Wednesday, 9 November 2011

November Praise and Prayers

Dear friends,

Sorry this month I’m late in sending out our report... Ecuador always has the 2nd and 3rd November off as ‘bank holiday’ and as it was Wednesday and Thursday, they extended the holiday to make a very long weekend! We went to Quito and got back yesterday.

My main news is that I have started teaching at the local university. I am teaching English, part time, to the tourism and environmental engineering students. It is a wonderful opportunity to be in a non-Christian environment (as the past few years I’ve been in a Missionary bubble as I’ve not been travelling to communities) and we feel it is God who opened the doors as the director of languages invited us to his house to ‘beg’ me to work! With the salary I receive, our monthly support is now up to the HCJB recommended level (we’ve been at about 50% for the past few years). I will still help in the water projects office, especially with the two student design projects we have on at the moment and with communications.

Alfredo went to The Ecuadorian coast in October to see the projects our colleague has been doing. He travelled with a long-term HCJB missionary Larry Buckman who is Brazilian/American and enjoyed lots of conversations about community development work (and offers to work in Brazil!). A date for the trip to the mountain communities never got agreed on by all the parties involved, maybe this month.

Alfredo helped the hospital with a medical caravan in Banos, an hour up the mountain from Shell. They were late getting home because so many people came to see the doctor and ophthalmologist and the local government organised the promotion and gave them lunch! Pray for more opportunities to promote the hospital and work in partnership with local government.

Alfredo is currently in the jungle helping our friends, the Mead Family, with a camp for the high school’ers in Makuma. Alfredo is translator for the American visitors who came and they are encouraging the students to consider science careers. I have their daughter, Karina staying with me for the week as she couldn’t miss school.

This weekend our Quito church is bringing a mission team down to Shell to help at our little church in Mera. They are planning to bring 40 people (almost more than our whole congregation here) and help with the children’s club, put on a youth event and paint the church property. This is exciting, as we have been trying to get Inaquito church to visit us for 5 years now!

Camila will be 1 on the 17th of November. Hasn’t this year flown by! I have finished my first quilt for her present.

My parents are coming out to visit us in December. If you’d like to send anything (Christmas/birthday cards/presents!!) please contact me if you want to send something. It needs to arrive by the 3rd December.


Wim and Nienke De Groen arrived in Ecuador and are now in language school in Quito.

Fellow Brit, Lizi, is working in the Shell hospital for the next few weeks

Praise that the first month of teaching has gone well and I can juggle teaching, mothering and ‘wife’ing.

Praise that I got to attend most of the HCJB women’s retreat here in Shell. Alfredo looked after the children.

The Harrogate work team passed through Shell and we got two nice meals listening to people with ‘funny’ accents!

We have put down a deposit on a car and it will be available to us in March.


Pray for the camp in Makuma this week. Pray that the students will be inspired by science and by God.

Pray for the Inaquito mission team this weekend. Pray for us as we are responsible for the logistics and keeping everybody busy and happy!

Pray for the conference Alfredo will attend on rural water and sanitation. Pray for good networking opportunities.

Thank you for your love for us and interest in our lives and work here in Ecuador.


Alex for Alfredo, Benjamin and Camila.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Some images and thoughts from Haiti

Alfredo visited the north of Haiti, where they didn't receive much damage from the earthquake but received all the people escaping the devistation. He travelled by bus from the Dominican Republic and crossing the border was a huge difference... DR was clean, organised streets, electricity, shops and businesses... cross the border and everything is dirty and dusty, there are no organised steeets and just the one main road that is full of potholes.

The rubbish impacted Alfredo, everywhere is dirty. There is no rubbish collection and no sewers, everything ends up in a canal on the edge of the street (makes me think of London 100yrs ago!)

The people don't have much, but they are resourceful. everywhere there are little street sellers selling the little they can - petrol by litres, biscuits, handicrafts, cooked food.

Alfredo travelled in a pick-up with 20 people and 5 sacks of materials. The only nice cars are owned bu the very rich or the NGOs and missions working there.

