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.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Un Buen Comienzo

Going into today, I was nervous. Last night, as we were praying together in our campus groups, I crunched some numbers. UG has well over 100,000 students. There are four of us plus a couple of staff. I decided to tell God that around a 6:100,000 ratio is a bit ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense. He proceeded to tell me that He is actually better at math than me. I concurred, and felt a bit better.

Today, I woke up far too early in relation to when I went to bed. I was sitting on my bed, and commented on the oddness of its shaking. Turns out I FELT AN EARTHQUAKE. Not only did I feel an earthquake, but I felt an earthquake IN ECUADOR. So, in conclusion, today was worth waking up for.

Actually, there is more to today. We set off as a whole team on foot. When we got to the monument circle which we affectionately and appropriately refer to as “Butt Cheek Park” due to some giant, immodest statues, we saw the woman who we helped when we worked with IJM! It was such a surprise, as she lives quite a ways out of the city, but it was so good to see and hug her.

After Butt Cheek Park, we parted ways to go to the different universities. I paired up with Enrique to share. We were a stellar team. My height and light hair and eyes attracted attention while Enrique shared fluently. We talked to two different people and went all the way through the Four Spiritual Laws books. They both seemed a bit disinterested, but we got them information to connect them to Vida Estudiantil, if they ever want to go. I am so excited to hear more about some of the conversations that my teammates had. A couple of people came to the Lord today! Can we please just take a minute to shout out praises with the angels over the growth of our family!?  Is there anything more beautiful than lives being reconciled to their Creator?

Enrique and I met up with the rest of the team, and I ended up talking to our friend Oliver with CJ. We talked about who Jesus is, differences between Catholicism and the Evangelical Church, and other things that make me excited!  CJ did most of the talking, as they are best buddies, and as Oliver says he cannot understand me. I am working on that, in English and Spanish. For English, since I have already achieved fluency, I am trying to be more conscientious and enunciate and talk slowly. For Spanish, I am really just trying to be better. 

I allowed CJ to continue the conversation on his own, and went off with Ann, Enrique, and my new pal Kenya. Kenya is just a ball of fun and cute. Before I had known her for two minutes, she brought me a frozen chocolate covered banana with SPRINKLES on it. I was absolutely horrified to find that no one knew what sprinkles are called in Spanish.

Speaking of things that are ABSOLUTELY HORRIFYING, Kenya decided to take us to see cadavers. Like people, only DEAD. We just waltzed on in there, banana pops in hand and walked right up to those deceased, shriveled bodies. There have to be some grave sanitation catastrophe that happened there. I am half blogging, half sitting here waiting to die.

On the plus side, I actually used Spanish today.

Excited about what God has in store at UG,

Jenna Breanne

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dia del Padre

This morning, we strolled past UG (Universidad de Guayaquil), all dressed up and ready for church. I sat near the front, in the group of people who chose to go interpreter-less. This seemed like a great choice for far longer than it actually was a great choice. It may have been an actual good choice during the songs, when I understood nearly everything, but once it got into the sermon I had a serious zoning problem, due to how much concentration it took to understand anything.

After church, we went to the mall to eat. THIS IS THE MOST BORING BLOG POST EVER. Sorry, inside thoughts. I got a yogurt for lunch. It was delicious. Then, I rose to go to the bathroom and the BEST THING EVER happened. In the hall leading up to the bathroom, it smelled EXACTLY like Fruit Stripe gum. You know, the gum with the zebra wrappers that doubled as tattoos that you apply by tongue? EXACT match. My nostrils promptly sent a message to my brain declaring all that is wonderful about the world.

I came back to my table where Courtney, Chris, and Andrea sat, clueless to the journey I just experienced, and said, "YOU GUYS. I just had the most JOYFUL experience and I need to share it with you." It occurred to me that this may be an odd thing to emphatically present to a group of people after returning from the bathroom, especially when it would be in your favor for these people to love you. That's alright. Loving me is a dangerous thing.

After lunch, my team went to the grocery store for the noble task of procuring peanut butter. I have learned that peanut butter is not the staple here that it is at home. Here is a brief overview of how I view peanut butter: In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the bread of life. Personally, I refer to Him, if only in my head, as the peanut butter of life. Peanut butter is a snack, a meal, a comfort in hard times, a joy in good times. On a sandwich or on a spoon, peanut butter makes life more substantial. I know others on my team feel the same way. However, I was the only one who brought my own peanut butter, at the suggestion of my exceedingly wise and beautiful mother. So all my teammates were able to get their own today, even though I offered to share.

