Recent Adventures in the Meier Family

Date: October 2, 2010
Location: Quito, Ecuador

Greetings, friends and family,

I was planning on writing another newsletter (and do some updating of this family blog) sometime “soon.”  But with the recent political unrest in the country, I decided I should speed up the process and complete the task this weekend before too many people start wondering if we disappeared among the turmoil you might have been reading about on-line.

Before I go any further, let me assure everyone that the family is doing well and barely affected about what has been going on a few miles away from our home.  We are blessed to live in a bit of a ‘cocoon’ here on the school’s campus.  We were not even close enough to the action to hear any of the rioting or smell any tires burning.

You can visit  the links on this blog  to read more about the following items:

*A 24 hour Upheaval in Ecuador
*A STUCO retreat for the whole family
*Jared’s sharp mind
*Luke’s melodic expressions
*Celebrating 34 Years of Life
*Stephen’s Job Hunt

Thanks for taking the time to stay in touch with us.  E-mail us, Skype us, leave us a message here, call us on our Vonage phone or simply come on over and visit (if physically possible).  We love “visiting” no matter which method of communication used.


Cristina, Stephen, Jared and Luke (and the little shrimp-t0-be a Meier)

A 24 hour Upheaval in Ecuador

Link to a recent CNN article:

On the morning of Thursday, September 30, I woke up a little earlier than normal and was busy trying to plan out the rest of my day, having little clue of how those plans were going to change in the next few hours.

I was trying to prepare myself to teach my third period class an entire hour earlier than normal.  This week was Spiritual Emphasis Week for our secondary students (seventh through twelfth grades) and the morning schedule had been rearranged to allow for a longer chapel session directly before lunch that ran from 11am to 12:10.  My third period class for Thursday and Friday was scheduled for 8:45am, when I ordinarily teach it at 9:40.

I was not looking forward to it.  I had not been getting enough sleep all week.  By the time my class ended at 9:25, I knew that I was going to be sick if I did not lie down and rest for a bit.  I thought about the fact that faculty and staff members were “highly encouraged” to attend the chapel events, but I didn’t think I would make it through my afternoon classes if I didn’t get some rest that morning.  So, I went home and took a little nap, waking up shortly before noon.

I groggily came out of my bedroom to help the nanny get Jared and Luke and little Isabella ready for lunch and their afternoon naps.  I also had a lunch meeting with some students that I needed to prepare for. 

My thoughts were interrupted by a series of 10 bells ringing out from the speakers placed all aroundcampus. Sonia continued with her duties while I listened to the voice of the director of the school announce that he was beginning the emergency evacuation drill and that all students needed to go pick up their things and be ready to leave campus.

My first thought was, “Why are we having a drill right before lunch time?  We didn’t even get an e-mail to prepare us for this.” 

Then I began trying to explain the process of preparing for an evacuation drill to Sonia, because this was her first experience with it.  I told her that this was only a practice drill and that she needed to take the three children to the back corner of the room until we received further notice of where we should go. 

Just as I was  finishing explaining the evacuation procedures, I heard the director announce again that all secondary students whose parents did not work for the U.S. embassy needed to go to their 6th period classes and that their teachers should meet them there. 

I felt confused as my heart pulled me in two different directions.  I didn’t want to leave Sonia and the kids to figure out what to do by themselves, but I did have a group of 10 students who would be waiting for me to show up in the computer lab.  I also felt annoyed by what I still thought was just a procedural practice drill to prepare us for real situations in the future.

I asked Sonia if she had her cell phone with her, and she said that she didn’t bring it to work with her that day because she had lent it to someone.  After a few minutes, I promised Sonia to call her on the house phone and let her know what she should do next.

Then I scurried off to my sixth period class. 

As I walked down the hallway, through the secondary locker area and toward the building where my class was, I saw different scenes that seemed strange and unusual.  Students were gathering items from their lockers as if they were getting ready to leave.  Some students were with their parents.  There was a general sense of confusion in the air. 

I arrived in my classroom to find my students and another teacher who was trying to cover for me until I arrived.  The first thing I heard was her voice as she argued with the students not to listen to rumors but to wait and find out what was really going on.  Some of the students were asking if they were going to die, if there was a bomb in the school, or if some other natural disaster was about to occur. 

I was told by the teacher that I was supposed to stay in the classroom until each of the students were picked up and taken home by their parents.

