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Twisty Turny Probably Pukey

We’re making the drive from Guayaquil to Loja today. This is the second half of the road from Cuenca to Loja (the first is also very curvy). It’s a 7-10 hour drive from Guayaquil at sealevel, to Cuenca at 8300 ft, and then up and down and up and down to Loja at 7300 feet.

Some of us can get pretty carsick. Or, REALLY carsick.

We would so appreciate your prayers for safety (think very curvy roads and very steep drop offs), and for calm bellies all the way. Tonight we’ll be sleeping in our (again) temporary beds in a furnished rental house. But, we’ll be in Loja!!!!

P.S. We made it!!! Safe and sound and no puking at all (at least on the drive!). We don’t have internet access where we are right now. Stay tuned! Thanks for praying!

Arrived

Given my big hulking size you can imagine how ridiculous this scene must have looked at 6:30am Thursday morning:

We couldn’t get to the airport with the hotel shuttle as we had originally hoped. Thankfully though, we still had the Incredible Hulk with us. Early early, Matt loaded everything up and dropped me, Julie (a 16 year old coming to stay with us for a few months), our kiddos, and all our luggage off at the door of the terminal and went to drop the van off back at the hotel. He figured (hoped) he’d be back in an hour.

So…there just inside the doors of the terminal sat 17 big bags/suitcases, a stroller, 3 carseats, a bazillion carry-on bags, and 6 tired kids, and me.

Our stuff pre-superhero action...

Our stuff pre-superhero action…

Somehow, Jonah, Micah, and I managed to get everything moved down the hall and around the corner to the check-in line (Julie was hanging with the other 3 kids).

Then the “check-in line shuffle” began.

As soon as we’d get 1/3 of the bags moved forward, someone would finish at the ticket desk, and everyone would move 4 feet forward in the line again. It was a crazy, heavy, awkward dance as we’d start over trying to move all the bags down the line. I always feel a little frantic in this kind of a line even with only a couple bags because I never want to be holding up the people behind me…this time there was no doubt that we were certainly holding up the people behind us! Thankfully, the man behind us started to help move some of our things too! We took up a huge space with all our stuff, and when our turn finally came, we actually just opened up the barrier and gave one final push of everything up to the ticket counter.

Melinda, the agent’s eyes opened wide when she saw the chaos this woman with a bunch of kids had brought her way! But, she was awesome! Somehow I summoned the last of my superhero strength to heft all the bags up on the scale and began the crazy process of checking in 7 people, 17 bags, 3 carseats, a stroller and all the carry on bags. Did you know they weigh carry on bags now? At least on our airline they did! Thankfully, only one was overweight, and the ticket agent sort of ‘looked away’ as she put the label on it.

Just as the last two carseats were getting labels, Matt arrived back at the airport. We checked him in quickly (thankfully he arrived when he did or he would have had to wait 30 minutes in line again!), and off we went to security.

(I was loving the new rule that kids and grownups traveling with kids don’t have to take their shoes off in security!!!)

The rest of the trip was remarkably unremarkable! The kids traveled well. The flight went well. All our bags arrived. And, it only took 2 1/2 hours to get out of the airport!

Saying one last goodbye to Uncle John and Aunt Bonnie..

Saying one last goodbye to Uncle John and Aunt Bonnie..

Keeping busy

Keeping busy

The girlies

The girlies

We really were feeling that tired..

We really were feeling that tired..

Last goodbyes...

Last goodbyes…

More girlies

More girlies

Yes, that is his remote! (He loves it Shanes!)

Yes, that is his remote! (He loves it Shanes!)

We filled an entire row!

We filled an entire row!

Immigration forms times SEVEN!

Immigration forms times SEVEN!

Another WorldVenture missionary met us at the airport and helped us send 3/4 of our things off to Loja to await our arrival next week, and then dropped us off at the guest house.

And now, we’re here in Ecuador.

Bienvenido a Ecuador!

The kids are taking full advantage of the pool and sports court at the guest house. We’re trying to catch up on sleep this weekend before we go register our visas on Monday. We’re excited, we’re tired, we’re nervous and there are moments of “what on earth have we done?”. But, we are in God’s hands and are trusting Him as He leads us through each day!

p.s. Jim Grosser…in this case remarkably unremarkable was pretty darn good!!

12:30 Wednesday afternoon, we were all sitting on the front lawn of the church eating Chik-fil-a awaiting our container.  It had been picked up by another truck and was scheduled for delivery at 2pm.  Many of the men who had been willing to volunteer on Tuesday had been able to change plans and were coming to help load us up.  PHEW! (I’m just not built to be a furniture mover!)

