Vida de Ecuador

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Hola mis amigos . . . . como estan?  In this l-o-n-g post, I have written about 5 activities in my Ecuadorian life.  I wrote from my perspective in the past, present and future.  I hope you can see how things have progressed – and changed – during my time here.  I also think you might enjoy reading about my hope for the future in each category.  So . . . here is the scoop on what is happening in my life in Ecuador these days.  Enjoy!

Spanish Lessonscartoon

  • Pasado: I started Spanish lessons with my teacher, Cesar, at the end of November.  We began meeting 5 days a week for 2 hours each time.  However, since my teaching schedule got busier this past cycle, we only met 3 to 4 days a week. Also, because I had more of a demand with my English classes, I was unable to make time to do Spanish homework. Argh!  I feel that during this time, my growth in Spanish was minimal because I didn’t have time to practice on my own.  However, even without homework, any Spanish conversation is helpful.
  • Presente: Currently, I feel like my Spanish ability is at an early intermediate level.  I can often communicate my thoughts, but lack correct grammar and consistently understanding others when they speak to me – unless it’s really slow, which I love.  Now, I meet Cesar at a restaurant to take my Spanish class.  He and his wife recently opened a seafood restaurant, so it is much more fun to talk with him, his wife and at times (when they will look at me or talk with me), their children.  We still meet 3 to 4 days a week and still have the opportunity to speak in Spanish for about 2 hours.
  • Futuro: I am hoping to be able to (somehow!) make time for more Spanish outside of class.  I spoke with the director of my English school last week about how he learned Spanish.  I was in complete awe of him because he taught himself!  He said that he wrote in a journal everyday, used flashcards when he had a spare moment, and would check his grammar on his own.  Wow!  With that inspiration, I hope to begin a Spanish journal a few days a week and start to utilize flashcards more effectively in order to improve my Spanish communication.

Teachingestudiantes

  • Pasado: Last cycle, I continued to teach two Level 7 English classes each evening (5:00pm and 7:00pm).  I also began teaching a third English class in the afternoons at 3:00pm.  This new class meant that I needed to leave my house at 2:15pm and was gone for the rest of the day – until about 9:15pm.  While I really enjoyed this new class, it changed my schedule drastically to where I had to do all of my planning in the morning before classes – and somehow squeeze in a 2 hour Spanish class. Do you see why I didn’t have time for Spanish homework now?  Yeesh!
  • Presente: During the current teaching cycle, I have the exact same schedule as last cycle.  However, I am slowly learning to manage my time a bit better and don’t feel as overwhelmed with my time outside of class.  In addition, during my two evening classes, I feel as though these classes are by far my favorite students and I truly have enjoyed my time with these new students!
  • Futuro:  With my new (wonderful) students, I am really excited to spend with them and guide them to learn English.  These students really want to learn English and are mature enough to have fun at the same time.  While we have only spent a week together so far, I hope to use the skills I learned from teaching Level 7 during the two other cycles to make this their a great learning experience for my students.  And finally, I have s-l-o-w-l-y figured out how to integrate speaking, listening, writing, and vocabulary into the classroom without feeling like we are zooming from one activity to the next.

Social Life and Making Friendsrafting

  • Pasado: Oh goodness, where do I begin?  Socially, my time in Ecuador has been a definite  growth opportunity for me (that’s a sugar-coated way of saying that it has been difficult).  It has been hard for me to make all new friends and try to get to know people at a heart-level.  Afterall, every person I have met during my time in Ecuador has been new in my life and sometimes that gets overwhelming and exhausting.  Sure it can be exciting too, but making friends is hard work!   Needless to say, I have had some emotional ups and downs in regards to making friends, but have thankfully gotten to know a few great people too.
  • Presente: Currently, my relational “anchors” in Riobamba are a friend of a teacher from school, Soraida, and my Spanish teacher, Cesar.  I see them both on a regular basis.  Thank goodness!  I believe that Cesar and Soraida have become my “anchors” because they show me that they appreciate me and help me feel valued.  They also make me think about life . . . and make me laugh.  🙂 I am quite thankful for these two individuals in my life.
  • Futuro: My hope for myself relationally is to push myself to be slightly uncomfortable and spend more time being social with some of the new people in my life – even at times when I don’t want to.  While this can sometimes be difficult for me, I also know it can be healthy for me in the long-run too.