That was the first moment that I really began to realize that this was not just an ordinary drill.  Something was happening.  The first thing I did was call Sonia and told her to start feeding the kids, because they wouldn’t be going anywhere.  The connection was bad, so I didn’t bother explaining the situation.

I followed this with a call to Stephen to find out what was going on and what I was supposed to be doing with the students in my charge.  He came up and explained that parents were currently being notified and that they were supposed to come and pick up their kids and take them home as soon as possible.

“A student cannot leave unless his name is called over the loud speaker or if a parent arrives with a notice from the office saying that the child is free to go with them,” Stephen told me.  

I looked at my watch.  It was nearly 12:40pm.  I looked at my students.  One student was out sick and one other student has been picked up by his mom.  That left me with nine students to supervise.

My head started to swim as I realized that I was getting hungry and I had no idea how long I would be up here with these students.  Some of them were worried that their parents would not be able to pick them up because they lived outside of the city. 

Then a new thought jolted my brain.

“Is this thing affecting the Alliance Academy only, or all schools in Quito?” I asked Stephen.

After he told me that all schools in the city were being shut down, I suddenly thought of the nanny.  Sonia Yanchapaxi has two teenage daughters attending schools in Quito.  One is an eighth grader and the other is twelfth grade.  She had no idea what was going on, because she didn’t have her cell phone. 

I told Stephen that I had to get home as soon as possible and let her know that she had to take care of her own kids.  After he found someone to take over my class, I rushed home in time to find Sonia calmly trying to put my boys down for their nap, oblivious to the sounds of various students names being blasted over the loud speaker intermittently telling them to go to the office or meet their parents at one of the entrances to the school.

“This was a bad day to forget your cell phone,” I told her. 

Her eyes got big as I explained the evacuation situation happening across the city and that it had to do with some kind of rioting going on in the city. I gave her my cell phone so that she could start calling her family members and took over the job of getting the boys settled down for their nap. 

Meanwhile, Isabella’s mom came to take her home.  By the time the boys were asleep it was 1pm.  Sonia told me that the police force was on strike at that there were bands of thieves taking advantage of the situation to rob banks and other local businesses.  A couple of malls had also been attacked that very morning. 

“My husband closed his shop, because the police aren’t doing anything to stop these thieves,” she told me. 

Businesses all across Quito had already closed at some point that morning and schools were officially told to close at noon by the ministry of Education. 

After I let Sonia leave to meet up with her husband and daughters, I spent the rest of the afternoon looking at the local television news to figure out what was going on.  That was when I realized what had started at approximately 8am that morning.  Watching images of people rioting on the television, made the situation seem as it was thousands of miles away. As I watched, I heard the director make more announcements over the loudspeakers.  By 2:30 all the students had been picked up by their parents.  Then there was an announcement that school would be closed on Friday.  In the end, there was silence across campus.  The only action happening was on the television screen.

In the end, the news could come out that the president had been kidnapped and sequestered in a hospital building for the whole day.  I have actually been in that building in the past, because it is adjacent to the hospital building were Luke was born and I used their civil registration office to get Luke’s paperwork done.

Throughout the day, a group of rioters came out to protest what the police were doing and a group of rioters (who agreed with the police) came out to protest the president’s new law.  Those who were involved in these riots were the ones at risk of injury or death.  For the rest of the population, who went home and stayed out of the way, they stayed safe.  For those who were in the center of Quito, trying to leave the city, they faced a few challenges and obstructions in the way of rioters burning tires. The rescue of the president, late that Thursday evening, signaled the end of the riot at the cost of the lives of two police officers. 

By Friday morning, there was no trace left of the event.  I took a taxi through the center of the city to do my grocery shopping and nothing on the street could give me any indicators of what had happened the day before.  The only big difference was the amount of people shopping with my on a Friday morning.  Typically, it is very quiet at that time.  That day, however, the store was packed to capacity.  The lines behind the check out counters curved around the back of the front isle to accommodate the 6 to 10 different people standing at each counter. I think it took me 45 minutes standing at the front of the store, before I reached the check out counter myself. 

Now, it is the weekend and it looks like the situation that had been created such tension and distress for a few hours, has settled into a dust of recovery.  I am guessing that school will be back in session on Monday, as the police force is doing their best to gain back the  trust of the people and hope that they will not be among the group of officers who are “purged” from their jobs for the actions that took place on the last day of September.

