Monday, September 3, 2012

Camping with Isaac

Katy had a dream: Katy wanted to go camping. I love Katy, I love camping, and I love dreams, and thus it was decided that we would camp this weekend. 

Isaac had a problem with Katy's dream, because Isaac was a hurricane and hurricanes hate camping and all those who aspire to do so. In an act of uncharacteristic practicality, I asked myself, my mother, and Katy if this camping trip was really a wise decision. Lots of boring conversations ensued, and then there we were, at McCormick's Creek State Park.

Katy, Justin, Anna, and I set up two tents with tarps underneath and a giant tarp covering the two tents, the campsite, and overall just a giant chunk of Indiana. We then scoffed at a few drops of rain, and checked out the nature center. We hiked, whistled, frolicked, and met the CUTEST TURTLE to ever live. We were very outdoorsy.

After a dinner back in Bloomington with my visiting family, I returned to McCormick's Creek. We grilled burgers and started a fire. Sarah, Mikala, and Amelia joined us for the rest of a beautiful evening. After one of the creepiest walks to a bathroom in my life with Amelia including a dog that was way scarier than it should have been, guys yelling unintelligible phrases presumably at us, and other things (I mean really, who sits alone in a car in a state park at night with the car lights on), we went to bed around midnight. Cozily tucked away in our tent, around 3:30a.m., it started POURING. No worries, we were in a tent/tarp cocoon of ultimate safety, right?

I woke up in the morning to the sound of rain, totally dry, and fairly pleasant for it being morning and for having not brought a pillow. I asked for Amelia to examine my sleeping bag with me, and to help me deduce why there were two small wet spots on it. She kindly pointed out that the interior of our tent was, at that point, a puddle that simply hadn't seeped through both layers of the sleeping bag I was laying atop of.

I stepped out of the tent to find that we were trapped. The tarp I had so carefully patched with duct tape had gathered within itself a lake that sunk between the two tents, blocking us from my car. Usually I forgo the pictures, for the sake of my exaggerations seeming more realistic, but I really want you to see this. I lifted the tent to let water flow through a hole, with was exactly what Katy had done earlier, and exactly why the tent was a puddle. Eventually, in the pouring rain, we drug our wet selves and blankets through the woods around the site to my car. 

 I arrived in Bloomington with twenty minutes to get ready for church and thirty minute knot in my hair and in desperate need of a very long shower. We got to church on time, like good little Christians. We spent most of the day around town, eating at Applebee's after excessive debate and excessive rejection of Waffle House as a valid dining option. Four of us did P90X Yoga, which was the worst decision in a weekend filled with questionable decisions, while Caitlin kindly napped in front of us. That stuff was not relaxing/calming/anything of the sort.

We did not spend another night there, instead going back that evening to clean up and play a couple low-energy games of Apples to Apples. I approve of this. 

I wish I could tell you that this is the last time I will ever camp in a tropical storm, but we all know me way to well to expect a promise like that.

Dry and happy,


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School

The thing about college is that you really don't have just one first day of school. You have at least two. Monday, I had two of my classes for the first time. Yesterday, I had the rest. Personally, two first days is one too many for me. That is two days of picking out what you are to wear strategically, but not too strategically. You can't look like a slob because that reflects poorly on your work ethic and overall attitude, but you can't look too fancy, because that reflects poorly on your self-image, which we simply cannot have. You also can't look too hipster, because you aren't, nor can you look to boring, because you aren't. It is the unachievable balance of the back to school wardrobe. I chose to err on the side of not caring enough, for it is in my long-haired nature to not care.

There are other balances that are difficult. You have to be friendly, but not too friendly. This one is especially challenging for me. I tend to be a bit of an extremist (hence my top two college choices being a school of 2,000 students and a school of 40,000 students). When I am in a situation with new people, I tend to lean one of two ways: sit quietly and  wait to be approached, or introduce myself to everyone with all of the enthusiasm in my heart. This has been known to occasionally be an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm. I have tended to be quieter than loud these past couple days. With several exceptions.

This year, I am co-leading a Bible study in a dorm called Briscoe. There are three main "neighborhoods" of dorms on IU's campus: Northwest, Central, and Southeast. When each student preferences their living situation, they go into it with a bit of knowledge about the stereotypes of each neighborhood. It is no secret that Northwest is the party hood. Not only is Briscoe in Northwest, but it is the Northwest-est, physically and spiritually. If you would join me in praying that we would have the persistence and the opportunity to love these women, that would be wonderful. One big thing you can pray for us is that girls would simply give us a chance. Out of the women in all of the dorms, Briscoe has by far the least amount of girls who have expressed a desire to be involved in small groups.

Just because it has been and is this way does not mean that we accept it. We pray, and we pray boldly, for change. I am already fighting discouragement with the truth that we have a God "who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:20)."

To Him be all of the glory, and all of my life,


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An American Week

Dear friends,

It's hard to believe I've been home for a week! Well, I have jumped all over the place a bit, from Chicago, to Fishers, to the lake, to Bloomington. The rising sun found me in Alabama this morning, but this is good for my nomad soul. The point is that for a week now, I have not been in my beloved Ecuador.

I still feel like I am adjusting a bit to being back. I don't really like the concept of home in general, at least not in reference to any place in this world. I find emotional ties to physical places to be a bit strangling, and thus try to avoid them. This summer I have failed in this area. As our plane took off from Guayaquil, I felt a deep sinking inside me. A lot of that was due to my good friend science. However, some of it was due to my heart tugging me towards Guayaquil, resisting the forces causing me to leave.

Sometimes I look at the woven Ecuador bracelet on my wrist and catch myself thinking that there is no place I'd rather be. When I take a moment to really consider, I find that my ideal location is not dependent on geography.

As David says, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." He pleads, "Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings" and declares "I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake."

That is home, to be in the presence, right hand, eye, and shadow of my Creator. I've spent a lot of time in my life trying to figure out where to go or what to do, but everywhere I've gone, I've found that my Savior is there. "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?[...] If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me."

It is impossible to escape the one who indwells me. How beautiful it is to live a life wandering and exploring this earth while resting at the right hand of the throne of the Todopoderoso, the Almighty.

I live in confidence that this whole life is a short term mission trip. I get to enjoy different cultures, different people, and different foods. I get to give my whole heart in laboring for the Lord with enthusiasm. I get to speak truth, to pour into people, and to love well. And at the end of it all, I get to go to the place I will be able to call home emphatically and without cringing.

"Behold, I am making all things new," declares the One on the throne. And in this newness, where "He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them," and if that were not enough, where "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain" when "the first things have passed away (Revelation 21)."

No matter where morning finds me, I can awake fully satisfied in the Lord, and in the hope of someday going home. Where else would I ever want to be?

On the road, physically and spiritually,

Jenna B.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Los Estados Unidos

Here I am, finding myself in Fishers, IN after a weekend at Finca la Gloria and a couple of days of travel. The weekend was awesome: three days at a farm-ish type place to debrief and get used to the idea that soon, we wouldn't be seeing each other every waking hour of the day. We climbed crazy hills in the dark, stargazed, rode horses, climbed trees, ate fresh pineapple, and encouraged each other before heading out on Monday morning.

Upon our arrival to the US, I spent my first night in the state of Illinois. I spent last night in the state of Indiana. Overall, I am mostly just in a state of reverse culture shock.

I feel guilty every time I flush toilet paper (though a still small voice in the back of my head tells me that my American friends would hate me if I didn't). I am not used to the blazing temperatures, and catch myself dreaming of the temperate equator. And here in my tank top and shorts, I feel simply scandalous.

There are positives, though. For example, last night, I got to cook dinner. I was beyond excited to make my own food. Family and friends are cool, too, I guess.

Please keep me and my team in your prayers as we are adjusting to the culture here, missing each other, and taken so quickly out of the "spiritual greenhouse" that we had together in Ecuador. And as you pray, don't forget Ecuador. The Lord is doing awesome things there.

