Monday, 3 September 2012

New blog


It's been so great to blog here and share my journey from England to Ecuador.  However, now I am no longer in Ecuador, but still living a life following God, like I was in Ecuador. I stopped blogging for a while and realised I missed it!

So, you can read more of my ramblings if you go to my other blog:

 

www.be-lovedfriend.blogspot.com

 

It is named because my name, Amy, means beloved friend. I like it because it is an instruction… Be loved. I feel it comes from God, telling me to be loved. I am loved by him. I am also extremely privileged to be loved by my family and many friends.

I want to share that. I want others to know they are loved, no matter what. I hope that my blog makes you think, challenges your way of thinking and encourages you.

Thank you for reading…. And keep reading!

Monday, 16 July 2012

To blog or not to blog...?


...that is the question...

I havn’t blogged for a while. Partly because I have not known what to write. I was not sure what the point of my blog was. I had written about my Ecuadorian experiences. It was a way for family and friends at home to catch a glimpse of what I was seeing and experiencing. I then wrote a little about what readjusting back to England was like. However, I didn’t write very much and it does not fully explain how I felt and what I have been learning as I start to “settle” back into an English culture. I have actually missed blogging. I enjoy the way I can write and say what I have been learning. I love sharing, encouraging and challenging. I want to continue that. It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable about doing it and it being so public. However, I still have followers to my blog and so if there is some interest there, why not continue. I may set up a “sister” blog as my writings will no longer be about Ecuador. Or I may just keep this one as Ecuador has played such a big part in my life over the past 18 months.

Let’s see how it goes. But if you are reading this, thank you and watch this space!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Flooding

The heavy rain flooding the garden
Last week my parent’s house was flooded. The torrential rains and the fact their house is very low meant the ground became a bit soggy underfoot, to say the least. The water table filled up and the water came up from the ground, in the lowest point of the house. 
Fortunately, the damage was minimal; only the carpets and skirting boards. Any damages will be paid for by the insurance. Special hoovers to suck out the water were used. Now the house is drying out slowly, with the help of dehumidifiers. They are calmly humming away in each room, drawing out the moisture from the ground.
It has been a fairly big ordeal; to move all the furniture and wait for the ground floor to dry out before a new floor can be laid. It is an inconvenience but normal life can resume really.
 



Removing the water from the carpet
The full stream







Floods in Ecuador (January 2012)
 It was made me think of people who get flooded in poorer countries. In Ecuador, in the coastal region, during the rainy season (December to May) there are torrential rains almost daily. Houses do not have flood defences. When houses, streets and towns get flooded, they deal with it the best they can. There is not insurance they can claim on. They will have to pay for any damages themselves. Most of the time, most of their worldly possessions are damaged and lost. In hindsight, I do not feel I have too much to complain about with our flooded house.

How fortunate we are in this Country.



Travelling the Country

I have been “home” now for 6 weeks. I say “home” because not much of that time has been actually spent at home. I have been visiting friends across the Country. It has been amazing. It has been a really special time to see good friends, chat and catch up on a years’ worth of news. It has been so nice to not only hear what friends have been doing but also hear about their hopes and dreams for the future. It has been also exciting to hear how friends are doing on their journey with God. Some are well into that journey and it is going well, others have challenges like cancer in their journey and others are just beginning to walk on that journey and that is really exciting.
Feeling patriotic in London


I have travelled well over 1000 miles and learnt so much on my journey:

First stop to see my Grandad who was in hospital. I selfishly worried that I would not see him before I came home from Ecuador. It was great to be able to see him and talk to him.

Friends visited Emsworth the next day, showing such kindness.

I headed to Aylesbury and saw so many people over a week. Lots of cups of tea and coffee, cakes, walking and talking. I felt very at home here and continue to see if this is where I will move back to.



North Devon
A few days in Devon in a beautiful place with beautiful friends, rushed to Oxford for an interview for a job I didn’t get. Loved traveling on the train and people watching. Realised how much as Southeners we don’t talk to each other on trains.