The Ecuadorian army were working near where they visited. They have been working with the UN, helping police the area.

The OMS mission compound where they stayed was beautiful, an oasis in the middle of a desert. green and well-kept, it shows what can be achieved. They employ lots of people to look after the guesthouse and grounds, trying to help as many people as possible with work.

The community has a water system that was built years ago (maybe upto 50 years ago!). Water does get to the community, but there isn't enough and isn't clean and only a few connections receive water, the peoplel have to go and collect water still.

no one has latrines or bathrooms. This explains why Cholera has spread so quickly and is so difficult to stop.

The families live in little groups, with the grandparents with the house at the front and children and grandchildren have the houses behind in the 'garden'. There are no organised streets, just groups of fmaily houses with little trails leading to each. Designing a water system will be difficult!

the Haitian women cook amazing food... Alfredo put on weight while there!

As in all places, despite the poverty there are rich people. They live in luxury houses with high walls and security. The nice restaurants are on the seafront (so the diners can look out to sea and not at the poverty while they eat). The top hotel is on a hill and built like a fort.

NGOs and Missions and Foreign governments are still treating Haiti as though they are in need of relief, giving them everything for free and doing everything for them. Haiti needs recovery and development now, help the Haitians think, plan and build their own water systems and letrines and schools. Help them develop the soil and grow food, build new houses and leave the tented camps.

But Haiti was in a bad way before the earthquake... Haitians need a transformation of the mind before the country can change.

Alfredo felt spiritual oppression while he was in Haiti. Vudoo offerings can be seen everywhere and the cemermonious drumming can be heard in the mornings. The community they visited is a few miles from one of the main vudoo religious sites.

Vudoo has the Haitians trapped. It is the main religion and relies on people believing in curses and pacifying the gods. The saying goes that Haiti sold its soul to the devil to get inderpendence from France and are now a cursed nation.

Haiti needs Jesus and the freeing spirit of the Holy Spirit. The church is growing, the key is that Jesus isn't added to the vudoo collection of saints and gods but belief in Jesus breaks the chains of the Vudoo.

Keep Haiti in your prayers.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

HCJB Global article about Alfredo's trip

Ecuadorians in Haiti: Making Water System Repair a Community Rally Point
(Sept. 16, 2011 - by Ralph Kurtenbach)

Haiti’s reconstruction needs loom large after damages inflicted by the devastating January 2010 earthquake. But in the country’s north, Ecuadorian civil engineers César Cortez and Alfredo León anticipate going deep with one specific community by helping reconstruct its water system.

Cortez, who has worked with HCJB Global Hands for many years, is surveying the area about six miles south of Cap-Haitien. He is being accompanied by León who joined the team a few years ago. They are collaborating with Lifewater of Canada and One Mission Society.

“The water projects team we have sent is on the ground with two purposes,” said Martin Harrison, director of community development for the Latin American Region, who has had satellite phone contact with the engineers who are in Haiti for 10 days.

“Firstly, they want to build relationships and confidence with the communities that have expressed interest in a water project,” he explained. “Secondly, they will be collecting information and conducting topographic surveys with a view to producing a long-term solution to the community’s water and sanitation needs.”

The Sept. 12-23 trip objectives are similar to those of Cortez in January 2011 when he surveyed the Cap-Haitien area’s wells and documented his findings. “There are about 100 wells in that area,” he said. “Really, the first option is to rebuild one of the water projects that, maybe 50 years ago … the Red Cross had built.”

“Right now it is completely destroyed,” Cortez added. Reestablishing Cortez’s ties to the community is key to the Ecuadorian duo’s visit. Just as the Vozandes Community Development team’s efforts emphasize community involvement and empowerment in Ecuador, so too Cortez and León are seeking to guide a Haitian effort, not eclipse it with foreign intervention.

“A key element is relations,” said Cortez. “Everything is based on relations—relations with God, with churches, with leaders and with the people in these communities. So the best way to pray for us is that God can help us in these relations.”