I will continue this blog, but will no longer be posting daily, but rather in a more normal, less obnoxious fashion.

Besos, yes, still besos,


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Flan, Pastel, y Jugo

Today was SO HARD. Saying goodbye is not one of my favorite things. After discipleship, I headed over to a grupo that was slightly sober, knowing that it was our last time together. We enjoyed some delicious flan that Mandy made with her sister. May the word go out that today was the first time I actually enjoyed flan. It was that good.

We headed over to the Vida Estudiantil meeting where we had a surprise birthday party for Courtney, whose birthday is in a little over two weeks. There was cake and balloons and everything. It took Courtney quite a while to realize what was going on, but when she did, I would definitely say that she was surprised. Take notes: a surprise birthday party is most successful not only the party, but also the birthday itself, is a surprise.

I narrowly avoided tears as we hugged and beso-ed our amigos for the last time.

When we stopped for our last trip to the jugo stand, I had Courtney order jugo de guanabana for me as I went to the bathroom. When I came out, she told me they were out. I could have sworn she was lying, so I asked our friend who works there and SHE WAS RIGHT. Again, narrowly avoiding tears, I ordered maracuya and approached CJ with a look of utter sadness upon my face.

"No," he said, "They're out of guanabana? No, they aren't. Oh, they are!" He knew. My face told it all. He gave me a sip of his guanabana and a much needed hug. Jason also got guanabana and offered insistently that he would trade with me! Oh happy day! What a team I have!

We got home much later than usual, with full hearts. Currently, we are between a trip to the art market to buy last minute souvenirs and a night of food and fun with the team. Everything is happening so quickly.

Taking it all in,

Jenna B.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fiesta de Despedida

Yesterday, our friends asked if they could have a goodbye party for us today. I told them I would cry. It was only a very small lie. Today, I got to the department of lenguas and there were PEOPLE sitting on OUR benches singing cheesy English songs I had never heard. They clearly didn't understand how life works, and how it has been working for the past few weeks.

Today, we came together at the usual time and located to an unusual place, benches a few yards away from OUR benches. Our amigos whipped up some mayo/tuna dip and we ate crackers, dip, all kinds of chips, and drank Coke. Even I drank the Coke, I was feeling just that festive.

After we ate all the food, it was decided upon, and not by the gringos, that we would play a crazy game of casa/inquilino/TERREMOTO, like we played at the Vida Estudiantil meeting last week. I had a negative first impression of this game, as I quickly realized that there was no winner in it, and therefore, I could not win. I don't like games, but I do like to win, so I generally figure that if I'm going to play a game, I might as well try to win it. Not that I'm competitive...

Despite whatever competitive issues I may or may not have, every time I play this game I have a ton of fun. We played until people decided they were too sweaty. This is more significant than it may sound, given that these particular friends are cold everyday. Yes, we are in Ecuador. Yes, we meet outside. Yes, they wear sweaters in 80+ degree weather. And yes, at least one of them is always still cold. On this team, we know a lot of science, but not even science can explain this one.

It then came to pass that I led the group in two enthusiastic rounds of Down by the Banks. If you don't know what that is, or the gibberish lyrics to the song, then that is probably because it is more of a regional thing than I ever knew. Generally, I stick to teaching this game to kids 10 and under, but, at our cores, us college students and 10-year-olds are made of the same stuff.

It was a grand time. Tomorrow is the real goodbye: our last day on campus. This week, I have realized how, though I know little about my friends here, I love them deeply. Tomorrow will be hard. And I may cry, just a little.

Keepin' it real,

Jenna B.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Una Carta de Amor

Dear Team, 


One month ago today, I went to church in Indianapolis, got in the car with my parents, and rode to Chicago, where they left me. I had no idea what adventure I was in for, as evidenced by my inability to answer any of my father's questions about what my summer would look like. 

After dropping giant suitcase off in a hotel room, I went upstairs to a room filled with a giant table and several of you all. The following two days in Chicago were filled with laughter, food, and...could it already be love? Yes. It was love.

Through the past month, we have had so many good, bad, hilarious, challenging, and unbelievable times. An incredible amount of times to fit in just one month, really. Together, we have left our homeland and made a new, temporary home here among the people of Ecuador. We have left behind our families, our shorts, and our right to flush toilet paper in pursuit of this adventure.

The last month has been one of the best in my life, and I have you to thank for part of that, and God to thank for all of it. When we return home and all go our own ways, dispersing over the glorious Midwest, I will always think fondly of this time together. I could not have asked for a better group of humans to do life with.

Here is a little ditty I wrote to express my feelings:

Thanks for the memories, for loving me, and for following our Savior intentionally and boldly. I know we've only been together for one month but I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER <3.



Monday, July 9, 2012


I am exhausted, my stomach hates me, and life is good. This morning's run took more out of me than usual, as we went for personal records on the stairs. Jeremy made it all the way to the top. I made 250 steps. But that's ok, because in all reality, if the day comes that I am required to run up 444 steps, it was probably not a day I was meant to live through.

 Today on campus, we waited for an appointment that fell through and then walked around, encountering mostly men, and so not stopping to talk, until our 11:00 meeting with el grupo. Ann and I went through today's milla without any help from Enrique, and it went quite well. The milla explained the basics of the Bible, and was fairly straightforward and simple to go through. I even spoke some Spanish, which happens far less often than I had hoped going into this trip.

We finished early, and left to share for the last hour of our campus time. Our poor friends were confused when we left them before one, but life gets crazy like that. Courtney, Ann, and I walked around la facultad de medicina (the medicine school), again, coming across mostly men. It seemed that whenever we stopped to talk, the people we wanted to chat with had to study. We were all feeling discouraged and tired, but the day ended with a great conversation with three sweet girls who were already believers.

The afternoon was spent dropping off laundry, haggling for souvenirs at the art market, drinking jugo de guanabana, and chilling on the malecon before training on the topic of evangelism tonight. Training was awesome, because us girls at UG had just been talking about the same topic earlier today. We all swapped stories of how God had opened our eyes to the value of evangelizing to strangers, as well as to friends. I love serving a God who chooses to reveal Himself in different ways to different people. He is so much bigger than the logic and time restraints that I so often try to put on Him.

Today's post is a little boring. I understand that. But I want you, dear reader, to know that when something exciting does happen, I will be here for you, reporting in gross detail whatever occurs.



Sunday, July 8, 2012

Regresamos a Guayaquil (Domingo)

This morning, after a wonderful giant pancake and after a hostel employee sang JBieb's "Baby" ten and a half times, we left Cuenca. I could have spent a lot more time in that city with its sweater-conducive temperatures, quaint-ness, and mountains. Though the going was not always easy, and sometimes we needed a restroom more desperately than words could describe, and sometimes the driver was lost, and sometimes the driver put on the heat instead of the AC, we made it back home to Guayaquil.

We had down time this afternoon and evening. The streets were alive with the excitement of today's Barcelona game. People were honking out of celebration instead of frustration and their was yellow everywhere you turned. The Malecon was hopping with people of all ages and especially with young children and babies.

Tonight we all gathered in Linsey's room, rejecting each team member until he or she came through the door in proper llama sweater attire. We sang songs of praise, whistled our hearts out, and prayed together. Chris hit a milestone with his first real whistle escaping his pulled-out lower lip. We prayed over our last week on campus. Since I just mentioned that in passing, I am going to take this moment to point out that this is our LAST week on campus. That is terrifying. 

Pray for us as we go out this week, that we would really be able to help connect long-time and recent believers to the movements at UG and ESPOL. It will be a difficult week of sharing, investing, and of goodbyes to people that we have gotten to know over the last month.



Las Montanas (Sabado)

Saturday morning we awoke, some of us from sleep, and some of us from valiant attempts. After a seventy cent breakfast from a local bakery, we all visited the outdoor market. They sold many of the same touristy souvenirs as the artisan market at Guayaquil, but seemed to have a greater emphasis on llama sweaters. This worked out great, because we, as a team, have a great emphasis on llama sweaters. 

