Friday, February 28, 2014

Gospel Coundown Friday

If my life had a soundtrack what songs would be in it?

What a great question.

In my childhood it would be old Finnish Christian children's songs.

The songs I sang in Sunday school, at church camp and in school.

Songs I would hear at my home after my parents had money enough to buy our first record player and then after that a cassette player.

Very peaceful, even sedate and uneventful songs in minor.

Most of Finnish songs are in minor and Finland is one of the few countries that sings about early death and graves in their cradle songs.

5. Ystävä, sä, lapsien - virsi 492 (You, Friend of Little Children)

You are Friend of Children. 

Where ever I go in the world, there You are with me.

The luck may change in this world but Heavenly Father is always my safety.

We moved around a lot when I grew up.

I was 20 when I came to Ecuador and I had moved over 30 times before that.

I never had very long roots because I knew I would need to get them up, shake the earth and move on.

It was a hard way to grow up but on the other hand I had a chance to experience a lot.

I saw different things and ways to live, from cities to countryside.

And learn about life in a way I could not have if we had always lived in the same place.

What was always the same in my life was the church.

There was always a church; there was always Sunday school, Scout or Youth group.

Later on, there was always a choir to join.

When I was in Junior High School I went to a mission to Estonia with our youth choir.

At fifteen I went to mission trip to Germany.

It was just after the two Germanies were united and I had an opportunity to talk with a pastor from East Germany who had been in prison for his beliefs.

I was able to visit the church and the church members and hear how they life had been under the communist rule.

And I was able to visit Buchenwald, a visit that changed many things for me, forever.

Here one of the songs we used to sing in choir.

4. Pekka Simojoki - Herra Kädelläsi (Lord, on Your Hand)

Lord, on Your hand, I can live, it is the safest hand in the world.

It is my joy to be close to You, I can only trust in You.

I want to sing Your deeds.

When I was in High School I moved to my own apartment.

It was a big thing for me, I became independent.

I lived in an apartment above our church, right next to my uncle and his family.

Not so independent but for me, I was on my own.

My apartment become very fast the unofficial meeting place for our church's youth.

We would talk, watch movies from VCR (yes, I'm that old, record players and VCR, LOL), talk, and listen to music from my cassette player.

One of the groups that would always be playing was Guardian, and this song brings me back to that little apartment with big windows and thick walls.

Aparment filled laughing friends.

Or on my own in teenage angst, wondering if I will ever really know what love is. 

3. Guardian - Do you know what love is?

Then I came to Ecuador and my musical distress begun.

It was also literature withdrawal because there was no way to get books in Finnish.

And I could not even speak Spanish, learning to read books in Spanish seemed like a very far away dream.

Finally I got some books in English and was able to read them.

Just like I was able to get few Amy Grant CDs when the cassettes I had brought from Finland with me fell apart.

I just didn’t feel comfortable enough listening to music in Spanish, it was too new, too different.

Those few books and Amy Grant CDs were my lifeline to the world I knew of.

2. Amy Grant - Baby, baby

It's been more than 15 years since I came to Ecuador.

I don't want to do the math and count the exact number.

Because it is such a long time and I'm so old.

It has not yet been half of my life but it won't take many years for my life in Ecuador to have been longer, than the life I lived in Finland.

I speak Spanish, I'm able to read books in Spanish, give speaches in Spanish and dream in Spanish.

I also feel latin rhytms.

They are part of who I am now.

And I have learned to love the music.

It is part of my life.

1. Alex Campos - Sueño de morir (Dream to die)

Tears and blood all mixed up, it was Your dream to die.

Blood and silence was the price, the price of my life.

Forever I will be Yours, an offering to You.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thought for today

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tena - A Town At The Ecuadorian Amazon - Wednesday Facts

Today is Wednesday. It's no Friday but it's not Monday, either.

To honor the fact that we are in the middle of week, I will tell you five facts of life, about me or someone else, faith, world and existence in general.

And what I want from you, my readers?

I want to know about you! 

Leave me your facts, so I can enjoy reading them!

They can also be about you, your life or anything you find fascinating in this world or in the world beyond.
Where do you live?

What facts can you tell my about the town or city where you live.

Have you lived there all your life?

Is is the place where you want to live the rest of your life in?

