Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time Takes Time You Know

So everytime I have just a few minutes in the cyber I put off writing in the blog so that I can upload from my flash drive something I wrote a while back to put everything in context. I don´t have my flash drive with me, so this is the best I can do for now. I still haven´t figured out a way that makes sense to do more regular updates but if I ever do I´ll share more interesting stories ya mismo (a very Ecua phrase that literally means know but in Ecua means later or tomorrow or anything they want it to mean...)

I live in a community called Monte Sinai which is on the outskirts of the largest city in Ecaudor, Guayaquil. Monte Sinai is certainly a lot more rural than where I lived in Nicaragua, but my job is in Guayaquil so I get the best of both worlds in that sense. My mornings are spent wandering around the neighborhood getting to know people since we are new in this neighborhood and they don´t know anything about Rostro de Cristo. We try to get to know the neighbors, tell them about Rostro, and accompany them in their lives while they teach us all the wonderful things that they are so simple to them but so foreign to us gringos...like making rice that actually comes out well, or any other ecuadorian food for that matter. I´m still struggling a little with this neighborhood time because the way in which we´re asked to meet people seems a little fake and not the way I would normally go about making a lasting relationship (watch out for that Kairos theme throughout this blog hahaha...) but I´m trying.

I´ve gotten particularly close with one family that I met in a totally natural way through mutual friends. Ia really small house made of sugar cane live the mom - Consuelo, the dad - Miguel, and their 4 kids, Miguel - age 15, Jose - age 14, Maria - age 11 and Ruth - age 2. Someday I´ll have more time to tell you about each one of them but they have totally become my family here and each one of them has such an incredible story and are just overall amazing people. It´s impossible for me to be anything but happy when I´m in that house, but even if I wasn´t happy I know I´d still feel comfortable. I help the kids with homework, we share meals together and if they´re really busy that day, I help them with the chores like washing dishes sweeping or whatever they need. The dad works all day every day and recently the mom has been going out a lot too so I often go over and help out during those times. Consuelo recently told me "when I´m gone, they have to listen to what you say because you´re the big sister" and it made me feel so at home :)

The other thing that takes up the majority of my time is my worksite. I work at an after school program at a center for street kids. We eat lunch together, I help with homework and then we have recess which could mean soccer, basketball, making bracelets, dance, or just complete chaos. I also help out once and a while with the shelter in Duran where the older boys live and go to school when one of my other community mates is out doing house visits and can´t be at her English class. I´ve also started teaching a few English classes / hanging out at work on Saturdays too keeping me pretty busy on the weekends, which I love as I´m sure you can imagine! I´m really enjoying my job and it´s been really great getting to know the kids and other people that work at the center also. I´m totally not doing it justice at all right now, but next time I write I´ll talk more about work for sure...

In the church I´ve continued to be involved with Catechism by helping out with a Confirmation class on Sundays before 10am mass at the big church. After mass the music group, Hijos de David, practices and I usually hang around with them to at least listen to the music if not pick up a few tips on singing or guitar. They´re a great group of people and perform at many various events. They always want to learn songs in English too...their favorites so far as The Reason by Hoobastank and Perfect by Simple Plan...My house has introduced a few others to perform for them including Down by Jay Sean and Baby by Justin Bieber (both of which feature a rap verse for lil jenn!). It´s actually amazing how much EVERYONE down here loves Justin Bieber, girls and boys of all ages, insaneeeee.

We just got back from a weekend retreat at the beach (where the sun didn´t come out the whole time and it was FREEZING!) It was such a nice break from the routine and I used that time to get caught up on some letters and some processing of my own thoughts in regards to being in Ecuador. A lot of people, myself included, can´t help but already think to what´s next and what this year means in terms of what´s next, more on that in entries to come.

peace & love

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dear friends of life,

I am sorry for the lack of blog updates. I am currently stealing a little internet at work but I wanted to let you all know that Im doing well. The attempted coup was luckily nothing compared to what we experienced in Nicaragua and it appears as if everything has already calmed down. I´m still loving my job and have met a few really great families in the neighborhood as well. I started helping out witha confirmation class at the church on sundays and our volunteer community has been really great as well. One of my goals for this weekend is to find a more reliable way to communicate with people so hoepfully I can write a more substantial blog then :) love & miss you all!

p.s. to give you a little taste of the crazy relajo that goes on in the Monte Sinai volunteer house, check out a video of our favorite song...and try not to judge us too much!

Friday, August 20, 2010

when you think i´m sunk i will float on and on...

Just a quick check-in...