Travelcactus

  • Pasado:  Before I came to Ecuador, I wanted to travel everywhere possible – whenever I could.  Shortly after arriving in Riobamba and traveling for several weekends in a row, I quickly realized that I did not want to travel as much as I had originally thought.  There was both a craving and a comfort to stay in Riobamba and get to know the city where I was living.  Therefore, I started to minimize my traveling and got to know my “Ecuador hometown” a little bit better.
  • Presente: Recently, I have felt like traveling a little bit more – maybe because I had taken the time during my first few months to get to know Riobamba.  I’m not exactly sure why this desire to travel has been reignited, but it has been nice to explore a few other cities and relax with others during the weekend.  For example, just this past weekend I traveled to Cuenca, an amazingly  beautiful city in Ecuador.
  • Futuro: In the coming months, I hope to travel to some other nearby cities so I can soak in Ecuador a little bit more.  Also, because it sometimes gets lonely on the weekends, it is nice to spend time with other people from WorldTeach on the weekends. And for a BIG goal for my future travel plans, I am hoping (nothing is finalized yet) to take a big trip with a friend from college to the Galapagos at the beginning of May.

Goalsgoal.cartoon

  • Pasado: When I was making my final plans to live in Ecuador for a year, I had many goals for myself.  These goals were to: strengthen my relationship with Christ, travel as much as possible, develop into a creative and engaging English teacher, become fluent in Spanish, get to know as many people as possible and build meaningful relationships with them, and practice “relaxing” more frequently.  While these might sound like hefty goals, I feel like I have been able to address many of them during my time here.  Meet all of them? No. But, work on each of them in various ways?  Yes.
  • Presente: I do not want it to be a secret that things have been very difficult for me over the past month or so.  After the six month mark of living in Ecuador, much of the excitement and novelty that comes with living in a foreign country began to slowly fade.  Relationships back home became more difficult and I started to miss my daily routine in St. Louis.  I miss home – plan and simple.  I have learned that regardless of where you are living, after awhile, life is still life.  We tend to get into the “daily grind” of life wherever we are – even in a country as beautiful as Ecuador.  As I mentioned, I am still working on making the best of my time here, but I am also thankful that I am starting to see glimpses of July 2, which is my return date to the United States.
  • Futuro: In the coming days, weeks and months, I hope to become better at: connecting with others in Riobamba and around Ecuador, stretching myself socially by putting myself “out there” more often, enjoying my students by laughing in the classroom more and making our learning more fun, and speaking confidently in Spanish.

Whew!  You made it!  Thanks for reading through all of that.  Now, I want to hear from you!  What has been happening in your life in the past, present and future?  Share with me.  Please, please, please post a comment and let me know what you are up to these days.  Thanks! 🙂

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15 responses »

  1. hi buddy!!! it sounds like you have a LOT going on! i miss you, but i’m really glad you’ve had this opportunity! i’m proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone and doing this incredible thing. i’m still looking for a job. had a promising interview a few weeks ago, but they ended up hiring internally 😦 another possibility coming up in the next week or so. keep learning and push through! when you get back in july, we (you, me, jenny, lisa) will all have to grab some dinner and CATCH UP!!! love.

    • Hello Renee! How nice to hear from you! Thank you for your encouraging words and for letting me know how you are doing. I wish you the absolute best with looking for a job, as I can only imagine how hard that is right now. Keep your head up and trust that once they find out how great you are they will hire you in an instant! Talk to you soon!

  2. Hi My Adventurous Friend!!!!
    OK, WHAT are you all doing in the picture with the ?Brooms? and the hard hats?!?!?!

    I know this has been such a tough time AND at the same time rewarding. I’m really proud of you for stepping out in faith and DOING IT!!!!