Had a couple of debriefs about my trip to Ecuador. Shared lots of funny stories.
Family BBQ

Caught up with a couple of girls I was in Ecuador with.

More cups of tea and chatting. Bit of time in Emsworth.



Went to Milton Keynes with a Uni friend followed by a BBQ in Salisbury. Ate some Ecuadorian things and had “hora loca” (crazy hour).


Duck racing
Family BBQ, aad a duck race down the stream, ate loads and continued the birthday celebrations throughout the week. Treated my mum to a day in London. Felt very patriotic. Loved hearing some Spanish people talking. Reminded me of being in Ecuador.

Enjoyed some days in Emsworth walking the millpond with friends.

Went to a Girls/Boys Brigade weekend in Hemel, camping. Freezing cold and lots of rain. Felt very British waving my union jack in the jubilee party.


"The public" interactive art gallery
BBQ in Aylesbury, followed by some quality conversations in Birmingham with Uni friends, and visiting crazy interactive art galleries. Time spent with friends little kids who are growing up way too fast.


On the Mersey ferry

Headed to Liverpool, went on the Mersey ferries, realised how much Northeners like talking. Caught up with a friend who I was in Ecuador with.


Headed to Aylesbury for a friends gig followed by Derbyshire for a birthday party with my Uni friends.

Celebrating the Jubilee
The final leg of the journey took me to Emsworth, my home. I had such a sense of peace coming home. I was travelling home to celebrate Father’s Day. I am fortunate to have a loving father. I headed home. Home to a place to get some rest and relaxation and as I explore the next steps.  

I am apreciative of all the hospitality and love I have recieved from the friends and families I have stayed with visited. Thank you.
Beautiful Buckinghamshire







Did you miss me?




Did you miss me when I was away?

I didn’t realise you had.

I genuinely didn’t think about how you might miss me when I was gone.



I left selfishly, without a thought or care about anyone at home.

I wanted to go away, to work abroad.

I wanted to explore some of the World, to have my mind opened to new things, new ways of living.

I wanted to help the poor, the disabled children and share some of what I had learnt about Speech and Language Therapy.



I did not think about you.

I did not know you would find it hard without me here.

It sounds big headed just writing about it.

I missed you but I thought you would not really think of me.



I didn’t realise that when I thought about staying away longer, you found that hard to deal with.

I didn’t think that when I said I didn’t want to come home and leave Ecuador, that actually that might have offended you.

Again, I did not think about anyone but myself.



Now that I am back, I am sorry that I made you feel a bit sad whilst I was away.

I am sorry for being selfish.

I want you to know I missed you greatly.



My mind is still working out where it is and where it should be.

I am now living in a different country, culture and language to where I have been the past year.

Please be patient with me as I adjust.

Please bare with me if I cry, talk a lot or just sit in silence.

Please give me time to work out what I will do next.



There are so many possibilities.

That is an exciting adventure.



I am SO pleased to be home.

I no longer live on a different continent to you.

I love that I can see you all the time.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Broken down


Recently I broke down. Not in my car, but emotionally. It totally caught me off guard. As a saw a photo from Ecuador I became overwhelmed with several different emotions. One of these emotions was a sadness to not be in Ecuador anymore. I miss it. I loved my work and the people I worked with. I miss the family I lived with. However, I know it is so right to be here in England for the next little while. I have loved catching up with friends and I feel safe here. I did not always feel safe in Ecuador which meant I was not so independent. Here, I can walk everywhere I want to; day or night. I love it.



That day my mind just felt so full…full of so many choices to make about what to do next.



I guess I needed time to think and reflect on my time in Ecuador and then, to close that time. Not to forget about it, but to realise that I no long live in Ecuador. I needed time to think about all that I have learnt from it and begin to apply those things to my life in England. It is not easy to finish a chapter, especially if that chapter was really good! I now can start looking ahead to the next stage.



