It’s Been a While

I was just looking at this blog and it’s been over 4 years since I’ve written anything here. That’s primarily because it was meant to be a blog that told about our time as missionaries in Ecuador. We came home in May, 2012, so that reason ended.

But I still use for email and other things, so I’ve decided to resurrect the blog and talk about – well – various things.

So stay tuned. More to come.

Changes for the Wilsons

Dear Friends,

When Diane and I planned to come to Ecuador, we anticipated that it would be for a “season” in our lives.  Our initial thought was to be away from home for three years, including language school.  We have now been away for almost four years, and have concluded that this “season” is coming to a close.

Therefore, we have submitted our resignation to HCJB Global, effective August 31, 2012.  This date includes a final 3-month HMA (Home Mission Assignment, formerly known as furlough), as well as whatever vacation days that we have accumulated.  Our last day in Shell, therefore, will be on or about May 11, at which time we will return to Maine to begin our HMA.  The HMA will involve visiting and sharing our ministry over the past years.

It has been a privilege to work alongside both the missionaries and the nationals here in Ecuador.  We are grateful to God for this opportunity to serve.

Back to Shell

We arrived back in Shell on Monday, August 1 after leaving Maine at 3 am the previous day.  The trip was long, but uneventful.

We had to get to Ecuador to see snow.




Diane continues to recover from the total knee replacement surgery that she had on June 7 in Maine.  She is still in physical therapy a couple of times a week, and has worked out a deal with a local hotel to use their pool at a reduced rate for exercising.  To read Diane’s viewpoint on the recovery process, you can go here.

Diane, one week after surgery




One of our needs in the hospital has been for more help in administration.  Last week, I was able to announce that Dra. Narcisa Brito has accepted the position of Assistant Administrator.  Narcisa brings a wealth of experience, many strengths, and a great attitude to this position.  I am looking forward to working with her, and am confident that she will continue to be a blessing to the ministries here in Shell.

Dra. Narcisa Brito, new Assistant Administrator at HVO




Diane has now assumed the role of Working Visitor Coordinator, as well as continuing to manage the Guest House.  In her new role, she will be communicating with prospective short-term missionaries, and coordinating their housing and acclimation when they arrive.

Working Visitor Housing




Recently, the hospital held a health fair in Puyo, about 5 miles from here.  We were able to tell people about Hospital Vozandes del Oriente, and show them some of the services we provide.

Diane and Steve


Dr. Wolff explaining something to a patient


Daniella, demonstrating Physical Therapy

Our "New" Car

Last week, I (Steve) made a trip to Quito to buy a car, a 1994 Toyota 4Runner, from another missionary who is leaving the country.  It seemed pretty simple.  Just go up there, sign a few forms and drive back.  I should know by now that nothing is ever all that simple here.

The day before my trip, I found out that the Notary couldn’t sign the purchase contract on the same day as we signed it.  I was a bit concerned because I couldn’t stay in Quito.  We were assured that it was OK to drive with the old matricula (registration),  so I arranged for someone else to pick the contract up and bring it to Shell when it was ready.

The sellers and I went to the Notary to sign the forms at 9:00 am.  I had been told ahead of time all of the documentation that was going to be necessary, and had everything with me.  All went well until we were told that we needed a certification from the police department saying that there were no outstanding fines against the vehicle.  This was new information.  That form could be obtained at the Police Department, about a 15 minute taxi ride away.  The seller had just been there the day before, so it was too bad we didn’t have that info then.

When the seller got there, she took a number to wait.  She got number 146, and they were serving number 60.  There were two windows open serving people.

After three hours, she finally got the form, took it to the Notary, and returned the matricula to me.

By now, it was 2:30 pm.  I had wanted to get back to Shell before dark because of the roads, but it wasn’t looking too positive at this point since it gets dark at 6:30, and it’s about a 5 hour drive.

I got underway with a friend who also needed to get back to Shell.  Partway out of Quito, the highway was closed, and we were diverted back into the city.  After about an hour of weaving through city streets, we got back on the highway and continued on our way.

