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March Update
Stewart & Anna-Claire Cusick

The great successes!

So to begin with there was a bit of confusion with our last update regarding Anna-Claire’s exams.  People seemed to thing we had implied she had passed both of them or 1 but actually we hadn’t received the results at that stage and had actually thought she had failed the Spanish Medical exam.  Well turns out she did pass this exam!!!!  What we think happened is the government lowered the pass mark compared with last year, as they need more doctors due to the pandemic and so she passed!!!!  This was definitely a miracle as the pass mark was much higher in the past.  The good news about this is she can now do the rural medical year here in Ecuador in January once she has had a bit more training in the hospital in Shell.

Secondly, she also did an exam on tropical medicine which in the last update she hadn’t received the results for also but again being Anna-Claire, she passed it!  She can pass most exams first time but her kryptonite is the UK driving theory test which took her several goes and proves she can fail!
Triumph and Relief!

After all that we had a month and a bit in which we were finishing off language studies in Quito.  As we had said in the last update, we had moved out of the family’s house to live in a hostel.  Well in true Anna-Claire boldness she asked the owner if we could work in his restaurant next door as volunteers.  The idea was to try and help us improve our Spanish by talking to the staff (not the customers!) and learn some different accents.  Not sure it worked but they took pity on us and fed us lunch every time we worked and it was a nice way to make some new friends.

So, after that month and a bit we finished our Spanish lessons, which to be honest was a pretty big relief after 6 months!  Our teacher was really nice and tried to teach us all the grammar before we left even though we can probably use less than half off it.  We also received our certificates and apparently, we both have the same level of Spanish but I think she was just being nice to Stewart and didn’t want him to feel left behind!

(The following pictures are; 1. Playing spanish scrabble in school; 2. Preparing fish in the restaurant; 3. Spanish certificates)
The Cedulas Quest (ID Cards)

We actually managed 2 spectacular walks before we left Quito, one was up the nearby active volcano Cotopaxi where we reached 5100m and the other was to the volcano crater called Quilotoa, where we did a 2-day hike before we left for Shell.

However, before the 2-day hike we had a much harder quest ahead of us, getting our Ecuadorian cedulas.  This tale involved lots of stress, confusion, and patience.  We started with a mad dash to a government office the day before to get a piece of paper we hadn’t released we needed.  The next day we went to the offices to start the process, however while queuing we were accosted by a lady in the street who turned out to be the guru of all things cedula related in Ecuador.  She sold us a mysterious blue folder that was able to fool the government officials into believing that our documents were correct.  Later she was able secure us some magical health insurance through us giving her $90 and in return receiving health insurance without being asked a single question about out health and which took no more than 3 minutes to receive it!  We have actually got insurance through Latin link but this wasn’t good enough for the evil government minions.  We ran out of time that day and had to return the next day to complete our quest.  We arrived early the next day full of hopes that we would be finished after 1-2 hours but after 6 hours we final received our cedulas.  Our quest was complete and we set off to conquer our next nemesis, the mountains around Quilotoa.
Some images from our walks in the mountiains to give you ideas of where to travel once international travel is easy again!
We are here! (here meaning Shell)

Finally, we are here in Shell; so far, we have cleaned our small apartment, done a few shops and tried to make our place more homely.  When we first got here, we had to wait patiently for a week and a half to start our jobs, and by patiently we mean not patiently at all.  We had come a bit earlier in the anticipation we could start earlier but unfortunately that wasn’t to be, but it gave use time to settle in and rest after the move.

As of today, we have done 3 days work in the hospital and met most of the 30 something staff.  Stewart is working in the maintenance team and going to help with some administration to start with.  They aren’t overly sure what to do with him at the minute so he will try and few things and then decide where he is need most and what he likes doing.  It also gives him time to learn more about the hospital while improving his Spanish.  There are lots of other things that need done in the hospital so he has list of options but maybe maintenance will keep him busy and he will just stay there.  Anna-Claire is shadowing other doctors for a month or so and then she will have her own patients and be put on the emergency hours rota.  They are really hoping she will take on the emergency department role which is a bit out of her comfort zone but as it isn’t a 24hr emergency unit so it shouldn’t receive any traumas or things like that.

We have also been twice to the same church that Charle and Tania Deering attended and we have met some of their old friends.  We are very thankful to Charlie and Tania for putting us in contact with one couple especially, Vinicio and Dawn Salazar, who have taken us under their wing and been super friendly.

Finally, Stewart was at the office of another Mission organisation called Voz y Manos before we started working.  He was helping them with some latrine designs and we are hoping this is something he will also be able to help out with in the future.  Anna-Claire also saw a young man from a community in the jungle who is paralyzed and has a bad bed sore infection through to his spine.  He is hoping to get treatment in the hospital but the situation is very complex so we would ask for pray for this situation.
Prayer Requests
  • Please pray for settling into our roles in work and that we can find areas where we can both be useful.
  • Pray for the young man with the paralysis and his young wife and family.
  • Continued pray for Anna-Claire’s rural year and that she may be placed near Shell.
  • For our integration and interactions with our team here in shell, the local community, church community and the other mission and volunteer community.
We are extremely grateful for all your loving prayers and support.
Please become part of our work
For those of you who are interested in our support group feel free to contact Hannah Das  We meet once a month on a Thursday via zoom for prayer and a catch up.  We love to hear about peoples lives back home so please join us.
Support Link
Please see our contact information below.

UK Tel: +447969386770
Ecuador Tel: +593989899371

UK Tel: +447821224993
Ecuador Tel: +593989890445

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Stewart and Anna-Claire Cusick
Hospital Shell
Calle Asunción Cueva

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