I read something that was really helpful, describing a baton relay race. The relay race I guess resembled the work people do, in this instance particularly overseas work. It talked about everyone having their part to play. I had ran my “leg” (my year in Ecuador) and now I had to pass that baton on to someone else. I am now free to move into the next stage; a very different stage but hopefully equally, if not even more exciting and challenging!

Bored


I hate being bored. It happens so rarely. I love to potter and always have little jobs to do. But today I had a gap in my day and felt bored. I didn’t want to do any of my little jobs. I wanted to do something but knew that doing something would no doubt cost money and I have a real responsibility to use my money carefully at the moment.



It made me think about my time at home. I’m visiting lots of people at the moment which is great, but amidst all of that; during the conversations, the coffees, the walks, the travelling, I think about Ecuador. I think about my friends and how different my life was there. I seem to see things here with different eyes. I can’t help but be amazed by how much “stuff” there is everywhere. We live in a society that has so much and at times, seem to be quite wasteful too. I do find myself getting really cross and frustrated at this.



But, I was reminded of a verse in the bible;



“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4v 11-12.



I guess I just need to get on with it and be content with what I have!

Cross


Today I got really cross. Today I wasted £36 on going to the dentist when I didn’t need to go. I was told my teeth were fine, good even and I wondered why I even bothered to go. I came back cross and annoyed at that wasted money. Prior to that I had a disheartening morning seeing lots of interesting jobs advertised, but then realised they were all based near to central London. I definitely did not want to travel to them. Job hunting is so time consuming and can be discouraging as you wonder if there is actually a job out there for you. One job particularly made me laugh as it was looking for someone with unflappable demeanour! What a funny characteristic to look for!

It hasn’t been a completely bad day… lots of chats and cups of coffee with friends and the sun has been shining and I know I am in a very beautiful place with the sea so close.


London

I loved my time in London. It was great to have a relaxed day with my mum, to celebrate her birthday. We visited lots of places that she has never been to visit. We took the train and could relax from start to finish. It was a sunny day and we took our time wandering around free museums, Parks and soaking up the “jubilee” vibes. Places were getting ready for the celebrations at the weekend. I loved seeing foreign tourists finding their way around with a slight expression of confusion on their faces. I could empathise with them. There were loads of French and German tourists and a few Spanish. I loved hearing them talk and being able to understand. It made me miss speaking Spanish.














It was great to see the Olympic medal exhibition in the British museum. I am so excited for the Olympics to come to England.
I felt very proud to be British; to walk around my Capital City, to see people getting ready to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and to know I was back in my Country.




Monday, 21 May 2012

A few reminders

There is so much I have re-learnt as I take time to ponder, reflect and think about my experiences in Ecuador. The past 18 months have been an amazing time in my life. There is so much I have learnt. A few things that spring to mind:

I am never alone. Even when I was in Ecuador and at times, alone, not knowing anyone or feeling like i had no-one to meet up with as my Spanish was no very good, I never felt alone. It sounds strange but I really felt God, through his Holy Spirit, close to me. I never felt lonely

God provides. So often it is hard to see this in our Western culture but God does provide. I know people in Ecuador who have had to pray for food as they have not had anything in the cupboards nor money to buy anything. They have said God has always provided for them. God has provided for me; financially, in words of encouragements or letters when I was away. Now, in the uncertainty of where I will live and where I will work, I am not fearful, worried or anxious. I am certain God will provide.
 
I have so much. God has blessed me with so much. A great, supportive, strong family. Friends who love me, help me and bless me. A beautiful, safe country to love in. Constant water, good housing and money. Being born into this country I realise I automatically have so much. I have a UK passport which is powerful. I have freedom to go where I want. I have had a good, free education, after school clubs and classes which have provided so many opportunities. So much I take for granted.

Creation is amazing. The beauty of the world is stunning. England is beautiful




Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Houses, water and heating.


Big houses,  continuous water and central heating. Just 3 things that have caught my attention recently.