We haggled and haggled and eventually went back to the hostel, some of us with long awaited llama sweaters. For lunch, I stopped at a hole in the wall place with a few of my teammates. This restaurant did not have a name, at least not in my range of visibility, nor did it have a menu. You just ordered right of the specials displayed in the window. There was one guy working there in that one room and he made me one much-needed quesadilla. 

With free soda in my belly (and soda nearly never ends up in my belly), I went with about half my team to ascend a nearby mountain. We started out on a street that wound upwards and, after crossing more busy roads than I generally prefer to cross, we quietly walked through an open fence and began off-roading on a small, dirt trail.

We walked and climbed through grass, eucalyptus trees, and overall just more green than I have seen in the last month. It was incredibly refreshing to be out of the city and in nature. As we got higher, we approached the great Naked Face for which Naked Face Mountain was named (in a sentiment quite similar to our Butt Cheek Park closer to home). 

Eventually, we reached the top and looked out over the city. I observed two things that I had been previously told but just then came to believe: 1. Cuenca is a very large city. 2. This city is located in a valley. We saw tons of red rooftops, mountains all around, and rain off in the distance while the sun beat down on us. Breathing embarrassingly heavy due to altitude, we sat to take in the view, then ventured over to one of the creepiest cemeteries I have ever visited.

Photos from

Ducking between barbed wire (the only casualty there was a brief struggle with Megan's hair), we found tons of crosses covered in kitchen tile, tomb stone, and stacked, catacomb-like structures. These stacked cubbies were the scariest, as most of them had been broken into a lay empty. Around the back of it, we saw a very dirty cloth that once held a deceased person and a baby casket lying on the ground open and empty. I love cemeteries. They are hopeful places to me.

Our descent was much easier than the way up, and on the way home, we walked along a stretch of a river. Near the river's edge, we all simultaneously saw a grand tree. No sooner had we all seen it than we were all in it. We all took a moment, in that tree, to bask in the simple facts that we were in a tree and that no one was instructing us to be otherwise. In that moment, I did not miss the malecon. 

We enjoyed delicious pizza for dinner and a quieter night at the hotel. We located the Southern Cross and stargazed until the smoking, turbaned alien cloud led all of his cloud friends to block our view of the stars. I then chatted with teammates and with some Europeans over live music until our new friends got drunk enough that I could not understand what they were saying, even though they had near perfect English.


Jenna B.

La Fiesta (Viernes)

Friday, we left for Cuenca. The bad news is the transportation was two hours late to pick us up. The good news is that we got two smaller vans instead of one larger one, and at a lower price. If we are going to be totally honest, each of these vans was almost as big as one of the bigger ones.

We rode through the mountains and YOU GUYS. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I like words. I have lots and lots of them. However, I do not have words for the things I saw riding to Cuenca on Friday. After a minor season of freaking out in a stretch of no visibility and excess winding and passing, we broke through the clouds and were above them. We looked down on a sea of clouds as far as the eye could see that broke against mountains on all sides. I have never seen anything like it.

We arrived at the hostel to find cute little rooms, a cute little cafe, and a cute little courtyard with cute little hammocks and less cute, less little toilets-turned-seats/planters. We also found a quite friendly, quite hungover kid in one of our rooms (that I walked into), so that was fun. We were all excited to be there and even more excited to order mac n' cheese for dinner, on the project.

Back at the hostel, we found quite the party. The same techo track for seven hours, a bonfire, drunk people, drugs, this hostel really had it all. Jason and Jeremy cleared the whole dance floor, besides the unmovable man with sun glasses and a backpack, with their "break dancing," in the words of the Ecuadorians. We learned to fit in a bit better by "slow dancing," which entailed head bobbing and a slight sway or side step. However, one of our new friends pointed out that our American humor was excessive, so I guess we never fit in completely. He also pointed out that I looked like Taylor Swift, so any insults are forgiven.

We also were able to engage in some spiritual conversations around the fire before our new friends got too drunk. Though I'm told the music didn't stop until about 3a.m., I slept fairly soundly in my bonfire-scented jeans on what very well could be the hardest mattress in Ecuador, if it was really a mattress at all.

Life is crazy,


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Una Semana Mas

Today, Thursday, was the last day of the school week for this team. As crazy as it sounds, we only have one week (four days) left on campus! I am experiencing conflicting feelings of growing a bit tired, but also of not being close to ready to leave behind the campus, this city, or this country.

This morning, as every other morning this week, copies needed to be made of the milla for the day. Generally, CJ orders the copies, but today, I was very, very brave and undertook the mission myself. I asked for twenty copies, fairly clearly, and watched as the man turned and told the lady making copies to make forty. When I asked how much it cost, he said nothing, for my friend CJ. It is awesome to have people supporting what we are doing, even people in the copy shop.

After discipleship time, I headed over to las lenguas. Given that the Vida Estudiantil meeting was today, we didn't want to do a milla and risk going over on time. We chatted with the students and invited them to come to Vida Estudiantil with us. Several students came, and said they would leave early with us at one. After another crazy game of casa/inquilino/terremoto (house/renter/earthquake) we were all laughing and having a grand time. We had to head out, but all of our language friends stayed for the rest of the meeting!

Tonight was another project fun night. We all made the 444 stair trek up to the top of the hill. As this is our usual running destination, and I have been there a lot, it was fun to see other team members experience the view for the first time. The whole hill is possessed with a totally different kind of life in the evenings. In the mornings, we see security guards patrolling, people sweeping, dogs trying to eat us, kids walking to school, and military men running. Tonight, the restaurants were blasting music and crazy lights, shops were open, people were talking to each other and walking around. And the dogs were still trying to eat us.

For dinner, we went to Frutabar, a strange but enchanting mix of wonderful fruit juice, food, hippy vibe, and rap music. I dig it.

In the morning, we depart for Cuenca, where I may or may not have internet. Keeping life mysterious for those of you who need some excitement in your lives. That's what I'm here for. That is literally why I came to Ecuador. (I lied.)



Wednesday, July 4, 2012


In celebration of the Independence Day of my country, you will notice the title of this post not in Spanish as has been the trend here, but in American.

If you have been following my blog, you may have observed that the members of our team here in Ecuador have many things in common. One of these things is that we all LOVE celebrating the Fourth of July. For the past week or so, we have all been talking about what we will miss about a good, Midwestern Fourth. We spent nearly the whole walk to campus today discussing which foods we would probably catch a plane home just to eat today. My list includes barbecue pulled pork, corn on the cob, strawberries, baked beans, cherries, and my mama's lemonade cake. So, if you have the opportunity, eat some for me, and think of my lunch of a meat cake (yes, that is literally the translation) and jugo de maracuya.

rojo, blanco, y azul

Tonight, for our small group dinners, my group (and others) went to the Grand Hotel to eat hamburgers, like Americans. After everybody had a couple of hours of quiet time with Jesus, we reunited in Linsey's room. The lights were off, the door was shut, and a fireworks show erupted on a laptop whilst we sang about our pride in being Americans, where at least we know we're free. 

We watched a scene from The Sandlot, we had cake, and we ate it, too. It was a delicious cake, followed by some delicious patriotic tunes. When "Party in the USA" came on (Yes, this is my jam. You win, Mr. Daniel C. Hillen.) we all jumped up to dance, like Americans, because in the states, Christians can dance. Usually poorly, but we can dance. Hannah carried the weight of the team in the country music arena. Our patriotism got a little carried away, from singing the preamble to U-S-A chants, to listening to bald eagle calls on YouTube. You may think you would never get to that point, but do not be caught off guard, dear ones, if you happen to find yourself listening to bird calls out of love for your far off country. Such a flood of passion.

While the freedom our country gives us is great, our freedom in Christ is far greater. Hallelujah for that. To have freedom purchased for us is such a gift.

Feeling Festive,


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

El Grupo

If you asked me to describe today in one word, it would likely be encouraging, although I am not sure, because that question would merit much thought, and thought which I have not given nor do I plan to give.

