weekly meetings

On the Horizon

Since Dana spent 3 months in Tsuraku last summer, complete with travels all over the country, at first it was a little difficult to think about where we could take her that was new and exciting. Luckily, we had been discussing climbing Pasachoa since before break and found some friends to guide us. We couldn't believe that after a mere 4 days at 2,800 meters (9,189 feet) in the valley, Dana easily conquered another 900 meters in the form of two peaks at the top of Volcan Pasochoa, the breathtaking mountain most clearly visible of those that surround the valley. Other weekend activities included the continuation of the boys' playoff saga (only 3 games left!), a Manna meal in Quito, and cuddling up on couches to avoid a late Sunday afternoon rainstorm.

Some of the girls out in Quito after our Manna meal on Friday

Dana leaping between boulders on Pasochoa

Group shot at the summit before the hail storm started

Lucky duck Dana got to sit in on one of our longer-than-usual MMMs, which was partially spent trying to convince Bibi that we thought it was a good idea to invest $4,000 in an Azblan bus for sale in front of the library. After taking us seriously for about ten minutes, we all burst out laughing, and she responded with something like "I was thinking you've all been here far too long to suggest such an absurd idea." Which reminds me... TOMORROW marks the halfway point of our 13 months in Ecuador! Pretty exciting and crazy how fast time has flown, but I have a sneaky feeling the next 6.5 will be even more of a whirlwind (ie: we're already taking spring break inventory).

For now we're enjoying the end of (or at least a break from) the rainy season, looking forward to a bonfire celebration tomorrow and attempting to stream the State of the Union Address on Wednesday (cross your fingers for us!)


Feliz Año Nuevo!

Happy new year from everyone here at MPI Ecuador!

Our first morning in the house and subsequent afternoon in the library was a conglomeration of familiar faces, fresh ideas, and new technology. We started our day with a 3-hour long
Monday morning meeting (formally referred to as the MMM), enjoying each other's company after almost a month apart while discussing topics from class schedules (which start up on the 18th) our next retreat, and most importantly, our celebracion event to ring in the new year this coming Saturday! MPIE, in collaboration with local organizations, Coopertiva Esperanza y Progresso del Valle, Añamisi (an environmental education org.), and the Ministry of Health of Conocoto, will be hosting a celebration in the cancha across from our library. The afternoon will be filled with live music, carnival games (including face paint and bingo), mini soccer tournaments, food from local restaurants, and a wealth of information about sustainable agriculture, nutrition and health.

In order to spread the word more efficiently, fellow PD Mike Gabrys went on a scavenger hunt to find us a portable perefoneo (translation: loud speaker). After traveling to many stores in Quito and the valley, we finally got our hands on it. To no one's surprise, Bibi was the most excited person to use our new toy (Erik being a close second).. as soon as she arrived at the library she ran to the roof to test it out, resulting in a booming "LA BIBLIOTECA ESTA ABIERTOOOO" shaking the bookshelves and amusing the kids in the reading ring.

Needless to say, it's very good to be back.

Chet reads leisurely in his new UT snuggie (thanks, Santa!) before the MMM

Bibi having a little too much fun on the roof

We came home to a bloomed tomate de arbol in our garden...

...and more living things in the compost bin! hello potatoes!


Sweet Returns

(saying goodbye to Colorado at Denver International Airport)

And we're back!

We're lucky enough to work for an organization that provides us with a 3 week break in December, and most of us headed back up to the states to soak up time with families and access to our own set of wheels. Granted we don't get what is called PTO, or paid time off (which I'm told by my 'real world' working friends is a hot commodity), but seeing as how we don't get paid in the first place that shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone.

In true Manna Ecuador form, we started our Monday off bright and 'early'...ok fine it was a 9am meeting. I know, that's not early. But consider that some of us are still functioning on Mountain time and others had just tackled 4 overnight busses in 7 days...am I making excuses? Maybe.

Regardless, our 9am meeting spanned 2 1/2 hours and ran the gamut on items of discussion: a last recruitment push for the final PD app. deadline on February 2, our new dishwashing strategy and dish towel system to promote a more hygenic kitchen, gifts from the states (a 5lb. bag of hot tamales for Dana! A Nintendo for Dunc! Nice work, Eliah!), the latest update on the library-teen center space (which may be available as soon as this Friday), planing for Spring Break, the start of 5 programs next week... it's exciting to think that everything is set and poised to begin again so quickly. All the planning and talking and detailing we did in the fall has put us in a wonderful position to jump right back into a community who has been waiting for us. It's sweet when your return is so warmly anticipated!

Thanks for tuning in again; I don't know about you, but I'm ready for another 8 months of Daily Blogging :)

(I've traded the snowy Rockies for the heat of the Andes)

Omelets and Meetings

Every Monday night we at the Manna house (Mu Pi Iota, as we like to refer to it. And by "we" I mean Jos, Serena and I) sit down for a fantastic Zak/Luke dinner and a team meeting. During the week we all add meeting topics to the big white board next to the stairs, and come Monday we tuck in to dissect everything on the agenda. These meeting topics can range from the mundane (house-cleaning) to the complex (defining this year’s approach). This week, given the intensity of our list, we decided to meet early Tuesday morning to ensure fresh minds. Seeing as how Mark offered to supply us with omelets to fuel conversation, it was a wise choice.

This week’s list is as follows:
1. White plastic chairs (if left on the porch, they will crack under the intense Ecuadorian sun)
2. Program Attendance (addressing the issues we’ve had with interest/investment by the San Franciscan community in our various programs)
2. a-p) in depth discussion about how to remedy/address #2.
3. Late night ice cream binges (the girls begged the boys to yell “muffin tops!” at us whenever we lock ourselves in the kitchen to eat cartons of ice cream. Eliah volunteered to head up the effort)
4. PD recruiting (when we need to start!)
5. Projector (how to take care of it, especially since a new blub costs 400 dollars!)
6. Small business classes (Dunc has an upcoming meeting to find a teacher for our class)
7. Mingas (Luke is working to put together Mingas in the neighborhood, potentially collaborating with Engineers without Borders)
8. Couch in kitchen (Dunc wants to put a bed in the kitchen to lounge in, but is willing to compromise with a couch. Eliah threatened to filibuster the already long meeting until we all consented.)
9. Thanksgiving break group from Vandy.
10. Finances (being aware of our food spending habits)
11. Zak off the reservation celebration (Zak heads out on Thursday :( so a dinner send-off is in order)

It was a packed meeting, but we all came off with a better understanding of where our focus needs to be. We were reminded of the importance of being in the community, of being fully there; of showing up to soccer games and church services and community meetings, of knowing the families who trust their kids to us every day after school, of being present and intentional and focused on what work we want to accomplish hand in hand with the San Franciscan community.

I have no doubt that we are all ready to be fully in it.