Today I walked around several housing estates and along quiet roads in Buckinghamshire. Every house that I saw was big and beautiful. Well made houses. Houses that I know for a fact would not leak rain water in through the roof. Houses that I knew would have continuous water being sent through the pipes, warmth in the radiators and houses without bars on the windows. There was a low risk they would be robbed in this nice area. The large sizes of the houses made me feel really sad. I wondered if there would be enough people in each houses to fill the number of beds that each house owned. How many people own a 3 bedroom house with only 2 people living in them? How many people have a “spare room” for their guests, who hardly visit.

It brought me close to tears as I walked past such wealth and people didn’t even realise their wealth.

I have been visiting friends and in all the houses in have stayed in or places I have visited, we have never run out of water. I have not had to be careful because of the shortage of water. Technically England is in a state of drought, but we still have water in the taps. There is still clean drinking water being sent into the pipes into each house.

England has had some terrible weather. It has been cold, damp and rainy. Many people still have central heating on in their houses. It seems so weird to heat a house, when the buildings I have spent time in during the past year, I have been seeking coolness from the heat and sun.  

So many adjustments and it’s really tiring. Everything seems so familiar; ways of living, the culture, places, houses, sights and smells and at the same time, it’s like experiencing it again, anew.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Courage

I'm at a cross-roads. I have loads of things I want to do in my life, now that I am back in the UK; Loads of stuff I am passionate about... I'm just not sure which path to take. I read a blog entry today and it encourged me to do something that I love, even if it is something that is different to what other people are doing.

"You know that fear you feel when you’re about to do something great? That never goes away. Turns out, the truly courageous ones just learn to name that feeling and move anyway.
When I stepped into my passion, I was afraid, but I decided to do something despite how I felt. And it made all the difference. I realized:
  • Real failure isn’t as bad as we imagine.
  • When you pursue your passion, the universe makes room for your dream.
  • People love following courage."

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Back in England


Well I am now back in England. After a long journey home; being delayed at every possible point in the journey, I made it back to my home at 2am. I encountered many interesting people on my journey;

-      In the airport, 2 travellers who had travelled around the World and finished their journey in Ecuador, so we could travel back to the UK together.

-      On the plane I sat next to a Spaniard who worked internationally mending machines who could only say “broken” and where he was from in English! I enjoyed speaking Spanish on my journey home

-      A small group of 18 year old girls who had been let loose in Ecuador for 3 months (with Daddy’s credit card) who were devastated that we missed our connecting flight

-      A business man flying back to England, home from a days meeting in Madrid, who was Not happy we were delayed leaving Madird. I think his words were “I just can’t wait to get home. It’s been such a long day.” I had to bite my tongue from saying “YOU can’t wait to get home!!? I think I have been travelling to 36 hours!” I smiled sweetly with an empathetic smile

-      Whilst queueing through the long immigration queues at London Heathrow, one man in particular was very keen to get home, asserting his rights saying “you mean to say you won’t even let me into my own Country!?” (well, yes they will let you in, you just need to queue up like the rest of us)

-      The Japanese men who were also waiting with me for an hour and a half for our bags to arrive. They were so impatient, they even stuck their heads through the curtain/small hatch way where the bags come through, just to see what was going on!

I love people watching at airports and it was a very interesting journey. My mind was so full of what I had just left in Ecuador and could not quite anticipate what it would find upon arrival in England.

So much has changed and yet at the same time, it all looks and feel the same. Foods which I have not eaten for so long are like I am eating them again for the first time. There are different smells, sights, children who have grown up, technology that has moved on even in just one short year. Here are a few initial things that seem weird about England after being away!



-      8:45 pm in Madrid and still light! I had got used to it getting dark at 6:30pm everyday

-      Expensive prices!

-      Toilet paper down the toilet

-      European fashion

-      Queuing (not a random free for all)

-      Being cold and damp

-      Sitting far apart from each other/lack of kissing everyone you greet!

