as I talked with my old friend Marcos. I found myself hesitating every third sentence or so, and racking my brain for words that I had stored somewhere in my head, but refused to come out again.

Almost four years ago I left Ecuador to go to school at Moody in Chicago. Now I'm delighted to be able to come back for my new wife's internship. But even after living in Ecuador for some 12-13 years, this will be a new experience for me!