As for me, I am grateful to be living in a place where we remained virtually untouched by the turmoil around us.

A STUCO retreat for the whole family

One of the duties that I decided to continue this school year was being a class sponsor.  The Class of 2013 were freshmen students last year and this year they are full-blown sophomores.  As one of my high school teachers used to tell me, sophomores are “wise fools” as defined by their name.  In spite of the interesting and challenging personalities of some of the students, I was looking forward to a new year of helping these students raise funds and learning more how to work together on different tasks and projects.

One of the first big events for the class sponsors is the STUCO (Student Council) retreat.  I decided that Luke and Jared should also come, because I couldn’t stand the thought of being away from them overnight.  It ended up being the trend among adult sponsors as three other parents brought their young children, as well. 

A large tour bus took us out of the city of Quito to a property owned by the school in the city of Calicali.  Because of it’s location in the mountains, the weather tends to be quite chilly.  The only time it warms up is when the sun is shining directly on it. 

We arrived in the evening and spent some time running around in the open fields between the cabins.  Jared brought a soccer ball and spent a lot of time kicking the ball to another little boy who was also there.  Luke didn’t really care about the balls.  He wanted to play with the grass or chase the dogs that lived on the property.  Fortunately, they were very tame dogs who tolerated well the aggressive and chubby little hands of my 20 month old son. 

We all ate dinner together and then I tried to entertain the boys while their dad spoke to the group of student leaders about conflict resolution and how to deal with conflict.  However, it was quite challenging to keep them both quiet as Jared was fascinated with the moths that were attracted to the light bulbs inside the windows.  Jared kept yelling, “Look, Mommy!  There’s a butterfly!”

I would try to shush him and say, “That’s great, Jared…just try to be a little more quiet.”

Finally, the session was over and I took the boys back to our cabin to get ready for bedtime.  I dressed them up in about six layers of clothing and then placed a single bed up next to the bottom bunk of one of the two bunk beds in the room to make some child safe sleeping areas for the boys using blankets and pillows. 

Jared was excited about his little cozy corner of the bed where I had propped up pillows on both sides to keep him from rolling around the bed.  Luke was more excited about climbing around the room than sleeping in his area between the pillows.  It took me until 10:30pm before I could get him to fall asleep.  I slept across the end of the single bed to provide a barrier on the side of their bed that wasn’t against the wall. 

The air grew colder as the night hours dwindled into morning.  Jared woke up a couple times needing his covered tucked around him better.  Luke kept pushing his head into my side as he tried to scoot himself out of his little “nest.”  Somehow I managed to keep him well covered during the night. 

Breakfast time was welcomed by all and the sun began to heat up the mountain air around us.  The boys were able to take their sweaters off to play in the fields later that morning. 

By the time we had to leave, the boys were tired and happy.  Everything went smoothly except for one thing.  I managed to forget my purse with my wallet, my cell phone, my keys and other personal items by the outdoor campfire location and didn’t realize it until we got back to Quito.

Thankfully, we had friends who lived in that area and they were able to pick up my purse and bring it back to school to me the following Monday.

Jared’s Sharp Mind

I know that every parent thinks that their child is brilliant.  But I have to say that I am quite impressed with the vocabulary and memorization ability of my son, Jared. 

In the past few months, he is picking up on a lot more Spanish than he ever has before.  He won’t speak to me in Spanish very much, but I’ve heard him having conversations with Sonia completely in Spanish.  When he is with her, he remembers to pronounce both his name and Luke’s name in Spanish and not English.  Sonia has also been playing counting games with the boys and once I listened to Jared count from one to 25 in Spanish…well…give or take a few numbers that he might has skipped in between. 

And he’s still working on counting in English, but he can reach twenty without too much help. 

Besides having conversations with Sonia, Jared also spends a lot of time having conversations with Luke.  Sometimes those conversations end in frustration on both their parts as they aren’t quite able to communicate clearly to one another.  At times, I have to stop Jared from arguing with his brother, because he will yell at Luke for pronouncing something incorrectly.

“No, Lukie! That’s not the way you say it! Don’t say it like that!” Jared will tell him. 

It doesn’t seem to bother Luke too much.  He just continues to babble in his little language that is just starting to become intelligible to our listening ears. 

