Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ecuador, Part 1, Guayaquil, Ventanas, Santo Domingo, Esmeraldas, LDS Missionaries, Quito

Ecuador Part 1

After Peru, Melissa and I flew over to Ecuador where we served our year and a half missions together 30 years ago. I had never been back but she has been several times and has kept up her Spanish. I tried to get mine back and it was coming along but then we came home:) Just not quite enough time. I could understand everything but had a difficult time getting what I wanted to say across sometimes. I learned the language well enough to be mistaken as a native on the telephone 30 years ago so I was a little disappointed that it didn't come back faster. This trip was just so amazing for me. It was a walk down memory lane, a renewal of old relationships, a cultural vacation since we stayed with locals, a remembrance of the blessings we have with living in the United States of America and an opportunity to see some of the difference we made in working to bring people we loved to Christ. We also brought two of our daughters down to share in this amazing journey and I think changed them a little bit (see part 2).


We got picked up at the airport in Guayaquil by Carmen Eres, and Flor and her children who we were going to be staying with in Ventanas. Carmen was Melissa's companion but I remember her from being in my zone in the mission. She went with us on our entire trip and was just so much fun to have along! It was her first vacation ever since she could never afford it. She also got us a driver for the entire two weeks who was also awesome. His name was Nefi and he put up with a lot from all of us women!

Unfortunately I got sick on the airplane from Peru to Ecuador. I was getting laryngeal spasms about every 20 minutes for the first three days. It's from acid reflux and my throat closes off and I can't breathe for a few minutes. This happens to me rarely but I can usually control it with prescription cough medicine. I didn't bring any with me. Needless to say the first few days were miserable. Before I left the States, I found out a neighbor of mine from a few years ago had a son serving a mission in Ecuador but I didn't think I would get an opportunity to see him. His older brother was a friend of my son Rex. Anyway, when we got to the De La Cuadra's home where we were staying, I asked her to call the missionaries to come and give me a blessing. Guess who showed up? Elder Blackhurst of course. Of the 10 missionaries serving in Ventanas, he just happened to be the one serving in the area where we stayed. Missionaries cannot leave their area's so I consider this a tender mercy from Heavenly Father. I know this a terrible picture of me but it's a great story so I had to put it up. Love those missionaries out there serving 24/7!

We got to do our laundry from the trek!

Sister De La Cuadra was excited for us to be able to use her new washing machine. There wasn't anything like this back when
On Sunday I was much better and we got to see the Elders again at church. I sent this picture to his mom

This was a chapel I went to while a missionary! See the two woman between Melissa and me? Here they are thirty years ago. Lilliam Plum and her mother was my momita. She served us lunch everyday

Beautiful women!

Flor was one of Melissa's baptisms and we stayed a couple of days with her and her family. She gave us her and husbands bedroom which was the only air conditioned room we were in for the first week. They were just like that. They would give you the shirt off your back if they thought you would take it!

We went to see our pension where we lived as missionaries. I didn't serve there at the same time as Melissa but we both lived there. Its the corner, middle apartment with nice big windows. We had some huge rats there but I just got used to them

Lets go back 30 years!

And this was the inside with my sweet companion Hermana Cedeno

This is the entrance to the pencion and I am pretty sure I have a picture of a spider bigger than my hand with my hand by it somewhere in this entrance but couldn't find it

This is a new addition to the city and I love it!

I remember taking pictures off this bridge

Flashback: Back then a lot of women would wash their clothing in the river and then dry it on the ground. That's all they had

At least the streets were a lot cleaner
Flashback: Some things don't change

Batido's saved us in the mission, They were cold in the hot, humid climate and so delicious. This is the son of the man we used to buy them from. It was so fun that we found them and they were still selling. It's fruit, ice and a little sugar. My favorite was the pineapple

Ecuador was the largest exporter of bananas back then. It still might be

If you look carefully you can see the snake head coming out of the water and the body. And yes we still went swimming!

