I’m safe

As you’ve heard by now, a devastating 7.8 earthquake hit Ecuador last night. The death toll keeps rising and thousands are injured. Many are trapped alive. It is horrible.

Earthquake map
Epicenter is the star. Cuenca is in red.

375 miles from the epicenter, I didn’t feel the tremors, although some Cuencanos did. I didn’t realize anything had happened until Facebook pinged me to share whether I was safe from the Ecuador earthquake.

Ecuadorians have been laboring tirelessly to build up their country. They’ve got wifi in many places, have built new roads and airports, and are even building a tram through Cuenca.

As they build, bullies knock it down: El Nino has brought widespread flooding and landslides, low oil prices are hurting the economy, volcanoes threaten to erupt, and now this. And this is huge.

Bricks and mortar can be rebuilt. The dead can be buried. But trauma and grief can steal hope…

If you want to do something, please pray. If you want to do something else, make a donation. 

Either to your favorite relief fund or to one that is here, in Ecuador: http://heartsofgoldfoundation.org/earthquake-relief-fund/

If you want to invest in those who’ll soon be this country’s engineers, architects, doctors, and decision makers, make a donation here: https://www.generosity.com/fundraisers/full-bellies-dreams-of-hope-you

A moment for another makes a difference. The people of Ecuador thank you.


For you beautiful people who made it to the end. I know you’re wondering: Kyle is safe. :)


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: http://heartsofgoldfoundation.org/4609-2/

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

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? :)  https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/full-bellies-dreams-of-hope-you 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. 



The street where I live and other news

I live on Borerro street in Cuenca, Ecuador about three blocks north of Parque Calderon (the park located in the center of the city). I took these pics on a Sunday afternoon, so the stores are all closed (corrugated metal doors show you where the stores are). Stores line this street and all streets in Cuenca.

See the brick building with three balconies, one on top of another? I live right next to the  top balcony. To the far left on the pic, you can see the railing of the terrace just outside my apartment.


One of my apartment windows looks out over the terrace. The window to the left of the terrace is my apartment’s office window. If you want to see the video tour of my place, to gather your bearings, you’ll find it here: https://youtu.be/uDeKFLgGPaM


I am still loving this move. A LOT! The apartment, the city, the people, the weather, the vibe, the cost. I keep pinching myself to make sure this is real! God has been oh, so generous to me.

Even unpleasant moments are transformed…

Last Saturday, as I was washing and hanging out bedding, mopping the floor, and scrubbing walls, Poor Me slunk in and started her litany of lamentations.

“This is icky. Ewww!”

“I worked so hard this week, I should not have to do this too.”

“Ouch!  Blasted clothes pins!  Hanging laundry is treacherous!”

“It is a beautiful, sunny day, I should be out sightseeing.”

“I DON’T want to. I don’t WANT to! I DON’T WANT TO!”

She was totally annoying and then came the kicker, she threatened to visit each time I  grabbed the scrub brush.

She had to go.

So I went looking on a local expat posting site and found this:

Can you help a young indigenous lady find work?

Maria, my goddaughter, is from a family living in extreme poverty in the Amazon region, she came to live with us to escape a violent relationship. She is looking for work, but when people find out she’s not from Cuenca and that she’s a single mum, they tend to turn her away. Thank you so much to the kind people who have already given her work, she needs just a few hours more to make ends meet on her own and start an independent life. Currently she has one full day free a week and most afternoons between 1 PM and 3 PM. Her current families are very happy with her standard of cleaning work. She learns fast and is very keen to do her best to provide her son with a better life than she had. Please contact me if you can help. Thank you in advance…

With tears streaming, I emailed the author and the short of it is, Maria is here two hours a week cleaning, laundering, and shopping. She’s eager to do a good job, is hardworking, and incredibly pleasant. What a gift she is to me. I’m thrilled that the money I earn helps her, and that I get to be part of her story of moving into new life. God’s a wild man!

Word by Word

Word by Word, my freelance copy writing business, is doing well. I now have three clients, plus one client I volunteer for.
I spent Wednesday, with representatives of Hearts of Gold, at El Arenal, an after school drop-in center that provides a nutritional lunch, homework help, and other services, to the poorest of the poor children in the area.
To earn a living, these children and their families fill wheel barrels with  homegrown produce and sell it on the street. Produce they don’t eat, as it is their income, their way to survive. They live without running water (bathe and launder in the river), live in very close and unsanitary quarters, and are often illiterate, quitting school young to work for the family’s survival.
I’ll be helping create and execute a global giving campaign in April to raise desperately needed funds for these kids, to help ensure they have a future they can look forward to.
Check your pocketbooks, peeps. I’ll remind you when the time comes, in case you want to help move a kid from abject squalor to something beautiful.

Wait, what did you say?
Friends? Do I have any friends yet?

You keep asking, so much pressure…

Well, I AM gathering plenty of acquaintances, as I’ve joined a church, International Christian Community, a writer’s support group, Writing Our World (Wow on that acronym), and am joining Coffee Club Spanish tomorrow.

Friendships take time and effort, peeps. Have you forgotten?

For those of you who have never moved to a new location, here’s what I think is typical, or at least what I’m discovering. People already have their circle of friends and aren’t looking for a new face to mess with their happy social life.

Are you guilty of this slight? I know I am, and now I know what it feels like to be on the other end of it. What goes around comes around…

That being said, I think I may have a friend now. Meet Will Timmerman.


We met in our attorney’s van on the way to the residency visa application office a few weeks ago.

He arrived the same week I did, so we’re both finding our way at about the same pace. Although, Will knows Spanish, so not really.

He has been incredibly kind and patient, and has been actively trying to introduce me to people he’s already met and made friends with (yeah, he’s much better at this friend-making thing than I am). He even invited me to his 66th birthday celebration luncheon last week.

This is Will on my laptop learning the ins and outs of Facebook, to keep up with friends and family far away. I’m glad I finally got to help him with something.

Will, thanks for having such a huge heart and for your blinding kindness. I’d be lost without you!

Whoa, this post is long. I should go.

Quick family update first:

  • Rich, my husband, has had the floors refinished and the house is staged. By the end of March, our house should be on the market. Thanks Rich!
  • Charlie, our son, is singing all the tenor solos in the Palm Sunday performance at First Presbyterian Church Berkeley. The piece is Dvorak’s Mass in D Major. Check it out. Charlie, go SHINE! I’m so sad I’ll miss another one of your performances…
  • Boots, our 14 year old tuxedo cat that survived lymphoma in December through one of those online drugs you raise your eyebrows at (petdca.com), has moved in with our daughter, Emily, and has adjusted wonderfully. Thanks for being such an amazing mama, Emily!
  • Family Skype date in 30 minute. It will be fun to see our four faces in different locations.

Ok, bye, and thanks for persevering and reading all the way to the end. Your interest, love, and support, mean the world to me.