We returned to the hotel to nap, shower, listen to music, journal, and swap life stories. My room voted to fulfill our womanly duties and make dinner for ourselves. Peanut butter and jelly. Independence in sandwich form.

The night continued with a wonderful time of prayer and praise for the whole team. We got assigned our campuses for the rest of the trip:
The staff (Linsey, Chris, Andrea, Jess, and Jason) will be floating between the campuses. Just a little info to pray over.

Also, you will be pleased to know that I got to share the Four Constipated Men of the Bible song to still more blessed ears (for the record, that was a two syllable "blessed"). I feel a specific calling to spread that song to as many ears as will hear. I am so grateful for a team that has so whole-heartedly embraced it.

That brings you to right about to now, blogging here on my blogging couch. That's right couch, you aren't the floor couch anymore, you are MY blogging couch. Feel honored.

Sorry this post has been so...dreadful...detailed...difficult. Also, Father's Day shout out to my wonderful dad. Thank you for giving me experiences that have fostered in me a love of travel and culture that has made my time in Ecuador so beautiful.

Much love,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

En la Selva

Today, I slept in, and GOOD THING too, because I blogged last night into the wee hours of the morning. Blogging is great, but it is deathly addictive and time consuming. As today is a free day for the team, I awoke today at 9:45 and did a whole lot of nothing, or, as the more spiritual than I call it, “resting.”

At 12:30, we headed down to the boardwalk that runs along the river. After eating everyone’s new favorite food, shawarma, the majority of us proceeded to the selva or “jungle” for some quiet time with everyone on the team’s best friend, Jesus.  

We wound through park areas of tropical trees and beautiful flowers in all shades of red, and orange, and fire. We decided to park ourselves in a little area that curved around a pond and had benches. We settled in, reading quietly, talking to each other about the greatness of our God, or praying together.

The police patrolling the park take their jobs VERY seriously. First, they walked on a bridge across from us and told rebel child Jason to SIT UP. Nothing good happens when lying down in a park, I suppose. Later, a policeman strolled by and told me and Jeremy to GET OFF THE ROCKS. Later still, one told CJ to STOP RECLINING. Finally, the police told us to PUT OUR SHOES ON.

Here’s what I think: We were all breaking all of these rules the FIRST time he walked by. I think he went back and wrote new rules between each visit, and then returned to us to enforce them.

The police were not the only ones who stopped on the bridge. So did Ecuadorians, occasionally even snapping a photograph. Here is your part, dear reader: I want to know what YOU would do with photographs of white college kids reading their Bibles if you were an Ecuadorian. Would you hang them on your refrigerator? Would you make a white college kids reading their Bibles calendar? Would you post them on your Facebook entitled “A day at the zoo”? Or something else altogether. I want to know.

Photo credit to Megan :)

Abrazos y besos,

Las Aventuras Pequeñas

I am a lover of details that make my day. Other than that, I am a lover of very few other details. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the details that have made my time in Ecuador what it is.

1.     Roosters. I am currently sitting on a couch in the largest city in the entire country. And still, in the morning, I hear ROOSTERS crowing. All of those children's books that tell you roosters are farm animals who live just to charmingly awaken their hardworking farmer owners each morning? Totally romanticized. Roosters are city folk. Loud, rude, city folk.

2.     Disney Princesses. Tonight, our whole team told each other which Disney Princess we would be and why. I, along with some of the guys, would (obviously) be Rapunzel. I think that it is pretty clear that her character was based off of me. Generally, these types of questions are used for icebreakers. However, my team has assembled to address such serious issues, though it is long after the ice has been shattered and then torched into a melted mess. (Por ejemplo:  Would you rather have hot dog or scissor fingers? What is your favorite form of transportation? What is the weirdest face you can make?)

3.     Garbage Trucks. We have noticed vehicles on the streets at night, blaring music that sounds like it comes from the Island of Misfit Toys in the Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special. What a terrifying ice cream truck, we all thought, some of us consciously, and some of us subconsciously. Turns out, it is not the ice cream truck, but rather the GARAGE truck. So, a bit of heart-to-heart advice, don’t approach the music with a mile wide grin and a dollar in hand.

