June Prayer Requests

Although we just updated our blog  a few days ago, I would like to ask that you help us pray for two specific situations that have come up recently.

NOTE: These prayer requests have been updated at the end of June.  
*Juan Moya “walked” with his classmates and will receive his diploma by the end of the summer.  His eye is continuing to improve. 
*Thank God with us for little Isabella who seems to be in full health once again. She and her mom have recently returned to Quito after spending the summer with family in the U.S.

1) Juan Moya (AAI senior) 
victim of a freak accident involving a badminton birdie to the eyeball
Link: https://mkmeierfam.wordpress.com/ministry/prayer-request-juan-moya/

2) Isabella Greer (a 2 1/2 month old daughter of AAI staff)
an almost SIDS baby with a big heart
Link: https://mkmeierfam.wordpress.com/ministry/prayer-request-isabella-greer/

May Mentions

Date: June 2, 2009
Location: Quito, Ecuador

I know it seems that we’ve fallen off the face of the earth.  When I sent out the last Meier Wire on the 11th of March, I had no idea that it would be over two months before I would have the chance to write another Meier Wire or update our newly created blog.  I started writing this update at the end of April.  That slowly became the end of May.  And now it is already the first of June.

Playing at the park

Playing at the park

Once my maternity leave ended on March 30th, all my free time disappeared into caring for two infants, teaching three classes, grading papers and trying to keep up with the daily tasks of life.

So, I am very glad to be able to announce that our family blog site (the MkMeier’s Blog) has been updated with the events and happenings for the past few months.

Go to the category links to find out:
Under Ministry
*How Stephen and Cristina were able to decide to stay in Quito one more year
*Their upcoming summer trip to the U.S. (June 23-July 16)
*What keeps students busy after school on Wednesday afternoons
*Why the Meier family skipped a week of school to go to the beach
Under TCK Views
*The results of Ecuador’s recent national elections & some funny signs I’ve only seen in Ecuador
*The uncanny adventures the Meier family has had with their appliances in the past nine months
Under Family News
*What new words Jared can say and how Luke is progressing as he nears 5 months of age
*What is keeping “Mamma” soooo busy these days
*Six signs to look for among those who watch too much “Dora the Explorer”

Deciding to Stay in Quito

As the first semester of the 2008-2009 school year was coming to an end during the final week of January, and the Mk Meiers were welcoming Luke Evan into the family, it was becoming apparent that their financial situation was not getting any better.  The mortgage on their empty townhouse was creating a monthly deficit of approximately $1,000.  Monthly expenses were consistently exceeding monthly support/income.

We often had to use our credit cards to cover the costs we couldn’t afford in cash.  It didn’t help that we had to pay all medical expenses for the pregnancy of Cristina and the birth of baby Luke up front before we could get any reimbursement from our health insurance.

Stephen had decided that it was time to start looking for jobs in the U.S. that would help us get out of our difficult financial situation.  In the months of December, January and February, he was contacted by different schools and being interviewed for administrative positions at several Christian schools.  He even purchased a plane ticket to the U.S. for mid-April so that he could visit some of these schools and make a decision about which job to accept. 

During this entire process, the other administrative staff at the Alliance Academy International (AAI) expressed their regrets that we were considering leaving at the end of the school year.  The director did not want to see Stephen leave.  We explained that we didn’t want to leave.  It was our financial situation that was forcing us to go back. 

Then three things happened to completely change our minds:
1) Our support levels increased
2) We found a tenant for our townhouse as of March
3) AAI offered us a financial package that would decrease our monthly expenses and increase our monthly support by the school.

First of all, we have felt so honored and blessed by friends and family in our lives.  We watched in awe as several of them began to support us by giving us a one-time gift or have supported us each month since January.  We thank each one of you who stepped out to became a vital part of our ministry.  We also know that those of you who haven’t been able to support us financially, have been supporting us with your prayers.  There have been many times that I know your prayer covering has kept us from being discouraged and disheartened.  Thank you for your faithful friendship to us!

Secondly, our realtor e-mailed us at the end of February to tell us that he had found a tenant who was willing to move into our townhouse and started paying rent at the beginning of March.  Although the rent does not cover our entire mortgage, it takes care of a big chunk of it that was pulling us further into debt each month.  We praise God for his faithfulness to us in this area.  It is wonderful to see this monthly income being put into our bank account each month.

Finally, AAI proposed that we move on campus this summer.  They would cover the cost of our rent, utilities, local phone and Internet connection.  This would save us approximately $750 in monthly expenses.  In exchange for free housing, we have been given more responsibilities for the following school year.  Stephen will be taking on new leadership activities by overseeing campus ministries and Cristina will be teaching more classes, become a 8th grade class sponsor and doing some public relations projects for the school. 