And then the phone rang.

“There was a bomb threat, and the container will be delayed”

A what?

A bomb scare in New Jersey had delayed the truck and so the container was going to be delayed until 4:00.

I worked on getting “multi”plicates of paperwork to have ready for immigration, Matt and some other guys worked on moving things out of the truck to be ready, and a sweet friend and her girls came and got our kids.

Finally at 4:30 the long-awaited container arrived.  The guys got to loading. They loaded and loaded and loaded and loaded.  It was amazing to see how much stuff they fit in the first few feet.  Some things went in really easily and other things were a little more complicated to pack in, but it was incredible to see the guys pack everything piece by piece putting together a literal tetris game of our belongings!

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We started at 4:30…(with a short break to sign our wills in the process), and kept on working.  It was finally 12:30 at night when Matt put the seal (lock) on the door.  We were all exhausted and so thankful for the guys who gave up many many hours to help pack well into the night, their muscles, brains and expertise were such a huge blessing!  (and for the people who brought food, diapers and other things through the process).

12:30 at night?  Where were our kids???

After an afternoon at our friend’s house, the kids managed to make it to one last AWANA.  Then Peggy took them back to her house to watch a movie while we finished….then another movie…then finally some of the kids started to fall asleep (although when I got back at 1:30, I found Jonah engrossed in one last Hardy Boys book).

Guess we weren’t heading back to the shore.

We all crashed out in the Brimer’s living room (After a snack and some time visiting, I think it was finally around 3:30 that we went to bed!), and woke up the next day to start day #3 in our same clothes!

But the container was packed and on it’s way.  One step closer to getting our things to Ecuador!!

The container shipped on October 8th.  It is due to arrive in port October 29th.  Our hope is that it is cleared from customs really quickly, but we anticipate there might be more installments of the Container Conundrum yet to come!

Thanks for your prayers!!

This whole container deal has been a series of just shaking our heads saying “seriously?”. It certainly hasn’t exactly gone as we’ve expected, but God’s hand has been on each step of it, and we continue to trust no matter how crazy it has seemed…

We went down to the shore on Sunday (9/28) with plans for Matt to go back on Monday to finish the final preparations for the container arriving on Tuesday (9/30). Because the trucking company would not bring the container to the house, the plan was to load *everything* into a truck (it ended up being 2 trucks) and drive it down to the church to be ready for Tuesday. I was going to keep the kids at the shore on Monday, and we would travel back “home” on Tuesday to be there when the container got loaded. The plan then was that we’d all drive back down to the shore Tuesday evening.

Perhaps that was the first problem: we’d made plans.

Monday was a huge workday and we were so thankful for all the people who came to help move everything out of the house. Everyone worked so hard getting everything out, while others cleaned, and others helped Matt to pack and inventory the final boxes. This container has been a community effort from start to end, and we are so thankful for all the ways people have pitched in and served with unbelievably willing and loving hearts!

Here’s a little of Monday:

moving everything out!

moving everything out!

daunting?

daunting?

Getting some repairs done...

Getting some repairs done…

"staging area"

“staging area”

Couldn't believe we needed 2 trucks

Couldn’t believe we needed 2 trucks

Lots of teamwork

Lots of teamwork

bunkbeds made great barriers!

bunkbeds made great barriers!

Rumor has it *someone* drove over the fragile tape! (Wayne...)

Rumor has it *someone* drove over the fragile tape! (Wayne…)

Tuesday, as I was driving back to the house, I had a strange sense that I couldn’t quite place. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was thinking, but as I saw other containers pass by on the highway, I knew ours wasn’t coming…when I drove up the driveway at our house, Matt was on the phone. I got out, and he whispered over “the truck broke down, the container isn’t coming”, all I could say was “I know”.

And, we were back into “change of plans mode”. Dispatch for the trucking company told us that the container wouldn’t come until the next day. It didn’t make sense to drive 2 hours back to the shore to come back the next day even though the house was completely empty and mostly cleaned, so we planned our “camp at home” night!

We still had sleeping and blow up beds that we’d borrowed, and some towels we were going to store, but that’s about it. I’d brought 3 diapers for JJ, and the clothes we were wearing, and some snacks for the crew…we weren’t exactly prepared for sure!

But, God provided!

Some wonderful people brought us toothbrushes and shampoo. They brought up a playpen for JJ and enough food for a campfire fiesta! They hung out with our kids for the afternoon (it was a burn fest for the kids over the fire!), and we were able to finish cleaning up all the “dregs” that were kicking around in the house!