We moved into our house in Monte Sinai!! It´s absolutely beautiful and we´ve spent some time getting to know neighbors and continuing relationships with the neighbors the past volunteers had met. We´re still getting a few things as we get settled into our house but it´s starting to look more and more like a home. Yesterday we finally got doors on our rooms, something I never really realized was so important to me until I didn´t have them.

I started work at Chicos on Tuesday (after a party on Monday for Don Bosco´s birthday!). So far the kids have been great, I´m still trying to figure out rules, my role, etc. but it´s definitely been a high in my day for the past 3 days. We eat lunch together, then have homework time and recess time. I´ve also gotten to know a few of the older kids that work live or just hang out around there so that has been fun as well.

We don´t have an internet cafe in Mount Sinai (at least not one that works...yet!) so these entries may be less frequent than I had hoped, but I´ll do my best. Next entry I´ll share some funny ecua moments...until then...

paz y amor!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

If you got no water, How you gonna survive?

Life is still crazy here in Ecuador. If all goes according to plan we will be moving into our new home in Monte Sinai on Sunday at some point. In the coming weeks we will get the rest of our furniture, etc. but for the time being the house should be ready enough for us to move in on Sunday just like the 2 Duran homes!

Some highlights so far:
While the old volunteers were still here we did an intercambio or exchange of music with the church group in Mount Sinai. My house is very musically talented and we decided the best way to showcase that talent was through US pop songs...we sang Soul Sista and Down (featuring Lil´Jenn and Marita for the rap part!) and ended with a more fitting song..God of Wonders.

On Sunday August 1 the rest of the new volunteers arrived after finishing orientation in Boston. It was so great to see them again. A lot of our time that week was spent learning bus routes around Duran to the various work placements that they could have (they still don´t know where they will be working starting Monday, so crazy!)

On one of the days while we learned buses with the old Duran volunteers we got to visit downtown Guayaquil where there is a Cathedral. There were many beautiful statues, stained glass, etc. but for the second time in my life I managed to find the most beautiful image of Christ that I know. Just like that church in Leon, Nicaragua that I always talk about, off to the righthand side of this chapel was a sculpture of Jesus carrying the cross...not bloody and suffering like many of the depictions in Latin America, and not crucified like is typical in the US, but taking on the burden of carrying his cross so that others might be saved. The (not so) little things.

As a lot of you know I will be working at a center for street kids in Guayaquil doing after school type help. At 2 everyday they serve lunch for the kids, then move into homework help and then on most days there is recess/activity time while some days have more organized classes. Some mornings I will hopefully be able to go out on some home visits doing outreach/social work type work with one of the directors of the program or other volunteers. On days that doesn´t work out I may also have the opportunity to work with the shelter that is also at Casa Don Bosco. The idea is that I work Monday through Friday from 2 to 5 and then 2 or 3 mornings a week as well. The other mornings our second worksite is to continue getting to know people in Monte Sinai, building relationships, getting involved with the church, etc.

This past Saturday we got a surprise relaxation day at the beach which was about a 2 hour drive. There is a public beach near there but the director of one of the programs where Duran volunteers will work has a house on the beach so we went to her house and ate lunch before spending 2 or 3 hours on the beach. It was absolutely amazing and so needed. A few people had only been to the ocean a few times ever in their life so it was really great to see them all excited by the waved and seashells and everything! One of Megan´s (Rostro´s in country director) godsons came with us as well and helped teach us some Ecuadorian slang that will be useful in our work with kids.

The next day we spent cleaning one of the old volunteer houses. The tradition is that you don´t clean the house you will be living in so that you don´t see the house until you move in and make it your own. I was cleaning AJS which means that every once and a while I would find things from Elyse´s year, including pictures of people that I also know which was a great pick-me-up throughout the day! Unfortunately that night we found out that the father of one of the Ecuadorian Rostro employees that we had already spent a lot of time with passed away. He was sick but the death was due to complications so it was unexpected. Just as all her volunteer friends from the past year were leaving to go home, we did our best to support and comfort her in this tough time as we learned about local traditions for wakes and funerals.

The highlight of this week so far was ¨the amazing race¨ Ecuadorian public bus style...from about 10am to 630pm on Tuesday we took buses all around the city learning how to get to different work sites in teams of 4. My team didn´t win but we certainly learned the bus routes and had lots of fun along the way. Lunch was pizza hut pizza at Monte Sinai so it was great that everyone got to see our house and we got to satisfy our pizza craving. Along the way we had to take silly pictures such as superheros at one of the street kids sites, learn a song about don bosco at another, make a pyramid in front of one of the schools, etc. Overall an exhausting but exciting day as we got to spend time with people not in our house for the upcoming year.