We’ve also agreed to allow a small daycare in our home for some of the mothers of young babies (under 18 months old).  Presently two other mothers are interested in bringing their babies to school, during the hours that they work, in order to be close by for regular feedings.  The school has offered to pay our nanny a little extra to help with these babies. This is a blessing to us, because we would like to pay her more for her work, but have been financially unable to do so. 

Therefore, we were able to make our final decision by mid-March.  We are staying in Ecuador for at least one more school year.  This fall, we will begin again to re-evaluate our financial situation and see if we can continue in Ecuador for longer than that.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 2009):  We have decided to stay for a third year and will continue our ministry through the 2010-2011 school year.

Note: This is an update of the post written in mid-March.

Planning Our Summer Trip

As some of you already know, we have decided to come back to the U.S. this summer for about three weeks to visit our family and friends. 

We purchased our plane tickets at Easter and we are currently trying to nail down the details of our travel plans.  Below is our basic plan for travel.  We would love to visit as many friends and family as possible.  Please let us know if you are available and within traveling distance to the locations where we will be. 

**To Contact Us**
E-mail – crcmeier@yahoo.com
Vonage phone – 352-505-9276 


Tuesday, June 23 – Flying from Quito to Miami (stay in Miami overnight)

Wednesday, June 24 – Flying to Portland, Oregon

June 24-June 30 – Visiting Stephen’s family in Portland

Wednesday, July 1 – Flying to Orlando, Florida

July 1-5 – Staying with Cristina’s family in the central Florida area

Monday, July 6 – Driving to Mobile, AL
*driving through the Florida Panhandle toward Alabama

July 6-7 – Visiting with Stephen’s younger sister and her family

Wednesday, July 8 – Driving to GA (spend the night with friends)

Thursday, July 9 – Driving to Virginia Beach, VA to see some friends and visit Regent University
*driving through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia

Friday, July 10 – Driving to northern Virginia

July 10-12 – Visiting friends and our church (Shenandoah Valley Baptist Church)
*traveling around in Winchester, Stephens City, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia and possibly the D.C. area

July 13 – Drive back to Florida and spending the night in Jacksonville with Cristina’s cousin and her family
 driving through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia

July 14 – Drive back down to Gainesville, FL

July 14-15 – Visiting with Cristina’s family in the central Florida area

July 16 – Traveling back to Miami to fly back to Quito in the late afternoon

Students in Service

Every afternoon, as the final bell rings to signal the end of the school day, the noise level ranges from normal to moderately loud as students gather at their lockers. 

Even from the third floor computer lab, I can hear them talking to each other.  Some conversations focused on homework assignments, others focused on extracurricular activities, and still other conversations center on social items. Nothing seems out of the ordinary on most weekday afternoons. 

Then comes Wednesday.

Half an hour after the bell rings, new and different sounds echo across the school grounds.  A siren goes off and groups of students go running down the hallway.  This is later followed by the sounds of singing from the chapel.  From the gym, I can hear the sounds of elementary students laughing, running and playing.

What makes the difference? 

Wednesday afternoon is when different groups of high school students meet together in their various Christian Service Outreach (CSO) groups.  Throughout the school year, these groups meet on Wednesdays after school to take part in a particular type of outreach. 

One group that meets on campus is AWANA.  The high school students involved in this group lead the AWANA activities in the gym where the elementary students participate.  Students as young as three years old and as old as sixth graders are welcome to participate.

Another group that meets on campus is called Guardians.  This group of high school students provides a mentorship program between high school and middle school students. They play different types of games on school grounds and then meet together in the chapel. 

Another group of high school ladies formed a new music CSO group this year.  They practice on campus and then perform at different locations in the city.

Other groups meet on campus, but travel to other locations for their ministry. Some groups team up with existing ministries to serve others.  Those involved in “Pan De Vida (Bread of Life)” work with the homeless and poor in the city.  Those involved in “Extreme Response” visit the city dump to bring the gospel to the desperately poor working there.  Another group works with “EFCito” which is the Sunday school ministry of a local English-service church. Those who work with “Opcion de Vida (Choose Life)” work with mainly street boys who spend most of their time in the park at the center of Quito called “Carolina Park.”  

Another group doesn’t work with a specific ministry, but has established their own ministry to a government run hospital called “Baca Ortiz.”  They plan their visits on every other week and visit the hospital on the intermediate weeks.  This group calls themselves the Campana Cocha Clan and is named after a small indigenous village of the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle that they visit once a year.

Although neither Stephen nor I have been able to get involved in a CSO group this year, we’ve seen how this type of Christian service has impacted the lives of the students who are involved.  It is amazing to see their hearts reach out to those who are in need with compassion and the love of Christ.