4.     Nice Cream. Find a cuter name for an ice cream place and tell me. I triple dog dare you.

5.     Elevators.  For one, there are the aforementioned dancing Indian amigos. You may not know this, but elevator shafts are actually the best way for sound to travel. As I blog, music from floors below and above screams at me. Recently, I sat down in the elevator and traveled to both floors. I experienced first an awkward encounter with staring at cakes, and then with staring at an awkwardly small number of people dancing. I'm sure the cakes and dancers wondered what this gringo was doing, sitting on the elevator floor, wearing crimson and red and holding a laptop.

That’s what I’ve got for now. Stay tuned for more nuances of Ecuador.


Paz y Esperanza

"He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, 
and to walk humbly with your God?" 
Micah 6:8

This morning, our team walked to Paz y Esperanza, an organization here in Guayaquil that is all about this verse. I love passion. I am passionate about passion. One thing I absolutely adore about my God is that He is a passionate God. He cares for His people, He remembers His people, He upholds His people. He is passionate about His people. He, the Creator, is passionate about His created. Us. He is passionate about justice, about those who are overlooked, mistreated, and cast out. The passion that I have is a small glimmer of a reflection of the passion of my Creator.

Paz y Esperanza is a group that is passionate about the justice that our God desires. They work to bring justice to children and women who are victims of sexual abuse and who have been enslaved. Over 20% of children here have been sexually abused. That is over 1 in every 5 faces that should be laughing, shining, an embodiment of the childlike faith that Jesus encourages. Many victims do not have the resources to bring justice to the situation, and this is where Paz y Esperanza, with the International Justice Mission, comes in.

My half of the team went into a different area to help a family build a restroom of sorts. In this, I mostly weeded, shoveled, and stomped upon dirt. Manual labor lies way closer to the center of my comfort zone than sharing the Gospel with strangers or trying to speak Spanish. It was nice to serve in a comfortable way before I will go and get stretched past whatever limits I imagine on myself.

We also got to play with the puppy and kids there, giving piggy back rides, eating crackers, and lifting little girls into a truck "otra vez!" (and again and again).

It blows my mind that we get a command as big as "do justice," and sometimes, all that means is "Jenna, I want you to shovel some dirt. Smile at the little Ecuadorian girl who won't smile back. Pull weeds." I can do that.

Jenna B.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Esta Noche

HOLD ON because this is going to be a bumpy ride, and the road may be long, and risks high, but the adventure you are about to go on is totally worth it.

Necessary background information:
FOMO (n): 1. the Fear Of Missing Out. 2. a common disorder among college students, especially those of Ecuador Summer Project 2012. (examples: 1. Because of her severe FOMO, she simply had to stay up with her friends all night, though she'd not slept in weeks or completed a smidgen of homework. 2. Not even my FOMO can keep me from staying in this room, be it alone or not, until I finish this post.)

After we rested from our day at the universities, our team went out to eat. I sided with the exotic and ordered a hamburger. Then, we almost got hit by a bus and ate McFlurries at a two story McDonald's. When we returned to the hotel, the night was young, as were we. A game of French charades was in order.

For those of you who do not know what this "French charades" is, I shall hit the pause button and explain. You know how French toast is kind of like normal toast except way less healthy and way more fun? French toast is to normal toast as French charades is to normal charades. Quick breakdown:

  • Split into two, equally sized teams. 
  • Send the uglier team in the hall (note: This is optional, but one team really does have to go in the hall.)
  • Collaborate, and come up with three words for the other team to act out.
  • Bring in Hall Team player #1 and tell them the words.
  • Bring in Hall Team player #2 and have #1 act out said words.
  • Continue in a train until the last player comes in.
  • The last player guesses the words and people die in laughter as the original meaning is distorted into nothingness (or worse).
  • Switch team roles and repeat.
Got it? Good.

So we had all (menos CJ) gathered in Linsey's room and divided up teams when RING! the telephone rudely interrupted. Andrea picked up the phone. After a concerned look, a "Who is this?" in her hispanic accented English, and a giggle, she told us CJ was prank calling, saying he was part of a group of Indians (with a hispanic accent) who wanted to go dancing. CJ or Indians, the other party was invited to the room we were in to play French charades.

In an act of minor revenge, Andrea prank called CJ. "Hola...Vamos a mi casa...Vamos a mi casa a mi casa...Adios." Poor CJ, who was simply trying to Skype his "family," was a recipient of yet another call asking when he would be down, to which he responded a half hour and to go on without him.