When we wandered over to the lenguas area to meet with the students who we have begun to refer to simply as "el grupo" at 11, we discovered that a few of our friends weren't going to be able to stick around for Milla 3 (the third follow up). We were also met by several new and attentive faces in the group. Enrique went to class, so CJ and I were feeling pretty adventurous in leading on our own. By that, I mean CJ began to talk, and I began to smile a lot, because Jesus and truth make me very happy.

Luckily, one of our newer friends who we met at the end of last week jumped right in and started preachin' the Word like she was born to do it, flipping pages to well-read and studied passages time after time. Right when she had to leave, Enrique walked up and picked up right where we left off. God's timing has been repeatedly perfect during our times on campus.

It was fun to meet some new people and pour into some new hearts. Tomorrow, we are hoping that we can introduce el grupo to people who are involved in Vida Estudiantil. Pray that we would be able to help establish solid connections that last far longer than our time here. Enrique was able to drive us home, which was a huge blessing, however, which also caused us to miss out on jugo for the second day in a row. At this rate, I might be approaching a healthy daily dose of sugar at a much faster rate than I had ever planned.

Tonight, we had guys and girls Bible studies. The girls went to Unipark, which somehow offered a completely different menu than the last time we were there. Megan got her soup a significant amount of time earlier than any of us got our food. At the point when that "Grandma soup" was placed before her, Megan became the priority and the sole concern of the restaurant. When she began to spoon unwanted chunks of cheese out of her bowl, from across the room, a waiter brought a small bowl to use for reject parts. She even got a new plate in the middle of eating.

Eventually, the rest of us got some food too. As there were zero boys there, I am proud to announce that I finished my food. I am less proud to announce that I ordered an appetizer that I let everyone sample as my meal, but nevertheless, I finished my food.

We had an excellent time of study, learning about walking by the Spirit and confession. In our time together, there were tears of sadness and tears of laughter. In a women's Bible study world, that is a good indicator of success. I am so blessed to be part of such a beautiful group of ladies. 

Love always,


Monday, July 2, 2012

El Segundo Mitad

Today was back to reality after a tropical weekend getaway. It feels oddly like home. You know "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody," that gem of a Disney Channel show that was on back in the day, where kids lived the dream life in a hotel? That's kind of the life we are living. We see people come and go, but this is pretty much our home.

Today was back to running the malecon and stairs, back to a freezing cold shower, back to hot dog bun and salty scrambled egg breakfasts, back to sharing, back to follow ups, and back to nap time in the beloved family bed.

There seemed to be nothing too special about today except how routine it was for me. We walked to UG, shared for a while, met up with the language group, went through the second follow up, and chatted until it was time to leave. I was terrified that I may have to attempt the follow up by myself, and goodness knows that near nothing would have been communicated, but Enrique showed up just in time. Things got a little crazy when we forwent our daily jugo stop, instead eating at Gus, a fast food place.

Pray that we would find beauty and see God in the everyday and in the routine. Pray that we would maintain enthusiasm for the mission here and for God's work in Guayaquil. Also, pray that we would be well received by staff at UG, especially in the language department. And praise God for his overwhelming faithfulness!

Tomorrow is another early morning, so I am off to bed.



Sunday, July 1, 2012


I promise you all, this is the last blog post before I go to bed, which I plan to do with some excitement. Today, we had to leave the beach. We left the magical breakfasts, the giant, beautiful dogs, the hippie art, the library, the gardens, the instruments and hammocks for guest use. We left a half trampled Kingdom.

It is probably for the best that we left. Had we not, many a terrible thing was bound to happen, including, but not limited to:

  • Skin cancer from too much sunburn. The top half of my back is bright red as it is.
  • Nervous system damage from too many jellyfish stings.
  • Fatness from the amazing food.
  • Death from falling off of a rock. The longer I hung around Misty Point, the more liberal I became with my definition of climbable rocks. I am lucky to have only a few minor scrapes.
  • Getting even more behind on the blog.
  • Missing out on awesome opportunities in the big city and on campuses.
  • Courtney would run out of memory for videos.
Basically, it's great that we are back at hotel sweet hotel, safe and sound. 

The weekend was a great time of rest and refocus. We discussed areas of the team norms and of our mission here that are going well and that need improvement. Getting to sing songs of worship together outside was absolutely lovely as well.

Besides all of the things God taught us, we sure learned a lot about science. The first thing under this category is exactly how many times in a weekend one can say/hear the word "science." It's more than you think. Science is everywhere, especially on the beach. 

Best of all, I learned how to flip in a hammock without falling out, enabling me to sleep on my stomach. And thus the name of CJ Hansen is found within the list of people who have changed my life for the better.

Tomorrow, we are back to business. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we start out this second half of our adventure in Ecuador. Science is telling me that it is getting pretty close to time for bed.



El Castillo

I like beaches. However, I simply cannot do the whole "laying out" thing. I've tried, and it just never lasts. Anything deemed by society as "relaxing" bottles up my energy until I nearly explode. Luckily, our team had plenty of beach activities up its sleeve.

Day two at the beach was shockingly jellyfish sting-less. After body surfing in some waves that were much better than Friday's, I went to join a few of my teammates in sand castle building efforts. As I approached, I was greeted with a strict strategy involving a moat, a mountain range, and a plot for a castle. While the mountain range may make this plan sound involved, you honestly have no idea.

What ensued in the following hours is now known as Kingdom. Kingdom is many things. It is a place, a dream, a coming together of the body of Christ. It is a vineyard, an irrigation system, a village, a three-towered castle, a cobblestone framework of roads, a towering palm branch, a bridge that can support the weight of an adult. Kingdom is a cemetery, and not an airport because, "This is a kingdom! There are not airports in a kingdom!"

(photo credit to Linsey)

Never have I ever seen so many people who are so very old working together on a sand structure. Never have I ever seen so much pride invested in anything, either. I truly love the amount of enthusiasm we put forth as a unit towards just about anything. Using trash, water, and sand (though on a beach, Jess always somehow seemed to be running out) we made art.

Speaking of how hardcore our team is, for the second day in a row, our men cracked open coconuts for us to drink out of. Those things hold a surprising amount of jugo.

We missed normal lunch time, being caught up in construction, and after a late lunch, a few of us wandered towards "Misty Point" to climb on some big rocks. We found a beach area with giant, smooth stones where you could see nothing but ocean and mountains and hundreds of crabs. I could have explored all day, but alas, we were subjected to Fancy Picture Night. Personally, I prefer big rocks to fancy pictures, but I suppose there is something to be said for keeping all the mothers at home happy. By the time we got back, scraped, wet, and gross, most of the team was all dressed up and lovely. We made it work.

One more post to come tonight,


La Playa

Hello there friends! You may be wondering, Why is my Facebook newsfeed not blowing up with Jenna's blog? You may not be wondering that at all. Either way, I shall explain myself: I was at the beach without internet. So now, I will catch you all up, beginning with a journal entry from our first day at the beach, Friday:

Dearest Journal of Mine,

Here you find me at long last. I must be straightforward: I am only crawling back to you because I lack access to my computer. You also should know that anything I am writing is likely to appear on the internet in the not too distant future.

After an extra late night of blogging and Sporcle, I had an extra early morning to get in a "short" run before we met to leave at 7:45.

With the dreaded jugo de arbol in my belly, we rode off in a trusty 17 passenger van. During our journey, we ran across a less than convenient police officer who seemed to think that there were too many of us and who then decided to show off his impressive counting skills. From what we could tell, the driver gave him enough money that he ripped up the ticket and told us to have fun at the beach.

We looked out the windows through the city, the "suburbs," and the mountains. We arrived around 11:30 at what appeared to be paradise. We are staying in the cutest cabins that have ever existed with waterfall showers and decks with hammocks in bright colors. We are right on the beach with its blue water and soft sand. However, the evil was surely lurking just beyond sight.