An hour or so later, as we were climbing a stretch of the Pan-American highway leading past Cotopaxi, there was a slight detour for construction.  As I changed lanes, I hit a little something in the road.  It tuns out it wasn’t little.  It was a piece of rebar, and it punctured the tire.  So, I pulled over and began getting out the tools.

It turns out that the jack that comes with the car isn’t tall enough to actually lift the car, so we improvised, using something else to put the jack on.  After we changed the tire, we stopped at a tire repair place along the way to get it fixed in case of another flat tire.  The rebar had gone in the tread, and come out the sidewall.  So the guy put a tube and a couple of patches in it just to get us home.  But I’ll have to buy a new tire.

By now, it was just about dark, and we were still about 3 hours from home.  Thankfully, the rest of the trip was uneventful, even in the dark.

The next step is to register it in my name.  I wonder what adventures lie in store for us there!!

One Monday Afternoon

On Monday afternoon, March 21, 2011, I was in my office when Pastor Henry Cabrera, the HVO Chaplain came by my office in a hurry.  “Can I borrow the hospital truck to go pick up Marta?” he asked.  “There has been some sort of explosion and her grandson is in the emergency room.”

“Of course,” I answered.  “Go get her.”

He was talking about Marta Aguinda, who works in the HVO Guest House, which is about ¼ mile away from the hospital.  It was 3 pm, so I told him that he should look for her on the road because she was probably on her way home.

I went to the ER a few minutes later.  Marta and Pastor Henry had just arrived. There were two of Marta grandsons, not just one.  Apparently, they had been playing behind the house, found something like dynamite, lit a match to it and it exploded.  I found out that one boy, Justin (age 7), had lost both his hands in the explosion, and had some damage to his eyes.  The other boy, Aron (age 5), was also injured, but not as badly.

I arrived just in time to see Justin wheeled rapidly out of the ER, heading for surgery.   I left the ER and went into Pastor Henry’s office.  We spent some time crying and praying.

Marta’s two daughters, the mothers of the boys, both have part-time unsteady work.  One is a single mom, and the husband of the other is a bricklayer who also has part-time unsteady work.  They all live with Marta, who is the only one who has a full-time job, her job at the Guest House.  To make things worse, Marta was out of work the entire month of February with back problems, and has had to take out a loan to pay those bills, most of which were at another hospital, since we don’t provide the services that she needed.

It has now been over three weeks since the accident, and both boys have been released from the hospital.  Aron will recover completely, but Justin will need follow-up care.  It appears that one eye will recover just fine, but the other one will require more surgery before it is known how well it will recover.  Because of the surgeries, and the follow-up care that will be required, their bills are close to $5,000.  The hospital has a charity fund that can help in cases like this, but the funds are limited.  Several people have already contributed to the fund in the name of this family.

Obviously, we can’t change what happened.  But it is good to know that through the donations of faithful people, Hospital Vozandes del Oriente can make a difference in lives.

Marta, her daughters, and the two boys.


Last night, there was a “despedida” (going-away party) for some dear friends who are leaving Ecuador.

Fred and Desi Schmidt are with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).  Fred grew up here in Shell, and we have become close friends in the last year.

Shedd and Kris Waskosky, and their son David, had a huge impact on our coming to Ecuador full-time.  They are both doing Bible translation into the Salasacan Quichua language.  We met them in 2003 when Diane and I took our first short-term trip here.  On that trip, we worked on their house to enable them to better serve the people for whom they are translating the Bible.

After we got back to the US, we wrote to them to ask if there would be anything we could do for them if we came down again.  They replied with an emphatic “YES.”  We returned to Ecuador in 2004, and twice more after that before moving here full-time in 2009.  God used those short-term trips and the Waskosky family to draw us to Shell.

We will miss both of these families.

Fred and Desi



Shedd, Kris and David

A Little Rest?

I’ve been sick the last few days with something like a bad cold.  Last night, I began to have trouble breathing, so I went to the hospital as a patient instead of the Director.  Bottom line is I got an inhaler to help with the breathing, and instructions to take it easy for a couple of days.  No problem, right?

