A Morning at Mas Cafe

Mas Cafe OutlookI’m writing this post from the coffee shop at Unsion Television in Cuenca, Ecuador. It’s quiet at this hour, but will soon fill to capacity. We’ve had a wonderful week so far in Cuenca. I’ve been busy talking about Annabelle’s Ruth, speaking at various locations and teaching a workshop on creative writing. It’s been a great experience. I’m so thankful to our dear friend, missionary Bill McDonald, for the opportunity.

Meanwhile, my team members have been busy working. The guys are helping Mario renovate the television studio upstairs. They love Mario, whom they dubbed “Super Mario.” April is working here in the coffee shop, alongside our beloved Rocio Romo Ortiz. Rocio is gracious and funny and tends to “adopt” her helpers as family. I loved her smiles and hugs and wonderful cappuccinos.

13775830_10207510951351787_196415123665694259_nLater today, we’re headed to the marketplace to find gifts for our family and friends. The picture to the left is of a vendor we met. My son, Todd, tried on a pair of too-small gauchos, just for fun. They may fit the vendor, but not my big ole gringo son.

And of course, I have to show you the world-famous flower market. Their prices are low and the flowers are amazing. You can smell the place a block away. 13692488_10207480944801642_5443356270469841507_n


I’ve been impressed with Cuenca. The people are kind and generous and hard-working. Most of what they do is done by hand, the old-fashioned way. We’re staying in the old downtown area with its cobblestone streets and amazing mountain views. CasaDelAquilaThe hotel was once the home of a well-to-do Spaniard. It has the inner courtyards and patio, though a glass roof has been added to protect from the elements. It does tend to rain more often this time of year. And though it gets quite chilly at night, they don’t have heat. They don’t have air conditioning, either. I don’t think they really need it, since it never gets really hot here.

If you go to Cuenca during their winter, take your flannel PJ’s and socks. You’ll be glad you did. They are in the mountains, after all.

AndesDayOneSpeaking of mountains,  the trip over the Andes from Guayaquil (locally pronounced “why-a-keel”) to Cuenca was … an experience. We piped around hairpin turns to find anything from gigantic boulders in the road, llamas, or small herds of cattle. At one point, Bill jumped out to help recapture a runaway cow.

The bathrooms were an adventure as well. A little on the primitive side, and you can’t flush paper.

13775877_10207479488165227_1482985366801095928_nBefore climbing into the mountains, we passed banana groves, cacao groves and rice paddies. Yes, rice is a staple here, along with the bananas, plantains, potatoes called “papas” and yucca root, which they fry like french fries, or boil.

Arrow points to oritos.

Bill stopped to buy us a bunch of small bananas called “oritos.” Large bananas are oros, which means gold. The oritos were delicious and the potassium helped us make it through those hills and curves.

The city of Cuenca lies in a valley that resembles a bowl. The altitude ranges between 7,710 to 8,370 feet. That’s higher than Denver–it took us a couple of days to settle in. We walked slower. Even the process of getting into bed at night made me wheeze.

The long name for the city is “Santa Ana de los cuatro ríos de Cuenca” — since there are four rivers which are part of the Amazon watershed. This place has been around for a long, long time. It was originally founded in April, 1557 by the Spanish. I noticed a definite mix of Spanish and natives among the citizens of Cuenca.

Ecuadoran WomenAs you walk down the streets of the city, you’ll notice many who are dressed in traditional clothing. They’re not wearing costumes. This is their everyday wear. Many are Quichua (Kichwa), but may also be Huaorani, Shuar, or Chachi. They are polite and friendly and very patient, for the most part. They zip along the inner city sidewalks along the narrow cobblestone streets, headed to market or who knows where. Some of them have booths in the marketplace, where they sell handmade textiles, hats, and jewelry or other crafts.

Todd with Mario!

Thus ends the first few days of our Cuenca mission trip.

Next post, I’ll have more to share, after we’ve visited the beautiful cathedrals and vistas. In the meantime, ¡hasta la vista! ¡Dios le bendiga!


Cuenca Update

11110509_10204170624365310_3489856107082246488_oRemember this checklist?

  1. Write first post for 2016.
  2. Complete book 2 of Kinsman Redeemer Series: Sutters Landing.
  3. Get passport photo.
  4. Get passport.
  5. Fly to Cuenca, Ecuador for mission trip that includes a speaking engagement.
  6. Did you see #5?
  7. Omgosh! I am actually going to Ecuador!

This was part of my first post for 2016. Can you tell I was excited?

It’s now the second week of March. We have barely four months left to prepare for our mission trip to Cuenca, Ecuador. I’m really starting to feel the excitement (mixed with a tiny bit of anxiety). Here’s an update on our progress:

  • Applied for Passports
  • Annabelle’s Ruth is being translated into Spanish

Okay, the list looks short, but it represents a lot of time and work. In the meantime, I’m familiarizing myself with the needs and interests of the women I’ll be speaking to in Cuenca. You know, looking at the photos, many of them look just like you and me. And their needs? Very similar to ours. So what’s the difference? Why do I need to go?

Step 1 – Calling. That’s a big thing. Has God called you to do something? What was your answer? Sometimes, we “feel” called, then nothing happens. Perhaps it didn’t happen because you didn’t go. If you’re looking for a job, do you sit at home waiting for a phone call? How will prospective employers know you’re looking, if you don’t let them know?

Step 2 – Prayer. Prayerfully consider, contemplate, meditate on the calling. This is an important step that should not be overlooked. When my son approached me about going to Ecuador, I was hesitant. But I promised to pray about it. My prayer was simple. “Show me Your way.” I kind of needed a sign. I got a big one. Our contact starting planning around my latest book, and formulated plans for me to speak. Was I ready for that? No, but I’ll get ready. God showed me His way and I’m stepping into it.

writing-923882_1920Step 3 – Make a Plan. Someone else made my plan, I didn’t have to. This happens to me a lot, but I’m okay with it. God knows me pretty well. If He left it up to me, well…it probably wouldn’t get done. I’m a champion procrastinator. Or at least I have been in the past. It’s something I constantly battle. But you may be on your own. So…

  • Make a plan.
  • Write it down.
  • Don’t be afraid to change or adjust the plan as you work toward the goal. Sometimes, your plans don’t fit the situation. Be flexible.

In the coming weeks, I’ll work to finish my preparations. The translation of Annabelle’s Ruth will continue. When it’s ready, we’ll print the books. The plan is to have that first printing fully paid, so we can use whatever funds the sale of the books bring in, for the women’s ministry in Ecuador. If you’d like to contribute to the first printing of the Spanish version of Annabelle’s Ruth, you can click the following link, and please reference “Annabelle’s Ruth” in the comments: https://giving.ag.org/Give/Details/600001-693941?MinistryName=unsion&Page

Ecuador-2If God touches your heart to do so, please pray for our team over the coming weeks, as we prepare for this journey. If you’d like to pledge your prayer support, please comment on our Facebook page. Click this link – Owens to Ecuador 2016.

If you’re not on Facebook, you can leave a comment on this post, or use the Contact Me tab above to send me an email. To help with the costs of this trip, you may contact me or visit our GoFundMe page. Any funds collected above the cost of our expenses will go directly into one of the wonderful ministries for women in Cuenca. I’ve supplied additional links below for your information about some of the ministries in Ecuador.