To read some stories about some of these ministries, please visit the student newspaper:

A Beach Trip for All

The Meier boys on the beach

The Meier boys on the beach

It was mid-April, when Stephen came home with some interesting news.  The seniors had voted on which of the three school administrators to invite to their senior trip.  They had chosen Stephen to join them.  They would be flying out to the coastal city of Guayaquil and then taking a bus to a tourist beach known as “Salinas” to spend a week there.

After trying not to feel jealous, I told Stephen that he should find out if I could come with our sons.  At first, Stephen thought the idea would not be well received by the senior class.  However, I continued to implore him to simply ask the class officers and see what might be possible.  About a week later, he came back to tell me that the class decided that I (and the boys) could join them and the school would pay for our tickets.

I was so excited to pack up and leave school for the final week of May.  We took off on Monday, May 25 and spent five days and four nights at the beach.  I spent the week chasing Jared around, trying to keep Luke well-fed and trying to find time to relax in the midst of it all. 

Jared and Luke experienced the beach for the first time in their lives.  Jared loved the sand, but hated the ocean waves.  We couldn’t get him to get anywhere near the water.  But he could sit in the sand and play contentedly for hours, if we let him.  In spite of his fear of the ocean water, he had no problem with the pool water.  Every time we were near the pool, he wanted to play in it. Luke just took it all in as an average 4 and a ½ month old.  As long as his belly was full, he was happy to lay on his back, suck on his fist and watch the world go by.

We returned to Quito on Friday afternoon, May 29, and ready to have another weekend before heading back to school for the final two weeks before summer vacation begins. 

School Schedule –
June 1-5 – Final week of normal classes / Academic Week Begins
June 8-12 – Final Exam Week
June 12 – Class of 2009 graduation @ 7pm
June 15 – Final Teacher Work Day

Ecuadorians Cast Their Vote

 Last fall, Ecuadorian citizens were required to come out and vote on a new Constitution that President Correa was trying to get implemented into the government.  This new constitution won the “yes” vote and was made the official constitution of Ecuador.  Some of the new laws were put into motion right away.

Others however took a while to be put into practical use.  One regulation was put into use this past April when all Ecuadorian citizens were once again required to come out and vote.  This time they were voting for the Ecuadorian president and other such leadership.  Under the new constitution, the voting age had been lowered to sixteen.  The only difference between the 16-17 age group and the 18-65 group was that the younger group could vote on a voluntary basis.  All older citizens are required to vote (or pay a fine). 

The election took place on April 26th and the current president, Correa was re-elected to his position.  The Ecuadorian people also voted for a vice-president, 124 members of the national legislative assembly, 221 mayors, 24 prefects and 1581 municipal officials.  All these choices were further complicated by the fact that there are over 20 different political parties to choose from when voting for different candidates.

The National Alliance party (PAIS) won 61 of 124 seats in the national legislative assembly or congress, becoming the majority party.  It was also recorded that slightly over half a million 16 and 17 year olds decided to come out and vote. Some of our students at the Alliance Academy also participated.  It was quite interesting to see the impact that this election had on our students who are nationals.

Signs I’ve only seen in Ecuador

Although I’m an American citizen by birth and nationality, I have lived most of my live outside of the United States.  Nevertheless, I can safely say that there are certain things that I’ve found astonishing or hilarious while living in Quito, Ecuador.  I never noticed them when I lived here as an adolescent, but I’m definitely noticing them now.  So, let me share with you some signs I’ve only seen in this country.  If you’ve seen something similar in the U.S., please let me know. I would love to hear a comparison.

(Note: I’ve translated these signed into English, but they appeared first in Spanish). 

#1 – Please show your level of education when you use this urinal. 
Comment – Hmmm…it must take a certain level of education to know how to flush a toilet properly or how to dispose of toilet paper.  I wonder what they expect of those who have their master’s degree or Ph.D.? 

#2 – This ice cream treat consists of vanilla flavored vegetable grease and covered with chocolate.
Comment – Yummm…I’m sure this advertisement strategy would not work in the U.S. Or perhaps there is a certain group of people out there just dying for a taste of “vanilla flavored vegetable grease.” 

#3 – Please decide what item you wish to pull out before you open the door.
Comment – This sign was posted on the door of the frozen food section in the grocery store.  I’m guessing they’ve had trouble with people just opening the freezer door and standing there for hours staring at all the rows of frozen vegetables and microwave dinners. 

#4 – When you go shopping, think “Ecuador” first.
Comment – This is actually one of the slogans that belong to a political campaign against imported goods.  The current presidential administration is trying to encourage people to buy goods that are made in Ecuador instead of buying those are that imported by foreign companies.

As I see more interesting signs, I’ll be sure to update this post.

