Tuesday, July 28, 2009

my mom worries when i don't blog

So..... wow. I am exhausted.

I'll start on Friday the 17th, the day after my last post.

Actually, that's too tiring to think about. Quick summary seems nice. Jonathan and I spent Friday the 17th through Wednesday the 22nd living (camping) in a remote community about 1.5 hours outside of Riobamba. We, along with the Ascend staff, were in charge of an expedition of 50 United Statesians doing humanitarian projects in two communities to make people's lives better.

What got done:

  • 2 brick ovens built for baking bread and pizza to sell
  • most of a cafeteria for a school
  • part of a classroom for a school
  • cooking classes to teach the people how to use the ovens to make bread and pizza
  • cooking classes to teach the people how to use healthy crops they grow in creative ways
  • sex ed class
  • family planning class
  • 2 medical treatment clinics
  • 2 playgrounds built and painted
  • 2 community parks renovated and painted
  • english classes
  • remodeling of a classroom
  • business techniques classes
  • teaching new games to the kids
  • making puppets, a puppet theater, and putting on a puppet show for the community
  • dancing and cultural exchanges
  • first aid class
  • parenting techniques class
  • nutrition classes
The people of the communities were really happy with how it all turned out and I think the expedition participants were too. You may remember my post about the Park City 5. This expedition was made up mostly of the friends and family of 5 teenagers from Park City who died in separate accidents within the same year. Serving some of the most needy people here in Ecuador was a way for loved ones to honor these kids in a meaningful way.

Planning for the expedition (menu, food, buying utensils, planning the agenda, figuring out the budget, etc.) was one of the most stressful and difficult things I've ever done. It has also been one of the most rewarding. And exhausting. I'm grateful for my current opportunity of working in such a satisfying job.

Wednesday, the last day of the expedition, I was sick. Again. Sick again. Seriously?

This time my sickness involved the most painful pain I've ever felt. Luckily it passed in less than a day.

Thursday we took an extra long 7 hour bus ride to Cuenca for the big fundraising Gala we've been planning. It was a fancy night. People were dressy. Money was raised. Music was played. Good food was eaten.

I had to translate a bit since we had a good mix of English and Spanish-speakers there. We danced until 2:30 am with our coworkers and then Jonathan and I crashed into a twin bed. Exhaustion and satisfaction. Did I mention I am exhausted? Also, it was fun.

Upon returning home to Riobamba from Cuenca, we found Jonathan's brother, James, waiting at our doorstep. We all headed up to Quito to pick up Kristine from the airport. Now we're doing Ecuador and it's great. And I'm tired. But it's great.

We've done Quito, now headed to Baños, then to the Amazon to explore, then to Guamote, then Guayaquil, then Montañita, then maybe Isla de la Plata. Home on the 8th in the morning!

Here are some memories from the expedition...

kids singing a welcome song for the expedition

view from one of the expedition communities

another view

making pancakes for breakfast for 65 people.

handy ladder coming out of the roof

parenting techniques class

pizza cooking class

peeling the bark off for the swingset before we painted

pizza cooking class again.

the new swingset. the kids were on it all day and all night.

family planning class... bananas and condoms involved

village troublemaker with his new puppet

jonathan and daniel painting their mural.

the final product. Park City mountains alongside Andes mountains.

My new friends Blanca and Ana Maria who begged me to take a picture with them but then got really shy when the camera came out. They plan on not getting married until they're 30 and in the meantime studying to be chefs and working in big cities in Ecuador. Very rare ambitions for their culture.

building the community brick oven.

new swingset in progress in Galte Miraloma.

this kid was so excited for the swing that he wouldn't wait for the paint to dry.

above the clouds in the communities.

carlos speaking at the fancy gala in cuenca

Ascend staff and interns from Riobamba and Cuenca plus Sallee and Carolyn from headquarters in Salt Lake. At the Gala in Cuenca.

So there's a quick summary and some pictures for ya'll. Now I'm off to Baños to soak in some hot springs and ride bikes to beautiful waterfalls. See you all soon!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Well I promised a post about last weekend and I will write one. It has been a crazy week for us. Tonight a group of 50 Utahns arrived in Quito. Tomorrow afternoon they'll meet us out in one of the little communities we work in and we'll work work work until Wednesday.

It has taken a ton of planning and running around like chickens with our heads cut off to get this expedition organized. I think we've done our absolute best to have it go smoothly. Now let's just hope it really does. Tomorrow the real crazyness begins. Wish us luck.