So, following the instruction of the great Carlos Juan, we began the game. My team (being crazy rule benders and definitely NOT the uglier team) went into the hall first, when LO AND BEHOLD the gates of the great elevator split and unto us appeared what but FOUR young Ecuadorian men.

Quite soon, it became clear that THEY, not CJ, were the dancing Indians! We burst forth into Linsey's room, the Ecuadorians following hesitantly behind us. After a chaotic five minutes of laughing, awkward, and Andrea being close to tears, we split the Ecuadorians between the teams. They had heard us say the room number earlier and been encouraged by Jeremy's over-zealous "ADIOS AMIGOS!" that may or may not have been proclaimed in an elevator. One of the men was a new Christian, and was such an encouragement to us, as I hope we were to him!

Team 1 took up post in the hallway, and I decided that I should go get CJ, for fear that missing an event like this could leave him with a severe case of post traumatic FOMO. I ran up the stairs to room eight-bro-one(uno), and KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCKed on the door. CJ came to the door and greeted me nicely, while I tried to explain the situation downstairs. That lasted about 2.008 seconds before I absolutely cracked up. I walked into the room and collapsed on the floor crying from laughing too hard, until by some miracle, CJ understood that there were Ecuadorians playing with us and he should come downstairs ASAP, if not sooner.

Our words to guess were "greased pig," "discovering the Titanic," and "something else that Jenna doesn't remember." Needless to say (but say I shall), we did not guess them correctly. And by "we," I mean Jeremy. 

Our team chose, in retaliation, to make our oppressors guess "making fire in an igloo," "sphinx," and "hot dog fingers." Hot dog fingers went through a long phase of being an obvious toothbrush, but pulled out some clarity in the end, and was guessed correctly. I was laughing so hard I was crying. My teammates were showing genuine concern for my state of being. We followed by one round of Disney movie French charades: "Tangled," "The Aristocats," and "Jungle Book," which ended up being easier to guess.

And thus it came into being that four Ecuadorians spent their last night of vacation in Guayaquil not dancing, but playing charades with really loud white people. 

Loving it all,

Jenna B.

Los Dos Universidades

You can CALM DOWN, everyone telling me that I'm funny, because your hope are too high. Thank you. Now that we have that out of the way:

Today we checked out the two university campuses that we will be going to for the next month. The first one, University of Guayaquil, was within walking distance of our hotel, and walk we did. I love to walk. Walking is my thing. I could walk all day. Standing, on the other hand, tires me out near immediately. For example, by the end of standing for worship songs in church, I am near death, and plop down before the worship leader can even get out, "You can take a seat." So, clearly, I am very lucky that we didn't stand all the way there. Besides, standing is an inefficient means of travel.

The university was hopping with students, again, figuratively. We split off to explore and talk to people. TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS! (note: I am so sorry that I have been absolutely loving so many things recently here on this blog. If you don't know me [or if you do] I am probably coming across as an obnoxiously flaky individual.) 

I walked around with Chris. I definitely felt like I had an advantage since Chris has been here before. Also because we started out with 30 cent orange juice. However, I soon ran into everyone else on the team, and they also had orange juice. I even saw people drinking orange juice AND already sharing with people. There went the advantage I thought I had.

We wandered and wandered and made it from the medical department to the language department and began to talk to two students. I tried to talk to them in Spanish, but after seeing my struggle, they quickly redirected the conversation into English. While communication is easy, I'm worried that I am not going to learn any Spanish here. 

Afterwards, we took a bus to ESPOL, the second university. I loves buses. (Here I go again, loving things. Sorry.) This bus ride was especially wonderful, as I got to sit in the back (the BUMPIEST), see gorgeous scenery, and swap Jesus stories with Jess and Hannah. I spent most of the time at ESPOL talking to the lovely Ecuadorian students who were with us. ESPOL is in the highlands, which is totally different and totally greener than being in the city.

We will be split into two groups. One will go to the first university and the other to the second. I am thinking these groups will be chosen strategically, in accordance with Spanish speaking ability and with attention to having a safe guy to girl ratio. However, I hope that we can pick teams, make jerseys, and have some sort of scoring system. Something in the back of my head is telling me that wouldn't be very Christian.