During three weeks in Haiti earlier this year, Cortez was also able to teach in a seminary and in local churches around Cap-Haitien.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Carta de Haiti, Jueves 15 septiembre


Estamos bien, un poco cansados despues de caminar muchos kilometros haciendo la
evaluacion de la comunidad. No hay recoleccion de basura, no hay calles (excepto la de
ingreso) ni letrinas. la gente sobrevive vendiendo chitos, aguacate y cargando celulares
( no hay electricidad) es trsite y desafiante ver como simpre hay maneras de ganar
algunos centavos.

Regresamos en una camioneta junto con 20 personas en el balde y cinco sacos de cosas.
recibimos muchiiiiisimo polvo.

Es un poco dificil empezar en un lugar en donde siempre reciben todo gratis por parte de
ONG, ya que siempre nos estan pidiendo dinero, incluso en ingles!!! Y nos llaman Blanc
(blancos) por no ser de raza negra, que ironico!!! jajaja.

Es un buen momento para relexionar de la forma de llevar un evangelio renovador y difente
a la gente, valorando su autoestima y haciendoles ver que ellos MISMOS pueden hacer

Bendiciones desde Cabo Haitiano, Haiti

Alfredo (y Cesar esta ya desacansando )

Monday, 18 July 2011

Alfredo in the mountains: part 1

here are some pictures of Alfredo's first work team experience in the mountain community of lirio in June.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

July Praise and Prayers

(Wish list is the blog entry below this one)

I haven’t seen much of Alfredo this month as he’s spent over two weeks travelling with two different groups to visit and work in the mountain projects. This is the first time in 6 years of working with HCJB Global that he has really spent any time in Chimborazo Province! It was cold and windy and now Alf understands why sleeping bags have hoods! The first trip was to take the summer interns to stay in one community and work on digging in the morning, childrens work in the afternoons and church services in the evenings.

The second trip was to take a team from ‘Safe Water in Ecuador’ (one of our donor organizations from Michigan) around various different projects. They stayed in a different community each night and were given lots of ‘cuy’ (guinea pig) to eat. As most of the group didn’t like the cuy, it all got passed down the table to Alfredo’s plate! The group were pleased to see vegetables on the plates and a guesthouse with showers when they came to visit Shell!

While Alfredo was travelling the country, practicing his English with the groups, I was left in Shell looking after the children and practicing my English too! I have enrolled on an online course to get teaching skills and am helping again at the Spotlight English conversation club.

When Alfredo wasn’t in the mountains he managed to get a jungle trip in, and went to check the construction done by Lizzie, Steph and Stefy last year and get the details for the expansion of Washintsa. Now he has to put the scribbles and sketches into sensible reports for the local water company to buy us the materials.

The football team lost the last games and didn’t get through to the next round (didn’t help that the best goal-scorer went to Haiti for 2 weeks!) The team are now playing an indoor football championship for a few weeks.

A group from the States has offered to bring us stuff down in August... on our blog entry below is a wish-list of things we need for the office, so please take a look and buy us a gift that will help life in the office and jungle be a little bit easier.


For the good time Alfredo had in the mountains with the teams

For the new microscope the SWIE group bought us for the parasite studies in the jungle

For the opportunity to study English teaching on line with ITN (and the missionary discount)


For ‘sitting ability’ as Alfredo has to write reports (he doesn’t like to sit and do paperwork much)

For the shell hospital as they try to recruit more doctors for later in the year and the shell missionary school as they try to find teachers for September (one teacher has just suddenly moved to Quito because of health problems and one is still in the States after a kidney transplant).

For the holidays! We are going to the Dominican Republic at the end of the month to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary with Alfredo’s cousins who live there and to use our air-miles!

Thank you for your love and interest in our family and work,

Many blessing, Alex, Alfredo, Benjamin and Camila Leon

Friday, 8 July 2011

Wish List

We have the opportunity to bring stuff down with a group in August from the States... so here is your chance to buy us a little something that we need in the office. If you’re interested in helping us purchase these things, please write to me at or give on line at and put in the memo line ‘leon’ and what the money is for.