    I LOVE following your blog….since it’s just like having you show up at my door with your class….ALWAYS on time!!!! : < )

    Since I know NOTHING about blogging….I'm not sure if this will be "private" or published…..so I won't go on about what's up in Kirkwood.

    In the past Sundays, I have been reminded over and over that God has a plan and that He is in control….He's got it covered and really doesn't need my suggestions or "help". I know we know this….I just need constant reminders.

    I hope you'll be home long enough in July for me to get to see you! I know your time will be filled to the brim.

    Know that I continue to pray for you and your comfort level…..just remember that everyone at Robinson loved you from the moment they met you and I'm sure it's just the same now…..just harder to communicate! There is SO much about you to love!!!!

    Love & prayer, my brave friend!
    xooxxo
    Mimi

    • Mimi . . . what a sweet comment. Thank you for your encouragement during my difficult time here right now. I loved reading how you are doing about how important it is to trust in God’s plan. So very true. Oh, and by the way, the picture is not of us with brooms and hard hats – it’s oars and helmets for whitewater rafting! You make me laugh. 🙂 Take care and I hope to see you in July – or shortly thereafter – too! 🙂

  3. Rachel, its good to hear from you – its been a while. Not much is oging on here, its just the 1st day of spring and absolutely freezing here! It sounds like you are doing OK down there, I know it must be hard being away from home for so long. Just know that everyone in the building is thinking of you and hoping that you will be moving back in come July! Keep your spirits up, take lots of pictures on your travels, and remember, the busier you are, the faster the time goes. Have a wonderful 3 more months in Ecuador!

    • Benita – thank you for your encouragement. I was just talking about our condo building the other day and telling someone how nice it was to have such great neighbors. Also, thank you for the reminder to keep busy, I need to hear that sometimes because not being busy sounds more appealing some days. I hope you are well and please, please stay warm . . . even if it is the beginning of spring. 🙂

  4. Well I just spent a good amount of time with your Aunt Phyllis in FL. We did our usual walking the dogs, going to the grocery store and generally laughing at some pretty goofy things that have occurred since we are getting to be pretty old ladies now. After a 50 yr. friendship it is good to share the good, bad and sometimes truly ugly!!!! We talked about you a lot and hope that you are able to see this situation through and realize that it is a short term situation. You will look back on this time as a real growth experience, warts and all. One comment I would make is that – making friends is HARD, getting acquainted – not so hard. Most people will just end up being acquaintances – here today, gone tomorrow. Enjoy whatever experiences that you have and remember, “This too shall pass.”

    • Kathy . . . thank you for your words of wisdom. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in your reply. Also, please give my Aunt a big hug from me since I haven’t seen her in so very long. Have fun in Florida! Thanks again for your kind comments. 🙂

  5. I love Mimi Steele. She makes me laugh outloud! brooms and hard hats – I’m still chuckling. Rachael, your blog is a wonderful thing. I love how honest and forthcoming you are about your thoughts and activities. It is a pleasure to read. We are winding down spring break, which has been cloudy and chilly this year. I remember last year playing golf several times and gardening. This year? Not so much. I spent time organizing, finishing a big project for central office of cataloging books for the professional library (so now teachers can look up and check out books on the library system), and spending leisurely time,with my husband, going to movies, cooking, and seeing friends. I have spent time writing, which is always a welcomoe past time for me. still perculating ideas for chilren’s books! Currently it is snowing and an accumulation of 5-8 inches is expected! No, I am not kidding! I hope we do not have a snow day tomorrow because now it will mean a longer school year. We used our 2 days already. I can’t wait to see you this summer. We must plan a Robinson reunion when you get back to the states. Bob and I have a grandson now! His name is Bruno and he lives in Chicago. Being a grandparent is better than anything! We are enjoying him so much! Our oldest son, David and his wife Venessa blessed our family with this little treasure on late October. He is FABULOUS!
    so, now whenever we want something fun to do, we go to Chicago or FaceTime with Bruno! We love that our kids are not too far from us. Catherine is teaching art in Kansas City and our middle son is here in St. Louis, at least until June. I have to say all is well with the Meihaus’s. I will give you a personal tour of Robinson’s new library when you come home. Keep blogging!