It was a fun albeit totally unhealthy feast!

It was a fun albeit totally unhealthy feast!

Our swing!

Our swing!

Saying goodbye!

Saying goodbye!

The boys got to burn their school project volcano from a couple years ago.

The boys got to burn their school project volcano from a couple years ago.

A full afternoon fire!

A full afternoon fire!

It was a really special campfire evening and a really cool way to finish off our time in the house.

The leatherman got our can of beans open

The leatherman got our can open

We had the morning to clean up the house and work on some loose ends so we could get ready for the container to arrive at 2pm, except…….(to be continued)

Packed tight...but we can squeeze in still!

Packed tight…but we can squeeze in still!

P1170348

P1170208

So….This is our driveway Wednesday morning (9/24). Lovely isn’t it. Not too cool. Beautiful clear skies. And…empty.

That’s right, no container.

Last week on Tuesday we thought we had everything all sorted out. Written in pen on the calendar, finally! The container was supposed to arrive on Sept. 23rd (yesterday) and we’d have until Sept. 25th to load it. They would pick it up, shuttle it off to New York, and on September 30th it would sail off for Ecuador.

Written in ink…on Elijah’s calendar even! (he likes to use abbreviations).

P1170216

"c" was for container...

“c” was for container…

So…we did the next thing on the list: BUY TICKETS. This time we found great direct flights which even landed in the daylight! (woohoo!)

October 9th is the date.

Feels a little crazy to have a moving date *finally*! This time has been much longer than expected, but we’re trusting God. The days are FULL with packing and packing and packing and packing, but thankfully, the delays have meant that we’ve been able to go to bed each night, and have not been staying up into the wee hours. I don’t think I could have done that very well, especially with JJ waking up so much at night.

But, I am getting sidetracked.

Back to the container, or lack thereof.

Friday morning we sat down with a whiteboard to address our battle plan for the day. Then the phone rang. It was Juan Carlos, the guy who has been organizing the shipping for us…He was calling to let us know that the trucking company wouldn’t deliver the container to the house after all. Liability issues.

p.s. "bomb shelter" is our storage area in the house...

p.s. “bomb shelter” is our storage area in the house…

We were on the phone back and forth all through the day trying to figure out options…Could we load it down the road from here?

Could we load it at the church?

Could we try another company?

Was it a trucking issue or a container issue?

Were they going to require a load at a warehouse?

Who did we know with a warehouse?

Truthfully, this sort of stuff is exhausting. Mentally and emotionally draining. I think our brains have been overloaded with decisions, planning, thinking, logistics, organizing, and stress to the point that there are days right now that even small decisions seem mountainous. Sort of like when people are climbing Everest. As they get nearer the top, and more exhausted, (and yes, there is less oxygen than here in PA…), it becomes more and more difficult to take just one more step and to think clearly. That’s us right now.

“Live load” seemed to be the most viable option, although not necessarily the desired one. Live load means that the driver brings the container on the truck and sits there while you load the container. You have a few hours to do it.

I can’t imagine packing an entire house into a container in 2-3 hours. I am so glad that God gave Matt such mad packing skills…I think he’s probably excited about the challenge.

Live load at another facility (like the church), means that we have to load EVERYTHING for the container into a truck here at the house and drive it to the church where we will then have to unload EVERYTHING from the truck INTO the container, in 2-3 hours. (You see why our heads hurt so much??). Think mental gymnastics: loading the truck backwards so the container can then be loaded frontwards. Oh, I am so so so thankful for Matt!

We weren’t able to get the container sorted out Friday. The shipping company finally said they would only load at a warehouse facility (really the last of options for us), so Juan Carlos was waiting to hear from two other companies to see if there were other possibilities. Monday came and went, and he was still working out details. So, we packed. We are starting to run out of things to pack. I’ve been holding off on packing *all* the dishes, but the time has come for that too.

Jonah was a huge help this week!

Jonah was a huge help this week!

Furniture is migrating towards the door...

Furniture is migrating towards the door…

Yesterday, we finally got word. If we use a different shipping company, they are willing to do a live load at our church. So…we are back to having a container, and a truck, and a LOT of loading and unloading boxes. But, not until next week. Which is a bit of a bummer as next week was supposed to be our recuperation week at the shore, but Matt is going to have to come back for a few days.

So here’s the plan:

Monday (9/30): Matt will come back to the house and load up a big truck (backwards). Hopefully we’ll have lots of helping hands around for that!

Tuesday (10/1): He’ll go down to the church with the truck to fill the container.