Appliance Adventures

We felt extremely blessed when we had the opportunity to buy a household of furniture and household appliances from a family that was leaving Ecuador at the same time that we were planning on moving down here.  Over the months of using our newly obtained items, we also began to realize how blessed the leaving family had been.  They left just in time for their appliances to start giving out on them. 

The first item to go was our clothes dryer.  We had been in the country for a month, when our nanny told us that she had been unable to dry a load of clothes. 

“It just spins around in circles, but never dries,” she told us. 

Sure enough, it appeared that something had snapped in the heating system of the dryer.  However, we didn’t have the money to fix it, so we just began to air dry our clothing.  We’ve actually been doing this ever since. 

The next item to go was our iron.  A couple weeks after our dryer died, the maid said that she had to stop using the iron, because it started smoking while she was using it.  I fussed and complained because I didn’t think we could afford a new one.  However, Stephen insisted that it was an appliance that we couldn’t do without.  So, we bought ourselves a new iron.

It wasn’t more than two weeks later that Stephen called me into the bedroom because the television was doing something weird.  It was an old analog set that we had bought from the family.  Suddenly the screen made a popping noise and smoke started coming out of the back.  That was the end of the television.  I would have been happy without one, but Stephen said that we should buy a new one. So, off we went.

We went a few months without any more failed appliances.  The only other item to fall apart was a plastic laundry basket. 

Then, in February of this year, our portable DVD player stopped working completely.  We decided to go out and buy and new one with the idea that Jared should not be allowed to touch it.  However, he got ahold of the new DVD player one day and broke off the door.  Ouch.  That hurt our pocketbook.  But this new DVD player still works.  It just can’t open automatically.

A couple months went by before the next big appliance fell apart.  This time, it was a serious problem.  Our refrigerator had created too thick of a layer of ice around the freezer section.  When the maid went to defrost the fridge, it never was able to regulate itself back to the original cold temperature.  Nothing in the freezer was freezing anymore and food in the refrigerator section was starting to go bad. 

We found out that our refrigerator coolant had somehow leaked out and it would take some major repair to get it fixed.  We reluctantly headed out of the house to buy a new refrigerator.  However, God spared us of that expense in the most amazing way.

We were in a store ready to buy the refrigerator when the sales agent told us that he couldn’t deliver our new refrigerator for another four days unless we could get someone to come pick up the refrigerator from the store.  In our attempts to find someone to help us move a refrigerator, we discovered that there was a spare refrigerator at school that we could use for a few months until we move into the apartment at school.  We are now using that borrowed refrigerator and are very grateful that we didn’t have to spend an extra $700!

The most recent appliance to give out on us was our new television we both last fall.  It went out the day after the refrigerator did.  Fortunately, it died four days before the warranty expired and we were able to get the television fixed at no cost.

I just keep hoping and praying that the rest of our appliances will hold up for the rest of the school year.   We are grateful that God has continued to provide for our needs in spite of the hassles we’ve had with our appliances.

Update on Jared Talk

Jared’s vocabulary is expanding more and more every day.  It’s amazing all the little words and phrases he is picking up (or trying to pick up) since the last time I wrote about it in mid-March.  Sometimes, I still have to play the guessing game to figure out what he’s saying.  

Visit this post to see what words he has been saying for a while:

Here is a list of words that still confuse me:
“Mama” and “mum-mum”
He calls his mother “Mama”, but he calls his bottle of formula milk “mum-mum.” One morning, I thought he was screaming out my name, but he was actually thirsty and wanting to drink his milk.  I’m glad I was able to figure it out after a little while. 

“Daddy” “teddy” “taxi”
Amazingly enough, all three of these words sound very similar when they are coming out of Jared’s mouth.  

Aunt Anita and our nanny Marina are both “Nina.”
Sometimes I don’t know if he is asking to see his Aunt’s face on Skype or if he wants to see his nanny walk through the front door. 

“Please” and “cheese”
We’ve taught him how to say both, but sometimes I can’t tell which one he’s saying! 

List of Spanish words he has learned:
There are some words Jared would rather say in Spanish than English.

“biba” which is short for “pelicula” (movie)
“mimo” or “mima” is short for “amigo / amiga” (friend)
“lapiz” (pencil)
“agua” (water)
“alli esta!” (There it is!)
“gracias” (Thank you) 

List of phrases:
Finally, we’re trying to teach him some helpful phrases that will help him communicate more effectively with people around him.  Here are a few he can say.

“Help me.”
“Don’t want that.”
“Up, Mamma.”

When Stephen had his birthday, I tried to get Jared to say “Happy Birthday.”  The closest I got was for Jared to say “Happy Day.”  I guess that’s close enough for a 22 month old.

Jared plays in the sand

Jared plays in the sand