Ashley and I were the first to plunge into the warm water, body surfing, jumping, laughing, and just generally having the best day ever. As more people joined us, my right arm starting stinging slightly, and I inquired as to if there were lea lice (also known as biting plankton). The sting increased and I determined that this was definitely the work of a jellyfish. This was not my first run-in with an unfriendly jelly, so I tried to play it cool, as I did with the next sting on the back of my left calf. By the time a jelly attacked my right shin, I immediately yelled for someone to pee on it, and the sneak attack, wrap all around Jenna's right thigh strategy eventually got me out of the water. Safely on shore, where the only jellies were satisfyingly dead, my stings started to puff and bubble and swell up. Now, they just look like bad razor burn and only sting a little, so you put away your panic face for the time being.

After a half-hearted attempt at a sandcastle, 9 of us took a walk down the beach. We discovered dead, deflated pufferfish, tons of dead jellyfish with royal blue tentacle, some kind of a leech that look like a clear tapeworm with a single vibrant blue vein down the middle, and overall just lots of things that Jason has claimed to have seen on the World's Deadliest Animals.

Eventually, much of the group turned back and Ashley, Courtney, Jeremy, and I strode onwards. We found a giant jawbone which Jeremy attached to his already frightening staff in pursuit of what he refers to as the Moses slash Samson look. While Ashely took photographs, we climbed onto a giant rock  covered in tiny barnacles and swarming with speedy little crabs. After more exploring and climbing, we walked back to the beach in front of our hotel for some hammock time.

I am now all showered and all hungry, ready for dinner. We are all so excited to be here, away from the city, the smog, the smells, the stares, the showers that choose their own temperatures, and most of all the creepy garbage truck music. Though it is a slap in the face that our summer project is already half way over, life here is good.


Thursday, June 28, 2012


This morning, me and my running buddies Jeremy and Courtney were too tired to actually run, so we were walking. Actually they were. I was riding in a stroller. It was great. Then I woke up and had to actually run, but the dream was nice. On the positive side of waking up, CJ joined us for our run.

At UG today, I had discipleship with my wonderful roommate and discipler, Miss Jessica Abrego. My faithful internet service has alerted me with a red squiggly that "discipler" is not actually a word, so mayhaps I shall explain a bit. Within CRU, we value discipleship in discipler to disciple (or, as some say, "disciplee") relationships. While here, Jess is meeting with me to share, grow, and talk about God. In many ways, Jess and I are polar opposites, which makes our time together super fun and beneficial as we can see a little glimpse of life through each others' eyes. This time was just the restful break I needed after a long and somewhat exhausting week of sharing.

After a long time together, we went to talk to some students from English classes. Again, my heart was captured by more language students. We caught the beginning of the Vida Estudiantil meeting before walking back to the hotel. 

On the way back, I got jugo de guanabana (soursop juice [yes, the translation is actually soursop, the English word you never knew existed]) and deditos de queso (little cheese fingers). The fact that this trip is half way over makes me want to sob. There are so many things about this country, this city, and this summer that I am going to miss. One of the things that will be most missed by this gringo is JUGO DE GUANABANA. This juice that tastes like banana and pineapple in the chillest combination possible has quickly become my favorite.

At the grocery store tonight, I saw guanabana in real life, and was a bit disappointed to find it much uglier than in any of its glamour shots on Google images. While at the grocery, a fruit called granadilla made its way into the life of our team. It is roughly shaped and colored like a clementine, but with a smoother surface. The inside reminded me of passion fruit, and it demanded to be eaten with a spoon. The slimy interior was sweet, while the seeds had an almost nutty taste to them. I am a fan.

After the excitement of this new-to-us fruit died down, we exploded again into excitement as we saw fireworks out the window of eight-bro-uno, where we were having our project fun night. As they continued, a few of us scurried to the elevator and took it all the way up to floor 14 to get an unblocked view of the show. It was a lovely display, and brought a little comfort to those of us grieving that we don't get to see all of the 4th of July fireworks here that we would see at home.

Tomorrow, we take off for the beach, so I may not be posting on here for a few days. Then again, I may. I like to keep things mysterious and unpredictable, says the girl who has blogged every single day of the trip so far.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mi Vida Hoy

Today I took a chance, got really crazy, and wore jeans instead of the normal capris. I definitely came out a winner, as today is probably the coolest day since we've gotten here. When we were running on the malecon this morning, the people working there were even wearing coats. They were exaggerating, just a little, but it was lovely out, and the sun even took a break from burning my beautiful teammates.

At 11:00 this morning, we met up with our language department friends who I have talked about so fondly and frequently. We brought with us a bunch of copies of the first of the "millas" (basically worksheets for discipleship in the basics of Christianity). There weren't quite enough copies for all of our friends, and we had three Bibles among all of us, but everyone listened and engaged in the conversation.

A friend of ours from the English class we had talked to came up to me, and remembered my name! I took a break from the large group to try to help her with some of her English class work. She was so sweet, and even invited Ana and I to her church.

I returned to the group conversation near the end of the milla. We will all meet up again on Monday to go through the next one. It warms my heart to see these new friends so excited to learn about my Jesus. When I got back the hotel and got on Facebook, the first thing on my news feed was a status about getting to know God from one of our UG friends! I then took the best nap ever.

Tonight, we had small group dinners and swapped life stories. My group went exotic (a trend in my life) and ate at the KFC on the malecon. After dinner, we hit up Sweet & Coffee for quiet time. Sweet & Coffee is basically the Starbucks of Ecuador, and has also been the fount of sanity for several of the people on this team.

Peace out!

Jenna B.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

El Mejor Dia de Mi Vida

For those of you non-Spanish speakers out there, I would like to take a moment to inform you that this post is titled "The best day of my life." (I have gotten complaints about confusion in reading my blogs because of the extremely cultural titles.)

Today, I awoke around 6 and thought to myself, I do not want to go to campus today. I do not want to mess with Spanish. I do not want to talk to anybody. I went back to sleep and awoke an hour later to take a short run, which helped to bring a little reality into my morning brain. By the time we departed for campus, I had realized that I did want to go to campus, I did want to talk to anybody (really, anybody), and I would consider messing with Spanish. I spent much of the forty minute walk talking with my teammates about Judges, which I am currently reading in my quiet time. "Talking" is probably an overly nice term for what came out of my mouth. I was pretty upset. Judges is a tragically sad book.

When we got to campus, I went sharing with Enrique. We approached some students who were caught up in orthodontic practices. As they made casts of teeth, Enrique shared the Gospel. I felt a bit of deju vu as a student poured white powder into a flimsy plastic bowl, mixed it with water, and stirred it until it was purple and then pink and then light colored again. I used to sincerely love getting molds of my teeth in that gooey stuff. It felt awesome.

One of the friends of the students with whom we were chatting gave us yogurt and cereal cups and then the two girls who had been busy forming soap teeth, cleaning fake teeth, and answering phone calls throughout the duration of the conversation, prayed to receive Christ! After getting contact information, we sat down to pray and eat our yogurt.

I then went out to share with Monce, who is on staff in Quito. We walked and walked and were not coming across any groups of girls, so we sat down and prayed. All of our conversation and prayer was in Spanish, and she was very patient with me. At one point, we approached a girl sitting by herself. Monce introduced us and asked if she had a couple minutes to talk about God. The girl somewhat hesitantly agreed. Then, Monce said she had a phone call and SHE LEFT ME.

I had never shared the Gospel (from a booklet) by myself in my life (bear with me, as I am getting excited, I am fighting to type in all English for you guys) and here I am, by myself, with a girl who speaks Spanish. "Have you heard of the four spiritual laws?" I awkwardly spurted in Spanish. "No." I sat down and opened the booklet to page one and start reading to the best of my ability, inserting an occasional transition word or original thought.

