We are a family of four living in Quito, a city high in the mountains of Ecuador. We are working with a group called Youth World who exists to impact Latin America and the world by reaching young people with the life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Loading up for the beach in the Ackermanns' van! (Aug. 9)
Hello everyone! Sorry we haven't done this in about three years! It's been quite a long time. My mom is giving me (Mikala) the responsibility of blogging, since she failed. :) I'll just be telling different stories about life in Quito.
When my cousin and her friend came to visit, we went to Pan de Vida to serve during a V.B.S. There were many kids there. It was chaotic, but fun! There was one little boy named Sebastian. He was very shy, but he became my little friend. He was really cute. He didn't really talk much. He may have been about 4 or 5 years old. The other kids called him "Chinito" (which is what they call anyone who looks even remotely Asian. It means little Chinaman). He gradually warmed up to Janna, Kendra, and I. On the last day I saw him, he tugged on my arm and wanted me to bend down. Then he gave me a big hug and smiled at me. He didn't say anything. I almost cried!
Good Times on the Quito Trolley
On Friday, we all went to a science museum. However, we had to ride the trolley. It's not really our favorite thing to do. The trolleys here in Quito are usually really full. You're squished right against random strangers. Good fun! Therefore, we were standing there squished, when an Ecuadorian lady started talking to my mom. She offered her a notebook and pen and asked her to write her phone number. Apparently, she wanted mom to visit her. She was very nice and smiley. We're not supposed to give out our phone numbers here, of course. Mom ended up changing a number. Then the lady asked mom to write her name as well. She wrote, "Marlita" because "Marlo" is rather difficult for Spanish-speakers to say. She gave the notebook back and the lady read her name.
"Malita?" she asked.
"Si. Marlita," my mom thought she had said "Marlita."
Then, the lady wrote, under mom's name, "Malita". "Malita" basically means "bad little girl."
A bit later, the same lady told me her name. I told her mine in return. When our short conversation had ended, she wrote "Mikaila" next to my mom's name. Then she wrote "gringuitas" under our names! I almost lost it laughing, then and there. "Gringuitas" basically means "little white girls!"
From mechanics to doctors to cookies… Jesus is the king
by Matt Jensen
Over the past couple of months we have had some major brake problems on our 1997 Toyota. It has been a great car for us for the past 3-4 years…until now. Here’s a brief telling of what has been changed to this point: all shoes and pads (2 times), rotors (then had to be turned), drums, master cylinder (2 times), some other valve (I am not a mechanic). Vehicles here in Quito cost 2-3 times more here than in California. Parts cost 5-6 times as much. We have spent about $3000 on the brakes. Why all of the complaining? I am reminded that fixing a car is not as simple as I think it should be. Sometimes mechanics just scratch their heads and say- “We don’t know exactly what the problem is.”
This past month, Marlo suddenly lost her hearing in one ear (100% gone in two or three days). I thought like a good husband: “We can figure this out, we can get it fixed.” We met with a doctor, had a test, and then scheduled an appointment with a specialist. I thought, “We will go to the best; we will get it fixed.” We even had family call to check with a specialist in California to get him to fix it. He prescribed some medicine. The specialist here in Quito saw us and prescribed the same medicine. A week later after another appointment; I am reminded that fixing an ear is harder than I thought it would be. Sometimes doctors just scratch their heads and say- “We don’t know exactly what the problem is.”
I have been learning I am not in charge. I cannot fix things. I do not control the future. Just this week I ate a cookie before dinner. Nick exclaimed: “You cannot do that!” I began to explain to him that I can, in fact, do this. While for him, it is forbidden to eat the pre-dinner cookie; for me it is not. I am the king; the high ruler of the house. Everything in my kingdom it at my disposal (to use as I wish). So I can eat a cookie whenever I want. I continued to explain to Nick, when he gets a kingdom of his own, he could then eat a cookie before dinner if he chooses to do so.
I want my life to be easy and problem free. I want control. When I don’t get it, I tend to complain. God is teaching me that I don’t really know what is best for us. He does. I am realizing I am not really the high king- Jesus is. The doctor is not the king- Jesus is. The mechanic is not the king- Jesus is.
Nicolas has been obsessed with Star Wars for about the past 10 months and he had never even seen the movie until right before his birthday this month. All the presents he asked for had to do with Star Wars... light saber, movies, bedding, etc. He was very excited on his birthday.
We had a BBQ with a couple families for his birthday dinner and the boys played Star Wars the entire time! It was so fun to watch and listen as they made the sounds of the light sabers clashing even though the toys made the sounds themselves.
Jordan, Tanner, Nick and Luke (4 Jedi knights)
William's, Jensen's and Bryan's Kids
Nick and his new Star Wars bedding from Grandma Rosie and Aunt Laurel
New Light Saber with light and sound!
