Interludes

Hello, all!  I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of my own experiences during our first couple weeks in Ecuador.  Doug has done such a great job of sharing about things here that I haven’t taken the time like I’ve meant to to put down some of my own musings.  So here is an extended interlude to his entries.

One of the things that’s stood out to me since we arrived is the unexpectedness of life here.  We’ve often commented to each other about how often we have set out with some sort of ‘agenda’ for the day (maybe find a dining table, set up internet, and get our office keys) only to come to the end of the day and realize we pretty much accomplished what we’d set out to, but never in the way we anticipated or intended.  It’s often more work or takes longer or is challenging in some other way.  Sometimes, this can be really frustrating!  Yet, often the unexpectedness can also come in the form of surprise blessings or unanticipated moments of joy.  They still alter the course of the day and they’re still interruptions, but they can be really good ones.  They’re not so much interruptions as they are interludes.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorites:

Phone calls

The various phones in our apartment – local line, gate buzzer, Vonage, and cell phones.

We have a local land line/home phone in our apartment for the first time in years, but we haven’t given the number to anyone here yet since often our cell phone numbers are more useful.  Since we moved in, though, this phone has rung a few times, seeming to always catch us at the most inconvenient times… Dinner’s ready – ring, ring!… Winding down for the evening – ring, ring!… Just got out of bed in the morning – ring!  Interruptions.  A couple have been wrong numbers, but the rest have been the landlord’s mother who lives on the floor below us.  She’s a very vigilant lady, not the nicest to people she doesn’t know but helpful and friendly once she decides you’re trustworthy.  Last night she called right after we got home from a long day at the school and weren’t much in the mood to talk to anyone else.  I was quickly chagrined at my internal sigh when I realized she had called to inform us that she had called the gas delivery guy and paid to have our empty tanks exchanged for full ones so we could have hot water in our bathroom and kitchen as well as a working stove.  Great news!  I don’t know when we would have ever found time to do this ourselves.  Oh, and that by the way she had arranged to have our washer and dryer installed and hooked up in the laundry area on the roof that day so we could do our laundry whenever we needed to.  We had asked her about this only a couple days ago and here it was suddenly finished – a turn around speed that is virtually unheard of in this country!  Music to our ears and a welcome ‘interruption.’  Another morning the phone rang just as I got out of bed and she was calling to ask if she could come up so we could help her choose a card in English to give to her little granddaughter for her birthday.  I sighed and threw on some clothes just in time to open the door for her and translate the various cards she held out to me.  She decide which would work and which wouldn’t (the ‘get well’ card was quickly eliminated) and gratefully went on her way.  I chuckled to myself as I closed the door - I wasn’t thrilled with the unexpected visit, but I realized that we have a real neighbor!  My goodness, we had tried for months to get to know our neighbors in Seattle to no avail.  And here we were a couple days after moving into our apartment here and these two gringos were already getting to know our Ecuadorian neighbor, Diana, who was proving to be a blessing to us as well.  Ring!  Interruptions turned surprise interludes.

Urban Beauty

Beautiful Quito at sunset from our apartment window.

The other night we were invited over to one of the current teacher’s houses for dinner.  She lives way up the hill from the school and after making the trek up there we then had to climb multiple staircases interwoven with walls and gates to get up to her apartment.  It was really a unique building, but looked pretty old and run down and had quite a maze of passageways.  When we walked through her door, though, she invited us into a lovely, inviting apartment with plenty of color and character – not what I would have expected when we rang the bell at the gate downstairs!  While I was exclaiming over the lovely touches of wood and paint, she led us out onto a plain cement balcony.  But looking up and out I encountered the most incredible view of the city that I have seen yet.  Before us we could see across the valley of buildings and trees, with the mountains behind and beside and the sun shedding a soft glow over the streets below as it set behind the hills.  This city can feel like a maze of concrete, exhaust, and debris sometimes, yet the big picture of this place is absolutely gorgeous.  I lingered long in this interlude before heading inside, grateful for the birds’ eye view of our new home and the reminder of the millions of lives that inhabit it.

Church

English Fellowship Church (EFC) from the balcony.

Our first weekend here we were pretty exhausted, emotionally and physically, from the long days of getting oriented and searching on foot for basic living needs.  We had planned to go to church and had decided to go to English Fellowship Church (EFC) where we already knew a few people.  I didn’t think much more of it as we set off on tired feet down the few blocks to the church, figuring it would be a fairly typical Sunday.  I had no idea what a profound blessing it would be to sit in those chairs that morning!  A few minutes after arriving I was greeted with the most joyful embrace from the pastor of the church whom I had known during high school, and for a few moments we celebrated together the incredible and unexpected plan God had to bring me back to serve in this place almost 10 years after a rather uncertain and challenging departure.  As Doug and I sat in the back row throughout the service, it was incredible to look out over a truly diverse gathering of people and lives.  I had long wished to attend a church like that in the U.S., but the ones we’ve felt called to the past several years just haven’t had that diverse demographic.  Much of the service was conducted in both English and Spanish and the worship and sermon that followed spoke to my heart in precise and welcome ways – about hope, purpose, and passion that re-infused me with joy and anticipation that the hours and miles of walking and equatorial sun had withered away the previous several days.  God was present and gave the gift of an interlude that morning that reminded me why we’re here, why it matters, and to Whom we belong.  Every step of those blocks to church had been worth walking.

I suppose you could call these experiences a shift in perspective, but really I wasn’t expecting or trying to have a positive attitude – God just surprised me by turning the moment upside down and renewing my drive for living and serving in this country and community.  No doubt there will be many more interludes to come!

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angela August 23, 2012 Uncategorized