At this point, Joshua and I are well into the trimester and continue to see improvement on our Spanish every day. I was actually pretty sick last week with a cold/flu and am happy to say that I am starting to feel better and was able to go to school today. My teachers were very understanding about everything and thanks to information from my classmates I was able to stay caught up on my work.
Last week was a big week for a number of reasons:
First, Josh and I were able to have a conference call with a key member of MMI who gave us more information about what our first few months in Ecuador will be like! It has been decided that we will spend our first 2-3 months in Guayaquil in southern Ecuador. This is where the existing hospital is located, and starting out here will give us a chance to get to know the MMI staff currently in Ecuador and familiarize ourselves with the set up of the hospital. From there we will spend 2-3 months in Cuenca and 2-3 months in Quito (we don't know in what order yet) to investigate possible locations for the new permanent medical center. We received a lot of other helpful information on that call, but the closer we get to arriving in Ecuador the more we see that this is God's project and we are simply lucky enough to be involved in what He is doing in Ecuador. We must use the knowledge the He has given us to make logical decisions, but He will be driving this project - and has been since before we were even involved. We give thanks to God every day for giving us the opportunity to be here and also for all of you who are supporting us. Thank you!
Secondly, after our time in missions training in Colorado and spending time with all of the missionary families who are here in Costa Rica, we have realized that an indispensable item for a missionary is something called a "prayer card". This is basically a postcard with our photo, information about what we'll be doing, and our contact information that we can keep with us and give out to people. It enables us to keep in touch with people that we meet and also spreads awareness about our work in Ecuador. The more people praying for this endeavor the better! So . . . I asked a classmate of mine who is an amateur photographer (and VERY talented) if she would help us create a prayer card. We walked around our neighborhood and she took some great photos of Joshua and I and then she designed a prayer card for us. We will be ordering them soon and you should all be receiving one by the end of the year!
Thirdly, September 15th was Costa Rica's Independence Day and it was wonderful to get to see the way that they celebrate. Although July 4th revolves a lot more around yummy food, there are a lot of similarities between the two days. We saw red, white, and blue everywhere (since those are Costa Rica's flag's colors as well), and there were fireworks. Also, it is a national holiday so we did get a day off of school to watch the Independence Day parades. There are, however, some differences. For one thing, on the 14th of September at 6pm, the entire country stops what they are doing and sings the national anthem - pretty neat! Also on the night of the 14th, there are special parades of "faroles" which are elaborately decorated lanterns made by the kids and every school has a parade of faroles. The students practice for months at their schools to perform in the parades held the morning of the 15th. There is a band, baton-twirlers, cheerleaders, a drill-team, and the youngest kids are dressed up in traditional costumes and ride along with the parade. Even though I was a bit under-the-weather, I was able to see some of one of the parades on Wednesday morning. Here are some pictures:
Well, Josh and I both have tests tomorrow so we better hit the books. Hasta luego!!
Love and God Bless,
Stephanie and Josh