What’s really fun is listening to them interact first thing in the morning.  There are times that they will play together in their bedroom for a while, before they come out looking for us.  Those times are nice, because I can continue lying in the bed listening to them chatter before I have to get up and feed and dress them.

Jared enjoys a mid-morning snack with his brother, Luke.

Luke’s Melodic Expressions

Luke spreads the sause on his own pizza pie.

In the past year, it has become evident that Luke really likes different kinds of music.  All I have to do is start singing something or turn on a CD and Luke starts swinging his arms around and moving his body to the rhythm of the sounds he hears.  He’s also drawn to musical instruments that he finds. 

If you are on our Facebook page, you should take a look at this video, if you haven’t seen it yet:!/video/video.php?v=420303491650

Just recently, he has started trying to sing some of the songs I have taught Jared.  His favorite so far is Old McDonald.  He can’t really pronounce the words, but he’ll make the sounds of the song that sound something like this:

“Oh muh-dow waw… aw…aw…aw… eye ee eye oh!!!”

Then he tries to pinch his nose to signify that the pig on Old McDonald’s farm had an “oink, oink” here, there and everywhere. It’s really quite cute.

Of course, the last few days, he’s been singing “Happy Birthday to you!” randomly because his mommy recently celebrated her birthday and he got fascinated with the song.

Celebrating 34 Years of Life

On September 29, 2010, Cristina Meier celebrated her 34th birthday.  Even though she was very tired, she didn’t mind too much when her boys woke up extra early so that they could give her some birthday gifts.  Jared jumped up on the bed and gave his mommy a big pink stuffed dog.  He was so proud of himself.

Jared and Luke present their gifts to their sleepy Mommy.

“Look what I got you for your birthday, Mommy!” Jared said.

Luke couldn’t express himself as verbally, but he babbled a few things and showed his mommy the birthday balloon he was carrying.  He wasn’t quite sure he wanted to relinquish it at first.  But Jared “helped” him give up the object.

Then Stephen brought in a large bouquet of flowers that the boys had helped him pick out. 

It was a lovely start to a busy day.  At the end of the day, when everyone was back home, we gathered our things together and took off on an adventure to find a restaurant that Cristina had not visited since she was 18 years old.  It used to be her favorite Mexican restaurant in Quito, called “La Guarida del Coyote” which translates into “The Coyote’s Haunt.”  Although she had some challenge finding updated information about the restaurant on-line, they were able to find the place while driving past in a taxi. 

Cristina and Stephen enjoyed some authentic Mexican food, while the boys tried to eat some of the kid’s menu of chicken and French fries (accompanied by some fresh fruit, veggies and cheese mom brought from home).  It was an enjoyable night and they were able to get home in time to have some dessert at home and go to bed early.

Yep…this pregnant mother of two was ready to make it an early night.

Stephen’s Job Hunt

Stephen made his decision official with the director of the Alliance Academy International a few weeks ago and let him know that he is actively looking for a new school administrative job position for next school year.  Our school made the announcement within the school to find out if anyone is interested in trying to apply for his job and then will open the job to others who might be interested. 

In the meantime, Stephen has been traveling a bit of a roller coaster and he signs up for different hiring associations for Christian schools in the United States and international schools around the world.  There have been a few schools that have responded with interest. 

One international school in La Paz, Bolivia, went as far as to say that he was one of the semi-finalists for their hiring process.  They told him that if he made it to the next “round” they would invite him to come visit them at the end of September.  This brought us to a place of waiting for several weeks in which Stephen tried not to make any extra plans for the final week of September as he might be traveling.  Finally, on the last day of September, he got a response saying that he had not made the final cut and two other candidates were being asked to visit the school. 

So, now, Stephen moves on to other job perspectives.  He recently signed up for a special hiring conference that will take place in Atlanta, Georgia during the first week of December. This association helps to supply new teachers for international schools specifically in South America.  During that time, he also plans to visit a Christian school in Naples, Florida that has also expressed an interest in hiring him.

He has also looked at some other schools internationally that might work for us.  A school in Seoul, South Korea contacted Stephen to see if he was interested in applying for a position as high school principal there.  Stephen also saw an opening for a school in China and applied for that job as well. 

Please keep us in prayer during this process as we try to figure out where God is trying to take us next.  Wherever we go, we want to continue to serve him in all that we do.  Ideally, Stephen would like to have a job offer settled by the end of the year.