Tag Archives: travel

A Voyage without Immediate Results

Stephen helps decorate our family Christmas tree on the weekend before his trip to the U.S.

Two days after Thanksgiving break, Stephen was taking an international trip to the U.S. He had two major destinations.  First, he was traveling to Naples, Florida, where he was being considered as a possible candidate for high school administrator at a church-based school there.  He was to spend two days there and then he would drive up to Atlanta, Georgia, to attend a job recruitment conference hosted by the AASSA international association of schools located in central and South America.  Basically, several schools from countries in central and South America, would be sending representatives to this fair to recruit people for different administrative positions at their schools. 

Stephen had already connected with several of the schools through the recruitment website, and was highly confident that he would receive several job offers while attending the conference.  However, the fair did not turn out quite as he had hoped.  Although he was able to make some valuable connections with other administrators there, he was not officially offered a job position by any of them.  There are still a few schools who are still “considering” Stephen among their top candidates.  But Stephen is learning that even if one is considered “second” among the candidates, it makes no difference if the person considered “first” accepts the job.

Such was the case with the Christian school in Naples.  Stephen was told that he was a definite “second” choice, but they were waiting to hear back from their number one choice.  Two weeks later, they received their confirmation from that candidate and told Stephen that the position had been filled. 

So, here we are, once again, wondering where God will send us next year.  The only thing we know for sure is that we will be leaving the Alliance Academy International.  Stephen’s replacement has already been chosen and announced to the current faculty and staff.  There is no turning back.

Our biggest challenge right now is finding positions that will offer Stephen enough of a salary that we can pay off our loans and mortgage, and so that Cristina does not have to work for at least a couple years while their children are under school age. 

One school in Honduras was at the point of offering a position to Stephen, but he found out that we would need to rely on donations and financial support gifts.  Raising support has been increasingly difficult in this past year as many of our friends and supporters struggle to meet their own financial burdens.

There is another recruitment fair in Chicago, Illinois during the second week of February.  Stephen is still considering whether he should attend, because we really don’t have the funds to send him on another week long trip to the U.S.  However, he may have to attend if nothing opens up between now and then.

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Stephen’s Upcoming Recruitment Voyage

Stephen has been very busy the past few months, but not just with his administrative duties at the Alliance Academy International. He has been searching for jobs at other international and/ or Christian schools that are looking for secondary administrators.

We have been feeling for quite some time that God was going to pull us out of our present ministry and locate us in a new ministry.  We just keep praying to find out where exactly that is.

So far, he has applied to several schools both in and outside the U.S. and has had a few interviews.  However, we have not had any solid offers at this time.  Therefore, he decided to sign up for a conference that helps bring new staff to international schools located across South America.  The association’s name is AASSA (Association of American Schools in South America).  The job fair takes place from December 2-5 in Atlanta, Georgia (Link: http://www.aassa.com/recruiting_fair_schedule_2010.asp).

As part of his trip to this conference, Stephen is also planning to visit a school in Naples, Florida that has been interested in looking at the possibility of hiring him as a secondary principal.  Stephen plans to fly to Miami, Florida on Tuesday, November 30 and drive to Naples.  He will stay there until the morning of December 2 and then drive to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the job fair.  He will drive back to Florida on the afternoon of December 5 when he hopes to visit with Cristina’s side of the family for one evening before returning to Quito on the afternoon of December 6.

If you wish to get in touch with him during his time in the U.S., he will have the following cell phone number – 352-215-4524.

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.

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)http://www.facebook.com/Stephen.CristinaMeier?v=app_2392950137#!/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: http://www.kodakgallery.com/gallery/sharing/shareRedirectSwitchBoard.jsp?token=881696395506%3A251583500&sourceId=533754321803&cm_mmc=eMail-_-Share-_-Photos-_-Sharer

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.

Meier Family Travel Plans – July 2010

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.

A Thanksgiving Trip and Compassion Visit

I had heard about Compassion International since I was a high school student.  The father of one of my classmates worked in the Quito office for Compassion for some time.  I remember when Michael W. Smith came down to Ecuador to visit a Compassion child that he sponsored in Guayaquil.  He gave a free concert at my church during his visit to Ecuador.

However, it wasn’t until I was a graduate student in late 1999 when I decided that I would try to sponsor a child through Compassion myself.  I remember the feeling of nervousness I felt when I mailed a letter to Compassion saying I was interested in sponsoring a child.  I knew I was making a monthly commitment and I prayed that I would be able to remain faithful to it. 

I was extremely excited when I received the information for my sponsor child.  Was it coincidence or God’s hand that they selected a little girl from Guayaquil, Ecuador to be my sponsor child?  Such a joy surged through my soul as I looked at the photograph of the dark-haired, chubby little four year old by the name of Kiara Zulieka Reyes Cruz. 

Those first few years, her older sister or her cousin would write letters on Kiara’s behalf and began to correspond to each other in that way. Eventually, she was able to start writing letter to me by herself.  Eventually, her elementary handwriting developed into swooping cursive letters.  She was starting high school and growing into a little lady. 

When Stephen and I moved to Quito, Ecuador, we decided that we would try to visit Kiara at least once while we were living in the same country with her.  Looking at the calendar, it seem the best time to make the visit would be during our Thanksgiving holiday.  Not only was it a good time for us to visit, but it was a special time of the year for Kiara.  Her fifteenth birthday was coming up two days after our visit.  For Latin Americans, the “cinceanera” birthday celebration is similar to the idea of the “sweet sixteen” for girls in the U.S.  So, we set up the “individual sponsor visit” with Compassion and booked our flight to Guayaquil. 

Cristina and Kiara

Ten years after I started sponsoring this little girl, I was finally meeting her in person. I had been sending her pictures of my husband and my growing family.  Now, I would finally get to introduce them to her in real life. 

We met up with the Compassion project manager, Kiara’s uncle and Kiara in front of a large mall.  Jared was a little shy at first.  Luke warmed up to her right away.  And Stephen just smiled a lot, because he couldn’t understand Spanish.  We all crammed into one taxi and rode to the Compassion project where we got to see the church area and classrooms were the kids would come for help with their homework and to study the Bible. 

Afterwards, we went to another mall and wandered around a little bit before eating lunch.  Then we had to cut the visit short, because the baby boys were in need of their daily afternoon nap.  It was hard to say good-bye to Kiara after such a short visit. 

We gave her a new Bible, a journal and a devotional for her birthday.  We hope and pray that she will continue to develop into a wonderful woman of God that he has created her to be.

The Joys of July

Date: August 2, 2009
Location: Quito, Ecuador

The month of July came and went in a flurry of travel and settling into our new home on the Alliance Academy campus.  With all the changes going on, it was hard for Cristina to find time to sit down and update the family blog.  Between flying to the U.S. (west and east coast) and traveling by car up and down the east coast with two children in diapers, Stephen and Cristina had their hands quite full.

However, it was a blessing to stop and visit with family, friends and supporters.  We appreciate those who took the time to meet up with us during our travels.  (Many of you have a little box of “manzanilla” tea as a reminder of our visit.) We felt badly about the people whom we were not able to connect with, but we are glad that we can still keep in touch on-line.

Now, we’d like to share with you some of our adventures this summer.  Skim through our categories to read about the following:

Category – Family News
*Our trip to the U.S. (including eight different states)
*Jared’s celebration of his second birthday (he enjoyed the “ball” theme)
*Luke’s development as a 6 month old

Category – TCK Views
*Our trip to the Galapagos Islands (short but sweet)

Category – Ministry
*Stephen’s progress in learning Spanish

Category – Home Page
*Our current prayer requests