Marina accepts a good-bye present on her last day at work.
At the end of March, our little family went through a painful change. The lady who we had hired to help me take care of the boys, Marina Hernandez, discovered that she had two completely blocked arteries in her heart. Her doctor told her that she needed to stop working and get more rest in order to prevent a heart attack. He told her that is she kept working, she most likely would suffer a heart attack soon. He felt it was time for her to retire since she is almost 60 years old.
The news hit me hard, because I realized how much my boys had gotten attached to their “nana” (the name they had given Marina). I also was sad at the thought of not seeing Marina again.
That meant I had to look for someone new to help me with my boys and with the house work. Within a week, God made it possible for the maid of another missionary family to start working for us. Jenny Pilataxi has three children. Two are fully grown, but her youngest is only nine years old. She has also worked for missionary families her entire career as a nanny.
Although it has been an adjustment to have someone new working for us, we are excited about having her help. She is actively trying to help me teach my boys more Spanish words and she said that she will help me potty train Jared when he shows us that he is ready for it. (He hasn’t quite gotten there yet.)
We are excited to have a Christian working for us who is both trustworthy and full of energy and excitement about caring for my children.
Greetings to everyone from the family who had slipped out of e-mail contact for a month or two. We are still alive and well and enjoying a relaxing afternoon on this Mother’s Day of 2010. I manage every once in a while to open Facebook and try to see how all my FB friends and family are doing. Some of you have been so gracious to send us messages by e-mail or Skype and have been very patient in waiting for our response.
So, here I am to write a quick update about our lives as missionary educators in Quito, Ecuador. Please use the links on this web blog to find out about the following:
1) Updates in the ministry at Alliance Academy
*Read our current prayer requests
*Our upcoming summer trip to the U.S. is now available! (July 3-24)
2) Adventures with the Meier Family
*Find out how our sons, Jared and Luke, are progressing in their young lives
*Read about their adjustment to a new nanny in this past month
*Read about what Stephen has been doing lately
* Find out why Cristina is still struggling with procrastination and motivation to finish her dissertation and earn her Ph.D. in Communications
(Family News Link)
3) Fun Adventures in Quito, Ecuador
*Learn about the 21st Century ants that moved into our home
*Discover the new meaning for “did you have your coffee this morning?”
(TCK Views Link)
We continue to covet and appreciate your messages and notes of encouragement, as well as your love and prayer support. It is amazing to see God work in the lives of the people we work with. We are grateful to him in the ways that he continually provides for our needs at just the right time. We hope our correspondence with you provide you with some encouragement as well.
Cristina, Stephen, Jared and Luke Meier
We are now in the fourth quarter of the academic school year and things are getting more stressful on teachers and students alike. Both last week and this coming week have been filled with advanced placement (AP) exams for the students who have been taking AP classes at the Alliance Academy International. One of my students in my Journalism class has been taking three AP classes this year! Not only do they have to study for these tests, but they have to make up work for the classes they miss while taking their exams. Please pray for them to have the strength and mental preparation for each of those tests.
We just found out that one of our senior students fell this weekend while foolishly climbing on some high precipice. We don’t know all the details, but we know that the fall warranted a much higher injury than he sustained. Although Nathan Marshall does not have life-threatening injuries, he did manage to break his cheek bone in three different fractures and give himself a black eye. He had surgery on his face on Sunday, May 9. He is one of the dorm students, so he doesn’t have his immediate family here to support him through this time. His parents are missionaries in Uruguay. His mother is there today while his father is actually in the United States raising support. We ask for prayer that his surgery is without complications and that he will heal quickly and that his parents will be at peace about being so far from him during this process.
A new chapel system was developed in the past two months that gives high school students the opportunity to break into 20 smaller groups of seven to eight students so they can have more of a small group discussion during specific weeks of chapel meetings. Many of the students are struggling with this new adjustment in their routine chapel times. Some can’t seem to get over the fact that they are being grouped with students they aren’t very familiar with. Please pray that they will be able to grow to appreciate this change and be able to mature in their relationships with Christ and grow in their relationships with one another.
Yes, we finally purchased tickets to leave Ecuador for three weeks of July. We will be flying out of Quito on July 3 (Sat) and we return on July 24 (Sat); which is exactly three weeks.
Here is our tentative schedule:
July 3 – Leave Quito at 8:20am on LAN 1505. After a brief stop and change of planes in Guayaquil (AA 958) and again in Miami, we arrive in Orlando on American Airlines 588 at 8pm.
*We plan to drive to Gainesville, Florida that evening.
July 4-5 – Spend time with family in Gainesville.
July 6 – Drive to Northern Virginia (Winchester, Stephens City area).