Saturday (10/4): The container will leave port. It sails to Panama and apparently chills out there for a week before continuing on to Ecuador (the original vessel only too 12 days to get there, this one will take 18).

Then we start to pray. For customs. For the container to pass through customs quickly and easily.

We’ll get into country on the 9th. Our container won’t arrive until the 22nd. And, depending on how long it takes in port, we could wait an additional week or two or three before we get it to us. Please pray it is quick!

The kids hope we’ll be able to stand on the shore and watch for the carrier ship next week. We’ll see. But for now, it is back to work. Tasks to finish: Finish packing, relabel all the boxes in Spanish, finish the manifesto, translate the manifesto (it is over 100 pages now), clean the house……(your head spinning now too?)

Thank you for your prayers, and for meals, and for baby sitters, and for hugs of encouragement, and for loving on our kids, and for inventorying boxes, and for packing, and for cleaning our bathrooms, and for bedding, and for emails…you all mean so much to us!

We’ve  spent hours chasing containers (and all their regulations).  And, when we couldn’t get in touch with one company on Friday of last week, we thought for sure we’d finally have our container booked yesterday.

Sure.

So sure, I was looking at tickets yesterday afternoon.  We hadn’t heard from the container company yet, but we took a look anyways.  And, I found some that didn’t have us landing in the middle of the night in Guayaquil.  That’s a Woo hoo when you think about the pain of landing after a full day of travel with 5 kids in the wee hours of the morning! So I got ready to book them.  8 tickets.  A bunch!!  Matt and I gathered around the computer as I got ready to push that fateful “purchase now” button…there’s that inexplicable feeling of “we’re about to really do this, really buy tickets so we can move to Ecuador” (and all the emotions that come with that).

I clicked PURCHASE NOW.  And, then I actually told Matt I had to leave the room while it ‘processed’. We were buying our tickets to Ecuador!!

Or not.

The purchase didn’t go through.  Oh, and I forgot to say that we’d had to make a special call to our bank to get a restriction lifted on our card for the day (our card might have been affected by a recent security breach), so we’d already been jumping through hoops.

Didn’t go through?  I’d entered 8 names, 8 birthdates, picked seats…no go.

So, I tried again.  Entered it all in as carefully as I could…

And again, we were kicked out of the system.  Called the bank again to be sure our card would work. Check.  So Matt called the company and tried to book the tickets on the phone.

It was taking a long time and I was starting to feel a bit uneasy.  Maybe God was holding us off for some reason.  I dropped a note up for him to say “If it doesn’t work, don’t worry, God’s got this”, but he waved me away in conversation with the operator. They got all the names and birthdates and passport numbers entered again, and the agent clicked to make the purchase.

And….our purchase was kicked out of the system AGAIN!

Seriously?

Matt tried one more time online ‘just to see’, and it just wouldn’t go through. (Yes, we are slow learners sometimes).  Ok, Lord.  We’ll wait on you.

The end of the day came and went and no news from the shipping company….

Waiting on the Lord….

So, today we’ve been packing and packing and packing and….well, you get the idea.  We are at box #178 and are tired!  But moving along!

Things are getting a little loopy around here...

Things are getting a little loopy around here…

Not sure why we're working in the foyer!

Not sure why we’re working in the foyer!

Boxes everywhere!

Boxes everywhere!

And…as I typed the last line at 4:30 in the afternoon, we finally heard back from the shipping company!!!!!  We’re almost there! Matt’s calling them to *hopefully* finalize details!  I wish I could explain the rush of a bazillion different emotions with this phone call…Just mash everything you could possibly feel all together into a 3 second sensation and get ready for emotional chaos!

Keep Praying! We’ve almost got a date!!

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD (Psalm 27:14)

Little Lonely Louis…

Meet Louis…he’s lonely.  He was part of a big group, in fact a huge group of little guys.

They had been hanging out since last April.

But one by one, each of the other guys have been changing…they’ve found their place and have become part of a different group.

The last of Louis’ friends joined the other group 2 weeks ago.

And then there was Louis.

Little Lonely Louis.

You see, Louis is the last little guy on our grid of monthly support.  He represents the last $100/month we need in order to be FULLY SUPPORTED!

Let s refresh the hearts of the saints Louis-page-001 (1)

That’s it!

Once one or two people take on Louis, he can change to the other group too and be back with all his buddies and…our support team will be complete!

We are praying for the person/people who are going to complete our team and help Louis change groups!

We’d love to have all our support in place the end of this week!

Here’s a link to our support page just in case you realized that YOU are the one who Little Lonely Louis has been waiting for!

Thank you!!!

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