Newsy Update

So much to update you about…

For those of you unsure whether you want to dive into this post, I’ve added subheadings, so you can skip the parts you find uninteresting, and added links to photos and videos at the bottom.

If you’re still ready to click away, I won’t stop you… I love you anyway… ;-)

House Sold

First off, our home sold on May 13th. YAY! Since then, Rich has been living in an Airbnb in South Minneapolis, doing some contract work and online investing. He plans to return with me to Cuenca in July.

Digital Nomad Life

Word by Word, my copy writing business has picked up a few more clients. For a couple of these clients, I’ll be facilitating and marketing two separate online domestic abuse courses this fall. It is time to bring awareness, education, and practical help to a global audience.

Domestic abuse author and teacher, Jody Cowdin, as well as the founder of two domestic abuse nonprofits, Diane Stores, are both ready to get the word out, and help bring God’s mercy and healing to anyone on the planet.

God’s saying “Go,” so we’re stepping out in faith.

Appreciate your prayers for this effort, peeps. Thanks!

Another Year Older

I had another birthday, they keep happening!

This  year’s birthday started days early with a friend donning his chef hat and hosting a few of us for a five-course meal. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven…

Then you all started flooding me with emails, Facebook posts, texts, and phone calls. Thanks for the love, friends, every well wish reminded me what an amazing person you are and what a gift God has brought me in you! More often than you know, you left me in tears…

AndesThe day of was spent with a few friends on a hiking tour in the Andes. The weather was fantastic, the views spectacular, and the company even better. Lots of fun and moments I’ll always remember. I even made a new friend. Pics

The moon rose full that night, a perfect end to a perfect day…

Trip to the States

Since I could now leave Ecuador without visa issues (as I have my residency visa now), we made plans for me to come back to the States from mid-June to mid-July to attend a wedding Emily (our daughter) is in, celebrate the 4th at Grandma’s, and celebrate Mom’s birthday, as well as catch up with clients, friends, and family. On the way to Minnesota, we made plans for me to meet up with Rich and Emily in San Francisco to visit our son, Charlie, at UC Berkeley.

Whoa! What’s This?

A week or two before I flew out, I noticed something amiss in my lower abdomen. Looking four to five months pregnant and having been with Rich four to five months earlier, I visited a farmacia (pharmacy) far away from my apartment (for fear of what the neighbors might say), found the shelf with pregnancy tests on it and tried to read them. Since my Spanish is still sucking air, I grabbed the mid-priced one and hoped for the best.

The thought of being pregnant at 51 years old was a daunting… no, terrifying!

The test showed no signs of baby in the bin. Whew.

I grabbed a laxative, thinking maybe digestion was the issue. All came out well….

I didn’t have Ecuadorian insurance or an Ecuadorian doctor, but had a doctor recommendation from a friend. So, I emailed the doctor Monday, wondering if he’d ever see it. He responded within an hour or two, offering an appointment for the next day, Tuesday, at noon.

Doctor’s Visit and Testing

The doctor’s office was on the second floor above a farmacia (pharmacy), near where many expats live (playfully dubbed “Gringolandia”).

I arrived 10 minutes early and sat outside the closed door to his office, thinking he was out. At noon, I gave a gentle knock, in case he was there. He popped his head out the door, lowered his surgical mask, and said in a New York accent that he’d be with me shortly. A few minutes later an elderly expat couple exited his office with big smiles.

Dr Guillen is a tall, good looking Ecuadorian man in his 30’s or early 40’s. His demeanor reminded me of a humanities professor: academic and approachable, friendly and professional.  He invited me into his office, which looked more business-like than clinical. No receptionist greeted me, no nurse attended me. No one else was there, as far as I could tell.

His large, busy desk anchored the middle of the space, with windows to the street behind it. Against the right wall were cabinets and a scale, the kind you move the weights across a bar until it balances. I think a sink was over there too. To the left was a screen that shielded from view some area, maybe a testing area. There must have been a bathroom, although I was too distracted to notice. I took a seat at a chair in front of his desk, as he took a seat behind his desk.

He cut to the chase, and asked questions about my symptoms. He never took my medical history, temp, blood pressure, or even asked me to step on that scale (which I almost kissed him for). He listened, and then he said, “I got you,” which I interpreted to mean that he knew what was wrong.

As I lay down on the examining table behind me, he washed his hands. With no oversized paper napkins in sight, I unzipped my pants and lifted my shirt and gave him full privileges to my abdomen.

