After almost two weeks of waiting, our family finally made it out to Calacali, the location of our new home and “center” of our ministry. Not coincidentally, the village of Calacali lies directly along the equator as we experienced first hand on Monday. Our good friend and resident Calacali expert, Dale, took us directly to the middle of town and we confirmed our “central” location on his handheld GPS device.
We then went up the hill about a half mile or so to the location of the Alliance Academy International (AAI) property. It was the first time our kids were able to explore the property and that they did. They searched every crook and cranny with occasional shouts of excitement at each new discovery. We spent most of our time wandering around outside and it was all we could do to keep the boys from climbing directly to the top of the mountain ridge that towers above the property. Needless to say, there remains great excitement and enthusiasm about eventually moving out to the property despite its rather sparse accommodations.
We also enjoyed the company of new friends, the Holcombs, who graciously drove us out to Calacali from Quito. We were joined by the local caretaker of the property, Jorge, and his father Jose Maria who farms the property next door. We shared bread, jam, and instant coffee (Sarah will be addressing that issue soon) along with bilingual conversation and fellowship. Jorge and his father were patient with us as we tried some of our very limited Spanish. They too enjoyed a few attempts at English words and Jorge took several notes to practice. With that type of mutual effort, we hope to bridge the significant language barrier little by little.
At the end of the day, we did allow ourselves to climb half way up the mountain and past the little white prayer chapel that perches precariously on the steep slope above the main buildings. What an awesome view! The sight lines include several different valleys and once you climb above the immediate surroundings, the massive mountain ranges that lie behind come into view. On a clear day, the active and snow capped volcano Cayambe is visible. And this was only half way up to the top of the ridge! We can’t wait for the next opportunity to continue climbing and exploring.
We returned to Calacali on foot and saw many of our new neighbors along the way. Some of the scenes appeared to be straight out of a movie set or a Disney ride. We were continually shaking our heads, rubbing our eyes, and marveling that we were really here and that this will soon be “home”. My favorite was an elderly Ecuadorian woman in traditional garb leading her heavily-laden burro across the cobblestone road and directly up an extremely steep slope to bring water to other livestock on the hill. She appeared to be about four foot nothing with a wise and weather-worn face. We exchanged a brief greeting (buenas tardes) which she followed with a brilliant and friendly smile that warmed my heart. She was probably laughing inside as she passed our little band of very white and very naive “gringos” as we made our way to the center of town to catch the local bus.
The bus ride was a good experience thanks to Dale. It did convince us, however, that a vehicle would be a nice (and necessary!) option. Overall it was a wonderful day to explore and dream and plan. We remain thankful for the opportunity God has placed before us here. Sarah and I are also so grateful for kids who are enthusiastic and adaptable to an entirely new world. They have handled themselves with composure and grace and remain very open to new people and experiences. They have been an example to us in many circumstances. We look forward to how God will grow and stretch them in new and exciting ways. We remain confident that God will bless us and use us to His glory here as we keep our focus “centered” on him.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. 1 Chronicles 29:11