When we got to the part with two circles, one representing a self-centered life and the other a Christ-centered life, she said the self-centered better reflected her life. Upon my questioning, she also said that this circle was what she wanted her life to look like. This was the first time I had gotten this combination of answers, and I was a bit unsure of what to say, given that it probably would not be wisest to tell her she had chosen the wrong answer. So I flipped the page, telling her that I would read the infamous prayer of accepting Jesus and that she could listen. Smooth, right? I then went into a brief Spanish speech about why, and how much, I need Jesus. Then I asked if she wanted to pray and have a personal relationship with Christ.


I got really excited and was most likely flailing my arms about as I blabbered about the beautiful adventure that it is to know Jesus. We have an appointment to meet back up and talk some more. While I was talking to my new sister, Monce finished her phone conversation, brought another girl to Christ, and began to sit, waiting patiently for me.

After all of that (Yes! I know! There is more!) Ann and I went over to the language department to see our friends who we see everyday. We waved at them and scurried to the bathroom, glad we had brought our own toilet paper. As there is no soap nor paper towels, Ann and I joined wet, yet still germy hands and prayed for help. At this point, we had become comfortable with approaching strangers and diving straight into a spiritual conversation. Now we had a burden to start a conversation about God with people we already knew, and we were terrified.

We sat down with our friends and began talking about our days. They asked if we were going to class there, and that gave us a great opportunity to tell them why we were there and ask them what they thought about the librito that Carlos (CJ) had presented to them. One of the girls expressed that she wasn't even sure if God existed. Ana (Ann) and I then each told a brief testimony of periods of doubt and God's continued faithfulness in our lives. Other questions arose that we would not even be equipped to answer in English arose, over topics such as science v. religion and the mark of the beast, and, just as our conversation started to move into more shallow topics, Enrique showed up!

We redirected their questions to him and Enrique got his preach on. What a blessing to have friends who live here in Ecuador! At this point, me, Ann, Carlos, and Enrique were talking to four students. At one point, one of them asked if going to church was necessary. With Enrique translating, I was able to tell these friends the awesome news through faith alone, we have salvation, but as we get to better know the heart of the Creator, we want to walk in obedience to His commands. Enrique went on and on, directing every question to the heart of the Gospel, and at the end of our campus time today, ALL FOUR of them prayed to receive Christ and to have a personal relationship with Him! Tomorrow, we will meet back up to discuss any questions these brothers and sisters may have.

Friends, does life get any better? On the walk home, I was full of both jugo de guanabana and joy, which are both beautiful things with which to be filled.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

All smiles,

Jenna Breanne

Monday, June 25, 2012


Today started with another great run with Courtney and Jeremy. We arrived to the top of the hill only to find that the lighthouse was closed today, which we attributed to something about the wind and the windows. Eventually, the police decided that we may ascend the light house, so long as we did so quickly and then came back down so other people would not become exceedingly jealous of our exclusive privileges and awesomeness.

After we took some photos, had quiet time overlooking the river, and forgot my water bottle of hydration and life, we ran back to the hotel for breakfast and showers before leaving for campuses. At campus, I went sharing with Mary J., a student from Quito, the capital of Ecuador. She was bold and swift in declaring the Gospel to anyone we came across. Everyone we talked to professed to have God on "el trono" (the throne) of his or her life.

We picked up CJ and went right back to sharing. Here is the weird part, so brace yourself. You are so welcome for that heads up, by the way. We approached a guy who was sitting by himself listening to music, and honestly, I would have been tempted to walk right by him. Mary J. went right up and got DOWN TO BUSINESS. CJ and I just looked at each other as she flew through the librito. Mary J. took a breath to tell us that our new friend didn't believe in God. She then promptly asked him if he wanted to pray to receive Christ. HE SAID YES. Just like that. I am not withholding any information from you that would make that a smoother paragraph. I almost started laughing. That kind of stuff doesn't just happen. But it did. We even set up a follow up appointment. God is on the move.

I'm still in a little bit of shock.

On campus, I also got to reunite with my language department friends. It cracks me up, because even after hearing how awful my Spanish is, they are still scared to practice English with me. I have always been on their side of that kind of inter-lingual interaction. We also got to hang out with our amiga Kenya, drink jugo, and share lots of laughs on the walk back.

And it's only lunes. I can't wait to see what the rest of the week holds.



Sunday, June 24, 2012


Today was yet another beautiful day of rest. At 9:15, we set off on the long walk to church, where, yet again, I understood little of the sermon, but enjoyed completely the worship music. We sang a couple of songs I knew in English, but it was awesome to sing them and worship in a different language without any English lyrics floating around in my head.

On the way home, we all got jugo (juice). I AM FREAKING OUT. I got passion fruit jugo, and GUYS. GUESS WHAT! I just Google image searched passion fruit, because I love the flavor and I wanted to know what the fruit looks like. AND IT IS THE MYSTERY FRUIT FROM THAT ONE HOTEL IN CHINA! The one that I loved and had described countless times. The baseball sized, hard purple fruit that, when cut open, reveals an inside looking like egg yolk with large green frog eggs. I remember being surprised by the disgusting appearance of the fruit, more surprised by the sweet scent, and most surprised by the delicious taste. I have, after three years, discovered the name of that mystery fruit that I so enjoyed. Passion fruit. Or, here, maracuya. I will rest easy tonight. I realize that this holds no contrast to how I usually rest, but if it were, it would still be true. I doubt you have any idea how much this discovery brings joy to my soul.

That was not the direction I meant to go with that paragraph, but props to Google for changing my life and your blog reading experience. What I meant to say was that some of my friends were left with upset stomachs, and we have had our first upheaval of food, so keep the health of our team in your thoughts and prayers.

I ate lunch at the hotel restaurant, which was surprisingly delicious, Skyped my wonderful pal Lauren for two hours in the afternoon. We then headed to a coffee shop called Sweet & Coffee. My experience there consisted mostly of being stared at relentlessly. If no one ever stares at me again after this trip, I might have experienced a normal amount of staring by the end of my life. For someone who so hates blending in, I am starting to tire of standing out.

Tonight was another great time of worship, as the team assembled to sing, share, and pray together. As we go into this next week, we are focusing on following up with people we have shared with, in addition to sharing with new students.

I just got to Skype with my whole, beautiful family (including the puppy) and my wonderful boyfriend, all of whom are missed a bit more than anticipated, and I am one happy Jenna.

Goodnight to all,

Jenna B.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


"Rebueno" is a fan favorite Spanish word amongst our team. A twist on the regular "bueno," it adds extra excitement to the level of goodness something possesses. Today, friends, was rebueno.

I woke up feeling yesterday's run in my legs. We all crammed into a van that is supposed to fit 17 people, maximum. Our whole team + Enrique + Daniel + Driver = 17 passengers. Though legal, we were quite squished on the hour long ride to Milagro that began far too early for my morning-rejecting self.

We went to a sports complex, an oasis rented out for us! Most of our team started out with a game of futbol,  with teams divided by the campuses we go to, UG v. ESPOL. I, along with some other ladies, did not play. If it was just about any other sport, I would have been all over it, but I have already expressed to all of you my feelings about soccer.

We spent most of the day at and in the pool. You may be surprised to find out that, as nearly every member of our team can testify in a tangible way right now, that you can get burned through clouds. Then again, you may have listened  to your mother all along, or perhaps you are a mother yourself, in which case you are not surprised, but rather shaking your head. But don't worry moms, because, 1. I'm just a tiny bit pink and I applied aloe and made some of my teammates do the same and 2. I'm here to tell the kids how it is, as a powerful voice of a peer influencing for good.

We swam and swam, having what may have seemed to be way too much fun for the activities in which we participated. For example, we played monkey in the middle for quite a long time, and it was the most fun I've ever had playing monkey in the middle for the whole time. We played the categories game, and you will be pleased to know that I was so sneaky that I didn't even get caught once. You also will be pleased to know that if Jason ever becomes president, you find yourself staring at a map of the country you once knew, confused by the presence of states such as "East Virginia," "Regular Virginia," and "New Kentucky." I call dibs on first governor of New Kentucky, so just get that out of your mind right now.