Now back to last weekend.

Jonathan was told 2 Sundays ago that that coming Friday we would have a Young Men and Young Women campout. 1 night. The Young Women leader told Jonathan to bring me and since they know that we've both camped with church groups before, that we'd just tell them what you're supposed to do on campouts. Jonathan suggested that we take a couple more weeks and plan a little more but, in the words of the YW leader, "These things are just better when you don't plan them too much." (in Spanish... but you get the idea.)

I was a little skeptical of how this would all turn out on such short notice. Plus it's REALLY cold in the high areas of Ecuador right now and the thought of sleeping in a tent just didn't sound fun. But.... Of course I agreed to go. I knew it had potential.

Ecuador has very few campgrounds and campouts just aren't something the locals do much. So a couple in the ward offered their friends' cabin. It turned out to be in a beautiful area. Plus bathrooms and a kitchen. We slept in tents on their land so we could get a little of the campout experience.

It basically played out like a normal church campout... campfire testimony devotional thingy, hot chocolate, marshmallow roasting, stepping in cow pies in the dark, playing hide and seek and sardines in the dark, squeaaaaaling giggling girls, showoff-y guys, and an amazing hike.

I had a thick sleeping bag and didn't get too cold. Everything was pretty much great. Here are some pictures we took. If you're friends with Jonathan on facebook, you've probably already seen them.

Align Center
view from the cabin in the morning. rio chambo.

the cabin

jonathan with a couple of his young men. andres and shayid.

on the hike... i guess they were under the impression that if everyone held onto the rope they wouldn't fall into the stream.

excited for a day of hiking.

sometimes jonathan is a 6-year-old boy.

eating limes with salt... makes my tongue hurt to watch.

a gate post that jonathan and i found funny. seems like they couldn't decide what to put on it so they just put everything. pyramid...hot air balloon...

an awkward group picture that left me wondering why we were all raising our hands.

jonathan crossing a very precarious bridge over a very fast river. i tried to make him stop but sometimes i feel guilty for smothering adventurousness... just hope he doesn't die.

hiking break.

jonathan and some great countryside.

me and a great cow (that really wanted me to go away)

All in all it was a great time. However, I'm asking myself now if it was worth it. Why?

Saturday after we got home, I showered and took a nap. Then I woke up and puked. And then puked again. Then again. The next day I had the worst headache of my life, fever chills, aches. Next day I felt a little better besides the headache. Next day all day stomachache again.

I ate something BAD.

Those who have read my blog for awhile know that I've had my share of sickness... I think I forgot what it feels like to feel healthy and good.

I'm making a good recovery, though, so let's hope I stay good for the expedition. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

I just updated Ascend's Ecuador blog. If anyone's interested in learning more about what we'll be doing on this expedition, go here!

Monday, July 13, 2009

everything is amazing and nobody's happy!

I want to post about our crazy weekend, but I don't feel like it tonight. So here's an awesome video that Jonathan found while entertaining himself yesterday while I was on my death sick bed. Comedian Louis CK on Conan.

Maybe it's at least a step in the right direction if we can realize it and laugh at it...

Now let's all be happy with our amazing world! woohoo!

p.s. conan is the hugest skinny guy ever.

Monday, July 6, 2009


So I'm always on the lookout for creative/interesting/funny/beautiful websites and blogs. Because of some comments made on a post by the mormonchildbride, I stumbled upon a website called Not Always Right. People send in stories about dealing with crazy customers and we all get to laugh and commiserate (and wonder what the world is coming to). I was scanning the archives and I thought I'd share with you a submission by an employee of a travel store that...well....see for yourself.

Travel Store Customer: “Do you have any globes that have the United States bigger? I don’t need all this Africa, I just really want the US and Europe.”


Folks, that's just sad on a number of levels.

I feel like there are a lot of people with these narrow-minded notions when it comes to the world and I would rant but I'm kind of in a good mood and let's just laugh at this instead. Also I have no intention of sounding self-righteous because by no means do I have a perfect and well-rounded (no pun intended) view of the world. I'll just invite dear Travel Store Customer to get out a little more... maybe even outside of the Northern Hemisphere. Who knows what you'll find!

Coincidentally, the mormonchildbride's most recent controversial post has a bit to do with ethnocentrism within the LDS church. check it out.