-      Funny hand driers in the public loos

-      Toilet paper in the cubicals

-      Talking about people in English and forgetting that people can understand me

-      Not knowing what language to speak

-      Confusion about what side of the road to drive on/sitting on the wrong side of the car

-      Wearing seatbelt

-      Smoothness of the roads

-      People driving slowly/not assertive

-      Cleans smells of my clothes, new carpets, sea, fresh air

-      Carpets everywhere

-      Lots of lights on

-      Electric kettle which boils so fast

-      Lots of things/ornaments in houses

-      Milk bottles not bags. Decent milk

-      Lots of water in the taps/pressure is high in shower

-      Hot shower

-      Light evenings

-      Quietness in church

-      Services in church starting on time

-      Clear microphones in church

-      Lots of older people walking around in town

-      Less crowds

-      People shopping for nothing

-      Very comfortable living life

-      Passive driving

-      A certain generation of people with too much money!

-      Old brick buildings

-      Post boxes

-      Pushchairs and dog walkers

-      Cars that aren’t falling apart

-      Not many buses (if there are, they are full of old people)

-      No taxis

-      Kids being picked up from schoo

It is nice to see friends and family again. l do not know what I am doing next. Watch this space...

Poverty

What is Poverty?
I recently spoke with a lady from England who said “we (my friends and I) are all poor… I have actually just bought a new car” (“and you have just booked a cruise”, said another friend).
What is it to be poor?
Is being poor the feeling you have when you have bought a new car, re-done the kitchen, built an extension and at the end of the month, you haven’t got much money left?
Or to be poor; to live in poverty, is to wonder if you actually will have enough money to put food on the table at the next meal.
Is living in poverty being sent out to prostitute yourself several days after having a baby?
Why are some people born into poverty? Why are some born into such a “rich”, affluent family/country/town; full of opportunities, free education etc, with cupboards full of food and a leak free roof over their head.
Doesn’t really seem very fair?


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

final blog entry from Ecuador

So here I am, just with my final couple of hours in Ecuador, sat at the airport. Last year, I never thought this day would come. I thought my year in Ecuador would never end! It has been a fantastic year and I learnt so much, far too much to fit into a blog entry!

So how do I feel? To be honest, quite numb to all feelings. It has been an emotional final week, with so many highs and lows that I can’t begin to describe it. I feel very sad and emotional to leave this Country. I feel so tired that I just can’t wait to get on the plane and sleep. It would be luxury to sleep right through and wake up in London! Doubt that is going to happen but it’s a nice thought!

Hasta luego Ecuador, hello England!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Final week

Urgh, I hate saying goodbyes. This week has been full. Full of birthday celebrations, last day of school, leaving do’s in the church, cakes (one a day this week- 2 actually, on my birthday which makes 5 in 4 days) plenty of chicken and rice (very Ecuadorian) and many kind words. My friends and family here have been so kind to me. I have been very British and held back my tears through the kind words they have said. However, now, I’m sat here behind closed doors, in the early hours of the morning, feeling very tired and crying my eyes out.
The last few days hold more celebrations and goodbyes. Then Wednesday will arrive. It will be a day sat on a plane thinking of the life I leave behind in Ecuador and the life I will re-enter in England. Bizarre!

Latin Link; steppers, striders and stayers (plus token CMS-ers and other friends!)


Jovenes in the church
Birthday cake with the Jovenes

Another birthday cake in the school

My final saturday youth service, leading a workshop

With the teachers from school


And another birthday cake


family birthday party
Can't forget to say goodbye to the pet turtle!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

And the countdown begins

So my final week is here. As I began my year here in Ecuador, the end seemed so far away. I didn’t even think about it.

Now that I am in my final week, I can hardly believe it. This week for me will be overflowing with emotion. Soon I will see my family! Soon I will be able to sit face to face with close friends and chat over a cup of tea!

This final week in Ecuador will be full of many “leaving do's” (despedidas). I don’t like parties or events that are for me, having attention on me. I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to friends and family here.