Excited for what's coming,
Jenna B.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

El Partido Loco


My brother and sister both play, and have for years. I have sat through my share of sunburn, wind, and soccer moms, and I have gone to very few of their games, in reality. Soccer is just inefficient, from my perspective. Sure feet are great for kicking a ball down a field, but let’s be honest, maybe the reason they NEVER score is because they just need to pick the ball up already and use a part of the body designed for greater accuracy.

All misunderstanding of soccer aside, when I heard we were getting tickets to watch a game here, I was PUMPED, which is arguably my natural state of being. The Barcelona v. Emelec game started at 8:00, so naturally we left the hotel at 5:00.

In the 2.5 hours before the game started, I learned a lot about it takes to be a futbol fan. Here are some friendly tips from my experience tonight:
1.     Inflatable noise makers are your friend.
2.     Newspaper confetti is invaluable, and is for everyone.
3.     Out of all 20,000+ people, don’t sit behind the guys with the banner.
4.     Don’t buy the water or expect toilet paper.
5.     There is a hymn book full of songs about Emelec. Have them all memorized and ready to go.
6.     Loud is good.

Lastly, if there is a chance of not winning, celebrate as if victory was achieved BEFORE the game starts. This is crucial. Confetti, balloons, receipt tape, yelling: bring it all. Hey, if the players slip on the confetti all over the field, it’s just added entertainment, right? From this little fiesta, we watched the beginning of the game through a net of balloons, newspaper, and people standing where they easily could have sat.

I watched half of the first half of the game. “The first or second?” you may ask. “No,” I say unto you. “The left half.” Those people just WOULD NOT sit down. The second half, I stood until we left ten minutes before the game ended.

Barcelona won, 1-0, but the way I see it is that it’s OK, because we already partied like it was the end of the world. And, for your own good, if you know an Emelec fan, don’t tell them it’s not.

Much love and weariness,

Jenna B.

El Museo de Eternidad

It is day one here in Guayaquil.

We slept in a little bit, ate breakfast (not without much confusion), and set off to explore the city. Our first stop was Iguana Park. There were scores of those little guys running around. To be honest, none of them were actually running. Most of them were perched in trees, chilling on the ground, and just weren't moving at all. The rest of them were eating lettuce rudely, mouths open and everything.

After we snapped an obscene amount of photographs of iguanas eating,  iguanas sitting, and us with the iguanas, we walked to a museum.

AWESOME! I thought, I LOVE MUSEUMS! We got a tour guide and entered the first room. AWESOME! I thought, I LOVE TOUR GUIDES! Many people speak of their "inner nerds" coming out. I do not relate. All of my nerd is outer.

It rapidly became evident that this tour guide knew not only English, but also everything there was to know about everything in the museum. You know how museums have plaques and explanations on all the exhibits and you never even dream of reading all of them? I think reading all of them could have saved us time.

I made it my personal goal to make this nice lady smile, and thus began smiling at her the whole time in the least creepy way possible. However, as our time in the museum passed (and passed and passed and passed), I began to think that maybe she had good reason to look so serious all of the time. Human sacrifice, invasions, live burials, and city wide fires are not pleasant topics to dwell on, and dwell on them she did, and did well. So I let her be.

Eventually, Chris, on of our team leaders, gently told our guide that we only had about ten more minutes. Thank goodness for that, because if he didn't, we would still be there.

Moral of the story: I now know EVERYTHING that has EVER happened in Guayaquil. So ask me. I'll Google it and get back to you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bucket List Item #47

Here I am. In Ecuador. It is simply unreal.

Today's travels went swimmingly (figuratively, not literally). God was so good in working out each and every detail. We only lost one team member (and it's no biggie, as this was the least favorite team member of the rest of us)! Fine you caught me; I jest. We are all here and all of our luggage is, too!

I would like to give you all a little snapshot of what today in my life looked like.

On both plane rides, I sat between CJ and Jeremy, two of the 3 guy students on the trip, because I am a straight up player like that. You can all just stop your hatin before you start; this is just the way it is. Or, possibly, because seats were random. You get to choose what you believe. It's a free country.

On the second plane ride, my sweet new friend Ann said, "Hey, look at that guy behind you! He is dancing!"
With zero to negative quantities of subtlety, all three of us turned around to look at a little kid a few rows back, listening to music, and possibly slightly intimidated by the suddenness of three giant white kids smiling at him.