A special movie moment flashed through my mind as he felt around, asking if this hurt, or that hurt. No alien popped out, though, and nothing hurt.

He paused and looked puzzled, then said I needed an ultrasound.

I zipped up and hopped down, while he wrote on a prescription pad where I needed to go for the ultrasound and the name of ultrasound doctor. He instructed me to come back later that day at 4:15p, with the ultrasound results.

I asked what I owed him. He said that his fee was $20 for this visit and the follow up visit at 4:15p. I grabbed a 20, and placed it on his desk with a heartfelt verbal thank you.

As he escorted me to the door, we exchanged niceties. He was on his way to pick up his 8 and 10-year-old children from school, and he mentioned that his wife is from Minnesota.

I grabbed a taxi to the medical facility he sent me to, walked up to the window and made a 3:30pm appointment.

At 3:30pm, they collected the $38 ultrasound fee and had me lay down on an examining table next to an ultrasound machine.

The doctor came in, and asked me to unzip my pants and lift my shirt. He gooped up the instrument and, in five minutes, took several images.

Then he handed me some paper towels from a dispenser, and, as he was leaving the room, he said he’d be writing up the report and it would be ready for me soon.

I wiped my belly as best I could, zipped up and exited to the waiting room and then down the hall to the nearest bathroom, where I continued to clean up. A few minutes later, my results were at the desk in a white envelope.

Back in Dr Guillen’s office, I sat down in front of his desk while he hung the scan images on a viewer behind me, by the door. I turned sideways to watch from the corner of my eye. He looked at the images, and then he read the report. He read, read, and read, and then the room changed as the silence grew heavy. My heart and jaw had already hit the ground when he said “you have tumors in your uterus, big ones. Some are 5” in diameter.”

Then he said that these types of tumors tend toward cancer and that I should get to a surgeon ASAP. He gave me the images and written results, the name of a surgeon to consult, and said there was nothing more he could do for me.

Somehow I made it back to my apartment. A chatty taxi driver may have saved me from complete melt down that afternoon.

Going Forward

I shared the news with Rich, my husband/medical whiz, and together we discerned, with some online searching, that these tumors are probably not cancerous.

We decided to go ahead to seek a second opinion and treatment in Minnesota, when I’m home, after the long weekend in San Francisco (which was a blast! Pics/posts below).

And that’s where Rich and I are now, driving from San Francisco to Minnesota, for a second opinion and treatment options. Appointment is 2:30pm Wednesday (tomorrow).

I’m in God’s Hands, and content to let Him have His way with me and my health…

Videos and photos of these and other happenings:

Corpus Christi Celebration:

A special post for my beautiful daughter, on her 24th birthday:

Cuenca mannequins

Trip to San Francisco (if you cannot see several links to pics below, just visit my Facebook page and scroll down:

Meanwhile in Minnesota, and Other News

Tomorrow, our daughter, Emily, has a tonsillectomy…in Minnesota.

I’ll be in Cuenca.

I was with her when she had surgery on her kidney as a 2-year-old, and have been with her through every other health problem.

It is torture to not be by her side for this one.

Jodi and Emily Pic 045
Emily and me



Expat living has a downside, and this is a big one. Please say a prayer for her and her doctors. I know a tonsillectomy is no big deal, but it is for me…

Love YOU, Emily! I’ll be with you in spirit and praying all day! Looking forward to seeing your sweet face on video chat later tomorrow. 

It’s almost gone!

Our home in Minnesota has a purchase agreement on it, with a closing date of 5/13. My husband, Rich, is not only Emily’s nurse for the next week or so, he’s actively liquidating our “stuff” and planning storage for the rest. He’ll be joining me, for at least awhile, once the dust settles and he’s officially homeless. Looking forward to seeing you, Rich!

That one other thing that consumes me

While here, I’ve been exploring the digital nomad life (that’s a newfangled way of saying working remotely…very remotely).

My latest big project has been writing fundraising material for a campaign to feed some of the most hungry and needy children in Cuenca.

Only one piece will have my name on it.

On Monday it was posted on the organization’s Facebook page and has, so far, been shared 11 times and liked 137 times (!).  I’m stunned and yet excited, as maybe it will help these children. You’ll find it at:

Until You Raise Your Eyes, You Will Think You Are the Highest Point

or at:

L to R: El Arenal staff member, a graduate’s mother, Colleen, me, an El Arenal staff member.  Photo by Geoff Odell,

Oh, and the campaign, Full Bellies, Dreams of Hope & You, launched today. Please consider a gift, any gift.