1. The capital of Napo province, Tena was founded in 1560 by missionary explorers and Spanish conquistadores. It was plagued by early indigenous uprisings. Jumandy, chief of the Quijos, led a fierce but unsuccessful revolt against the Spaniards in 1578. He was finally caught and brought to Quito to stand a judgment, and later on publicly executed.
Tena is also known as the “cinnamon capital” of Ecuador and it was once an important colonial trading post in the Amazon. Although it is the commercial center and the capital of the Napo Province it has a population of just over 13 000 people and it still operates as a small town. This has made it possible for Tena to retain much of its culture and traditional lifestyle.
At the same time Tena is the home to a major regional hospital and many tourist related businesses, including a small size airport and a vital bus terminal. The anniversary of Tena’s foundation is celebrated on November 15, when live music and community events take place the entire week.

2. Tena isn’t a very large city. Actually it is small enough so that there is not much trouble getting around. The city is divided into two halves by the rivers Tena and Pano and connected by two bridges, one for pedestrians and the other one for motor vehicles.
There are several sand and pebble beaches on both sides of the river where you can enjoy fresh river water on a hot day. As well as a number of plazas and parks, the most conspicuous of which is the Parque Amazonico, in the center of the city. 

There is also a botanical garden and zoo located on a small peninsula between the rivers Tena and Pano and visible from the pedestrian bridge. A nice riverside walkway goes on the western bank of the river Tena where you can watch the scenery and enjoy the river’s breeze.
But Tena’s claims to fame are the rainforest and rivers that surround it. The jungle, especially if you get outside the city 15 or 20 kilometers, is impressive. First-timers will be changed forever after they lay their eyes on a pristine stretch of Amazon.

3. Tena is surrounded by forested hills and is located at the edge of the Andes, which are visible to the west.   

The climate in Tena and around is hot and humid. But for a rainforest city, Tena’s climate is surprisingly comfortable. It’s cooler, due to its elevation, and drier than most people expect. 

There’s rainfall year-round and the heaviest rains come in June, July, and August, but even in this very wet time it doesn’t necessarily rain every day or all day when it does rain. The rain is pleasant and warm, like the rain that those of us from the northern hemisphere only get in the sweltering heat of summer, but if you plan to be outside for long periods even warm rain can bring down your body temperature so it’s wise to have a raincoat.

4. Tena is popular with travelers, since it is known as being peaceful, orderly, clean and more geared towards tourists. Many inexpensive hotels, tourist agencies, and restaurants cater to backpackers who commonly use the town as a jumping-off point for trips into the rainforest. 
It can be seen as the quintessential South American jungle town, the kind of place you expect to run in to Indiana Jones stocking up on supplies before setting out in search of a lost city. Many tourists come here with that image in their heads, and in some sense it is true. Because if you’re in Tena, you’re in for an adventure and it is an adventure that involves jungle trekking, river crossings, amazing views and wild animals. 
Sumaco volcano is located in the isolated Sumaco Napo-Galeras National Park. Reaching it is one of the most intense experiences to be had in Ecuador. The volcano soars 3732 meters above the jungle and is surrounded by precipitous ravines and dense jungle, which have largely kept humans out and preserved its flora and fauna.

5. Just six hours southeast of Quito in bus, Tena is the perfect launching point for a jungle trek, a spelunking expedition, or a rafting or kayaking trip down one of the countless rivers that pass through or by the city.
Tena has reached near legendary status with whitewater enthusiasts and boasts the best rafting and kayaking in Ecuador and, some say, the world. The jungle rivers on the Amazon side of the Andes are bigger and have more consistent flows than their west-Andean counterparts. They are also the cleanest and most scenic rivers in Ecuador.
According to Lonely Planet, Tena has evolved as the ambassador of the jungle, a cheerful hodgepodge with two fat rivers intersecting at its heart. White-water paddlers get giddy in the rafting and kayaking capital of Ecuador; there are so many rafting options and a cold beer and toasty bed back in town. Even if the river’s not your cup of tea, this is a good place to kick back and visit nearby waterfalls and indigenous communities. Breezes off the Río Tena and Río Pano keep the climate comfortable.

6. Today, the area around Tena is largely agricultural – cattle ranches and coffee and banana plantations abound. The area surrounding Tena supports a large population of lowland Kichwa Indigenous people, who live further out in the forest outside the city.
It is possible to visit many of these communities and to observe and sometimes participate in traditional dancing, the preparation of chicha (an alcoholic drink made by masticating corn, rice or cassava and fermenting the juice), festivities, traditional life and communal activities.
Tena and its surrounding indigenous communities are also bases for many volunteers working for reforestation projects, with community support in development initiatives in diverse, but connected areas such as bio-piracy, ecotourism and capacity building. 

Ecuador has one of the best politically organized indigenous populations in Latin America and Tena houses two major confederations, Fonakin (Napo's Kichwa Nationality Organizations Federation) and Ashin (Napo's Indigenous Shaman Organization); one of the major stand-offs during the 2001 indigenous uprising in Ecuador, took place here.