We decided to join the dance party, as did the lad's mother. All participated exuberantly, flailing our arms in passionate accord with the Adele that was playing over the plane radio that MAYBE two of us were listening to. Honestly, when seated on an airplane, the passionate flailing of arms is about the only way to go.

Things began to get a little loud after a few songs, and we decided to make an exit, all ducking under the shelter of our seats and fist pumping for the child and his mother, a quiet goodbye to a memory that probably annoyed everyone except us.

Happy, clean, and blessed,

Jenna B.

Monday, June 11, 2012

from "Chicago"

Well, after months of anticipation, dozens of letters, countless prayers, and my typical persistent excitement, we leave for Ecuador tomorrow. TOMORROW, PEOPLE.

As my dear Lauren pointed out after I blogged about our visit to her hometown, I "didn't even blog about the zoo. And that's all you talked about the WHOLE TIME." I pointed out that I also spent three days in NYC and blogged about taxis. For those of you who are big picture people, I will try to describe main events, though overseen minutia are my favorite things to write about.

For a balanced approach at project stalking, check out my teammate Jeremy's blog at Sorry to throw all that pressure on you without warning, bro. Also, check out Megan's pictures for the trip at and Helen's brand new blog at

Anyways, here we are, our whole massive team of 14 (11 students, 3 leaders). They tell us we're in Chicago. I'm not sure I believe them. My parents drove me here, and I was cramming the required reading for the trip towards the end of the ride. They have not let us out of the hotel since my arrival. So, I really am technically unsure of my whereabouts.

Our team is FANfreakingTASTIC (brought to you by today's rhetorical device, tmesis). I have laughed more in the last 24 hours than probably the last year. If a game of charades takes "koala bear" to "velociraptor," you know you are in for the trip of your life (I say with fingers crossed).

Tomorrow, we are done with briefing, leave "Chicago," and are Ecuador bound! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We desire unity, safety, fluidity of travel, but all to the end of glorifying our beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ.

"That every student in Guayaquil may know someone who truly follows Jesus." And you know, a couple people on the plane would be nice, too.

14 people.
5 weeks.
1 GIANT God.

Endless possibilities.

With excitement and praises,
Jenna B.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wells County

We all have that friend with two middle names.

At first, you think, wow, this individual has some great characteristics. I will look into friendship with him or her.  Only after you are sucked within the depths of friendship, you find out that she has two middle names (one of them being Couch). Then, all of a sudden, undoubtedly due to how many names she has, she feels entitled to a blog post entirely dedicated to your visit to her home county.

So here it is.

Several weeks ago, I visited Wells County. This is significant. I would even say monumental. When I learned to drive, I was TERRIFIED. My father would beg me to go the speed limit. Generally, I preferred to stay under, at, say, 10 mph. Yes, 10 was nice. I also would not drive on highways for probably 2 solid years unless there was a life or death situation.

I have since overcome my irrational fear of driving. Mostly. However, this drive was my longest. Until this hour and a half drive, the longest I had driven was an hour, and that was only because I got lost, to be brutally honest. Shout out to Becca for being a passenger. I know that an hour and a half of a situation in tight, closed quarters with me, and especially with me having any kind of control, is probably a situation meriting a few jewels in your heavenly crown.

With shouts of glee, we passed a small sign subtly welcoming us to Well County. Then we passed not much for quite a while.  Eventually, we made it past all of the not much and all the way to the muchness who is Lauren Klansek. We walked and sang along the Wabash, and I have never felt more a Hoosier. We went to Walmart and ate ice cream and played ping-pong. You know, the crazy summers that college kids dream about.

At night, things got crazier as we embarked on the adventure known as "the campfire cone." After Becca and I literally pranced around the backyard pond of deceiving magnitude, it drew close to bonfire time. It was difficult to tell just how close, exactly, as Lauren had advertised the beginning time as "when the sun goes down." As Mike so keenly observed, "What is this? The Wild West?" And for that night, for that moment, yes. Yes it was.

So this campfire cone. Lauren doesn't like s'mores. I've also heard rumors that she isn't a real American. Oh wait, no. That was just me, responding to Lauren's distaste for s'mores. Therefore, when the campfire cone idea came up on good old Pinterest, Lauren decided that this was to be the snack.

