Stephen’s Current Job Opportunities

The year began slowly as Stephen found himself back at the beginning of the process of looking for a new job.  He began to send out more applications to more schools both in and out of the United States.  He looked at the job conference taking place in Chicago in February for a while.  After much prayer and asking different people for advise, he decided the expense of the trip wasn’t worth the risk of not coming back home with a sure job offer.

So, we continued to wait.  As the weeks of February passed by, he received both positive and negative feedback from different schools.  He was interviewed over the phone and Internet for several schools.  A school in Lake Jackson, Texas, called Brazosport Christian School (BCS) was the first to ask for an on-site visit from Stephen and agreed to pay for his travel expenses and hotel stay.  Soon, they had scheduled him to leave Quito on Wednesday, February 23 and return to Quito the evening of Saturday, February 26.

Bangkok, Thailand

In the midst of talking to this school in Texas, another school in Bangkok, Thailand called International Community School (ICS), had also started interviewing Stephen.  Just a few days before Stephen was planning to leave on his trip to Texas, they also asked for him to take a flight over 12 time zones to come and visit them. 

With Cristina’s due date approaching, he asked for the trip to be booked soon after he returned from Texas.  Just this morning, he has been given a tentative itinerary which would have him leaving Quito only 24 hours after returning on February 26.  His flight will leave soon after midnight on Monday, February 28.  He will arrive in Thailand on Tuesday night and spend all of Wednesday and Thursday there before flying out early Friday morning to arrive in Quito late on March 4.

Fortunately for him, we have a two day holiday on Monday and Tuesday for Ecuador’s “Carnival” vacation.  So, he will hopefully be able to recover from his jet lag soon after returning to Ecuador.

Besides these two schools, there is a school in Peach Tree, Georgia, which has told Stephen he is among their top eight candidates for the administrative position they have there. There is also another international school in Casablanca, Morocco (northern Africa) and in Tegucigalpa, Honduras that have been interviewing Stephen, but have not requested an on-site visit yet. 

However, since Cristina has requested that Stephen not travel anywhere in her last four weeks of pregnancy, these two trips are the last he will make until our third little bundle of joy arrives on the scene.

If you would like to call Stephen and encourage him in the next few days while he is Texas, he is using the following cell phone number: 352-215-4524.

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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

A Three Week Visit “Home”

It only took three weeks and two days for this Meier family to travel between two different continents to visit the West Coast, the East Coast, three different time zones and eight different states (as well as the District of Columbia).  This travel included four days of air travel and eight days of car travel.  The longest day of car travel was 14 hours between the Northern Virginia area and Jacksonville, Florida.

Needless to say, the infant Meier boys (Jared and Luke) became expert travel companions during that time. Many visits were made between those traveling days. 

Our journey began when we flew out of Quito, Ecuador on June 23 and arrived in Miami, Florida.  We spent one night at a hotel before flying out the next day in the direction of Portland, Oregon and the home of Stephen’s parents (Rudy and Linda Meier). 

Stephen’s parents retired from the mission field in October of 2008 and had never seen their grandchildren in person.  We spent a week with them, as well as with Stephen’s sister, Lisa, his brother, Kurt, and some of his other relatives to took the time to visit.  While in Portland, we were able to go to the beach and visit the zoo. 

At Cannon Beach in front of "Haystack" Rock

At Cannon Beach in front of "Haystack" Rock

On July 1st, we traveled back to Orlando, Florida, where Cristina’s sister, Anita Gamblin, picked us up from the airport.  We spent the July 4th weekend visiting with her and her husband, Nick; with Cristina’s brother, Philip Cobb and his wife, Chrissy; and with Cristina’s brother Tim Cobb (who had recently returned home from a year’s service in Iraq).

We stayed with them through the weekend.  We attended Anita and Nick’s church where we had the privilege of hearing the pastor announce Anita’s first pregnancy to the entire congregation. She is due January 28.