Lastly (I think!) today we were woken up to an earthquake just before 7am. I´m on the top bunk so at first I was just a little confused, then I noticed Marita woke up too and we realized it was an earthquake and started giggling because we had never been in an earthquake before and it was exciting. Becky woke up as well and we were all just so excited that we felt an earthquake...strange I know. Then when I got to here to the internet cafe this morning and saw that the earthquake was big enough to make the news on CNN I realized it´s probably a little more serious than we originally though. But, no worries, we are all perfectly okay and the epicenter was hours from where we are. Tonight my group is leading reflection again. Since it´s our last reflection as the whole group of 16 for a while and it´s kind of like a new beginning since Duran will finally have work placements, I bet any one of you who has been on a trip with me in the last 3 years can guess what song I´m playing tonight for the beginning of reflection! (Hint it´s a Bon Jovi song...)

Sorry this is just a bunch of jumbled thoughts for now. As I get more settled into a routine in the coming weeks I will try to explain more about the program, our mission, my community, the neighbors we have met, masses we have been too, etc. Feel free to comment too!!!!! <3333 (and write my letters! i promise i´ll write back!!!)
reflection tonight

(title today is from a matisyahu song (that happens to mention Mount Sinai) that I was reminded of when one day this past week we almost ran out of water in our cistern which i sn´t normally a problem because a water truck just comes to fill it...however the road was blocked because construction workers were laying water pipes to one day have running water in the community...we almost didn´t have water so that water pipes could be put in...ironic?)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

I´ve been in Ecuador for almost 6 days now and we still have another week and a half of orientation so I wouldn´t say we´re exactly settled yet, but things are starting to look familiar and the current volunteers are doing an excellent job showing us around. For now the 5 of us who will live in Monte Sinai are staying in the retreat house in AJS while the volunteers who will live in the Duran communities arrived a couple days ago and are all staying in the Arbolito retreat house, only a short drive away from us.

The first few days in Ecuador were extremely busy as the visas for Tracy, Carolyn, Amy and Danny were running out so they only had a few days to teach us all they had learned about Monte Sinai. There aren´t enough words to express how incredibly grateful we all are for the work they have done all so that we could live in a house that should have been theirs for the past year. They had a tough year but still welcomed us graciously and showed us around as they watched the finishing touches be put on our new house. While I only have a few minutes now there´s no way I can do that story justice so I will leave it like that for now.

In an attempt to not make this blog look like my study abroad blog I will end with this. These past few days have been exciting but hard. The heat the first few days was extreme, making us all the more tired as we tried to learn about our new neighborhood. Luckily it has cooled down a little and we are getting into more of a routine. Still, orientation is tough because it is an in between time. On the other hand, it´s totally necessary because we have so much to learn. Saying bye to the second years the other night was hard because now it is all up to us in Monte Sinai. For the past 2 or 3 months we have been saying lots of goodbyes...graduation, family, friends, our new friends at BC from JVI, the second years and now the rest of the volunteers. They are saying bye to the friends and family they have had over the past year, a place they have come to see as home. Beyond all these goodbyes, we say hello to a place we will undoubtedly call home at some point in the next year.

Hasta el proximo!

Friday, July 16, 2010

No Time Flat

Orientation is Monday. Flight is July 29th. Ecua-awesomeness continues until mid-August 2011. Email = jenn.zocco@gmail.com Mailing address is in the previous post.

I don't really have too much else to say now other than keep in touch! And that this cough better disappear in the next 2 weeks (Sorry to all those of you who have seen me in the past 2 weeks and know exactlyyy what I'm talking about!)

Also, a HUGE thank you / shout out to everyone who was at Circle Diner last Sunday and those of you who wanted to be there and couldn't make it..you guys are the greatest people ever!!!

For those of you who are studying abroad or doing service and also keeping a blog, send it my way!

Peace & Love
Paz y Amor

(we'll see how long the song title/lyrics last for this blog, I did pretty well in Nica. This one's a double meaning - I'm leaving for Ecuador in "No Time Flat" but in Kevin Devine's song he is talking about social injustice and corrupt government (mainly our messed up government!) and how since he doesn't support the wars if they really were to reinstate the draft, he would return his card in "No Time Flat". The end.)

Monday, June 21, 2010


Hi friends!

Thanks for visiting my blog! Orientation officially starts 4 weeks from today and I couldn't be more excited! I'll be at orientation with the other Rostro volunteers as well as the JVI volunteers from July 19-29 before I will leave with my 4 housemates for Monte Sinai, Ecuador, outside of Guayaquil. My mailing address while there will be:

Jenn Zocco o Megan Radek (make sure you put both names!)
Rostro de Cristo
Casilla 09-01-1024
Guayaquil, Ecuador

Thanks for all of your support!

Peace & Love