So I ran out of hot water today.  My first thought was, “What? I just changed the gas tank!!”  But when I looked at the date on my spreadsheet, it had been 23 days, a few more days than the average.

We use bottled gas here.  The tanks are about twice the size of the tanks on a conventional gas grill in the US, and they cost $2.00 each.  The Guest House, about 50 yards away, has a supply so I usually get mine from there, and pay for them at the hospital.

So I dragged myself out, got our little red wagon, hauled the empty one out, got a full one from the guest house and changed the tank.  I couldn’t get the pilot on the hot water tank to light.  So I fiddled a while, and it still wouldn’t light.  OK, a bum tank I thought.  It happens once in a while.  So I dragged the full one back to the guest house and got another full one.  Still no luck.  I’m running out of energy, but I need hot water.

OK, what next?  Did I get two bum tanks?  Let me swap it with the gas tank that runs the dryer.  I know that one works.  Tried that and it still wouldn’t light.

Next?  Maybe the valve that attaches to the gas tank all of a sudden went bad.  So I took the valve off the dryer tank and put it on the water tank and voila!  It lit!!

I was going to try to go out and get another valve, but I just don’t have the energy.  I don’t think I’ll need to use the dryer until next week.  I can wait.

Hola Vida

Hola Vida.  Hello life.

Hola Vida is a beautiful waterfall about 45 minutes from here.  Just go about 15 km outside of Puyo, turn right, go another 11 km or so, take a left and you’re there.

We hadn’t been there in several years, since we were there with a short-term team in 2004.  Today we went with our friends, the Prathers, who we met in language school in Costa Rica.

You have to hike about a half-hour to get there.  The trail has a few ups and downs, but it’s not that hard.

It’s really a beautiful spot, and worth the effort to get there.

This was taken from behind the waterfall.  You can see Diane through the mist.





Our friends, the Prathers.




There are more pictures on my (Steve’s) Facebook Photo page.  If we’re not friends on Facebook yet, click on the Facebook badge on the right side of our blog.


In our house here in Shell, Ecuador, we have several Bibles of our own.  We have small ones in Spanish and in English.  We each have a bilingual one in different versions.  We have multiple versions available on the computer in Spanish and English.

But some people don’t even have one Bible in their own language.  We saw that change for some folks last Saturday.

We went to Makuma, a small village about a half-hour from Shell by plane.  In our plane were Fred, our pilot, his wife Desi, Janet and her son Elijah, and the two of us.

The airstrip at Makuma
The landing
Parking the plane

We went as visitors to the dedication of a Bible translation that had been many years in the making. This Bible was translated by many hard workers, and now is printed and complete, in the Shuar language.

Daniel Chu, president of the Shuar Church Association, opened the first box of new Bibles.  You could feel the joy as he held up the Bible for all to see.

A large part of the dedication was to recognize the many people, both Shuar and missionaries, who had worked on the translation.  They each received their own copy.

Frank Drown, long time missionary in Makuma, receives his copy

It was really hot, and after a while several people moved into the shade by the side of the building.  Others used umbrellas and chairs for shade.

After the dedication, lunch was served.  We had fish and cabbage wrapped in a leaf, soup, rice and meat.



The cooks

After lunch, we visited a store, and then waited for the plane back to Shell.


Diane waiting for the plane back to Shell


You can read about this community and its history in Frank and Marie Drown’s book, Mission to the Headhunters.

It's all about Relationships

Sometimes, it is more than just a work team.  This was the case with the recent visit of a team from Zeeland, Michigan.  Yes, they did a lot of important work around the hospital, and we are grateful for their skill and dedication to the task.

But just as important, if not more so, are the relationships that were built during the time that they were here.  Diane and I felt a special bond with some of the team members.

We remember that the beginning of our journey to full-time service was the forming of some special relationships with missionaries while we were here in Shell on short term trips.

So, to the team from Zeeland, thank you for your service here.  We look forward to your return.