I was brave enough to go first but then I didn't let go until I was back at the rocks and just in time. Melissa was so mad at me because she thought I killed myself. I might be not have been thinking clearly but at least I am coordinated:)

Some little girls were bathing when we left

Cacao pod or chocolate we saw as we were leaving

Batido stand just like the old days

We drank this yogurt drink non stop. It was so yummy! And this was the TIA store where we use to shop

Not a great picture but I went with Flor that night to do Zumba at the town square. They kick the boys off the sports square and lead the women in a Zumba class every night. It was a man teaching and he worked for the government. Afterwards Flor was teaching me some salsa

Flashback: I didn't see any of these anywhere

What we didn't know when we went swimming was that there are little tiny bugs that bite you and if you scratch the bites they get more and more irritated. I didn't scratch mine at all. They were way worse than mosquito bites

Santo Domingo

We only stopped in one place in Santo Domingo and that was to drop off some missionary clothing for this boy leaving on his mission. He was just so grateful! My best missionary experiences were in Santo Domingo. This is where I had my best companion, worked the hardest, had the most success and had a lot of fun
This was the first time my companion Alex Carrion got to serve with her brother Willie. She was so excited and we had a lot of fun with him and his companion. We baptized almost 3 full families here. It was hands down the best part of my mission. I did have some trouble with retaining water when I first got there. I had been serving at an altitude of almost 10,000 feet and it took me a while to adjust

The chief of the Colorado Indians

Elder Carrion, Hermana Carrion, Elder Arteaga at the top of a tower we climbed that overlooked the city

This was a lot scarier than it looks


This was my first time in Esmeraldas and I fell in love. It was just so beautiful and green

Typical house in the coastal region
Melissa served here and we stayed with the Intreagos family who were her good friends. In fact she took this picture of them when she was a missionary. We saw it on their wall. They were such kind people and they had an amazing family. He had been a Stake President there in Esmeraldas

The first thing we did was to go out and eat Menestra which is meat with lentils and rice. These were different beans but still good. A great memory from the mission

The next day we went to the beach to a really nice resort. This was Carmen's first time at the ocean even though she lives in Guayaquil. She was such a hoot!

Yep, we were the only ones there but it was off season and a Tuesday

On the way home we stopped and Nefi got this really yummy cheese and crackers for us

Typical homes in the countryside of Esmeraldas

The Intreagos took us around to see the sights and we went to this black sand beach

These cute little kids wanted a picture with me. I guess they haven't seen a lot of tall gringas

We even got to eat lunch with the Elders!

Before we left we had to go see this family that Melissa taught the parents to read so they could read their scriptures. It was one of the most touching and memorable parts of the trip. They were so grateful to her

It was so sad to leave this place. We couldn't have had better hosts!

We went to the tallest point and looked out over the ocean

Esmeraldas had a big earthquake a couple of months before we got there and there was temporary housing everywhere


My first view of the area where I spent the first 9 month of my mission. North Quito. I am pretty sure there was nothing here when I was. The city is huge now. At 9,350 feet, it's the highest capital city in the world. It's population was around 1 million when I was there but now it's almost 3 million. I asked a local about it and he said it was mostly people moving in from the countryside. Anyway I hardly recognized it at all

That night we stayed in a hotel. We were picking up our kids who were flying in the next day and we were so excited!

It was a long flight but they and their suitcases made it! Emerald (18) my daughter on the left has never been outside of the US. Cassidy is Melissa's daughter and she and Emerald were friends from middle school. Christian (15) did an Eagle scout project where he gathered clothing for poor, perspective missionaries from Guayaquil. Carmen organized it from this end, So when we got the van all loaded we had a total of 7 people and 17 suitcases. It was an adventure!

The first stop was a Cathedral on the way to Otavalo where we would be staying with friends for 3 days

Emerald was bright and cheery even after the long flight! I was so happy to be with her!

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