After we finished swimming, we went to eat at Daniel's uncle's restaurant, where they were as wonderful at preparing food as they were generous to us! And that is a lot of both wonderfulness and generosity! While we were waiting for our food, I learned how to play penny hockey and an Ecuadorian version of paper football, which is of course much more like futbol. Since I have been here, I have been eating a lot less than I do at home, but today I was HUNGRY. In Spanish, "Tengo hambre" means "I'm hungry," but directly translates to "I have hunger." So, we, being quite cultured, will often ask each other "How much hambre (pronouncing it ham-bray) do you have?" Today, I had a mountain and a half of hambre.

Therefore, I ate a mountain and a half of food. This part of this post is specifically for those of you (Dad and Dem) who have been asking about food here. We ordered family style. I partook in all kinds of wonderful seafood, fried and dipped in ketchup. The ketchup here is so much better than at home! It is pinker and runnier, and looks like something that might have actually come from a tomato. Likewise, the orange juice that we drank, and the orange juice that I drink daily on campus, is so much better than at home! It looks like cloudy lemonade with a tint of orange color, tastes like oranges, and again, appears to come directly from oranges themselves. I topped off my meal with the most flavorful rice I have ever tasted.

After dozing in and out of a contented sleep on the van ride back, I, along with many others, crashed at the hotel and slept for two hours. Since then, I have had a fun, chill evening, eating a wonderful PBJ sandwich that Ann so graciously made for me, going out to get ice cream, and exploring new parts of the malecon. I even pet a sweet little birdy. That's right, I pet a bird. In retrospect, that may not have been the most sanitary experience, but my hands have been thoroughly cleaned since then.

Buenas noches,

Jenna B.

Friday, June 22, 2012


You know how I just said God is in Guayaquil? Well, that was definitely a true statement, in case you had any doubts. At UG this morning, I witnessed six students pray to receive Christ. SIX. In such a Catholic culture, most students here believe, at least roughly, in God. They do not doubt his existence nor his goodness, but many say that they do not have a personal relationship with him. In that sense, it is like most of the work is done for us, and all we have to do is to nudge people over the edge. As I contemplated the first part of the morning, I with Casting Crowns said, "How refreshing to know you don't need me! How amazing to find that you want me!" I have a God entirely capable of all things who chooses to use me in my weakness as an instrument of His strength!

Pray for students to realize that love of God is something personal. Pray for authenticity among students who make decisions to follow Christ and for real life change that stems from intimately knowing the heart of the Savior of the world.

Towards the end of my time on campus today, CJ and I walked over to the language department. Though we focus in the medical area of the school, I prefer the less busy, more laid back environment of the space around the language buildings. Though all students will listen to us, the language students seem much more willing to make new friends and to forgive language errors, which is great, as language errors happen to be my specialty. With the exchanging of Spanish and English knowledge, I feel like we are more on an equal plane.

I ran across my friends from yesterday, and was probably overly excited to see familiar, friendly faces. They seemed happy to see me as well, and CJ and I got the opportunity to explain to them a little bit about why we are here. I got to read through the Four Spiritual Laws booklet with a couple of the guys, me reading in Spanish, then them reading in English. This was a blast, because I was able to even go off-script a bit with Spanish explanations of what I was reading, something that I am very hesitant to do with people I haven't talked to before.

This group I've met over the last two days is so full of life, thirst for knowledge, acceptance, and friendship. I am praying that I get to interact with these students more. As a language student myself, and someone who is passionate about language, these students in particular grab my heart.

Tired and happy,



There has been much talk for some time about running in the mornings here. Since we had to leave early yesterday, today was to be the day that it all started. I awoke at 6:35 (since we were meeting at 6:45 and I wanted to have plenty of time to get ready) and upon stepping into the hall, I found only Courtney.

We figured the boys (all of whom wished to run) were not awake, so we went up and knocked. Jeremy opened the door, looking much as we had left him last night. A few minutes later, determining it would be just the three of us, we set off towards the Malacon.

Now, I know that you all think I am a giant mass of muscle and fitness and physical power, but I would like to clear something up for you: I am not. Jogging from the hotel, across the Malacon, and to the bottom of the hill, I felt great. However, less than 100 steps up, I simply could not run anymore. Courtney and I fell behind, walking, persevering. When we got to the top of the 430 steps, we decided we missed walking up stairs and ascended the lighthouse on top of the hill.

From up there, we could see the whole city. We saw the Malacon, the airport, the buildings, the river, the schoolchildren assembled like you see in documentaries about the Chinese education system.

Like it did first in New Orleans four years ago, later in Alejuelita, and always in Fishers, my heart sings and prays and cries out "Greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city."

We went over to a little chapel to pray over the city and noted a stain glass progression of the gospel story. I was crushed to find that in all that art, in all that effort, they had missed the best part. They left my Savior in a tomb! My God is not dead. My God is NOT dead. He is not powerless or wounded.

My God is here. My God is in Guayaquil. My God is in me.

Most productive morning of my life,

Jenna B.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

La Ropa Interior Misteriosa

After a great day at campus helping English classes, taking on making friends with nine students all by myself, and talking with Jess for discipleship, we caught the beginning of the Vida Estudiantil (the equivalent of our CRU) meeting. I was elated to see some of the lovely faces of English students I had invited! We played a great icebreaker that any of you youth workers or generally fun people may want to ask me at a later time. It involved "houses," "renters," and an abundance of "earthquakes." Plus, being in Spanish, the game was naturally more dramatic than it would otherwise be. Please be praying for the students who came for the first time to make connections within the ministry.

After we came back to the hotel, we went to get our laundry. Yesterday, we all dropped off the majority of clothing in our possession at a literal hole in the wall place that was overflowing with laundry baskets and black trash bags of respectively dirty and clean clothing. Laundry is many things: pesky, routine, boring, "important," etc. However, before today, I had never thought of laundry as mysterious. We collected our pre-paid trash bags full of once smelly, now clean and folded garments. Jeremy, being the gentleman that he is, carried my and Ann's laundry for us. He's a gem.

When we got back, we opened our laundered gifts like it was Christmas. There was much shuddering as a garment belonging to Jess was found where but in the bag of Ann. Many questions popped into our heads and promptly flooded out of our mouths. What other mix-ups were there? Who else could have gotten my clothing? Is laundry even necessary? What would happen if I never washed my clothes ever again? What is absolute worst case scenario? Are we being too dramatic?

Those last two questions were answered in the following minutes. To the last question, NO, no we absolutely were not. To the penultimate, we found the answer in a trash bag. The answer was in our room, living and active in the form of an unclaimed pair of underwear. We presented the mystery article to all rooms, and unclaimed it remained. Somehow, and not by any of our own doings, it ended up dwelling upon the handle of the door to our room. As that is the only entrance to our room, we were all faced with the traumatic experience of going in and out of the room without touching the underwear.

While that may be uncomfortable, I may not have sharing the part that makes that worst case scenario. Here it is: Chris is making us take them back. Walking in heat and humidity to be a deliverer of a piece of clothing that someone probably "misplaced" in our basket on purpose is just not how I generally spend my Saturday nights. However, it does give me something to blog about, so there's the silver lining.

This evening was a "Project Fun Night." Thursday nights are designated for the whole team to do activities decided by one of the student rooms. Roomed seven oh crooked six (Ashley, Helen, Megan, and Courtney) had fun night duty for this week. Entonces, we all went down to the Malacon (boardwalk) to see it/the city all lit up and to take pictures. *insert feminine giggling noises*

It was a beautiful evening.

Haunted by the garbage trucks of doom,

Jenna B.


Starting a blog post is always the hardest part. As is now evident to you, today I took the easy way out of that problem. Right now, there are so many thoughts floating around in my head and so few hours until I have to leave for campus.

A twist from the normal routine, we did not go to campuses today, but instead had the morning free. I did all kinds of productive things like eat breakfast, read my Bible, nap on my bed, eat lunch, and nap on my bed. The first half of my day in three words: food, Bible, nap.