· Printer cartridges HP 60 @£16/$26 a pair (they are double the price in Ecuador)

· Comfortable Therm-a-Rest mattress for Alfredo £65/$100

· Replacement Filter cartridges for katadyn vario multiflow water filter @£ 18/$30 each (this is the water filter we use when we are in the jungle)

· 2 wide-mouth water bottles (Nalgene) that fit on to the Katadyn filter @£10 /$16 each

· External hard-drive for office file back-up and ‘caselogic’ case @£65/$100

· 2 Bug-huts (mosquito nets that are self supporting, like a dome tent) @£50/$80

· New desktop computer and back-up battery protection @£500/$800

Engineering in Emergencies handbook £30/$50

Field guide to environmental engineering for development book £30/$50

Field guide to appropriate technology book £50/$75

And some desired stuff for us...

· Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney, the book for my next women’s book study @ £10/$15

· Delagua have offered free filters, but postage costs £90. This will mean we could filter drinking water instead of boiling.

· A digital SLR camera, memory card and case @£400/$650

· Samsung galaxy tablet £320/$500

Thursday, 16 June 2011

June Praise and Prayers (a little late, sorry)

Benjamin teaching Camila how to eat oreo cookies

Mothers day at the pool (Camila is with Josue, not Alfredo, before you comment!)

Hi friends,

We got our week’s holiday in May, where we went to Quito and hung-out with family and got some painting done (walls, not art). Alex voted for the first time and then we had to drive down to Puyo for Alfredo to vote as we were registered in different cities! Mother’s day was celebrated with Alf’s Mum and siblings at a local swimming pool.

Community Development is a slow process, and this month we have seen it in action. We had two new communities from the mountain communities in Salasaka ask for projects, and on paper they seemed perfect communities, yet in the three meetings we have now had with the people it is obvious they are not ready yet. While a few are eager to work with us, there are others that are just looking for ‘what they’ll get’ (‘how much money you got for us?’ Was the first question in one community). We don’t want to just do a quick project that gives each house clean water, we want the community to change because of it, we want them to really see their need and to take ownership of the project, and we want their attitudes towards each other, towards their neighbouring communities and towards God to change through the project, and that takes time! While we are not rushing in to start construction, we are committed to help the communities with hygiene and community development workshops if they want them.

Alfredo’s football team has won some matches! There are just two more matches left and we need to be at least 8th in the table to get through to the next round (we are currently 9th!)

Camila is 6months old and now sits up and is trying to eat. She doesn’t like typical baby food and prefers harder things like broccoli and cheese! Benjamin has learnt some new Spanish words and can now tell Alfredo to slow down when he’s driving too fast! He is still only speaking Spanish, despite understanding everything I tell him in English.

The clothes that were stolen from our line in April have reappeared! They were left in a bag behind a seat in the hospital. We think someone ‘borrowed’ them during the rain storm because they were soaking wet.

A Christmas present has arrived! Luckily the Christmas pud is still in date and the Camila hasn’t yet grown too big so can still wear the dress!

Ecuador has revalidated my degree so I am now officially recognised as Ingeniera Alexandra now!


This month Alfredo is away more than at home, with trips planned to visit 7 jungle communities, accompany the summer missionaries to Chimborazo and dig trenches for a week and take some donors on a tour of our finished projects in the mountains. Pray for safety in travelling and for us three left in Shell.

Pray for us as we say goodbye to many friends in Shell as they leave for ‘home ministry assignment’ or leave because their volunteer time us up.

Pray for us as we both investigate possibilities for further study. Alfredo wants to do a masters in the development field or an MBA and I would like something in sustainable architecture or water.

We are still raising funds for the purchase of a car. We have been offered a nice 7-seater that will be available from January. Join us in praying if this is the correct car for us.

Thank you for your prayers, and notes and email, we appreciate your love and care for us!

Alex and Alfredo, Benjamin and Camila.