    • Mary . . . oh how I love to read your comments to my post. Thank you! And yes, Mimi is a gem . . . I love her so much! 🙂 I just replied to another post and mentioned this, but one of the main highlights to my days right now are my students. They are so eager to learn and it is really exciting for me to teach them! They continue to challenge me by asking me questions about the English language that I had never thought about before. Interesting, huh? And . . . congratulations on little Bruno . . . I love that name! Feel free to email me a picture of him when you have an opportunity. Also, I will be back in St. Louis at the beginning of July – so yes, I’d love, love, love to have a Robinson reunion! Thanks for the suggestion. I look forward to seeing you soon!

  6. Well written, my friend! Past: Just got back from Guatemala. The trip was hectic and there were a lot of ups and downs. Still need to reflect on what it all meant. Thankfully, the plan ride back to the US was about an 8 hour experience (including layover) which gave me some time to reflect and journal. But I need to make more time. Present: Snowblowing 8~10 inches of snow off my driveway – welcome back to St. Louis!!! Actually, it’s back to work and the normal rhythm of life for me. Future: Ahhh, the good ‘ol future. I think the older I get the less I worry about forecasting too far out into the future. Actually, I am looking forward to Easter Weekend and our Go St. Louis 1/2 Marathon in early April. Thanks for sharing my friend!

  7. Hola Rachael! Me gusta mucho tu blog. Escribes muy bien. Es muy fácil ver como has crecido. ¿Cuánto tiempo enseñará en Riobamba? Tenemos nueve pulgadas de nieve en Fenton. Es muy bonita aquí, como un palacio blanco de la nieve! Voy a tener una nieta nuevo pronto. Estoy muy emocionado de verla. Disfrute de mas camino mientras está en Ecuador y estar seguro!!!!! Gracias por compartir tus aventuras con nosotros.

    • Hola mi amiga . . . tu escribio muy bien en Espanol! Felicidades! Yo escribire en espanol . . . solo para ti. Espanol es muy dificil para mi . . . siempre. Mi tiempo esta bien en Riobamba ahora, pero yo extrano mi vida en los estados unidos mucho. A mi, me gusta mi vida aqui, pero me gusta mis amigas, mi familia, mis clases de espanol, mis amigas de mis clases de espanol y mi iglesia mucho en los estados unidos tambien. Yo regresare a San Luis en 2 de julio. Yo estare muy emocionada para este dia. 🙂 Gracias para tus palabras en este post. Yo esperare escuchar de ti en el futuro. Hasta pronto.

  8. Hi Rachael,
    It is always sooo good to hear from you and fascinating to read your thoughts. You really have a gift for expressing so authentically what is going in your life, inside and out, and I can relate to a lot what you’ve said. I’m so happy to hear that you have made some good friends and are learning and growing so much!

    I remember the six-month mark was definitely a big dip for me… thankfully that was just a little before September, when this amazing new volunteer came along and spent a month with my family and breathed new life into my experience. 🙂 I can’t express to you how much of a blessing that was for me. Because I know exactly what you mean about falling into familiar ruts and the “daily grind,” and it beginning to wear away at you, no matter how amazing a place you are in.

    Anyway, I hope these last few months are fulfilling and have lots of wonders and joys in store, I’m sure you will make the most of them!

    Much love,
    Rachel

    • Hello Rachel! Thank you for your post. And, how funny that I came at your 6 month mark because I would LOVE for you to come live at my house right now – that would be awesome! Like I mentioned in my post, things are difficult right now, but it is better than even a couple of weeks ago. My students this cycle are wonderful – and they are definitely a bright light in my daily schedule. You get it, I know. I hope you are doing well and I definitely would love to talk one of these days. I was at Susy’s house a few weeks ago and we tried to call you, but you weren’t available. Maybe next time I visit her we will reach you. Hope you are well. Love Rachael

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