The rest of my day was a bit more complex. This afternoon, we had a service day at a local church to make sandwiches for kids in a children's hospital. Perfect! I thought, I am a woman! I am MADE to make sandwiches! We assembly lined a few hundred of those babies in no time. I was on butter duty. If you need anything buttered, I got you, pal.

After eating pizza with "GRINGO: carryout" printed on the label, and dying a little bit from the humor of the lack of effort/necessity of getting a name from Chris, we got to know the church folk we would be with for the evening. We all introduced ourselves, each in his non-native language. Then, the Ecuadorians taught us a much more spiritual, much more Spanish version of "If you're happy and you know it." Part of the song called for those truly saved to whistle. THIS WAS OUR TIME TO SHINE.

*Fading into flashback.* At the Emelec game, we could not help but to notice people whistling in a context and manner unfamiliar to us. It appeared to be a sign of booing and was done by pulling out the lower lip. *Fading away from flashback.* For the last week, we have all been perfecting our obnoxiously loud whistles. Gradually, we have all joined the club of lip mutilating, teeth clenching, out of breath, screeching, whistlers. The better we get, the more consistent the noise is and the less saliva you hear. Though I was a late bloomer, my whistle has much improved in the last couple of days, and it has a distinct glass-breaking quality to it.

Back to the Spanish call to whistle. Upon "If it's true that you're saved, whistle!" all of us gringos cracked up, fiercely grabbed our lower lips, and forcefully inhaled repeatedly. I can only imagine what our new friends must have thought. These thoughts likely were along the lines of, "Wow! They are all showing such determination in making that spitty, horrid, air sucking sound. What work ethic! What laborers for the Lord!" It turns out that this whistle is not as common of a cultural thing as the soccer game had led us to believe, but we are still AWESOME. Personally, I love everyone's stubbornness in learning the skill. Truly inspirational.

We all took our sandwiches and went to the hospital in our matching borrowed yellow t-shirts and yellow baseball caps, as our friends mentioned that, oh, by the way, WE would be PREACHING to the families of the patients. No big. I was grouped with Ashley and our new buddy Regis, who translated for us, to share. We all three took turns sharing the gospel to a larger group in the hall and praying with children and their family members. It was so humbling to see pain on the faces of children. My heart broke. These kids were not acting like kids. Kids should play, run, laugh, smile, joke, be annoying. These children just sat or lay on beds, two to a room, hooked up to machines, presumably thinking about things children should never have to think about.

In each room, we extended an invitation to the chapel to hear a gospel presentation and eat sandwiches. When people showed up to the chapel, it was awesome, yet simultaneously terrifying because I had to help present the good news to these people. Ashley, Regis, and I took turns explaining God's love for humanity and the necessity of a Savior. At the end, Regis asked me to pray and to provide the people listening with a repeat-after-me, come-to-Jesus type prayer. Terrifying, but growing experience. I hope the people there felt loved.

After we sat down, I had my first witnessing of speaking in tongues. I have much more studying to do on that subject.

By the end of the night, with my giant t-shirt, backwards hat, cargo capris, and flip-flops, I had fully embraced that 90's elementary school tomboy who is still bigger than all the boys, in addition to being a huge bully, look. So there is a fun mental picture for all of you.

When we got back to the church, we had to wash and dry the containers that had held the sandwiches and the tea. Perfect! I thought yet again, I am a woman! I was MADE to wash dishes! Be that as it may, there was a shocking standard of perfection for this wash/dry process. If there was one smudge, back to bucket number one! If there was one drop of water, back to the drying table!

We gave the taskmaster a hard time for his strict judgement, giving him obviously wet items or cheering when a container passed inspection on the first try. I think he liked us. I like us.



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Una Semana

Believe it or not, the truth remains: we have lived through an entire week here in Guayaquil.

I have learned and experienced so much. I am not a big reader. I have read a single book this summer (in addition to a couple small books in my Bible) and I feel like I am a literate beast. For those of you like me, who are not inclined to do any reading deemed unnecessary but still want to be informed about the lives of awesome people, I will do a recap in list form.

I have learned:
  • that a proper greeting is a single left cheek touching air kiss. If you want to know what happens when you leave out the "air" detail, just ask Jason. 
  • various vocabulary words that may or may not be useful in the future.
  • that here in Ecuador, saying "chao" is always better than "adios," as the latter implies eternal separation.
  • a precious Spanish rhyme including the name of a local drug store.
  • to wear clashing clothes in front of people (even people I have only met once, such as our study abroad buddies) and be a whole, complete person. This is a big step for a little person like me.
  • that the creepiest garbage trucks in the world cruise through Guayaquil on a nightly basis.
  • that caterpillars don't lay eggs. Shout out to CJ for that bit of what should have been obvious wisdom.
I have experienced:
  • sharing the Gospel in Spanish.
  • a museum tour so lengthy that it has since caused me to dream of museums twice.
  • staring at iguanas like the people here stare at us.
  • serving a family by moving dirt.
  • time on university campuses.
  • drinking more flavors of juice than I can count when it is past midnight.
  • the touching moving vehicles game. I currently have two points. It's natural to be impressed.
  • some new foods, like plantain and bacon balls.
  • making new friends and making a new family.
  • team bonding, doing life together, and what some may deem as "excessive" laughing.
  • being stretched out of my comfort zone, which I previously thought was quite large.
  • lots of sweat and lots of walking.
  • training and encouragement in the Word.
  • communication triumphs as well as struggles.
There you go. The spark notes version of week 1 of Summer Project here in Guayaquil.

Looking forward to the next four weeks here,


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


This morning at UG, I was grouped with Chris and Jose Luis, who is on staff here, to go sharing. We approached a group of three students which included two guys and one girl.It was a perfect evangelist to evangelee ratio. Once again, ratios were turned against me. Though the intention was for each of us to talk one on one with a student of our corresponding gender, I ended up talking to the girl AND one of the guys, while Chris and Jose Luis (who, if you haven’t figured it out on your own brainpower, is a fluent speaker of Spanish) talked to the remaining guy. Praise God that He is not a God who stresses over ratios, Amen?

Part of the way through the librito, the guy I was talking to had to go to class, so I continued stumbling through it with the girl, who was Catholic and said she already had faith. She didn’t have any questions, so we just chatted about religion, school, and home.

After that conversation, we all regrouped, and Ann and I split off to share with two girls who were sitting nearby. After we had finished sharing and were chatting with them, a boy standing next to us tapped me on the shoulder and started asking me questions. He basically asked what we were sharing, what church we were with, and what we believed. So, essentially, we HAD to share with him and his buddies. Thankfully, Ann walked over and joined me. As we opened the booklet, we looked around and all of our men were gone. At this point, the rule follower who hides not-so-deep within me started screaming. As a group of girls, we weren’t supposed to really be approaching guys. But these guys had come to us and asked for the Gospel. May I never refuse an opportunity like that.

Ann and I went through the book, mainly talking to one guy, but we gave one of his friends a booklet as well, as we continued, the friend became more engaged in following along. The first guy who started talking to us PRAYED TO RECEIVE CHRIST. Pause right there. 
Hallelujah. A new brother. Hallelujah. A new creation. Hallelujah. Praise God for spreading his glory here!

This was the first time I had ever helped lead someone to Christ. It wasn't like I'd always dreamed. I was speaking Spanish that was very difficult to understand, as our new friends stated quite bluntly. I was stumbling over my words. I was sweating like a pig. I was standing on my tip toes looking for our guys. And honestly, the conversation probably only started because I have light hair and green eyes. But you know what? That's OK. Because it isn't about me anyways. Because the Gospel is sufficient and because His power is displayed in my weakness. Praise His name!

We got his email information to keep him updated about Vida Estudiantil and to hopefully get him in contact with some men (who never showed up). Please keep our hermano nuevo in your prayers.


Jenna B.