New camera from Grandma and Grandpa Jensen which as you can see he was very excited about
Mikala has 3 best friends here in Quito. The four of them are in the picture above. There is Mikala, Hye Lim, Ayano and Amanda. Amanda just moved back to the states. Hye Lim is from Korea. And Ayano moved here from Japan this last February. Ayano's mom invited the girls and all of us mothers over for lunch at the end of the school year. It was a wonderful time. I found it quite comical that none of us spoke Spanish incredibly well, but it was the only language that all four of us had in common. There was a moment that we were talking about the differences between the Japanese and Korean languages and we were discussing this in Spanish, and I thought to myself... How crazy is this? Good times in Quito!
Chelsea, one of our semester abroad students, came home with 5 avocados one night, one of them being the size of a papaya. It was given to her by a woman she was helping. I guess the woman climbed up her 80 foot avocado tree and started chucking these ginormas avocados down to her. Since it still wasn't ripe by the time she went home, we inherited it. It ripened and we were able to make a full bowl of guacamole with it.
We moved into our house on the 22nd of April. We had a bunch of people help us move our stuff over... fortunately we are just down the street from our other house. Rosemary, Matt's mom, thought it would take us about a month to get settled, but thanks to Elizabeth Payne and a few others, most of our stuff was put away that day and we are now pretty settled in. We do still have some work to do in the office. I need to find something to put all my stuff into.
I have to admit that I really struggled at the thought of moving into this house. It was incredibly dirty and was falling apart when we first started to move stuff in. But, now that we have been here for a couple weeks and it is starting to shape up, I think I am going to actually like it more than the other house. It's not as big, so it's easier to clean and we can't accumulate as much junk. I also love the back yard and the space outside! And best of all... Nick has been sleeping in his own room ever since we have moved in! God is so good and he knows just what we need, even if we think differently. I'm glad we can trust Him. I am so thankful for a God who provides.
The night before the team from Lancaster left, Matt's mom, Rosemary arrived. The day after the team left, we packed up and headed to the beach for Easter. There were a group of others from Youth World at the beach as well, so we all met Easter morning and spent time worshiping God together. Two days after the beach trip, Matt and Rosemary went with the semester abroad students back to Shandia. They helped further the work that the Lancaster team had started. When they returned from Shandia, we moved into our new home.
We had a wonderful time with Rosemary. It was a bummer we had to move in the middle of her trip, and we wish she had stayed longer (the kids often complained that it was way too short), but we sure enjoyed our time with her.
Having a picnic lunch at our park down the street.
At the Market Place
At the beach.
Easter Morning at the beach
At Jim Eliot's house in Shandia
Canoe trip to the zoo
Mikala took Grandma to the Elijido Market all by herself. They rode in a taxi and Grandma was very impressed with Mikala's use of Spanish.
Eating lunch with the kids at school
The middle of the world
Supposedly, it is easier to balance an egg on the head of a nail on the equator. Rosemary did it and has a certificate to prove it.
Rosemary and I went to the Basilica and Colonial Quito. We actually got a backstage tour of one of the Catholic Churches by accident. We kind of joined a group, not knowing it was a special tour. They welcomed us and we learned all about a street boys ministry that has been going on since the 1960's. It was really interesting.
Rosemary and I also got to go to a luncheon for the Youth World Women
At the Teleferiqo.... a gondola that takes you above the city of Quito. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day. Nick and I were at home. Nick had a 102 fever.
We went out to dinner for Grandma's birthday. It's this really cool Italian restaurant that has an outdoor patio and they have pots of hot coal to keep you warm. It was our third choice, but the other two restaurants were closed due to the elections.
Grace Chapel from Lancaster, CA brought a team to Ecuador from the 31st of March to the 10th of April. What an incredible time we had with them! They were such a joy to get to know and I am so excited to have even more familiar faces the next time we visit Lancaster. We had the opportunity to go to Shandia with them to work and build relationships with the people (especially the children) of Shandia. On Friday we played some games with the kids and then went down to the river to swim. On Saturday we spent most of the day shoveling dirt. On Sunday we worshiped the Lord together singing in English, Spanish and Kichwa and Eric delivered a sermon. Some of the group also went and did Sunday School with the children. Monday we went on a little river trip and then headed back to Quito.
I was encouraged to see many familiar faces in Shandia and actually be able to communicate a little better this time. I also had the opportunity to taste my first chicha... can't say I enjoyed it much. But, I did love the sugar cane.
When we returned to Quito, we spent the remaining time at El Refugio. The team did a lot of hard work and also participated in some team building activities.
We sure had a wonderful time with Grace Chapel, Lancaster and we can't wait for them to come back!
At El Refugio, the team also did the ropes course and some team building activities. Mikala and Nick participated in both and enjoyed it tremendously.
Nick and many others were painted with a dye derived from plants. The red only lasted a day, but the black stayed on for a week!
We celebrated my 39th birthday in Tena, near Shandia. We had an incredible downpour and thunder and lightning show. The electricity went out. It was a lot of fun.
Shoveling sand from one side of the river and carrying it over to the other to load in wheel-barrows to be taken down the road about a 1/4 mile to the church.
Cynthia and Halley enjoying the sugar cane.
My friend Carolina! It was so great to see her again.
Nick and Dario playing on the Napo river with the kids from Shandia.
Mikala and Kimberly (One of the girls she met when we first came down with our youth group in 2004.)