Really, any gift.

Eighty-four desperate kids in Cuenca thank you for giving them a chance. So do I.


Please? :) Thank you!

Girlfriends, are you sitting down?

And for you beautiful people who’ve made it all the way to the end…today I had one of the best haircuts I’ve ever had, along with a brow and ‘stash wax. $15 total. 



One Week in Paradise

Well, it’s been one week since landing in Cuenca, Ecuador, my new home.

A couple of questions you’ve asked:

  • how are you earning a living?
  • what do you miss most?

$$ in Pocket

I’m exploring the digital nomad life. Digital nomads work remotely all over the world. Certain cities are better for this than others, depending on internet connectivity. Here’s a list of the best cities for being a digital nomad (Cuenca is listed 347th).  So, I am working online and am currently contracted with my former employer, The Dwelling Place, in communications and marketing. For almost four years I’ve helped create, edit, and publish their website and e-content, as well as social media and print materials. We’re soon launching a new, updated website. So exciting!

I’ll be looking for at least one more e-job once I get settled into my new place. If you’re interested in possibly contracting with me, I’m working on updating my website,, and LinkedIn profile with recent material. If you want to peek at something now, here’s the latest e-letter (saved as a pdf) I created from start-to-finish for The Dwelling Place.

I’m discovering it is essential to have a tech wizard in your corner, ready to jump in and troubleshoot. JR Reineck of Reineck Enterprises, Inc. has been and remains my tech hero. He’s in the US and has not only done some troubleshooting with me here, he set me up with a global VPN located in the States which enables me to access US sites. (If you’ve traveled, you may have discovered that there are restrictions and limitations to the sites you can access outside your country.) I can still shop Amazon and have the purchase sent to a friend in the States. I can also access Pandora and a full version of Netflix. Global VPN makes things like this possible.

Also, I will be setting up a Paypal account for employers to pay me electronically. You cannot mail me a check in Ecuador. (You cannot mail me anything in Ecuador, actually. Snail mail is not reliable or advisable.)

What do I miss most?

This one is easy, the ability to communicate with the locals. I could probably carry a conversation with a toddler, but am not volunteering at a childcare facility to find out. My Spanish is coming along, immersion forces the issue.

Thankfully I have English-speaking friends like you to communicate with. Your presence with me in this matters more than you’ll ever realize. Thank you!

For those of you wondering what I’m up to.


  • to access internet on one of my laptops (the hostel’s wifi won’t connect to it), I visited the Cuenca library, but couldn’t read the signs for accessing the internet and didn’t know who to ask or if they’d be able to speak English. So, I left.
  • went to a internet cafe and did some promised volunteer work for The Dwelling Place. There is no coffee or food at these places-just a row of desks with computers that access the internet. I didn’t even see a sign for bathrooms. $2 for 3-4 hours. I failed to take a pic to show you, sorry peeps.
  • ate lunch/dinner at El Cantaro Restarante, a tourist hot spot off Parque Calderon (header photo is Parque Calderon, taken from the New Cathedral’s rooftop). They piped in this song, and others like it :)
  • I ordered the trout. So far, the food I’ve eaten in Cuenca hasn’t been especially tasty. I think they like their meat well done.


  • The restaurant’s bathroom set up was new for me: one room with one stall for women, one stall for men, and an open stall for the urinal. This is going to take some getting used to… I took a pic to show you, hope you’re able to get the idea.


  • planning for the move on Sunday. I’ll be shopping with Isabel, my facilitator, on Friday for essentials. The landlord is graciously letting me drop off some of my items on Friday, so I don’t have to store them at the hostel and then move them on Sunday.
  • watched a Rosemary & Thyme episode on Netflix


  • enjoyed breakfast at the hostel with a wonderful and interesting couple from British Columbia. They’re thinking about moving here, I gave them Isabel’s business card. (Isabel is fabulous! Isabel Mosquera:
  • more planning for the move. I have a list of items to buy.
  • listened to an audio file of my son’s Christmas concert at First Presbyterian of Berkeley, CA. He had three solos! LOVE listening to that gorgeous tenor voice! Thanks for the send, sweet Charlie!
  • blog and work
  • massage at 3pm. I’m SOOO missing Diane Pease, my massage therapist in Minnesota. I’m one walking migraine without her, Cuenca is no exception. Consider a visit with her, she’s amazing! (PS I hire her for deep massage work only)
  • meander through my new neighborhood
  • maybe catch a concert tonight at the Old Cathedral (off Parque Calderon)