Summary of our Summer Travels

Our summer officially began with our summer trip to the U.S.  We left Quito on the morning of Saturday, July 3.  We arrived at the airport shortly before 6am with four suitcases, two car seats, two backpacks, a diaper bag and a stroller.  Luke was strapped into the stroller and Jared did the big boy thing and walked beside us.  After lugging our entire luggage to the international airport, we found out that we really had to check in at the national gate, because our first stop was in Guayaquil (a coastal city in Ecuador). 

After we finally got checked in at the correct location, we didn’t have any major incidences until we found ourselves waiting in the airport in Guayaquil for our next flight to Miami, Florida.  Our flight was delayed for over an hour.  This made us a little nervous, because we had a connecting flight in Miami to Orlando. 

We arrived in Miami with about 50 minutes to find all of our luggage, recheck all our luggage to the next flight and then go from the international wing of the airport to the national wing to make our flight to Orlando.  The ladies in Guayaquil had suggested that if we didn’t make our schedule flight that we could always take the 10pm flight to Orlando which would arrive at 11pm.  We weren’t too thrilled about that idea, because we still had a two hour drive from Orlando to Gainesville where we would be staying with family.

Somehow we managed to make our scheduled flight and arrived in Orlando as planned at 8pm.  However, not all our luggage made it onto our flight with us.  Fortunately, both car seats did arrive.  But one suitcase had been bumped to the later flight.  It was the suitcase that had all of Cristina’s personal items and all the mail we were planning to drop off in the post office for people at school. 

The representative at American Airlines was very helpful and told us that they would personally deliver the missing piece of luggage to the place we were staying in Gainesville.  As promised, someone came by at 5pm the following day with the suitcase. 

Thus began our adventures in the U.S.  We spent a couple days in Florida visiting with Cristina’s brother and sister in law, her sister and brother in law.  They had each given birth to their first sons.  It was fun to spend some time with the new nephews.  Cristina’s bachelor brother, Tim, also spent some time with them.

After spending 4th of July in Florida, Stephen and Cristina packed up their rental car and two young sons and drove up to northern Virginia.  The on-line directions suggested it would be a 13 hour trip.  With two babies in two, it ended up being a 16 and ½ hour trip.  But we all made it to the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia in one piece.  We took a week to spend time with friends, supporters and members of our ‘home’ church who lived in the area. 

We were also able to meet our new realtor while in Virginia.  At the time that our tenant decided to leave our home, our realtor also told us that we would need to find someone else to take care of our property for us.  It seemed that God worked out the timing perfectly, because we were able to meet our new realtor in person a week after we signed a contract to have them care for our property.

During our time, we were able to attend church for their Wednesday night service and all of their Sunday services.  Our sons also got to participate in the first night of the church’s VBS program.  Jared rode a horse for the first time in his life.  Luke really liked to songs that they learned that night.

Link on Facebook (you’ll need to be a member of facebook and be on our friend status)!/video/video.php?v=423053256650

Monday morning, we left Stephens City, Virginia and drove to Marietta, Georgia to visit some friends.  It was a good half way point between northern Virginia and Mobile, Alabama.  The following morning, we traveled down there to spend time with Stephen’s sister, Susan and her family.  It was a short visit of about 24 hours.  But Jared and Luke enjoyed their time with their cousins, Zoe, Connor and Gavin.

Link to a Kodak Album:

Wednesday afternoon, we drove back to Gainesville, Florida where Cristina’s relatives were waiting.  Cristina’s parents, Steve and Helen Cobb, had also flown up from the country of Guatemala to spend a few days with them.  We hung out, celebrated Jared’s third birthday a little early and took a trip to Neptune Beach.  Jared and Luke had a lot of fun playing in the sand.

For our final week in the U.S., we stayed in the Gainesville area, finishing up our shopping and enjoying some of the local sites.  We took the boys to a local splash park one morning.  The boys really enjoyed playing in the water.  We also took the boys to a museum located in the University of Florida.  Jared especially enjoyed the live butterfly exhibit.

We flew back to Quito on Saturday, July 24.  It was the most stress-free trip I had experienced yet.  The only delay was in leaving Miami.  Our flight was delayed for about 45 minutes due to cleaning of the aircraft.   But we still arrived in Quito before the boys’ bedtime.


Changes for the new school year (2010-2011)

During the summer, Stephen and I received an e-mail from the director of Alliance Academy International (AAI), stating the following:

“After prayer, careful consideration, and substantial research of legal risks and implications, the Foundation and Governance Board of the ‘Fundacion Academia Alianza Internacional’ voted to authorize the Director to take the necessary steps to withdraw the Academy from the relationship with the Ministry of Education [of Ecuador]. The Academy’s request was formally presented to the Ministry on Monday, July 5, and documentation was received today which officially REPEALS the 2007 ‘Acuerdo Ministerial’ which brought the AAI under the authority and supervision of the Ministry of Education.

“The Academy’s primary objective in submitting to the Ministry of Education and meeting national educational requirements has been to confer Ecuadorian diplomas for those students who will remain in Ecuador for university studies, especially in the traditional universities which require the national diploma. However, after three years, AAI has not had one Ecuadorian diploma approved by the Ministry, leaving our graduates in the same circumstances as graduates before the relationship with the Ministry was formalized. (AAI graduates choosing to attend the traditional Ecuadorian universities have been obliged to go through the same diploma approval process as graduates prior to Ministry recognition.) 

“The AAI will continue to operate under the legally-constituted AAI Foundation, and will produce academic records and confer diplomas accredited by AdvancED (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and the Association of Christian Schools International. AdvancED is the world’s largest accreditation agency, with accredited schools in sixty-five countries. ACSI is the world’s largest Christian accrediting agency, with member schools in one hundred countries. AAI’s records and diplomas will continue to be recognized internationally.

“The Academy will continue to offer the instructional content in the high school to assure that graduates remaining in Ecuador will be well-prepared for admission and success in national universities. In addition, graduates will be provided assistance in obtaining recognition of the Academy’s international diplomas by the limited number of universities in Ecuador requiring validation of the such diplomas. Assistance in legalizing academic records for students transferring from AAI to national schools will also be provided.”

This was exciting news for all of us who had watched the struggle the school had in adapting to all the regulations being given to us by the Ministry of Education.  It was because of these regulations that we had the longest school year in the history of the academy last year and did not finish classes until June 25th.  It was during the 2009-10 school year that it became clear that the structures, programs, and processes of the AAI were not compatible with those of the national education system.

We are excited that we will be able to finish the school year a week earlier this year and have extra holidays added to the school year. 

All faculty and staff are expected to be on campus as of Friday, August 27. Classes begin on Thursday, September 2.

Many renovations have taken place on campus during the summer.  The walkways between buildings have been completely remodeled, buildings have been painted and new wheel chair ramps have been made in the efforts to make the entire campus wheel chair accessible to the students who are in middle school and will be entering high school in the next couple years.