Hello everyone, this is Jacob. Since mom and dad can’t formulate their thoughts to write a new blog post, I have been given permission to express those thoughts for them. Since nobody back home is very familiar with the ministry and retreat center where we are living, I have decided to provide you with a tour.
Section one, the entrance:
That pretty much shows all of the entrance. The gate starts the driveway bordered by corn fields and it continues up towards the main part of the camp where it passes the bodega (storage/closet) building and the red house where we live and ends in the “parking lot” in front of the tan cabin. Who is that handsome guy in the chair you ask? Well, that would be me, waiting to bring the garbage down in wheelbarrows when I see the garbage truck go down the road. We can’t leave the garbage at the end of the driveway because we don’t know exactly when the garbage man will come, and, this place is loaded with stray dogs looking for their next meal. One of the disadvantages of having a long driveway is it takes a lot out of you when you are sprinting down it with a wheelbarrow full of garbage.
The bodega building is also included in the entrance section. This building contains many years of history from the school such as props from plays and other various items from the old dorm at the school. But the bodega also includes hidden treasures left behind from years of missionaries leaving Ecuador with no where to put their stuff. Guess where that stuff ended up…
Section two, the common area:
The common area is, well, the common area. This is the middle section of the property that contains the four cabins along with a miniature soccer field. This is where most people spend their time while they are staying on the property and for good reason; because this is where all the good stuff is. The soccer field is one of the main attractions in the common area, mostly because Ecuadorians enjoy their soccer. One of the only level spots on the property, the soccer field is placed in the only big enough space possible.
The field is conveniently fenced in so the soccer balls will not roll down hill and make you run it down. However, there are some gaps in the fence so people can enter the soccer field without having to leap the miniature fence. Sadly, the gaps are in the places that the ball always seems to go whenever it gets away from someone. The fire pit is also in the common area. Basically a ring of stone descending into a hole, the fire pit is a great place to hang out and get warm when the night comes.
Section three, the mountain:
The mountain part of the property consists of four main components: the prayer chapel, the pine forest, the eucalyptus forest, and the ridge. The prayer chapel is the most used component in the mountain section. There is a nice path leading up to the prayer chapel and it shows a great view of the entire property below along with providing a peaceful, secluded place to reflect on whatever God wants to tell you.
The pine forest borders the prayer chapel and runs up the mountain to about the same level as where the eucalyptus forest begins. All of the pine forest was planted by kids that used to go to the school and planted trees as part of a field trip and by Mister G. and some helpers. Most of the trees on the lower part of the forest still have markers which state the name of the student who planted the tree. The eucalyptus forest is on the opposite side of the mountain as the pine forest and runs from the same level as the top of the pine forest up until the summit of the mountain. The eucalyptus was planted after most of the mountains in our area of Ecuador were de-forested and almost no trees remained. To try and reclaim to beautiful hillsides, eucalyptus trees were planted. Eucalyptus was chosen because it is fast growing, and was cheap at the time. Although it is an invasive species to Ecuador, it now populates most of the mountains around here. The last component of the mountain section is the ridge, which is the top of the mountain. Back when the property was first established, trenches were dug to distinguish property lines, so at the top of the mountain, a trench is dug and barbed wire is strung on the other side. Also, a thicket has grown in the trench and on the other side, obstructing any view down the other side. Luckily, the view on our side is pretty good…
There are four cabins on the property not including the prayer chapel. We lovingly refer to them as the white cabin, the tan cabin (occasionally the brown cabin), the red barn, and the conference room. Since no official naming of the cabins is in place, we get by with those names. The conference room is the newest cabin and is not outfitted for sleeping, but it is a popular place for groups who want to have meetings, bible studies, or a place to hang out.
The conference room is essentially one room, with bathrooms and a small kitchen.
Moving right along, the next cabin we will explore on our tour is the white cabin. The white cabin is the most popular sleeping cabin because of its spaciousness, loft, and wood burning stove. There are also small garden beds enclosed in brick outside the white cabin. These garden beds are home to onions, flowers, rhubarb, and various other plants whose names I do not know.
Inside the white cabin there is an open main space with couches, kitchen and the beloved wood stove. The first door on the left enters into a bedroom that can sleep six, along with a ladder leading up into the loft area where there are three mattresses for people to sleep on. There is a small ramp leading to another section of the loft. The ramp is probably a foot and a half wide and overlooks the bedroom below. It has no railings. There is then a small hole in the wall of the loft that visitors can crawl through into an area over the kitchen that sleeps an additional three people. There is another bedroom with a double bed, single bed, and a crib which has a small bathroom and ladder leading into a small loft that sleeps two overlooking the bedroom. There is also one bathroom with a shower tub.
Next comes the tan cabin. The tan cabin has basically two entries – each door enters to a small kitchen, table, couch, and bathroom. Between those two sides are the bedrooms. The bedrooms sleep a total of nine but mattresses from our collection can be thrown on the floor if needed.
And last, but certainly not least, is the red barn, where we are living.
The downstairs of the red barn has a kitchen on one half, and tables for dining on the other, along with a fireside room and a bathroom. This is used as the community area where groups are welcome to come in and have a cup of coffee. The downstairs, which wraps all the way around the staircase provides a great area to prepare food and socialize with guests, friends, and family.
The fireside room has a wood burning stove in it, along with a propane heater mounted on the wall. One of those sources of heat are usually used in the mornings to take the chill off.
Upstairs is used as our primary living space. The roof is slanted, so the most space is in the middle, where the living room is located. The living room consists of two couches, two easy chairs, two tables, other regular chairs, and our life support: the HUSJ (Heater of Ultimate and Spectacular Joy). In one of the four corners upstairs there is a bathroom while in the other three corners, there are bedrooms where Mom, Dad, Josh, and Tessa have moved in. That leaves one out: me (because Josh and I decided not to share a very small room). So I sleep behind the curtain on a single bed in the hallway (not really a hallway, just an empty space between Tessa’s room and the bathroom). Any day that the sun is out in the morning (most days), the upstairs becomes unbearably hot by mid-day. While outside may be 60 to 70 degrees, the thermometer upstairs tops out at 98 degrees on most days due to the windows and tin roof. So, the time between 10:30 am and 4:00 pm is usually spent downstairs or outside. At night around 7:00 until bedtime we cave in and turn on the HUSJ because the temperature starts to rapidly drop and often is 45 to 50 degrees by morning in the house. Blankets save us overnight, but it’s a shock to the system getting up in the morning!
I hope I provided you with a decent tour of our new home along with something to read until mom and dad can formulate their thoughts into a blog post that gives you another segment of our lives that applies to yours (good slogan for the blog, eh?).
-Jacob Bierle (un-official spokesperson for the Bierle family)