We began our car traveling adventures on the morning of July 6th.  Stephen picked up our “premium” car rental, which had enough room in the back for two car seats and “Mamma.” We traveled to the Mobile, Alabama area to visit Stephen’s sister, Susan Blanton and her family.  Susan and Shannon have three kids.  Their oldest daughter is almost eight. Connor is about a year and a month older that Jared and their son, Gavin, is almost a month older than Luke.  The cousins had a lot of fun together. 

We left Mobile on the 8th of July to travel to Georgia and stay with some friends of Cristina’s, Liz and Dave Hansen.  The next morning, we traveled to Virginia Beach to spend one night there with another of Cristina’s friends, Kelly Head and her husband Jason.  They have two girls, Julianna (4) and Victoria (1), who entertained our boys quite well for the evening. We also managed to visit some of Stephen and Cristina’s friends the following morning.  We met up with Ken and Betty Dahm for breakfast and Jeff Anderson for lunch.  After lunch, we traveled to the Northern Virginia area to visit our church family for the weekend. 

While we were in Stephens City, Stephen wanted to run a race.  He found one in the heart of D.C. that was taking place on Saturday, July 11th at Rock Creek Park.  We all woke up at 4:30 am so that Stephen could make it to D.C. for his 7:30 race.  While we were there, we visited some good friends of ours that we had met while living in South Korea (Alex and Teresa Harrington).  We spent some time with them after the race and then ate lunch together before heading back to Stephens City. 

The following morning, we spent most of our time at church.  We spoke at both church services, the Sunday school class and the 6pm evening service.  We did manage to fit some time in during the afternoon to visit with some dear friends who used to be next-door neighbors to us during our first year of marriage (Brooke and Darrell Frick).  They had recently had the addition of their first baby to the family.  So, we got to meet little three-month-old Jacob while we were there.

The morning of July 13 was another early one for us.  My Yahoo! map directions stated that it would take 12 hours to drive from Stephens City, VA to Jacksonville, Fl.  So, we left at 5:30am with the goal of making it to Jacksonville by dinnertime.  Even with multiple stops along the way, we made it by 6:30pm. 

We spent the night with Cristina’s cousin and her family.  She had also given birth to a second daughter about two weeks after Luke was born.  Her older daughter was already 5 years old.  We spent the following morning together and then drove down to Gainesville to spend two more nights with Cristina’s family.

During that time, Philip and Chrissy, closed on their home to become homeowners for the first time. We all came over to “pray over” their new home.  When we got to the second guest room, Philip and Chrissy mentioned that they weren’t sure what they how they would use it.  They said it might be another room for guests or “possibly a baby’s room sometime in the future.”

After eating dinner together on July 15, Stephen and Cristina came home to do all the final packing of their things.  The following morning, they would be driving to Miami, Florida and flying back to Quito on a 5:10pm flight.

We made our final long road trip on July 16th.  This trip was only five hours long.  After several days of six to twelve hour road trips, this trip seemed a lot faster.  At least, that is how Cristina felt.  Poor Stephen was definitely getting tired of the driving.  He wouldn’t let Cristina assist him with much of the driving, because she had forgotten her driver’s license in Ecuador and was driving illegally each time she got behind the wheel.

People have asked us various times how the boys handled the driving.  We have to respond with awe at how well they did.  Yes, there were some fussy moments as we neared the boy’s mealtime while on the road.  However, toys, games, occasional DVDs and snacks (for Jared), chew toys (for Luke) helped to keep them busy.  We also drove no more than three hours at a time, so that Jared could run around and stretch his legs and so that Mamma could feed baby Luke, who was still doing 95% Mamma’s milk for his daily meals.

I think one thing Cristina will never forget this particular trip was the challenge of having to change diapers for two babies.  She had a new appreciation for clean restrooms with quality diaper changing tables.  It was also the first time that she realized how few airplanes actually come equipped with a diaper changing table in their restrooms.  The airplanes that did had only one diaper-changing table on the entire plane. 

It is also the last flight that both boys will be “lap-riders.” Jared just turned two years old, which means he will no longer ride for free on an airplane.

This summer trip was an adventure that the entire family will not soon forget.

************************************************************************

The two pregnant aunts pose with their tired and fussy nephews.

The two aunts pose with their tired and fussy nephews.

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 

TRAVEL PLANS
==============

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