How do you say goodbye to someone who you may never see again in your life?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Back to school


Great to see some speech therapy advice up on the walls

 The new school term started this week. In this region of Ecuador, we have our long holidays in the months of February and March. The past few weeks have been full of workshops, planning and getting the school ready for the new school year. Being very Ecuadorian, we had an opening "ceremony" to mark the school being open. Everyone spoke a few words and the director, Ruth, shared about how the school year would run. It was great to see so many new children. It is sad that many of the ones from last year have not come back and I did not really say a proper goodbye to them.  As I sat watching the new children with their families, I really wanted to stay and get to know them over this academic year. I saw so many of the parents struggling with their children. I just wanted to help; to work with their child and with them, to impart a little of what I know. However, I only have these 2 weeks in the school.

The first few days of school have been great. The teachers are overflowing with good ideas, the children are settling into the school (some more easily than others) and it is great to be in the school. What a joy it is to work with these children.


The children in their weekly sports session


Beautiful big brown eyes


In the opening ceremony... one of the children teaching the pastors
how to make a butterfly sign with their hands
Enjoying the paint


Plastic animals and water! Heaven... (for the kids!)

Laura Flores workshop

Can you give a workshop to the Mums of Laura Flores?

Sure thing!

So I agreed to give this workshop to the Mums. The idea was to give some ideas of communicating with their children and some activities and games for them to do in the house. This workshop would be fairly easy in England. I probably wouldn’t prepare all that much for it. I would rummage in my toy box and take a bag full of games and resources and we would have a play. I would model to the Mum’s how to play the games with their children, to communicate most effectively. It would not be too difficult. Most parents would have lots of toys and games in their houses. Most children are overloaded with stimulation since they were born.

The Mums and children working together
Giving this workshop in Laura Flores was much more of a challenge. The fact it was in Spanish did not bother me. I would get by. I know I do not speak well in Spanish but there would be people there who could re-word things so the mums could understand. I found it difficult to prepare for because the culture here is so different. Laura Flores in itself is different. I had visited several people’s houses in LF so knew the sort of lives they lead, what they had in their houses, had spoken with many parents before and worked with their children. I knew that they did not have much in their houses. I don’t remember seeing any toys. I know that the children play outside, in the streets. Young children. Really, as soon as they can walk, they are outside “playing” with their brothers and sisters. They do not have anything to play with. Occasionally the boys find a ball and play football. Sometimes a girl might have an old dolly. Normally they just run around, go into each other’s houses, pop into the church if something is happening, eat, sleep, and watch their mums. There is not a real time of “play”.
 
So I had all this of what I know about LF in my head as I planned the workshop. It would be a waste of time to show them nice games and toys when I know they do not have them. I had to be resourceful. So using toilet roll tubes filled with rice as instruments, collected bottle tops to colour sort, recycled paper to make a counting card game and a few other things I had collected along the way, I set off to LF. It was a particularly hot LF afternoon. The sun was beating down on the aluminium roof, the sun’s rays were streaming in through the “windows” and as the workshop progressed, it got hotter and hotter. It wasn’t the best workshop I have done. As it was so hot and I was so tired, I seemed to lose all my Spanish words. It was a funny mix of playing games with the children, talking to the adults, trying not to touch the flea ridden stray dogs wandering in and out and trying not to overheat. The joys to Ecuador!

God's creation

“This world is God’s creation. Nothing is objective; everything has personal value attached to it. God is the creator and therefore has personal feeling for everything he has made. Every atom, molecule and neutron is his artwork. He values every centimeter of space that he has brought into existence. As we wander through this universe we are not encountering meaningless stuff, we encounter a chipmunk, a river, a child that is God beloved artwork. An art gallery filled with objects of meaning, expressiveness, revelation of Gods heart, intelligence, humor, compassion and whimsy. We are not on public property, nor privately owned property. We are always on God’s property, on loan to us. Everything has some amount of value, not to us, but to God.” – McLarren

Completly unedited photo of this evenings sunset. Amazing.