Allow me to explain the general concept:

  1. Take you a nice waffle type cone.
  2. Fill you that cone nice and full with berries, marshmallers, chocolate and peanut butter chips, and candy.
  3. Wrap that cone nice and snug in aluminum foil.
  4. CAUTION, ALERT, ATTENTION, WATCH YOSELF: THIS IS THE TRICKY PART. Place your wad of foil, cone, and sugar somewhere between next to and inside of the fire and leave it in there until everything melts and nothing burns.
  5. Eat you that cone. 
Step four was that killer step. That step that is out of place and steeper than all of the other, more reasonable steps on the Staircase of Snacktime. I do not think any of us mastered step four.

But that's ok, because 6 showers later, my hair still smelled like bonfire.

And it's also ok, because it can go down in the books as yet another of our food related failures, since the zucchini chips, honey roasted chickpeas, and recipe-less "cookies" were getting lonely in that category. 

In other news, I've decided to close my blog posts like letters, because that is how I think.

Finally finishing this, for Lauren, for Becca, for friendship, and for Narnia,

Jenna B.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

New York City and the People who Drive There

New York City. Two related lists:

                Things we experienced:
·         American Natural Museum of History
·         Central Park
·         The Metropolitan Museum of Art
·         Grand Central Station
·         Wicked on Broadway
·         The Top of the Rock
·         Wall Street
·         The Statue of Liberty
·         The 9/11 Memorial
·         A four story Forever 21
·         Greenwich Village
·         Coney Island
·         The Empire State Building
·         The best cheesecake of my life at Carnegie Deli

Things I have chosen to write about right now:
·         Taxis

I have been blessed to do a good bit of traveling. In these travels, I have concluded that my home town of Fishers, Indiana has to be among the safest places to drive in the world. This is very, very good. Were it not, I likely never would have learned to drive at all. New York City is definitely up there right along with some the more terrifying countries by way of driving.

Our first night of NYC, we saw Wicked on Broadway. With how much I absolutely loved it, I am thinking I am probably safe to highlight “Do something undeniably MAINSTREAM” off my bucket list. Afterwards, we hailed a taxi to get back to the RV park. Yes, friends, if you haven’t heard, it does appear that we RVed to New York City. The irony is beautiful.

Anyways, you are getting me sidetracked. I had the second most terrifying taxi experience of my life.
The MOST terrifying taxi experience occurred the summer of 2007, when I was 14 years of age. I don’t remember everything about that, but allow me to recount what I do: address of people we don’t know, Indonesia, back roads, Asian driving, dark, language barrier. Luckily, I felt totally safe with my Dad who speaks Indonesian and would protect me with his life.

Taxis in New York are almost on that level. On the way back from Wicked, we took a taxi. Here were our options: spend over an hour taking the subway back or risk our lives. Obviously we chose to risk our lives. I have put it on my Bucket List (my actual life-long bucket list) to never, ever drive in New York City. Ever. Not even once. Not even for a moment. Not even in a dream. Never. People don’t even use turn signals and I believe in turn signals like I believe in good grammar.

Important detail: I have been in dire need of a restroom since half time of the show. (Sorry, “half time” makes it sound more dramatic to me, like it could go either way, which was the situation.) Now, this driver is swerving to hit every single bump, trying with all of his might to jiggle the urine out of me. These actions went unappreciated by me.

Between the absence of signaling turns, the jiggling of the bladder, and the lack of apparent lane barriers/changing etiquette, the ride was just ridiculous to me.

Fast forward to the next day. Caitlin and I checked out the giant H&M. We bought nothing. You know how men get their figurative “man cards” get figuratively taken away when they do things in direct contradiction to manliness? Well, not buying anything at that H&M was almost worthy of revoking our figurative woman cards.

We walk across the street and sit down at a park. As we try to determine what to do next, a great commotion erupted about 15 feet from us. We looked up and saw a taxi BACKING UP across the street PERPENDICULAR to the flow of traffic with a man dragging his legs out of the passenger side. This was more than a case of crazy New York City driving.

The taxi continues into reverse, hitting a trash can and backing into the stairs right in front of us. The man stands up and starts walking. Police arrive promptly on the scene. The man, who was apparently not a passenger at all, but rather the DRIVER sitting deceivingly on the opposite side of the car, got in the car and drove away. When we left, we saw him pulled over about a block away.

Morals of that story:
1.       God spared us from seeing a potentially scarring event.
2.       Don’t be a drunk driver-turned-passenger.
3.       I am surprised, pleasantly, that not everyone in New York City is dead due to the people who drive there.