July 6- 11 – Visit friends and our home church (Shenandoah Valley Baptist Church).
July 12 – Return to Florida (or make some stops along the way with friends and family.
July 13 – 23 – Spend time with family in Florida.
July 24 – Return to Orlando airport and fly to Quito on a 2:30 flight on AA (1485). We have a brief layover and change of planes in Miami and then arrive in Quito at 7:40 on AA931. This is still a very tentative schedule. Let us know if it might be possible to visit with you in our travels, especially if you live somewhere along the east coast between Florida and Virginia.
It is amazing to see how quickly my two little boys are growing. Jared is becoming more and more articulate in his speech (both English and Spanish) and Luke is an independent walker. It is very interesting to watch them interact and to see their similarities and differences.
Jared has always been my little shadow. He does not like to be left alone for anything. Therefore, using a “time out” as punishment usually works like a charm to get him to straighten out attitude…to the extent that two year old can accomplish this. Or if I am about to go somewhere and I want him to follow me, I can just tell him, “O.K. Jared. I’m leaving. Bye!” That usually brings him running in my direction. He is also learning how to sing. We have been listening to many children’s songs, and Jared has memorized some of the songs already.
Here are some of his favorites:
“The Gospel Train”
“The Bear Went Over the Mountain”
Luke is a more independent boy. He doesn’t care what everyone else is doing. If he has him eyes focused on something, nothing will tear him away. Going for a walk with Luke is a bit of a challenge, because he wants to go in his own direction and doesn’t follow Mommy at all. I can tell him that I’m leaving him and he doesn’t even pay attention. He is just so excited to be able to walk on his own that he wants to use his new found freedom as much as possible.
He has also mixed a lot more Spanish into his first words that Jared has. He’ll say “Chao” when he says “Good-bye” to people. I’ve heard him say the word for cookie in Spanish as well. There are a lot of other things that Luke says now, but I simply haven’t figured out his language yet. Sometimes I think he’s mixing both languages together into his own unique language.
Jared always tries to be the “big brother.” Sometimes, he’s a little too bossy and rough with his little brother. Luke isn’t quite old enough to retaliate. It will be interesting to see what happens when Luke starts fighting back. For now, he just starts crying and then Mommy comes running into the scene to rescue Luke from Jared.
There are other times that Jared and Luke are sweet and kind to each other. Sometimes, I’ll find them both in a fierce embrace as they roll around on the floor together.
Jared and Luke play in the the grass.
Stephen poses with a "cool" shaded Luke.
Stephen always manages to stay busy. He leaves the house at about 7:45 each morning and (except for a lunch break) often doesn’t come back home until a little before 6pm.
After returning from his conference in Florida at the end of January, he felt he had been equipped with more tools to proceed with the development of curriculum at the school. He has put into effect a curriculum mapping program to help continue to improve each subject area that is offered at the school.
This is also the time of year in which current teachers are required to let the school know if they will be continuing in their position for next year. Several vacancies have opened up in the secondary department in the past few months and Stephen has been involved in the searching and recruiting of new teachers. Slowly, but surely, we are getting those positions filled.
Now only is he interviewing new teachers to come to the school, he has also been interviewing new students looking at transferring to the Alliance Academy next year. His days are usually filled with meetings of different kinds and he doesn’t get to his administrative paperwork until the end of the school day when everyone is gone.
He has also began searching different international schools for openings in secondary administration, especially high school principal or director/head master of a school. Many of these positions hire a year in advance. So, he is beginning his search this year for the 2011-2012 school year.
We still plan to stay in Ecuador for at least one more school year.
Disgracefully, I have to admit that I have not completed any of the research and writing needed to finish my dissertation so far. I just realized last week that the spring semester of college classes ended on Friday and commencement (the one I was originally hoping to participate in) took place yesterday. A sharp twinge of regret pierces my heart as I realize that I have not gotten any work done the entire spring semester.
Cristina poses with Jared and Luke
Some writer’s block or mental fear of the monumental task before me has kept me in a pool of procrastination that I can’t seem to swim out of. I keep telling myself, “Once I finish grading these papers” or “Once I get through this project” I’ll get started on the Ph.D. Alas, that never happens. Something else always comes along to take up all the free time I have (which isn’t much).
Now, I’m wondering if I have to reach the very bottom of my desperation before I do something about it.
I think the hardest thing for me is trying to balance my work/study time with the time I spend with my children. I want Jared and Luke to be a priority. When I finally sit in front of the computer to type, my body and mind are so exhausted that I can’t think intelligently anymore…much less, try to write a dissertation.
I’m praying that I’ll find the extra motivation and determination to push past my fears and get moving on this huge project soon.